Forgive me if this doesn't sound much of a review since my mind is still reeling (I just finished reading like a few minutes ago) but I'll do my best to express in words what I really want to say. And I will try not to include spoilers in the review.
Title: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.
I have to say that Suzanne Collins raised the bar higher in this book. It's more action packed, and a lot of things seem to be happening all at once. It was larger, more complicated and deeper. And more surprises and twists and turns as well! See in the first book, I have to say, compared to this one, the action there is nothing compared to Catching Fire. Here you really see Katniss give her all, and most of it happened in just one day!
You also see more of the background stories behind the characters, I think that's one of the things I love in this book. You'll have a deeper understanding, if not complete, of the characters involved. I think Katniss' character developed more in this book, and seeing her life after the games is quite refreshing. It was a very fun read seeing her cope with life so unfamiliar to her, and yet familiar in some ways. She was rich, but things in their lives weren't still that easy.
This is probably one of the things I was intrigued with while reading both THG and CF. How old is Haimitch again...?
If he's been around since the second Quarter Quell, and that was 25 years ago... so that makes him... around 40? It was like he was written as a young man who's got a very serious drinking problem. Or maybe that's just my understanding. Imagine how long he's been fighting off the monsters in his nightmares? Suddenly, his drinking habits made sense to me. If Peeta uses painting to exorcise the demons created by the games, Haimitch copes with his drinking.
Also, if the games have been around for 75 years, why wasn't there an uprising? Not even once? No one had ever tried? It's unbelievable how much power the Capitol has over the people in the Districts, if they were able to keep the uprisings (if there ever were attempts before) under the radar.
I know I'm only reading the book, but I actually cried when I was reading Chapter 4 (while waiting for my bus to appear, looking like an idiot). I haven't read anything more cruel. After that point, I had a pretty good idea to how much The Capitol was willing to do to keep the citizens under control. It's pretty safe to assume that this book made me very emotional, so I guess while reading through the killings (especially Mags' and the Morphling), it had more effect on me.
I also loved how the author was able to integrate new characters into the book smoothly. I have mixed reactions over Finnick, but I think overall he's a good guy, with a bit more character depth. Finnick has his own reasons, and he may look like it, but the golden boy is far from perfect.
Any theories on what happened to Cinna? (Please, if you're going to answer, no spoilers for Mockingjay, pretty please?) I was so afraid for him, but I guess that's just now things are in The Capitol. A cruel government who'd go great lengths to keep the people in line. Why does that seem so familiar? :)
I still think Peeta doesn't deserve Katniss. It's not because I want him for myself (okay that might be a part of the reason why), its just that, and I think that, Katniss will never be able to reciprocate Peeta's love with the same intensity or fervor. Sure she would die for him, but I think, the greatest sacrifice he gives for the sake of his love were the little ones he does for Katniss every single day they were together. He was there when Katniss' nightmares attack, he lost his limb protecting her, and all the while she was there confused with her feelings, torn between him and Gale.
Haimitch thinks so too:
"You could live a hundred lifetimes and not deserve him, you know," Haimitch says.
I loved Haimitch. He might be a drunkard, but not without a reason, and he can say the harshest things to someone (especially to Katniss), but his words get through people. What he says is the truth. Underneath all that drunken facade is a cunning guy. Ah well, I should've known. He wouldn't survive one Hunger Games if he wasn't the type of guy that he is.
And you know I'm really biased on Peeta, I think I really have to say that now, but I don't want to sound unfair, so here's my thoughts on Gale:
I guess when you create a love triangle, its always a must that one guy is always different from the other one. From appearances, Gale is dark-haired, green eyed, for one. He comes off as an aggressive type of guy, someone you know who can protect you, someone strong enough to do so. He's got a very manly aura. If Peeta grew up baking, Gale knew the harsher side of life at The Seam. He had to risk being caught hunting in the woods just so his family can survive. He had to work at the mines, and even at a young age he signed up for tesserae and earned more entries for the reaping (its either he's just really lucky he doesn't get picked. I mean come on, he's got A LOT of entries, and Prim only has one, how come he wasn't chosen?)
I'll put it this way. If Peeta and Gale would play major roles in a war, most likely, Peeta would resort to negotiations and think of strategies to get through it very carefully, and Gale, he's someone who's perfect to lead the uprising. Gale seemed more passionate, more agressive where Peeta would be calm and cool, and think things through.
I take back what I thought (I did say he's stupid, at some point) about him, and I'm wrong. Peeta's the type of guy who acts quietly, mostly behind the scenes. He's actually very clever when you look past all of his weaknesses, and you'll see glimpses of that towards the end of the book.
I think I've resigned myself with the love triangle going on (I don't want to analyze anymore), and I have to agree that Gale finally had more exposure in this book than in The Hunger Games, but for me that still wasn't enough for me to like him. Let's just see what happens in Mockingjay!
The ending was very much a cliff-hanger! If I've read this book the very same month this was released, I'll probably go crazy waiting for Mockingjay. That was definitely a good build-up for the last book, the type that would leave you curious and just asking for more.
And finally, the wheels have been set in motion. I can't wait to see what happens.
I have a feeling that this would be my favorite book in the series. I hope Mockingjay doesn't disappoint me because I have really high hopes for it. I try not to read reviews for the last book, and so far its got mixed ratings/receptions from readers, and I really want to be pleasantly surprised.
Rating: Do I really need to write it? 5 stars of course!
★★★★★ : AWESOMENESS! MORE! MORE! - I can't believe such a book exists!