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I just finished reading my sixth book of the year – Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – and damn, I could not put this book down! And I have to say, when I started reading The Hunger Games trilogy, I told myself I was going to take my time with them, savour the writing, and not tear through them, as I tend to do most of the time (like I did when I got the complete set of Harry Potter books).

That said, I desperately want to go out and buy Mockingjay right now. Catching Fire left such a cliff-hanger. Now warning: this is a book review and there will be spoilers if you have yet read the books.

Anyway, the book was slow to begin with, but I think it was necessary to build up the anticipation of the action that would happen later. The book started out with Katniss adjusting to the changes that come with being a victor of the Hunger Games, and also, dealing with the consequences of her actions in the arena. She realized that she has accidentally became a catalyst and an icon to an underground resistance movement that is now starting to rebel against the Capitol.

Then President Snow announced the Quarter Quell Games, which are exactly like the Hunger Games, except they happen every twenty-five years and usually are made up of victors from the previous games. Katniss and Peeta and other victors are forced back into the arena.

I felt this part of the book was a bit contrived – it just so happens that the year Katniss and Peeta are victors, the year after they have to partake in the games again. Though I can see why Suzanne Collins would do this: all the victor characters needed to back into that setting to destroy the arena (by destroying the force field around it) and therefore, creating an environment for big change to happen, a.k.a. the rebellion.

Katniss and Finnick and a few others are picked up by the rebels (and Haymitch!). Can I just say I am loving Haymitch right now? Katniss mentions that although he’s been a drunk for all these years, maybe he is so clever that he’s been playing us the whole time. He’s been in with the rebellion for years clearly and planned the best way to throw the rebellion in the Capitol’s face.

One of the big plot twists in this storyline was that he was making all these deals and alliances with the other victors to ensure the safety of Katniss and Peeta in the arena. Also Plutarch Heavensbee was planted as the Head Gamesmaker, even though he has been part of the underground rebellion for years. Wow! The last chapter just took me by surprise and I couldn’t believe it! I was glued to the page.

Unfortunately, the Capitol picked up Peeta, which will mean that Katniss will do anything to get him back. I’m not quite as afraid of Peeta’s safety as I think the author would have you to believe. He is quite clever and charming, and President Snow will keep him alive as a bargaining chip. That being said, this author could be ruthless in the third book and kill Peeta off. I guess I’ll have to wait to find out!

I certainly thought this book was fantastic and a good follow-up to the first book. This book also perfectly sets up the third and last book of the trilogy. Though I feel like for the Quarter Quell games there wasn’t as much emphasis on the Capitol watching their every move, like there was in The Hunger Games. I think if the Capitol was watching as closely as they have in the past, wouldn’t they realize what the victors were doing at the very end with the conductive wire? Maybe they did but by then, Katniss had destroyed the force field and that was that.

Another bit that I had problems going along with was the arena. A giant clock that the victor knew where it ended, i.e. where the force field was? It was clever, but a bit out there for me.

All in all, great second act for The Hunger Games, a bit contrived and improvised, definitely can’t wait for the third installment.

Rating: Enthralling*

*I’m testing out my own rating system. It goes like this: “Pretty bad,” “Tolerable,” “All right,” “Exciting,” and “Enthralling.”

Book 6 Out of 60