by Trista Holmes
In 2008, Suzanne Collins made us mere mortals think about civilization itself with her release of the inaugural book in The Hunger Games, a novel set in a post-apocalyptic society known as Panem.
The trilogy centers around Katniss Everdeen, a young woman living in District 12, the poorest area in the nation of Panem. In the first book, Katniss wins the 74th Hunger Games, breaking the rules so that both she and her companion, Peeta Mellark, were able to leave the battle arena victorious.
The second book in the series, Catching Fire, begins as Katniss and Peeta are getting ready to go on a “Victory Tour” of Panem, visiting all of the Districts that participated in the Hunger Games. However, on the day that the tour is set to commence, President Snow shows up at District 12, expressing to Katniss that he is furious with her for breaking the rules, which allowed she and Peeta to both win the Hunger Games. Katniss is informed that her decision to break the rules has now caused an upheaval among the districts toward the Capitol.
While on the tour, Katniss and Peeta travel to all twelve districts plus the Capitol. Peeta proposes to Katniss publicly in hopes of satiating the rebellion, but the effort fails to calm the fires of the revolt. What will calm a revolt in the world of Panem? The 75th Hanger Games, in which the 24 champions of the past games are once again forced to compete.
With Catching Fire being the second book in the series, it suffers, slightly, from Middle Book Syndrome. There are areas that move quickly and put its reader on the edge of his or her seat, but then there are the filler areas where it seems to drag along, serving its purpose to fill the void until the explosive final book comes along. The book is, however, one of the better written middle works in a series.
Collins didn’t fail to grow her characters; she painted a nice arc for each and every one of them. The issue with most filler published works is that the author typically allows the characters to remain stagnant, causing them to act as puppets until the story develops further. Collins should be highly praised for not allowing Katniss, Peeta and all of the later introduced, to do so.
The author crafts a brilliant world of political horrors and science fiction, without preaching about both from a soapbox. With the capability to do just that, and yield an ending that leaves the reader yearning to soak in the prose of the final book, if you haven’t taken a trip to the world of Panem, don’t hesitate another minute!
Watch for a review of the movie Catching Fire here soon!