Saturday, May 03, 2014

Reader's Diary #1118- Suzanne Collins: Catching Fire

Two years ago, after reading Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, I remarked that, while I enjoyed the book a great deal, I was in no rush to read the sequels. Having taken two years to make it to the second in the series, it might seem that I've proven how patient I actually was. However, for me, given my abysmal track record of finishing series, two years isn't actually that bad.

Some of my reluctance, I suppose, was due to the very fact that I enjoyed The Hunger Games so much. Not that there haven't been exceptions to the rule, but sequels tend to suck. Some suck so bad they taint the original. I didn't know where Collins could take it.

The Hunger Games, while not exactly having a happy ever after ending, had a happyish ending nonetheless. The dystopian world of Katniss Everdeen was still standing afterall, but so was she, and that's probably the best a reader could hope for. If the second book aimed to resolve the whole world's problems, then it wouldn't have the whole game element, and what would be the point? Other dystopian books have been there, done that.

At least that's the way I felt going in. However, I quite enjoyed Collins' uprising angle, especially with the districts' usurping of Katniss and the mockingjay as a symbol of rebellion. With Katniss herself having no control over this turn of events, the rebellion began to take on a life of its own. With the uprisings across our world in recent years, it was fascinating to compare such real life events to Collins' fictional world. Katniss, the Girl on Fire, actually came before Tunisia's man on fire, but in both cases we're left to wonder whether they were the catalysts or the unfortunate products of conditions that were just ripe enough to explode.

Oddly, and unpredictably, when Collins takes Catching Fire back into the arena, I no longer welcomed it. It felt like a contractual obligation. Presumably, fans of the games in the first book would want more games. Heck, as a publisher I would have made the same call... but I'd have been wrong. When Catching Fire is focused on the revolution it's way more interesting.

Unlike, the Hunger Games, Catching Fire also doesn't stand on its own. For that reason, and the repetition of the games, I'm less impressed this time around. However, I am more inclined to finish the series now, so I'm clearly still a fan.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

I have been meaning to read the series, but with our local library undergoing renos, the selection is limited. And I am far too disorganized to put a hold on something. Obviously, though, I need to start with the first book, and I shall.

Anonymous said...

Hi John,

I am at 83/13.

Have a GREAT day!