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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Book Review:Catching Fire

Premise:During Katniss and Peeta's victory tour, a revolution spreads.

Author:Suzanne Collins.

Genres:Drama, action

Notes:The second book in the Hunger Games trilogy. Cover taken from the official website and belongs to Scholastic.

Pros:The bad guy. The protagonist's point of view. Some cool characters.

Cons:Overly complicated romantic subplot. Ends on a huge cliffhanger. A couple of annoying characters.

Katniss Everdeen may have won the Games, but she is not safe. It seems her method for saving herself and her TV beau has encouraged some to rebel. Naturally, the President isn't happy about this. So, he tells her, she had better convince them she was and is in love with that boy. Otherwise, well, it could end very badly.

So we get further into the oppressive government thing, and this time, they're desperately clinging to power as the country rebels. Speaking of that, I liked President Snow. He was a little unnerving, and plenty cold.

While Katniss got annoying at times, her point of view was a big part of what made the book worth reading. It made you feel upset with the Capitol, afraid for the other characters. I enjoy reading books that really get me into what the protagonist is feeling.

Now for the bad stuff. A couple of the characters got on my nerves. Katniss herself wasn't exactly the brightest star in the sky. And Gale was acting kind of jerky. Admittedly, he had an understandable reason (feelings for Katniss and frustration with the government), but still. And speaking of that, the love story was rather messy. The fact that Katniss doesn't feel the same way about Peeta would have been enough without ever involving Gale. There's even a hint another girl is into Gale, making things even more complicated.

Without spoilers, I will say the ending was a cliffhanger. Not a "there's some stuff the characters still need to get through, but they'll be okay" kind of thing. I mean a gigantic twist that won't be handled until the next book (which I'll get to reviewing sometime soon, with any hope).

So it could be better, but it's still a fairly good sequel.

Sex:Both Peeta and Gale are in love with Katniss, causing quite a bit of tension. Peeta she kisses frequently for the cameras (once angrily remarking she has been practically tearing his clothes off for the country's benefit), while Gale gets one in privately. To avoid suspicion, he's called her cousin. And her wearing provocative outfits is specifically avoided.
Someone lies about marrying his girlfriend and getting her pregnant. Our star-crossed lovers sleep in the same bed, but it's not clear if have a sexual relationship. Even so, there's gossip about this and Katniss says she feels immoral about sharing her bed with Peeta when she can't decide how she feels about him. Katniss gets upset when she thinks there might be something going on between Madge and Gale, but discovers she was wrong.
When Katniss's old prep team visits, she mentions there's no privacy between them (they see their tributes nude). There are a few mentions of tattoos in intimate places. A woman strips naked while in an occupied elevator, then later oils her nude body before a wrestling match. A man kisses Katniss on the mouth. Another guy flirts with her. A Peacekeeper was notorious for his habit of bedding young women, some of whom would line up in front of his door so they could earn extra money for food.
One of the victors wears a net that only technically keeps him from being nude. It's mentioned since he turned 16, he sleeps with several people every time he visits the Capitol. He performs CPR on a boy, which Katniss at first thinks is kissing. She finds this strange, even for him. She mentions she has become less affected by nudity thanks to all the injured and sick brought to her mother's table.

Violence:People are killed and wounded by mutant apes, poison fog, and electricity. Weapons wielded include axes, guns, knives, and tridents. There are several riots. Both Peeta and Katniss have nightmares about the arena and a few specific, gory instances. Katniss has a flashback of a friend being run through with a spear. Someone is torn apart by an unseen danger, their body pulled out in pieces. In an old Hunger Games, the environment proves poisonous and the animals vicious. A volcano erupts, a boy holds in his intestines, a girl loses her eye, and someone dies when an ax lands on her head.
Someone remarks she'll tear someone else's throat out despite of this woman's pregnancy. A previous victor is notorious for using her teeth to do just that to one of her opponents. Someone is whipped (which leaves lots of raw wounds), and someone else catches a lash. When Katniss asks her mother how they treat a person wounded like that in the summertime, the reply is keep the flies away. A few people are hit in the head to knock them out.
To help herself feel better, Katniss fantasizes about killing President Snow, admitting it's not too pleasant a daydream. Earlier, she smelled blood on his breath and wondered if he drinks it. She also scratches Haymitch's face. A woman says she wishes she could have torn Katniss's gorgeous dress off her back (it's not entirely clear if this is meant to be sexual), while Katniss thinks this woman would have loved to take a few inches of flesh with it. A guy teases Katniss by pretending to hang himself. Someone decides to stop the Capitol from hurting anymore of her loved ones by killing them herself.

Language:A couple uses of "h*ll". Characters curse, but the actual words aren't specified.

Drugs/Alcohol:There's Haymitch's alcoholism (and he's not the only victor who turns to alcohol or drugs). At one point, he went in withdrawal. Katniss has made sure to stockpile liquor ever since. She also mentions a guy who drinks more than Haymitch does. Katniss herself gets drunk after something horrible happens. Peeta puts an end to it by disposing of the liquor stash and ensuring the woman selling it won't give anymore to Haymitch or Katniss.
Apparently, Katniss's prep team trades pills. People drink at a banquet. The Everdeens have a stock of painkillers that they use sparingly (mostly for those already going to die). Sleep syrup is used as well, and compared to alcohol. A woman is sedated. People feasting in the Capitol drink something that makes them puke so they can continue feasting.

Spiritual:Katniss notes some statues of chubby kids with wings (not identifying them as angels).

So what did you think? Did it ignite your interest? Or was it a smoldering wreck?

© 2014 by M.R.R.

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