Book Review, Dystopian, Fiction, Young Adult

Book Review: “Catching Fire”

Rating: 8.2 out of 10.0

Author: Suzanne Collins

Genre: YA Dystopian

About: Bursting onto the scene in 2008, The Hunger Games series has now become a global phenomenon, becoming a NY Times bestselling series. In four short years, two more books had been written and the movie adaptation of The Hunger Games was being released. At that time, over 26 million Hunger Games trilogy books had been printed. Its success rivaled that of Harry Potter, becoming one of the most widely-read books among teens and young adults. The success of this blazed a trail for other young adult dystopian series and books including The Maze Runner by James Dashner, which came out in the following year and Veronica Roth’s Divergent, which was published in 2011. There are now very few people in the world who do not recognize the name of The Hunger Games. It has caught on like wildfire and shows very little signs of stopping, now 8 years later.

Likes & Dislikes: As many of you avid readers of this site know, I have tried out various formats for book reviews and have yet to find one that works 100% perfect. So right now I’m altering my standard format and lumping the likes and dislikes together. This is done because I believe books are similar to people in that some of their greatest strengths can be some of their greatest weaknesses too.

To give such an example, the premise for this series is amazing. Brilliant. The execution is equally genius and shows incredible talent on the part of Collins. However, the premise also sets up the scene for graphic descriptions of deaths and wounds. The Hunger Games, a battle to the death, is not a pretty scene. While I think Collins only included as much gore as was necessary and little or no more, younger readers should probably wait a few years to read this. Collins is such a vivid writer that if one is faint of heart, some of the perilous scenes in this novel will keep a person up at night. Overall, a great continuation of what’s looking to me like an amazing series. Among the things I liked were Peeta and Katniss’ character development, the thickening of the plot, and the creative setting in which the events of this novel took place. I think Collins introduced some key and intriguing new characters in this book that may make their way onto my forthcoming “Top 100 literary characters” list (more on that in a few months).

Some of the things that raise warning flags in this are there are some scenes in which characters are naked (or, in the case of Finnick, about as close to naked as you can come without actually being it). These are not explicit or described in-depth or sensuous by any means, and each one has a role in the plot; however, this is something to note, particularly among younger readers. Another aspect is the afore-mentioned violence factor. Violence is a central part of this book and is often described in fair detail. Another thing to take note of is the darkening of themes. In the previous book, things were far from light-hearted, but still there was always hope. Now, as the plot thickens, hope is gone and the characters (and thereby the readers) are rendered the sobbing recipients of an oppressive darkness.

Just some more scraps about this book—call it my two cents, if you will—I thought that a lot of thought had been put into Part III of the book (I won’t spoil anything by saying what it is), but it was not as suspenseful or climactic as we were made to suppose it would be.

Finally, I liked this book. It was an intense story featuring unforgettable characters in a stunning setting. Themes of undying (bad pun) love and loyalty were laid on thick. Indeed, I believe Collins’ main theme in these first two books has been that of loyalty at all costs. She promotes not just doing what helps you, but helping your fellow man and never giving up on those you love. In the dark times the world is in, these are bright messages for readers to grasp and hold on to. Overall, this book is definitely worth your time.

Summary: [I’m removing the summary portion of these reviews for now—comment if you’d like it added back in]

Book length: 391 pages (Scholastic Press edition)

Favorite Character: Finnick

Suggested Age: 13+

Plot- 1.6 out of 2.0
Characters- 2.0 out of 2.0
Setting- 2.0 out of 2.0
Unfavorable content/other- 0.4 out of 1.0
Themes- 0.5 out of 1.0
Dialogue- 0.9 out of 1.0
Quality of writing 0.8 out of 1.0

= 8.2 out of 10.0

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