Back to the Arena: Reading Catching Fire
Posted by LizzyBeth
Hello all, I hope you are enjoying your summer. My summer reading list has taken a turn. I haven’t read a single book on my list. But I am still pleased with the selection of books I’ve been reading. This month I plan to dedicate my posts to the books I have been reading. I’d love to hear from you about the books you are all reading.
Last year when the Hunger Games film was released, I expressed my opinion about the book and the movie. I ranted about how I did not like first person present tense or Katniss, which hasn’t changed. However, curiosity got the better of me. Watching the trailers and seeing the many pics on pinterest (I have a dear friend who may or may not be a serious fan-girl of the Hunger Games series) of Catching Fire, I couldn’t resist the temptation to find out what was going on.
Fortunately, I had my previous experiences with Katniss and that dreaded first person present tense to guide me in my expectations. Reading Catching Fire was surprisingly enjoyable. I got over my distaste for Katniss and tense and just let the story be told, because I knew the characters differently. I remembered them from the movie, which had given them a depth that Katniss’s perspective could not have known. President Snow in particular was a character that seemed more real to me because I had seen him in the movie, I had seen conversations and decisions that he made that Katniss could not and would not know about. His sudden appearance and his challenge to Katniss had context outside of her perspective of the world. The movie actually helped frame this world for me that Katniss could not through her narration in the book.
I found Catching Fire engaging, as I had not found Hunger Games, because I knew what to expect that is out of Katniss and the writing style. (A testament to Collins’ writing that despite my dislike for certain aspects of the story – main character and style – I was able to enjoy her story) Collins continued to create a world full of stark contrasts, manipulation, glamour and horror. I was not expecting the twist at the end. I was thinking something wasn’t right, after all we were given a glimpse of the Mocking Jay on the Gamemaker’s watch. Katniss did not understand it and I think we as the reader were meant to see it, making a connection that Katniss in her flawed state couldn’t process. Hints but nothing concrete, take the reader on an intense ride with Katniss as she goes back to the arena and faces old fears – death and sacrifice.
We see Katniss express emotions she does not understand herself. We as the reader know that her feelings for Peeta are deeper than the masquerade they put on for the Capitol. Yet, she never actually articulates them. They just cloud her judgement just a little bit more. True to herself, emotions drive her to action but she doesn’t understand them. She is willing to sacrifice herself for Peeta in a way that I don’t think she is willing to do for Gale. Yes, she stopped the whipping but I have a feeling that she’d have done something more drastic if it had been Peeta. This feeling is in fact clouded by my knowledge of the third book however, it is something that Collins hints at all throughout. Peeta is the only one who can comfort her. Why? He was there, he knows the pain of the Games unlike anyone else.
Another aspect of Catching Fire that I truly enjoyed, was the introduction of the other Victors. The Games suddenly had history and a connection to the vaster world that Collins had created, because Katniss was finally making the connections. An interesting thing that was never mentioned in the book but what fandom brought to light was that one of the Victors who volunteered was nearly 80 years old. She was there, there for the Dark Days and the beginning of the Hunger Games. It is little things like that that made the second book in the series so much more than I could have expected.
And of course the twist…the last few pages of the book just took me by surprise. (I won’t say what the twist is for anyone who hasn’t read the books yet…it is too good to ruin). I had to get my hands on the last book, which I did in less then 24 hours.
Next week my reaction to Mocking Jay and my overall thoughts on the series.
About LizzyBethThere is a Story inside of me that I must give a voice. I write so that imagination can take me to Faerie and I can catch a glimpse of the Otherworld and hopefully so will you.
Posted on July 5, 2013, in Books, Characters, Lantern Hollow Press Authors, Literary Criticism, Movie Reviews, Rachel Burkholder, The Hunger Games and tagged Catching Fire, Hunger Games, Katniss, Peeta, President Snow, Summer Reading, Suzanne Collins. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.