When Katniss Everdeen tried to prove that she was no mere pawn in the Capitol’s power-play, she inadvertently set off a series of uprisings that had been roiling in all the districts for years. She proved to be the spark.
In Catching Fire, we find Katniss still reeling from the aftermath of her co-victory of the Hunger Games. She has residual nightmares of her friend Rue, the other tributes, and the many horrors she experienced in the arena. Not helping is the Victory Tour, in which she and Peeta must visit each district and continually relive the Hunger Games again and again and again. Because of course the Capitol is not content to let victors be.
It’s in this episode that we get to know more about life in District 12, especially in Katniss’s relationship with Gale. Through Katniss’s eyes, Gale is a companion and friend, a hunting partner. Gale, of course, is doe-eyed over her. Because of course he is. *On a sidenote: can I just complain about a common staple of YA–that when there’s a featured female protagonist, so many boys are moony-eyed over her? I also felt that Veronica Mars suffered from this (love the show as I do…).* He kisses her once, and of course, somehow President Snow finds out about it and tells Katniss that unless she convinces him that her pretend undying love for Peeta is what caused her to try to commit suicide with poison berries, then everything she loves will be taken from her.
Granted, Peeta’s feelings were real, and Katniss’s admission that hers were performed would not sit well with my heart-on-a-sleeve love muffin. So he’s naturally a bit on the chilly side. Once we get into the second arena, however, the novel picks up, and we meet an array of colorful individuals who will carry over into the last book. I think we can guess who the most memorable is though, right?
Right. Finnick is one sexy beast (and he knows it). His entrance and inexplicable alliance with Katniss force us into a thrilling conclusion with no real answers, because this is the holdover book that’s supposed to bridge us from the setup to the conclusion of the series.
As a setup, it’s a good second book that leads us into a finale that one can only wonder how it’s all going to wrap up. The arena is more creatively configured, and the characterizations improve. Katniss’s understanding of people also improves somewhat, as she begins to see Peeta and Finnick as people unto themselves, and not just in relation to her.
You can also read this review on my personal blog, The Universe Disturbed.