Book Review: Catching Fire

By Fiona W.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins tells the story of a powerful young woman named Katniss Everdeen who struggles with the challenge of being under an extremely oppressive government.  Katniss and her fellow citizens of the country Panem have had enough of there controlling government.  This incredible storyline shows that, with a little bit of hope, some of the most powerful forces can be overthrown.  This book, like the previous and first in the series, The Hunger Games, challenges governmental and political authority in our society and points out some of the negative power-hungry dictators throughout our world in a satirical way.

This sequel to the first book shows similar writing styles, while discussing different themes. Collins uses addictive writing techniques that keep the reader drawn to the book and almost force them to complete the series.  It’s almost as if the reader cannot be satisfied with the endings of the first two books, therefore needing to read the next to feed their craving. The author makes the book very relatable for the reader by creating a storyline that shares similar characteristics to issues we personally face and those our entire civilization face.  The government in power in Catching Fire is very similar to some in parts of the Middle East and an over-the-top version of governments in other parts of the world.

In The Hunger Games, Collins presents the idea of a post-apocalyptic country controlled by a very powerful dictatorship.  The author uses satirical references to show that some of our political and social trends can get out of control and cause such a government and country like the one in The Hunger Games.  Catching Fire  explores what can happen when elements of oppressive government, cruel traditions and angry citizens come together.

The theme of Catching Fire is rebellion.  This theme causes readers to think of similar events happening currently. Parts of the plot can be linked to the rebellion that recently took place in Egypt and how those rebels inspired others in different countries.   The rebellion in Egypt had a snowball effect like the rebellion in the districts of Panem.  Another obvious comparison can be drawn between the wealthy residents of the Capitol and the increasing wealth of the few, richest Americans. Like in the Districts of the book, there are more and more people being driven into poverty in our country while the very few rich get richer. The “Occupy” movement that is taking place in the US right now could be compared to the early stages of rebellion in the book.

The plot seems to be so real that it can scare the reader. The idea that one day your great-great grandchildren could possibly have to live in a country like Panem is frightening. Unfortunately this is not a happy future and this sensation of sadness or disappointment in the reader can cause readers to think more about their actions.  This satirical element was genius on the part of Collins being that she is not only pointing out the errors in modern society, but that it is aimed at young adults who have the power to change and correct these errors in an effort to prevent Panem from ever becoming a reality.

It seems that Collins was compelled to write these books out of concern for our future.  Collins has the gift of thinking about what our actions will cause and, although that seems fairly simple, many people, even some of the most powerful, lack this foresight.  A shortcoming which can be disastrous.  Her writing in Catching Fire expresses Collins distrust in the naive acts of our government and people.

The insight Collins has is clearly visible and respected.  It’s unusual for a sequel to be as good as the first book but that is the case with The Hunger Games and Catching Fire.  Many times sequels are created simply to make more money, but Catching Fire has a worthwhile premise just like The Hunger Games.  Readers find it very refreshing when they can enjoy the sequel instead of it being a waste of effort and a disappointment.  It’s quite the contrary in these fantastic books.

While painting with great detail, a picture of a futuristic, sad and unforgiving world, Collins uncovers layer after layer of complicated political and social issues.  She explores some of our most important problems in a way that everyone can relate to, and fear.  Through her books she has gained respect for her delicate but precise unraveling of complex social and political issues that will be remembered years from now.

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