I keep saying I’m not usually a fan of YA fiction for adults, but I must admit I’m really liking this series. It’s a fun, fast-paced page-turner. A light, pleasurable read with plenty of fuel for the imagination. Plus,Collins is a master at chapter endings.
Check out my review of the first book, The Hunger Games, here. To sum up my thoughts on the first novel in the trilogy, I enjoyed the book, but thought the world building lacked detail.
I liked the second book much more than I did the first. Without the constraints of the somewhat tired Battle Royale/Long Walk set-up, Collins finally made the world come alive for me. We gain much more insight into the protagonist’s mind, and to the characters in the village.
The romance (or whatever) between Katniss and Gale gains momentum, as the awkwardness between Katniss and Peeta (really not a good name there) continues.
Collins excels in many things but, as I’ve said before, creating names is not her strong suit. Creating words or futurespeak is even worse. Witness: muttations (genetically modified “mutations” created by the government) and morphlings (people who are addicted to what we can assume is future-morphine).
Catching Fire builds upon the hints from the first novel regarding the spurious nature of much of what the government is saying. President Snow is, well, definitely a YA fiction villain. He apparently smells “of blood and roses.” Really, blood and roses? President “Snow?” In the words of Gob Bluth, come on.
The “twist” for the Quarter Quell is easily predictable, but the arena is cleverly created, and I loved meeting the new characters. Well-done, Collins.
Katniss is becoming a heroine that we not only admire, but understand. She’s tough, but vulnerable. Most importantly, unlike the flat heroes of many YA novels, Katniss has doubts. She doubts herself, she doubts other people. She’s never quite sure of what’s going on, or who she should believe, or even whether or not she herself is a good person.
It’s this doubting, this uncertainty, that I think really drives home the relationship between the characters in this book and the readers. What better characterizes that odd period between childhood and adulthood than painful, questioning uncertainty?
Edit: I also review the third book, Mockingjay, here. For my initial thoughts on the first book and on the series as a whole, check out this Book Beginnings post, here.