Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins

*BEWARE of Spoilers for The Hunger Games*

So I read the first book in the Hunger Games series. I both loved it and was furiously annoyed with certain things that Katniss did or did not do. When I read THIS one, (book two) I realized that these annoying things were there to show character development! Ms. Collins is so wise.

So, plot-ness. Katniss and Peetah won the last Hunger Games together! This thrilled the reality-tv junkies in the capital, inspired everyone else out in the districts, and really, really annoyed the Government. The Government being the kind of people you don’t really want to annoy, but you knew that already. (The kidnapping children to kill each other in a televised contest every year was MY tipoff, what was yours?)

The President is annoyed enough that he comes down to visit Katniss, which is a subtly chilling thing, the more you think about it. He has the power to kill her by any manner of imaginative ways and have it filmed, and she just defied him on national television. The scare-factor of the visit goes up a notch when Mister President reveals that he has visited for one reason. To tell her that he wasn’t taken in by her little performance with the berries, but he’s giving her “the benefit of the doubt.” (Somehow, that phrase spoken by Machiavelli isn’t convincing. Et tu?) But if she manages to convince the nation, and him, that she’s blissfully, madly in love with Peetah, he might let her and her family and everyone she cares for live. Maybe.

Just makes you want to vote for the man, doesn’t it?

So, this makes sure that Peetah and Katniss are nice little trophy victors. (Mostly.) They behave well on the tour, propose on cue, act stunned with joy- and it’s all for naught.

No, I am not saying more about the plot here, which lack of information makes me want to chortle evilly. Though that is my default state, so perhaps that doesn’t mean much. *EVIL CHORTLE*

Last book, I was annoyed because Katniss got through a death tourney, with having killed almost no one. This book, it’s not like that. 😀 Character Development, Hello there! Nice to see you! And nice to see how you’ve decided to visit almost everyone except Gale, to boot! You spent a nice lot of time with Haymitch too, and Cinna, which makes me both endlessly delighted and want to gut you! How could you do that to them!?! See how many exclamation marks you make me use!?! You meanie!

Oh, and aside from the obvious themes of death, terror and freakish machinery -“let’s have a tidal wave of BLOOD! Awesome, yes!”- I noticed a theme of information not being communicated to the MCs. They’re blundering around stages watching old men be shot, while in the background people in the know plan things and tell everyone ELSE what’s going on. Given the acknowledged presence of torture in this world, I can hardly blame them, but it still makes for several moments where I experienced that so-familiar teenage angst. WHY DON”T I KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING?

So yes, the book still annoyed me, even while I loved it. 😀 I just loved it more and was less annoyed than by Hunger Games.

Oh, and the ending. So called. Oddly enough, the “ending” for this annoyed me FAR more than the “ending” in The Summoning, which I recently heard compared to this one. I mean, in The Summoning, at least it ends conversations. THIS BOOK ENDS IN THE MIDDLE OF A SHOCKING STATEMENT. That’s just CHEAP TRICKS, People! Yanking my chain like that. *grumbles*

I gave it four stars out of five. Can I have Mockingjay now please?

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