{Book Review} Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Katniss realized that the drab, grim and helpless District 12 isn’t the worst of the 12 Districts once she goes on her Victory Tour. She also realized that she has unwittingly set a rebellion in motion. To stop the rebellion, the Capitol decided that the Quarter Quell (75th Hunger Games) should use former victors of the Hunger Games (in direct violation of one of the prizes of winning the Games–immunity for other Games). Katniss is once again, in a battle for her and Peeta’s life.

This book is my favorite of the three. It’s exciting and fast paced. We are also introduced to more interesting characters–the victors of the other games who are also competing in the Quarter Quell. (I’ve noticed that Katniss tends to pick allies that are sure to die before she will. On the surface, she is picking the marginalized, the tributes that everyone else underestimates but are really smart or adept at surviving. Yet all the allies she conciously picks always end up dying before she does. Some subconcious instict, maybe?) It’s disappointing that we don’t get to dig deeper into those characters. As with most of Collins’ characters, they remain sadly underdeveloped. The only thing I don’t like about this book is how Collins practically shoves Peeta down our throats with LIKE ME, LIKE ME neon signs.

In this book we again have Peeta “exposing” emotional material on screen. I honestly can’t see why people pity him so much when he is every bit as underhanded and more selfish than the rest of the people in this book. He spread the rumor to hopefully save Katniss’ life in blatant disregard of the feelings of everyone around them, even the person who’s life he’s so adamant to save.

It’s quite obvious that the author wants us to like Peeta, and I got the sense that she tried too hard. (On the other hand though, it worked EXTREMELY well for a lot of people.) Peeta’s perfect in every way– strong, rich-in-district-12 Peeta, baker, painter, great public speaker Peeta, world-revolves-around-Katniss-Peeta, you-are-my-life-Katniss Peeta, no-one-cares-about-me-so-it’s-ok-to-die Peeta, i-cant-live-without-you-so-I’d-rather-die (really selfish by the way; how’d you think she’d feel if you were alive and you were dead?), first-stare-across-the-room-at-age-six-means-love-and-it-never-dies-Peeta–except that he can’t hunt. But Katniss can so it doesn’t matter that he lacks that skill, right?

In some way, he reminds me of Bella Swan–his whole life revolves around one person and he’d die if Katniss dies. Like Bella, Peeta also doesn’t think much of his family, or how he’ll be missed and it’s kind of annoying/pathetic how he’s: ‘no one will care if i die.’ etc. Maybe it’s real, maybe it’s a sign of a depressed teenager talking, but it also feels like emotional manipulation because Katniss believes him and becomes, in her mind, the only person who truly cares about him. Peeta then becomes an orphan in Mockingjay, so his earlier ruminations of no one caring about him becomes actually real. For me, it felt contrived (especially when you think about it; that in order to save Katniss’ family, Gale had to pass through the town where the merchants live–where Peeta’s family and Delly’s family live. There was a chance to keep them, Collins chose to kill them off), the audience has no choice but to like Peeta now–he has no one else (not that he ever really liked his family that much, based on his actions and words in the previous books).

And there are some people who might say that it’s romantic that Peeta can give up “everything” for Katniss but I find it utterly selfish. First off, his reasons for doing so are “nobody cares about me anyway, not enough” and that “Katniss, you’re my life”, then it is selfish. He is disregarding all those who care about him, his family and friends because he thinks the love they have given him is lacking. That a house over his head, food, care, love, stories and education were not proof of this. There is actually no “everything” to give up because he doesn’t think much of what he’s already been given anyway. For him, it does not feel like a loss. And secondly, he is only giving up his life so he does not have to face a world without Katniss. What does he think will happen to the her then? Will she be happy he did it? Will Katniss be thankful? If he succeeds, then he has left Katniss a life without him in it. If the feelings are mutual, he has made her life that much harder to live. If the feelings are not, he has burdened that person with a lifetime of guilt. In both ways, he has left that person emotionally scarred. Will she even have the will to live?

I threw up a little in my mouth at the bed scene in Katniss’ house, where she stared at Peeta’s hands and eyelashes. It can not get any sappier than that. I wish this book didn’t have so much pathetic romance in it. Collins is great at writing the suspense scene and the arenas–it’s sad that she has to dabble in trying to make a “love triangle” when 1) it’s obvious she favors one character over the other and 2)it really wasn’t needed for the story.

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