* A little bit louder and a little bit worse
Title: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire is disappointing. I remember thinking that even as I finished it the first time. I raced through it desperate for more of Katniss’s story, but even then the novel felt like filler, just taking up time until the events of the third book.
The first 200 pages frustrated me. I found myself skimming more often than reading. The love triangle is heavily featured, but to me that is not interesting. I think Katniss’s relationship to Prim is much more interesting (and the real love story of the books). However, their interactions are very limited and of no real consequence in Catching Fire.
There’s a lot of exposition, too much telling and not enough showing. This is a problem I also had with The Hunger Games, but I am more willing to forgive it there because I see it as necessary for the world building. Here it just seems lazy.
Catching Fire is much more action-driven and less about character development than The Hunger Games, and I found it a much less compelling reread than The Hunger Games. I mostly kept reading to remember the plot not because I felt invested in the story. Some of the new characters are interesting, but very one dimensional – with the exception of Finnick.
The conflicts all fall flat. There are only so many times repeating one conflict can be compelling before it just becomes tiresome (Ross and Rachel, anyone?). In The Hunger Games, the question is always how will Katniss win? But the conflicts and situations all differ in interesting ways and lead the plot forward to her eventual victory. In Catching Fire the conflict is what terrible horror will this portion of the jungle bring? Oh, what happened was terrible. How terrible. And should Katniss and Peeta leave the other tributes or not? Let’s just waffle on that subject for the last 200 pages of the book. Is she in love with Gale or Peeta? Why is this even a question?
The cliffhanger ending of the book will keep you wanting more. And once you get through the filler, it does a decent job of setting up the action for Mockingjay. However, there is a marked downgrade in quality from The Hunger Games and Catching Fire.