Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire by Suzanne CollinsCatching Fire
Suzanne Collins
Scholastic Press
Published on September 1, 2009

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About Catching Fire
Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

My Review
I feel like The Hunger Games is a hard act to follow. In that first book, the whole idea of the Arena, the districts and Capitol were so stark and fresh. In Catching Fire, we already acclimated to the brutality and high stakes of Katniss’s world. So only the plot events can be fresh and new.

I thought the characters, in particular the other victors, added a lot to the story. They were very different from each other and different than the tributes Katniss faced in the Arena in The Hunger Games. Katniss and Peeta’s complementary strengths carry into this book, too. His love for her and his savviness with understanding emotions and motives, which Katniss is pretty much blind to, and her ability to solve puzzles and survive dictate their ability to survive the traps the Capitol sets for them. It also makes them a great couple, even if Katniss stays a bit slow to realize what her true feelings are regarding Peeta and Gale.

Side note: I’ve never liked those names—Peeta and Gale. They both seem kind of feminine to me. The names, not the characters. But it has never bothered me enough to interfere with my ability to read and enjoy the books.

In the first book, Katniss uses physical strength to survive the Arena. Here, she has to rely more on her ability to solve puzzles and choose the right allies. I liked the message, again, that violence isn’t the answer. That instead, cleverness and unity can destroy a powerful enemy.

I’ve listened to Catching Fire as an audiobook at least twice, but I think more often than that. I feel like it’s rare for me to find a dystopian series that I like all the way through where the story, characters, and premise all have equal weight and draw. This one probably tops that list for me. Right up there with Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series.

Catching Fire on AmazonRecommended for Ages 12 up.

Cultural Elements
Central characters are white.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content
Katniss and Peeta spend nights together sleeping and comforting one another through nightmares. No sexual contact. At one point Peeta claims he and Katniss have married in secret and she’s pregnant.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Tributes fight in the arena, killing one another. Some brief, graphic descriptions.

Drug Content
Haymitch spends a lot of time drunk. Katniss and Peeta both squirrel away some liquor for him in case there’s ever a shortage (since it’s against the law to make or sell), which is a pretty enabling thing to do. After receiving some terrible news, Katniss drinks some of the liquor with Haymitch and gets pretty drunk herself.

Catching Fire on Goodreads


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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

2 Responses to Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

  1. Nicole says:

    Great review! I actually found “Catching Fire” took what I loved about “The Hunger Games” and amplified it, even improving upon it in little ways. As far as Peeta and Gale’s names go, my former college writing students and I analyzed them when I used “The Hunger Games” in a composition course I taught. Based on our analysis, “Peeta” is a play on “pita,” a type of bread, which fits Peeta’s background. “Gale” was interpreted in light of its connection to a gale-force wind, which is a potentially destructive force; so my students tied that in to how his character thinks and behaves at times. But those were just my and my students’ takes – just thought I’d share! 🙂

    • I can see those connections. Makes sense. I think Peeta and Gale just sounded feminine to me at first. Makes more sense to think of it in the terms your students do. Thanks! 🙂