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Catching Fire

Book #4 (of 2012): Catching Fire
by Suzanne Colins (young adult fiction)

If you haven’t read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, then please note that Catching Fire is the second book in that series and this review will be littered with The Hunger Games Spoilers. Please don’t read this unless you’ve read the first book, trust me, you won’t regret it!

This is a good book, although the beginning, the Victory tour, didn’t keep my atention very well so I had some trouble getting into the book to begin with and was beginning to worry that the whole book would be Victory Tour, but it’s not, so once the tour was over and the plot twist came I was caught and really into it! I liked the book and how we first portrayed Finnick and the others as enemies (but especially Finnick I think, Katniss just really didn’t like him at first) but then began to get to know them and like them more and more.

I like what happened at district eleven during the tour, the whistle and the salute. Even though it was dangerous it showed where the country was going and what was beginning to stir up in the districts.

I loved the way Cinna turned on the President with what he did with Katniss’ dress that she had to wear to the interview for the Quarter Quell games. The transformation and the fact that not even she knew, it was wonderful. The way Suzanne Collins writes as well, is very descriptive and it feels like you’re seeing the transformation happen as it goes on. We feel Katniss’ panic as the flames appear, we understand her confidence in Cinna and then we see her wonder as she sees herself transformed into a mockingjay. That was probably one of my favourite parts in the book.

Read with caution… ūüėČ

The book begins back in District 12. Peeta and Katniss have both won the Hunger Games together, something unheard of before they both threatened to commit suicide rather than kill each other, and now live in new houses with their families. They have enough food and telephones and luxuries they’ve never had before now. Katniss’ mother is using these things to be a healer or a doctor in the village as she has ready access to medicine now and Katniss uses their old house as a hideout, somewhere to get away from people, or get her stuff together before or after going hunting. Katniss is struggling with maintaining the public appearance of loving Peeta when she doesn’t and it’s all strained her relationship with Gale who was publicly portrayed as her cousin throughout the Games.
Katniss and Peeta are awaiting their prep teams and Cinna to arrive from the capitol to help them prepare for the “victory tour” which is ¬†when the Hunger Games winner (well winners this time round) tour the districts making speeches and being congratulated by people in the districts of those they killed in order to win. The tour concludes with a big party at the capitol and then a big party and the winners’ home district.

The morning of the prep team’s intended arrival, Katniss arrives home from hunting (alone, Gale now works in the mines, so she doesn’t see him often), her mother seems anxious. A capitol official is in the kitchen with her mother and escorts her to the study where Katniss is greeted by none other than President Snow. This is not protocol, the president doesn’t visit people in their districts, not unless it’s very important. As it turns out, he’s there to warn her, but more threaten her, before she embarks on the victory tour, not to try stirring anything up, not trying to start a rebellion because he will kill Peeta and he will kill Gale and her family and everyone she loves if she does anything out of order. She must play up the romantic tie between her and Peeta perfectly and to Snow’s satisfaction or they’ll all be punished. After the “visit” Katniss lies to her mother and tells her that it’s normal for the president to congratulate the victors, it’s just not televised so they never knew. Soon after Cinna and the prep team arrive and she’s whirled back into the commotion of being plucked and pruned into some beautiful creature of the Capitol.

The first stop on the tour is District 11, where Rue and Thresh were from. Once there Katniss and Peeta must give speeches they have prepared and at the end of his, Peeta adds a surprise and announces that as a token of their regret and thanks, Katniss and he would like the tributes’ families to have a months worth of their winnings every year. The crowd gasps and though Katniss completely agrees she wonders if this is even legal… Katniss then gives a quick and yet touching speech and at the end of it, there is a moment of silence and then someone starts up Rue’s four-note tune and then the crowd, in one motion, put the three middle fingers of their left hand to their lips and raise them to Katniss. It’s the salute, the signal that her district gave her when she volunteered for Prim, but here it fills her with dread. She remembers what President Snow said and worries this might be seen as starting a kind of uprising. When they’re quickly ushered out, Katniss tries to go back and get her bouquet that she forgot, only to see the old man who whistled Rue’s tune being executed in the square. This wakes her and Peeta up, or perhaps it could be said it kills them a bit… They go through the motions, reciting their pre-written speeches at all the other districts and agree that they should get engaged to protect their loved ones from President Snow’s threats. When they arrives at the Capitol they are interviewed by Caesar Flickerman and Peeta proposes to Katniss live, and she delights Caesar and all of Panem when she “happily” accepts. They attend a party (or feast you might call it…) and during the dancing Katniss is approached by Plutarch Heavensbee who is the new head gamemaker (and will be in charge of planning the next year’s games). While dancing with her he mentions that he has to go to a planning meeting for the next year’s games and shows her his watch, when he rubs his thumb across the crystal of the watch a mockingjay (like the one on Katniss’ pin) appears and then disappears. “It starts at midnight” he says and says goodbye to go to his meeting.

The last stop of the tour is in District 12, Peeta and Katniss’ home district. They’re taken to the mayor’s house to be prepped by the prep team and when Katniss is finished early she goes to find the mayor’s daughter, her friend, Madge. On her way to find her she pops her head into the mayors study to say “Hello” and sees a report on a television channel for the mayor’s eyes only about an uprising in district eight. She quickly leaves the room and hurries of to find Madge.

On a Sunday trip to the lake with Gale, Katniss suggests they run away, like they once thought of doing before she went to the Games. She wants to run away with Gale’s family, Peeta’s family, Haymitch, and her family. As she tries to convince Gale (who doesn’t want to go with Peeta and Haymitch) she acciedently mentions the uprising she heard of in eight which sparks his interest. She is unable to convince him to leave however, he wants to stay and participate in the rebellion against the Capitol.

Quickly now, too many words…
A new head Peacekeeper is brought to district 12 and he’s mean, he keeps the rules tightly and beats those who break them. He whips Gale and would have killed him if people hadn’t interfered and he turns on the electric fence and Katniss almost gets trapped outside it after a visit to the lake where she meets two refugees (They are from district eight and are running away to district 13 where they hope to find an underground city with survivors from when 13 was destroyed by the capitol).

Soon it’s time for Katniss’ wedding shoot. A photo shoot in which she has pictures taken in six wedding dresses and when the program is aired, the people of the capitol vote on which she’ll wear to her wedding. The next evening the shoot is aired on television and after it comes the reading of the card for the third Quarter Quell. The Quarter Quells happen in twenty-five year intervals and every time they happen a card is read that was written by the creator of the games saying what’s to be “special” about that year’s Games. This first Quell the district had to vote on the tributes who went in to the arena, the next, twice as many tributes had to go in. This year when they read the card it announces that the tributes will be chosen from the surviving victors from each district. Katniss has a breakdown, she is going back into the Games with either Haymitch or Peeta.

Peeta, Katniss and Haymitch all prep this year, working out like careers so they’ll be stronger and have a better chance of winning.¬†The reaping comes and Haymitch’s name is drawn and Peeta promptly volunteers for him. Peeta is determined to keep Katniss alive and Katniss is determined that this year, she and Haymitch will work to keep Peeta alive. ¬†They go to the capitol and on their way research the other tributes and watch the recordings of their games so they can see how they fight. The have their interviews and their prep with their old preps team and Cinna. Katniss’ team, Octavia, Flavius, and Venia are heartbroken that she’s going back into the Games and keep breaking down in tears as they try and get her ready.

During the training work outs at the Training Center Haymitch instructs Katniss and Peeta to find some people they want to form an alliance with. When they finally get into the Games (the arena is a circle with the Cornicopia¬†in the middle surrounded by water. At the water’s edge is beach and then jungle) Peeta and Katniss end up in an alliance with Finnick, Mags (who, sadly, dies), Johanna, and Wiress (who also, sadly, dies), and Beetee.

And you know what…I’m not gonna say anymore, I’ve spoilt enough, so go read the book, I’m not sparknotes =D

All in all 8 out of 10. It was a good book with a good story but it ended with a terrible cliff hanger and the only reason I’m as okay with that as I am is because the next book was already sitting ready for me on my shelf. Now cliff hangers keep you interested yes but this one draws you in and in and in and then cuts of leaving you in shock.

In other news I registered in the Capitol on the official Hunger Games website thecapitol.pn and was assigned to live in district nine and be a harvester.
What district do you live in?

– Becky


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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult