Catching Fire Review

“Catching Fire”, the second novel in the “Hunger Games” trilogy is action-packed and thrilling, much like its predecessor.

It is a brilliant commentary on the struggle for control, as well as on the nature of entertainment. Even though the story is set in a dystopian post-apocalyptic world, the parallels that can be drawn with current life are uncanny.

Catching Fire Review


The Power Struggle in Catching Fire

Suzanne Collins’ Catching Fire picks up where The Hunger Games left off. Katniss has struck a blow to the power hierarchy in Panem with her trick with the berries, and the nation now stands at a precarious moment in time. President Snow, however, is determined to do whatever it takes to hold on to his authority in the nation, but it might not be enough. The districts have been aroused, and Katniss’s fiery personality has set them off.

However, the plot of Catching Fire seems to have a relatively poor foundation. It does seem a little too easy for the rebellion to be stirring against the Capitol with just a few berries. It is also highly unlikely that no one in the history of the Hunger Games has thought of committing suicide rather than kill each other (what with the Hunger Games having completed more than 70 years). This calls the so-called “absolute” power of President Snow into question here. Is he really so afraid of a 17-year-old girl that he has to come to her house to threaten her? This does not seem to be in line with his ruthless personality, who usually puts people to death for the slightest of transgressions.

However, the reason Katniss is kept alive can be chalked up to the fact that her death is capable of adding more fuel to the fire – something which President Snow wishes to avoid. Unfortunately, allowing Katniss to remain alive is a poor move on the President’s part. She is unwittingly drawn into the cause of the rebellion, and ultimately becomes the face of it. Her personality is that of a true leader, while her fierce passion rouses the sentiments of others around her. Slowly and steadily, she lights a spark everywhere she goes, until the entire nation of Panem is “Catching Fire.” 

Catching Fire is therefore the novel that sets the tone for the rebellion that is soon to arrive in the next installment, Mockingjay. The power struggle that it portrays is similar to the power struggle that can be seen in any autocratic environment across the world. The desperation of President Snow to maintain his power (which only serves to make him more dangerous) is reflected in every fascist leader the world has seen, including Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Mao Zedong. It is a further reminder that people’s representatives are extremely important, which is exactly why the rebellion enlist Katniss into their cause – to become a representative of the people and fight for their rights.

The Final Pages of Catching Fire

The concluding pages of the novel credit Suzanne Collins’ ability to hook the reader in. She introduces several twists in the novel, with the final one taking everyone by surprise. The reader is taken on a rollercoaster, where they are given hope (much like the characters themselves) that both Katniss and Peeta would survive, and subsequently given to despair as that hope is snatched away time and again by the Gamemakers. Katniss’s drastic decision to take out the force field and destroy the arena comes as a shock to everyone in Panem, as well as everyone reading the books at home.

Ultimately, however, Katniss and Peeta end up surviving, although Peeta’s fate rests in the hands of the Capitol. The concluding pages also set the foundation for the final novel, which is based on the Capitol’s fury at Katniss’s rebellion, and the launch of the rebellion itself. Lastly, we are left with the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale, which takes shape in the next novel, Mockingjay.

Thus, the last pages of the novel act as a spark, much like Katniss herself, for the trilogy of The Hunger Games as a whole.

A Commentary on the Nature of Entertainment

The Hunger Games takes entertainment to a whole new level and makes the reader reflect on the kind of entertainment they themselves watch. Granted, nothing on our television screens comes remotely close to the televised events of the Hunger Games themselves, but there are eerie parallels between the Games and reality shows today. 

Just as viewers from the Capitol only care about the entertainment value provided by the tributes, viewers of reality television only care about the entertainment value provided by the contestants on reality shows. With sponsors, Gamemakers, and the “entertainment factor,” the Hunger Games does not seem too far removed from the reality shows of today. As such, The Hunger Games becomes disturbingly relevant in our world, not just because it echoes the lessons we learned from World War 2, but also because it captures the sadistic nature of entertainment in the 21st Century.

The only saving grace of the Capitol in this book is the fact that they are enraged to learn that Katniss has to go back to the arena (where she is almost certain to die) while being pregnant. This shows that not even the most depraved of them is lost, and there is still hope yet for their salvation. This is exactly why Katniss feels sympathy for her vain hair and makeup team. She knows that they have lived an extremely sheltered life and have never been raised to think on their own – something which reflects the dangerous impact of mindless entertainment once again.

FAQs

What is the main theme of ‘Catching Fire?’

The main theme of ‘Catching Fire‘ is the power struggle between the Capitol and the districts. The districts are beginning to rise against the autocracy of the Capitol, and they threaten to overthrow the fragile authority that has been held by the Capitol all these years.

What is a symbol in ‘Catching Fire?’

The Mockingjay bird is a prominent symbol in ‘Catching Fire.‘ The bird represents the failure of the Capitol to tame the jabberjays and is appropriated by rebellion. Katniss herself comes to embody the bird as The Mockingjay.

Why does Katniss pull the berry trick?

Katniss knows that the Gamemakers require at least one victor for The Hunger Games. This is why she decides to consume the poisonous nightlock berries with Peeta – in the hope that the Gamemakers will keep both her and Peeta alive, rather than have no victors at all.

Do Katniss and Peeta get married?

Katniss and Peeta get engaged at the end of the Victor’s Tour in Catching Fire. However, they only get engaged to quench the rebellion. Long after the Capitol has been overthrown, the two of them genuinely fall in love with each other and get married.

Catching Fire: A Gripping Sequel
  • Story
  • Characters
  • Setting
  • Writing Style
  • Dialogue
  • Conclusion
  • Lasting Effect on the Reader
4.4

Catching Fire Review

Catching Fire is a gripping second installment of the Hunger Games trilogy. It builds upon the foundation laid by the first novel in the series and takes the action forward quickly. Characters are more well-rounded in this novel, and the unpredictable twists in the plot make for an unforgettable read. The concluding pages are worth a mention since they make it impossible for the reader to not be curious about the next novel in the trilogy.

Pros

  • Fast-paced and thrilling 
  • Unpredictable twists that add to the plot
  • Builds well upon the first book 
  • Good character development of the main characters

Cons

  • The rebels can communicate too easily in a controlled environment
  • The plot is not well-thought-out
  • Too many deus ex machina
About Neesha Thunga K
Neesha graduated in 2020 with a degree in MA English. Before that, she has spent several years teaching English and writing for various organizations. As a lover of English literature, she truly believes that crafting stories through words is the greatest achievement of mankind. She is now pursuing her passion for literature as an Expert on the Book Analysis team.
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