Friday, June 17, 2011

Catching Fire

I just finished "Catching Fire," the second Hunger Games book, by Suzanne Collins. I'll admit I liked this one better than the first one. To be honest, I'm not sure how much of my liking this book more comes from the merits of the book itself, and how much comes from the fact that, having read the first one, I had more realistic expectations for the second book.

Here's the summary:

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 her 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 and 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.

Despite my not being sure if I actually liked this book better overall or if this one just met my (adjusted) expectations, there are two things I know for sure:

1. I liked that the Hunger Games didn't take up the whole book. In the first one, I felt like the games kinda dragged on, and I sometimes had a hard time keeping interested. But in this one, the games only took up the last third of the book. And there were more characters involved, so I didn't have to spend quite as much time focused on Katniss (who I'm still not sure has grown on me all the way).

2. Peeta really grew on me during this book. I came to appreciate him more than I did in the last one. In the first book, I thought he came off as completely useless. But in this one, you really see how intrinsically good he is. I still think he's a little too lovesick, but I came to admire how he is willing to do anything for Katniss, even at the expense of his own life. I also understood better that, yes, he is kind of useless in the arena, but that's because, unlike Katniss, nothing in his life has prepared him for this kind of survival game--after all, he's a baker who loves to paint. And, yet, despite being completely out of his element, he unfailingly tries his hardest while keeping a positive attitude about it. And he's always willing to listen to those who know better than him--he doesn't really have ego or pride about it. And he's just so understanding and patient about the fact that Katniss doesn't really know how she feels about him.

Finally, I thought that this book had a better cliff-hanging ending than the first one. The ending of the first book left me curious about the next book, but the ending of this one left me so excited to read the third and final one (which comes out August 24).

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