So I'm going to give a summary of the book like I always do, but that's mostly because I have a fraction of a family that hasn't seen or read it and doesn't know anything too detailed about The Hunger Games, mostly for it's morbid fantasy of the future. Several months after winning the seventy-fourth games and defying the Capitol's rule, where everyone is wondering if it was an act of love or defiance (sort of like this Nikki-Brandon relationship from Dork Diaries.) And even Katniss wonders this. But one thing is certain. Even though life is a bit easier for Katniss now, now living in the Victor's Village, life itself has not gotten any better. It's been said that there was an uprising beginning in District 8, something that according to President Snow could perish the Capitol and the regulations that prevented Panem from flooding any more, according to him anyway. Katniss feels stranded because if she runs away, all the people in District 12 would have to pay for her actions and everyone who reads a lot of books knows how annoying bringing big groups with you on escape missions are. Eventually, the third Quarter Quell has been announced, only this time it's a reminder to the rebels, by reinstating past victors for the arena, that the Capitol is indestructible. Good call for Snow. Katniss being killed by a tribute and not a Peacekeeper would bring down rebellion. People Panem-wide are furious about this new rule, even people from the Capitol. How will Katniss be able to keep the rebellion going even when she's dead?
Now, looking back, I guess the reason I disliked it as a preteen was mainly how the Hunger Games didn't start until the third act, how the tributes dropping like flies was an excuse to high-tide the book done because Suzanne Collins figured she needed it to be just as long as the first instalment for it to fit right next to it on shelves and in cases, and how half the time I couldn't tell what was going on. You know what helped this the second time around? Two things: My improved ability to read, and the movie version. That's what I meant by "biased." The whole time I was reading this, I had in my head that the movie version was the second chapter in this worldwide phenomenon franchise and the book was not! I didn't know how much both Lawrence's behind the camera actually enriched my hyperactivity. So I can't help but wonder if I liked this book more than the last time because it's simply a nice book, or because the movie helped me understand it. Now here, the writing hasn't really improved much since the last one. The scene in District 11 after the speeches is the worst part, it describes where Katniss is being led and describing the dust in the attic rather than what the Peacekeepers did and how "shock", "corrupt", and "rebellion" were never mentioned in that scene. It also, as I kind of said, spends an unprecedented amount of its pages with her relationship with Peeta, and it didn't seem to have been getting better or worse. The relationship, I mean. When the Quarter Quell is announced, it's just training, training, training. Well, not for all those chapters, just the thought of these characters training for months rather than running for months annoys me. I liked how after the chapter when Cinna is taken away, some writing brings him justice, but I wish Collins did it right away. Also, when Katniss joins the Career pack, there's too many paragraphs on how Katniss tries to foretell how she'll kill these allies of hers, how they'll betray her. It's true, in the Quarter Quell, there's only one victor, and THIS time, one, and if I was in the Games, I'd probably think this way too, but it makes the whole thing seem like it wants to be in someone else's shoes. Plus, during the Bloodbath, the characters have time for dialogue, I didn't find it realistic that they did. And what was with that paragraph after the lightning explosion scene that in the movie brought a smile to my face for five hours? Regret about doing it, about there not being a victor.
With all that being said though, this movie does have it's good moments. I enjoyed the scene with District 8 fugitives Twill and Bonnie, that act will teach young readers a bit of compassion. And, hell, I read twelve chapters in four hours time! I was glued to this book, as I am with Mockingjay right now. It's also a little funny, especially the line, "I wonder what I should think about that - barf, maybe -" when it discusses the baby, and such. I also liked the idea of water in trees, that is one of the most original ideas I'd ever read in a book, even when I was in seventh grade. And during the action scenes in the Quarter Quell, most readers will and probably have already bit off a lot of their fingers from the intensity. And one more thing. I never really cared for the idea of there to be this kind of Quarter Quell, this second Hunger Games for Katniss, but in a way, it's one of the best ideas for a sequel to the predecessor, letting Katniss go back into the arena and one more challenge, plus one other in Mockingjay, just to the point where it doesn't get unrealistic. It's very true, when you're in the Arena, for most people, during the Bloodbath at least, making friends is hard and you just can't trust one another, stopping about as many bonds and rebellions as possible. If all twenty-four victors stuck together in the Quell like they did for their second Ceasar Flickerman interview, what kind of book do you think this would have been?
So in the end, I wouldn't say Catching Fire's a good book or a bad book. Second time around, I think it's actually better than the first, so that one I might read again sometime. I just can't quite get it up to a 2 1/2, which I'm debating to myself whether it should turn into a "could be thumbs up or down" rating. But I have a feeling Mockingjay will.