The Hunger Games: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – Book Review [Bane of Kings]

Catching-Fire-cover

Bane of Kings reviews the second novel in the bestselling Hunger Games Trilogy, written by Young Adult Author Suzanne Collins and published by Scholastic Books.

“Although not as memorable or as good as the first, Catching Fire will have you hooked right the way through.” ~The Founding Fields

I don’t think I’m the only one who didn’t like Catching Fire as much as The Hunger Games, the first novel in the trilogy named after the first novel. The Hunger Games was epic, entertaing and page-turningly fun. Whilst Catching Fire may not has been as epic as The Hunger Games, it certainly knew how to keep you reading. I started this with high expectations, and I’m going to say now before this review continues that I am dissapointed with Catching Fire. Delving in more to the teenage-angst side which is one of the reasons why I often avoid Young Adult books, Catching Fire focuses a lot more on the romance, and this is where it lets itself down in my opinion.

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol– a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

In Catching Fire, the second novel of the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before… and surprising readers at every turn.

There is a lot of reasons why I didn’t like Catching Fire, and the first one is Katniss Everdeen, our main protagonist with an odd name. (Well, everyone has an odd name in The Hunger Games Trilogy, but still…) In book number one she was a good, strong character. She was likeable enough to root for, a no-nonsense character and on top of that, pretty smart. However, in Catching Fire, Katniss has seemingly changed. And, unfortuantly, not for the better. She makes more stupid mistakes than in the first book, acts without thinking, and often misreads pretty much everyone. This wasn’t the Katniss that I’d grown to support in The Hunger Games – this was almost a different character, as many of the things she does in Book #2, I wouldn’t see her doing in Book #1 – which was a real shame – as the potential to have Katniss develop as a character in Catching Fire isn’t really expanded on.

However, with that said, why was I unable to put Catching Fire down, if I didn’t like Katniss anymore? Well, I just wanted to know what was going to happen next. The author manages to surprise her audience and keep them guessing as to where the novel is going to go. Or at least, until we’re put back into the Hunger Games again. Yep, you heard me. Rather than come up with a new and original plot, Collins has, rather than ripping off somebody else’s creation, ripped off her own instead. The whole incident of the 24 tributes battling against each other is repeated again, which is a bit dissapointing. I would have loved to explore more of Panem, the setting of The Hunger Games Trilogy, and seen different settings for a change. However, the author doesn’t do this. She just tries to expand on the Games again, and I’m glad that Mockingjay (Book #3) doesn’t feature them.

However, even once the games were in motion, Collins still managed to keep me reading. I just wanted more of this trilogy, despite all the negative things that I’ve said about it and am going to say about it. She manages to write a gripping story, and that’s what’s kept me going. Whilst it may not be as memorable or as epic as The Hunger Games, Catching Fire does hold its own, although only just. I really hope that Mockingjay leaves me satisfied, especially with yet another cliffhanger being thrown on at the end of it, which is possibly the biggest of all cliffhangers that I’ve ever been left on in a novel. I would say ever as well, but I’m a huge fan of Doctor Who. (More specifically, the episodes The Time of Angels and Flesh and Stone, from Series 5.) Also, I’m not going to tell you what the cliffhangers in either of the aformentioned novel/TV show are, and Don’t think for a moment that I would, because you know – “Spoilers.

On a final note,  I need to see the movie of the first book. I don’t know why I haven’t yet – It looks suprisingly awesome and has generally recieved postive reviews. I’ve (apart a few shows which I won’t be able to attend) regrettably missed it in my local cinema so I’ll get it on DVD.

Verdict: 3/5

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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