Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins is the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy. The book starts with Katniss adjusting to her new life as victor of the Hunger Games. As a winner of the Hunger Games, she gets to live in a luxury home and has a large income. It is an enviable situation for someone living in District 12, which is the poorest district in the nation of Panem. Katniss would rather go back to her life before the Hunger Games, as she is traumatized by the things that happened in the Games. Katniss is estranged from Peeta, the other winner of the Hunger Games, after she admits that she was pretending to love him to survive the Hunger Games.
Meanwhile, President Snow is dealing with uprisings in other districts which he believes has been influenced by Katniss and Peeta. He threatens Katniss to convince the other district that her final act in the Hunger Games was an act of love and not an act of defiance against the government. Unfortunately, Katniss and Peeta cannot stop the rebellion from happening. Fortunately for President Snow, he has the opportunity to suppress the rebellion through the 75th anniversary of the Hunger Games.
It is the Quarter Quell which happens every 25th year and allows for a special edition of the Hunger Games to be played. In other Quarter Quells, they had doubled the amount of Tributes into the games and voted Tributes into the games. This time, past Victors must compete again in the Hunger Games. Katniss is back in the Hunger Games again but this time she’s determined to keep Peeta alive even if she must sacrifice herself.
I had watched the movie before reading this book so there was no surprises for me. I still found the book thrilling despite knowing what was going to happen. I liked the new dynamic of a new Hunger Games in this book such as the new landscape and the Victors returning to the games. It was interesting to read the history of the other Victors and how they won their Hunger Games. They all had different strategies to wining their own games. Some of them won through violence, while other hid and waited for everyone else to die. If I were in the Hunger Games, my strategy would have been to hide and let everyone else kill each other. I probably would not survive the games though.
I liked the new characters in this book and it was a pity when some of them died. In particular, I liked all of Katniss’ allies who were Finnick Odair, Mags, Johanna Mason, Beetee and Wiress. They all talents that helped Katniss and Peeta survive the games. I wish there were spin off books about the other Victors too.
It is in this book that Katniss decides that she is willing to fight the government over the oppression of its citizens which continues into the third book. I liked how initially, Katniss wanted to flee from her responsibilities until she realized that the injustice would never end until President Snow is overthrown. I also liked the whirlwind of emotions that Katniss went through. I think it would have been especially exciting had I not known the ending. In the book, Katniss is paranoid about the allies she makes in the Hunger Games, when to break free from them, how to keep Peeta alive and what the Gamekeepers planed to do.
I felt that the book up the ante and set up the feel for the final book. It was just as exciting as the first book except that I knew what to expect this time around. This book is not a standalone book so readers will have to read the first book or at least have watched the movies to get a clearer understanding of the book.
Sometimes, I have started book series not from the first book because I didn’t know the book was part of a series and other times because that was the book available at the library. Some books have a little exposition at the start so I can get the gist of what happened previously, other times; I just look it up on Wikipedia. I am looking forward to reading the final Hunger Games book. I already know what’s going to happen. I watched the movie some months ago but it’s still going to be an interesting journey.