Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol - a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.
Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.
In Catching Fire, the second novel of the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before...and surprising readers at every turn.
You just knew that the story wasn't over when Katniss and Peeta returned home to District 12 after winning the Hunger Games.
Settled into their new homes in the Victors Village, Katniss and Peeta hope for normalcy. But, a surprise visit from President Snow shows Katniss that her life will never resemble any sense of normal and that her oppressive government is even more all controlling and placing all the blame of district unrest on her young shoulders. She and Peeta must continue to present a united, loving front as they make their Victory Tour through the districts and prevent any show of uprising or rebellion.
Katniss' confusion over Gale and Peeta is still troubling her. Peeta is hurt over Katniss' deception and the fact that she only pretended to love him in order to win the games. Gale tells her how he feels, which only serves to confuse her even more. She loves him and he's her best friend. But, she also loves and needs Peeta and his strength. It almost sounds like shades of Twilight here, but these are such better, stronger characters and Katniss is strong enough to rise to the occasion and embrace her destiny, especially when she and Peeta see signs of rebellion while on their Victory Tour. Seeing the differences between the Capitol and the rest of the districts in their oppression is enlightening for Katniss and Peeta.
The new Hunger Games are announced and because it's an anniversary year, the terms are different: this year, the tributes are pulled from the existing victors. In the case of District 12, that means Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch. When Haymitch's name is called, Peeta volunteers and he and Katniss are again headed to the arena where they find new allies and gain new understanding.
While Suzanne Collin's imagery is still vivid and colorful, this set of Hunger Games was harder for me to picture in my mind so I can't wait to see how it's portrayed on screen. President Snow's role is also much stronger and we see his ability to use power to manipulate with minimal verbal communication. The man is truly terrifying. And, watching as Katniss begins to further understand the ramifications of her actions and the possibilities of district rebellion is terrific.
Catching Fire has a lot of twists and turns and surprises and a lot more intensity. New characters are introduced as there are 22 other tributes in these new games and I loved Finnick. The questions of who to trust and who to keep as allies are important as Peeta and Katniss are committed at all costs to keep the other alive. Their tender moments together are some of my favorites. And people can say what they want, this isn't a love triangle. Gale is her best friend and she loves him because of that. But, Peeta is the one who understands. Peeta is the one who has been through the struggles of the arena and he understands the PTSD issues. Peeta is the comfort and he brings balance and stability to Katniss' life.
I liked Catching Fire even more than The Hunger Games and I had no idea it would be such a cliff hanger ending, so I was very, very happy to have Mockingjay in hand to start reading immediately.
I read my own personal copy, but you can purchase your own here.
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**This post has been edited because as I continue to think about this book, my thoughts evolve and develop. This review will probably go through several reiterations before I'm completely happy with it.