Catching Fire

Catching Fire

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for its prequel, The Hunger Games. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, this series really needs no further introduction. Just in case you have just ended a lengthy career as a hermit, Catching Fire was written by Suzanne Collins and first published in 2009. It forms the second part of The Hunger Games trilogy, a series set in a dystopian society which draws its entertainment from a yearly event in which twenty-four teenagers are forced to battle to the death. This novel is preceded by The Hunger Games (2008) and followed by Mockingjay (2010) and you really need to read its prequel before this one as this story does not stand on its own.

Following from her victory in the Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen foolishly believed that the Capitol would leave her alone to get along with her life. It is not until she receives a surprise visit from President Snow that she realises how wrong she is. Her decision to save Peeta in the Games has been viewed as an act of defiance against the Capitol and sparked civil unrest within some of the Districts. Snow believes that the only way to quell an uprising is for Katniss to show them that her intention was no such thing. The only way to do this is to pretend that she’s in love with Peeta for the rest of her life, making any relationship with Gale impossible.

Fearful that her family and friends will otherwise reap the consequences, Katniss goes along with the plan and tries to make her love for Peeta seem believable to all of Panem. However, it is far too late for the revolution to be halted. Violence spreads through the streets as the downtrodden turn on the Peacekeepers. Desperate to stop the impending war, Snow announces a special Hunger Games to mark their seventy-fifth anniversary. Instead of reaping the Tributes from the District children, this time they will reap them from the surviving Victors.

As the only female Victor of District 12, Katniss immediately realises that Snow’s plan is to have her killed. The other Tributes have all been friends for years and such friendships will be hard to overcome when they face in the arena. As her enemies this time are so much stronger and more experienced than in the previous games, Katniss must work harder than ever to forge alliances within the area. Failure to do so will mean certain death.

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The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games

Over the last few years, you may have noticed an increase in popularity in Young Adult novels which have a dystopian science fiction setting. I reviewed one of these – Moira Young’s Blood Red Road – last month and Veronica Roth’s Divergent series has become increasingly talked about in the lead up to its forthcoming film adaptation. The rise in popularity of this genre can be traced back to The Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games was written by Suzanne Collins and was first published in 2008. It forms the first part of a series of books which are collectively known as The Hunger Games Trilogy, also containing Catching Fire (2009) and Mockingjay (2010).

The novel is a first person narrative from the perspective of a sixteen year old girl named Katniss Everdeen. In Katniss’s world – Panem – the poorer people live it outlying Districts that surround the opulent Capitol. As a punishment for a rebellion seventy-four years previously, it has been decreed that every year each district will surrender one boy and one girl to the Capitol. These tributes are chosen by a random lottery and are destined to be pitted against each other in a televised event known as the Hunger Games – a battle to death from which only one victor can emerge.

When her sister’s name is drawn at the Reaping, Katniss immediately volunteers to take her place. Along with her male counterpart – Peeta Mellark – she is transported to the Capitol in order to undergo the combination of public appearances and training that precede the games. During one such interview, Peeta reveals that he has always been in love with Katniss – much to her horror. Katniss sees this as a psychological attack to give him the edge in the arena, yet the people of Capitol eat it up.

Under the instruction of her mentor, Haymitch Abernathy, Katniss is forced to play up this angle, presenting herself and Peeta as star-crossed lovers in order to earn favour with the viewers. In the Hunger Games, such favour means sponsorship and the chance of being awarded gifts that will be essential to her survival. To be without sponsors is to enter the arena at a disadvantage against twenty-three other teenagers, all of whom are desperate to kill you…

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