The Morning After: Catching Fire

22 Jun

Spoiler alert: I’ll be talking freely about the book toward the end of this post, so if you haven’t read it and don’t want me to ruin it, don’t read in between the lines! I also apologize that its a little lengthy

It took me a little while to actually start this book, but only because my friend didn’t know where her copy was. After reading The Hunger Games, I wasn’t actually gunning to read Catching Fire right away, anyway. Not because The Hunger Games wasn’t good, but it was a roller coaster that I needed a little break from.

In the span of time in which I wasn’t reading either book, I had a few discussions, and people kept telling me that it wasn’t a love story. I’m fully aware of that, and have been from the start. That doesn’t change the fact that Peeta and Katniss caused a great stir in my being by how the first book ended.

When I finally started reading Catching Fire, it didn’t take long to get into the book, like it did in the The Hunger Games. It might be that I was already invested, and needed to know what happened, but I like to think that it wasn’t necessary to havve as much background information. That being said, there was still quite a bit of background that may have been unnecessary. It was a little redundant, but I chalk it up to making the book independent of the first. If you wanted to, you could probably just read Catching Fire and be able to understand what is going on.

I wasn’t sure if it would start at just about the same moment the last book ended, or at what point later in their lives it would begin. This worried me, because like I said, I needed to know what happened. A little to my comfort (and slightly to my dismay), the the book starts about 6 months after the other ends. Not a bad frame of time, and it appeared as though not a whole lot had happened in that expanse of time. Having to hear a 17 year old talk about the 6 months in between exciting things would probably make for a dull read, so I understand.

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Part I begins with what seems as almost normal life for Katniss. There is a sense of sadness or depression in her words that make you understand that it isn’t actually normal, but that life has resumed after her victory in the games. The reader is made aware that Gale isn’t around as often, and that Katniss and Peeta have an anything but romantic relationship. As part I goes more in depth, we find that Peeta and Katniss are starting their Victory Tour, and that its a little more important than they realize. Katniss is visited by President Snow, who makes a sinister impression. He is not convinced that Katniss’ revolt against the Capitol was actual done out of love for Peeta, and that if she wants her loved ones to survive, she must find a way to convince him. It also becomes apparent that she has been watched, and that the kiss she shared with Gale wasn’t a secret as she had thought. It is at this point that the turmoil within Catching Fire begins.

This is followed by a trip with Gale to the forest, to explain what has happened, and to explain what should be done. Katniss decides to run, and wishes to take Gale and his family, her family, and Peeta and his family. No one takes the news as well as she hopes, but Katniss presses on and plans out the details in her mind. Gale thinks they should rebel, and Peeta is unsure about what to do in its entirety. You see that Peeta still cares for Katniss, and Gale definitely cares for her, but that they are both hurt for different reasons. Katniss, on the other hand, seems to have feelings for both, but refuses to deal with them.

A turning point in the book is when they return from the woods, and find that the head Peacekeeper has been replaced. This new man punishes Gale, and takes over District 12 for the worst.

In part II, we learn of riots and uprisings in the other districts. Katniss learns that district 13 might exist outside the power of the capitol, and that two people she meets in the woods are headed there. It is at this point that she finds her mockingjay has become a symbol of revolution, and decides that she should not run, but should find a way to rebel like the other districts.

Katniss and Peeta became engaged in the height of the Victory Tour, and at this point in the book, Katniss goes on television to show the people of Panem the wedding dresses that have been picked out for her. After this programming, everyone is required to watch the news about the upcoming Quarter Quell. This is the special Hunger Games that happens every 25 years after the inception of Panem. There are special rules or conditions for the Quell and this is what the choose to announce. This years Quarter Quell will use only tributes reaped from past victors. This means Katniss has no choice but to partake, and that her partner can only be either Haymitch or Peeta.

She is distraught with the news, as one would expect. Victors have always been safe from playing in the Games again, and now she has no choice but to play again, and against two of the most important people in her life. This upset me, but I expected something like this to happen.

Once the Reaping occurs, we find that Peeta and Katniss will once again be batting against each other, but this time Katniss makes sure that Peeta will be the one to return to District 12.

All of Panem is in unrest because of the tributes being victors. Uprisings only increase, and even those of the Capitol are rebelling against their ruler. Cinna transforms Katniss’ interview dress – the final wedding dress chosen for her by the President – into the mockingjay that is the symbol of revolution. Peeta mocks the capitol by lying and saying her and Katniss are already married and expecting child, and all of the victors join hands to show that they are united against the Games this year.

Part III opens up with all the tributes on their metals plates within the arena. This time they are all in the middle of water, and only a select few can swim. Alliances form between Katniss, Peeta, and a few other tributes to understand the arena. They discover that the events that happen are clockwork, and that the arena itself is designed as a clock. Almost all of the tributes outside the alliance are taken out, when they seem to turn on one another. Johanna seems to turn on Katniss. Katniss is unsure of any of her other allies, and only seeks to find and keep Peeta alive.

At the very end of the story, Katniss (along with the reader, of course) finds out that the goal of her ally, Beetee, was not to kill the other tributes, but to destroy the force field surrounding the arena and to get Katniss away from the games. The existence of District 13 is confirmed, as is the uprisings all over Panem. We end the book with the realization that although Haymitch, Gale, Prim, and Finnick are alive, District 12 no longer exists, and Peeta has been kidnapped by the Capitol.

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In my opinion, Catching Fire was definitely better than The Hunger Games,whether it was the level of rebellion surrounding it, the increase in character development, my investment in the story line itself, or just better writing from Collins. I think that Collins chose well by putting Katniss back in the Games, and it didn’t seemed forced at all.

I think the arena was brilliantly done, and the alliance allowed Peeta and Katniss to become more rounded characters.

I still absolutely adore Peeta, but Katniss gives me mixed feelings. I really disliked her character throughout part I, but I was on the fence throughout the rest of the book. I understand she is young, but I feel like all of her decisions are harder then they should be, and her mind changes often. I still think she needs to take a moment to assess her feelings for Gale, and for Peeta. Peeta obviously brings her comfort, and she wants him with her so much of the time it seems ridiculous to me that she wouldn’t know that he means something more to her than just a fellow tribute. She has a tendency to illustrate herself as selfish, but I think that often enough she gives up so much without it being acknowledged.

One thing I must address is the writing style of both books. One of my readers commented that the idea of the books themselves was great, but that the writing really sucked. I don’t disagree, and there were a few moments when I had to stop and re-read something because it just didn’t flow right or the words seemed put together strangely. That being said, as readers we have to understand that this book is from the point of view of a 16 to 17 year old. It wouldn’t be true to Katniss as a member of District 12 in a post-apocalyptic society for her speech level to be extremely advanced. We can’t expect her to talk like she was popped straight out of the books we consider classics. A perfect example is in The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. It is narrated by different people, and with each comes a different style. Benjy’s chapters are a challenge within themselves, as he is severely mentally retarded. There are points at which you aren’t even sure what he is referring to.

When I finished Catching Fire, I immediately wanted to start on the last book of the trilogy. I refrained, but only because I needed to write this blog in the same manner I wrote the other one. I wasn’t as upset as I was when I finished the first book, and I had more of a sense of closure, even though the cliffhanger at the end of this book did seem more elaborate than the first book. I didn’t think I would have a problem sleeping like I did after The Hunger Games but I definitely did. I’m not sure what to credit it to, but I slept like crap last night. I would also likely gives this book 4 out of 5 stars, maybe 4.5 out of 5, or I might lower the first book to 3 or 3.5 out of 5. I was less level-headed after the first book, so my rating was likely a little skewed. I still don’t like the idea of watching the movies, but I do like the idea of having a mockingjay necklace. I also didn’t really have any unanswered questions like I did in the last book.

What did you think of Catching Fire? What did you think of Katniss? Do you have any unanswered questions? 

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