Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

February 11, 2011 at 15:48 (Book Reviews, Dystopia, Fiction, Highly Rated Books) (, , , , )


The first book of this series was pleasurable, but tasted very much like a one-off success.  It revolved entirely around the gladiatorial teenage competition, and its attempts to write a convincing dystopian world were second rate, played second fiddle to the rest of the plot, and seemed like they would fall flat if wedged into a second book.

How pleasing then, to find that Collins had come up with a sequel that not only recaptures the best parts of her first book and improves on the weaker areas, but is resoundingly successful in finding its feet outside of the arena.  The world outside the Games that was so hesitantly explored in the first book comes to life with faltering footsteps that quickly become more confident.  Collins is wise enough to keep the glimpse of the outside world limited enough that it does not become a poor echo of Orwell or Huxley, but creates something clear enough that her readers are amply rewarded for staying with her this long.

The crowning success for this book is the choice to lead Katniss and the reader back into the arena.  This could so easily have been a disastrous choice, and might have become a tired and repetitive recapitulation of a slightly above-average storyline, cynically reheated and resold.  Instead, she is careful to slash all of the preparations and the crawling around in the mud.  All of the training and anticipating and emotional traffic that made for adequate reading the first time around, and would have been a disaster if repeated.  The entire arena experience this time around is based on a twist that is fairly easy to anticipate, but none the less juicy and delightful for that.  This is still juvenile fiction, but juvenile fiction has never been so fun.

Related Reviews:
The Hunger Games


  1. David said,

    For this holiday’s months I worked at a book store and saw quite a few of these books sell, leaving me to wonder what all the fuss was about. I’m always interested in good “juvenile” fiction, believing it to be some of the best fiction out there, often. This series is beginning to sound a bit worthwhile, although not enough yet to make it on my (very long) “to read” list.

  2. Hannah said,

    Where is your review for Mockingjay, J. Holsworth?

  3. J. Holsworth Stevenson said,

    It’s forthcoming. I try not to bunch a spate of reviews together, so if I read a series quickly I’ll try and space it out.

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