August 27, 2009

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Well, it's only a few days away now. You can practically taste it, can't you? You know, I really hadn't planned on waiting this long to review Catching Fire. Honestly, I don't know what was wrong with me. I started it over a month ago and was totally into it. I got to the halfway point and started to feel more and more anxious. Like twitchy anxious. And since gone are the days of sitting around all day doing nothing but reading a single book, I found myself moving through my regular day thinking about it constantly, worrying about the characters I care about so much that at night when I went to pick it up I COULDN'T BRING MYSELF TO DO IT. The steady building up of tension and pain that Suzanne Collins does so fiendishly well was too much and my mind skittered away from it in favor of less treacherous waters. I'm not proud of it. But there it is. On to the spoiler-free review.

Katniss and Peeta are home once more. Heralded as heroes they reluctantly take up residence in the mansions reserved for Hunger Games victors in their beleaguered District 12. Given the Capitol's idea of "enough time" to recover and lick their wounds, they must soon set off on the obligatory Victory Tour of the districts of Panem. As always, they are accompanied by their mentor--the irascible Haymitch--as well as Katniss' faithful entourage, including the savvy stylist Cinna. As always, they are under the watchful eye of President Snow. For in the interim time between Katniss' unprecedented ending of the Hunger Games and the launch of the Victory Tour, the Powers That Be have learned a thing or two about just how much of a survivor Katniss is and what and most particularly who she cares about. Knowing what they know, and without any doubt at all of what horror will rain down on her head should she set one toe out of line or let fall one word off script, Katniss herself must do what she does best and figure out a way to stay alive.

Remember how you felt the whole time you were reading The Hunger Games? Like you might never find the bottom of your stomach again? Like the tips of your fingers were permanently flattened from pressing too hard on the book? Well, multiply those feelings by ten and add to it the interminable guessing game of what will happen next and you will have the approximate effect of Catching Fire. That is why I put it down halfway through. It was just too stressful! I could feel all the pain laid out neatly in a row just waiting to befall Katniss and Peeta and Gale. And honestly it made me a bit angry because it felt like I was trapped in there with them and there was nothing was going to stop the inevitable heinousness. This is not to say it's not a fabulous book. Because it is. Seriously enjoyable. I just had to stop and let my fingernails grow back a bit before I could continue on. Because when I did pick it up again I sat down and read it through to the end. Suzanne Collins brings the intensity like you can't believe. Even having read The Hunger Games, I wasn't prepared for it. And it's so much worse when you're already hurting for the characters when you open the book. But that's also the lovely thing about it and it is why I loved this one more than the first. There's more Gale (Team Gale!), more Peeta (the boy really is rather alarmingly sweet), more Haymitch (grrr), more Cinna (yay!), more Effie and Co. (hehe). You get to know them better, you care about them more, but what I loved most about this sequel is Katniss. Strong, dogged, always herself Katniss. She has moments of weakness, moments of sweetness, moments of humor, and a couple of hardcore moments when she is made of awesome. I may have punched the air once in solidarity. And then, just when you don't think you can take another shock to the system, it ends. Just like you knew it would.

28 comments:

  1. OMG, you're killing me. I've been waiting for this book the minute the last one ended. I bought HG for my son and he stayed up reading it all night until he finished, knowing how hard the next school day would be and not caring. So I read it and understood completely. I think Collins is one of the most amazing writers ever.

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  2. BOO for Team Gale. Peeta all the way!


    Great review. I felt the same way about the tension. I couldn't bear to see what would happen next, but I couldn't stand to look away, either.

    I'll link your review from mine, if that's ok.

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  3. I liked Katniss heaps better in this book. And yes it was great but how could you set it down, LOL!

    Also, because it must be said....Team Peeta!

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  4. Rene, I'm sorry!! Only 5 more days now. And I love that story about your son. That is the sign of a good book if ever there was one.

    Vanessa, nooooo! TEAM GALE. You will notice, however, that I did give a nod to Peeta in that last paragraph. I am extremely fond of the boy. Extremely. I just don't want them to end up together. :) And please do link to my review. Thanks!

    Amy, I really am Team Katniss, I think, as by the end of this one I was both incredibly proud of her and utterly enraged on her behalf. She is the only one I trust now. Sigh. I don't know how I put it down. I just couldn't take anymore pain. I'm sure it was me and not the book.

    All right Team Gale people. Where are you? Come make your voices heard!! ;)

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  5. You know, I really need to read the first one...

    Maybe I'll go move it up on my To Read list...

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  6. TEAM GALE! Reading The Hunger Games again this last week with Bart reminded me that, while I love Peeta, it can only be Gale for me. Er, Katniss :)

    I thought this was just the best book ever, and this review is top-notch. It comes out NEXT WEEK!

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  7. I seriously can't wait for this one. Hunger Games is one of my favorites and I've been dying to get my hands on a copy of Catching Fire!! You're review was great, now I really need to hurry and get a copy.

    Is this going to be a trilogy?

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  8. Britt, move it up! You won't regret it. :)

    Janssen, YES! Some well-deserved Gale love. I'm sure your husband understands...hehe. I know, I can't believe the release date finally upon us.

    Kath, thanks! I feel certain you're going to enjoy this one. I was on pins and needles the entire time. Yes, it's going to be a trilogy. And I have absolutely no idea how it will wrap up. *frets*

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  9. 'Dies*
    I need this book now!
    Awesome review

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  10. TEAM GALE! Forever and ever, amen.

    Also, really stoked that the book comes out next week! I'll be buying a hardcover!

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  11. Yay, I am not the only one on Team Gale! I'd almost resigned myself to ignominy for preferring him to Peeta.

    But this is a very cruel (albeit unspoilery) review, because now I cannot wait EVEN MORE. Sigh.

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  12. I would TOTALLY peek at the ending for this book. :P But I haven't read HUNGER GAMES either so me doing that won't happen for a WHILE, but I probably would.

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  13. Blodeuedd, thanks! You really do need it. I'm still reeling from it.

    Trish, *highfive*. Forever is right!

    R.J., you too?! Woo-hoo! There may be more of us than we think...
    I am sorry for the cruelty.

    Janice, LOL. You're terrible! I was so tangled up in each moment it never even occurred to me to peek. You really musn't though. Not before you've even read THE HUNGER GAMES! Which, btw, you should go do now. So you can join Team Gale! ;)

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  14. Awesome review, Angie! I was getting all tense and anxious just reading your review. I can't imagine how I'll be when I'm reading the book for myself!

    I'd better avoid caffeine that day or I'll be super, super jittery....

    But I'll want the caffeine to stay up all night and read...

    Oh the dilemma!

    I'm TEAM GALE after having read The Hunger Games, but I'm open minded. I think because in the end, I'm like you... TEAM KATNISS!

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  15. Great review! At least the 1st isn't that far away..sigh...

    Now all I have to do is sit patiently for this one and then wait until October for Fire (repeating over and over "I think I can, I think I can", lol).

    I have to say that I was wondering where Collins would take this story, but I'm happy to know that it certainly isn't ho-hum!
    Oh, and I don't think I've decided between Gale and Peeta yet...we shall see! :D

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  16. Christine, thank you! It really is a dilemma. So much so that I had to take a break! Crazy. Yay for TEAM GALE! But I think we can all agree Katniss is the center and it's never more clear than at the end of CATCHING FIRE.

    Samantha, nope, not far away at all. :) And you will be SO happy when you get your hands on FIRE. Man, that's a book! Neither fire book coming out this fall is ho-hum, thankfully. If you do decide between the boys, do let me know. :)

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  17. Down with TEAM GALE. LOL!!

    I think you very acurately captured what it is like to read this. A nail biter for sure.

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  18. Lenore, Team Peeta will be the one going down *hiss* ;)

    Thanks! It was a roller coaster for sure.

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  19. Why is anyone Team Gale? He's only in the book for a few scant pages, for goshsakes!

    IT'S ALL ABOUT PEETA!!!!

    He's better for Katniss anyways. *ninja vanish*

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  20. Thea!?! Team Peeta? Whyyyyyyyy? You are Team Tam and Team Adam, woman. You must be TEAM GALE! He may only be there for a few pages in THE HUNGER GAMES, but he made an impression.

    And how, pray tell, is Gale not as good for her as Precious Peeta? ;-)

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  21. LOL! Angie I must say I was as shocked as you when I saw your allegiance to Team Gale! :p (I liked Jacob from the Twilight books too, if I'm not mistaken as you did!)

    I am all for Peeta because he genuinely loves Katniss for who she is, and will do ANYTHING for her (especially in CATCHING FIRE which I just finished in a reading flurry!). You know what I mean, when it happens in book 2 :p Because Peeta is so honest and straightforward and genuine in his intentions with Katniss. Because I think people change and grow from young puppy love, and when they go through drastic experiences like Katniss and Peeta have, they fall in love with each other against all logic and determination not to.

    I. Love. Peeta. Hehehehe.

    (Of course, I almost ALWAYS pick the "losing" side of a triangle and I can see Gale being the end game for Katniss...but I can hope for sweet, honest Peeta, can't I?)

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  22. Thea, I will give you this. I did not remotely like Peeta in THE HUNGER GAMES. And I loved Gale right off. From the first pages of them hunting in the woods together. But after CATCHING FIRE Peeta completely won me over....to liking him. I mean, my gosh, with the sweetness. BUT.

    Isn't it funny how we can see things so differently? I don't think he understands Katniss. He keeps trying but doesn't quite get it. He loves her for sure. But does she love him? I think you're right that drastic experiences can be the perfect situation for falling in love. But based on her thoughts and actions, I don't think she loves him. I mean she's saving him from obligation or guilt. And the quality of her reactions to when Peeta is in trouble vs. when Gale is are telling (you know the part in book 2 I'm talking about!)

    Whereas I'm banking on the longterm friendship and profound understanding and relying on each other for years and years between Katniss and Gale. That said, after my initial shock (hehe), I'm kind of happy you love him. It's like all the others who love him WOULD love him. Peeta doesn't need their love. But you....I think he might need yours. ;-)

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  23. kimberly12:01 PM

    This is by far the best blog and review about CATCHING FIRE...so far. Props to you. I JUST finished reading this today. I think it caused somewhat of a panic attack for me. I got soo stressed out over the well-being of these characters that I literally became sick to my stomach. And the addition of the new characters didn't help one bit!! I love them all!!!! Well...almost all of them. Ughh. I sound pathetic, but this is the hold these books have on me! I could not put it down for the sake of my own sanity.

    I am 100% Team Katniss, that is a given. And that is a team I never really thought of being able to become a part of. I only saw one side of this and thought Peeta vs. Gale were the only two. Then I saw the light and was like "Oh yes, Katniss. That is the team I am on." Like it was said in the above comment, she IS the only person I can trust. But even while I was reading, I had serious doubts about what she is/was going to do.

    On that note....Peeta vs. Gale!!! I do not know who to choose!!! All throughout THE HUNGER GAMES I was 110% for Peeta, but now in CATCHING FIRE, I'm 110% unsure!!! My roommate thinks I'm a crazy traitor for thinking this, but as of right now I'm leaning towards Gale. You all make such valid points in the above arguments, but I believe I just might have to reread this masterpiece and decide for myself. I'm thinking Katniss can have Gale, only if I can have Peeta. ;)

    Also...WHY DID IT HAVE TO END ON SUCH A CLIFFHANGER?? I want more already, and a year is too long to wait. I'm sorry. I should stop now before I say something I might regret, don't want to spoil it for anyone.

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  24. TEAM GALE ALL THE WAYYYYY!!! he is WAYYYY better than peeta, peeta i luv him but he is extremely annoying and over protective. He wont let Katniss be herself, where gale who has ALWAYS been there for Katniss will love her for who SHE is. Peeta has a fake view of her... and i have a suspision tho that one of them will die.. or maybe Katniss. :(

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  25. Anonymous4:46 PM

    I think Gale should go die...so all Katness has to think about is PETA!!!! (team peta all the way)

    whoever wins over Katness...half of the readers WON'T be happy

    I hope its Team Gale Fans who have that disappointment...sorry

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  26. Anonymous7:30 AM

    Team Gale rocks! Sure, peeta's nice and all but it introduces Gale first and I got attached. Gale is kind yet boyish and Katniss and him share a remarkable bond through their hunting and gathering and snare setting. Peeta kind of reminds me of those cute little fluffy pink cakes he ices. Girlish and kinda...smothering?
    Anyway, Gale's got my vote and I hope Katniss ends up with him. In the first book I just adore Rue. So beautiful and her songs and birds and jumping (practically flying) through the tree tops is just amazing.
    Finnick in the second one is cool, but I'm team Gale!!!!!!

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  27. Holy cow this sounds like such an intense read!! Wow!!

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