Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflections: Catching Fire

Adam C. Zern opines on Suzanne Collins's Catching Fire:

"The Hunger Games didn't necessarily end with a thud or as a cliffhanger, aside from wondering what will happen with the main character's personal life, it just ended.  The author's intention for a sequel was very clear, and from a long-term, global perspective, a sequel was deserved within the context of the story.  The focus of the first book was almost totally the main characters' struggle to survive during the brutal Hunger Games with a few hints of revolution against the Capitol.  From the second book, I wanted the story to start moving into that realm of revolution and radical change.  The book, however, doesn't move down that path as much as I hoped or expected.  Yet, it's still an enjoyable book, and is designed, mostly, as a book to raise the stakes for the third and final chapter.

Catching Fire is somewhat of a slow-burn (no pun intended); although, it's not crippling to the book's overall pacing.  The reader is subjected to a little too much romantic vacillation from Katniss, the main character, as she strives to define and determine her love or lack thereof for Gale and/or Peeta.  Having said that, the feelings that Katniss develops for both characters gives sufficient and understandable motivation to Katniss and it eventually works for the story.  The author clearly saw a need to continue the main plot point and conflicts from the first book.  The way she does this at first felt contrived and a little cheap.  However, after some thought, I was willing to accept her premise and reasoning and willingly allow myself to be immersed in the story.

The best part of Catching Fire is mostly certainly the end.  With around ten pages left in the book, I began to be very curious as to how the author was going to conclude the second book in her trilogy.  The ending is excellent.  It pushes the stakes to an entirely new level for the series and its characters.  It's compelling and interesting and finally gets the story to where it needed to be.

Catching Fire is a strong follow-up to The Hunger Games.  Although it hangs on a little too tightly to the conventions and conflicts of the first book, it does move into new and interesting territory.  Above all, Catching Fire gives the reader plenty of reason to finish The Hunger Games saga."

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