Title: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Page Count: 474
The problem with reading The Hunger Games is that I picked the books up after watching the movies, and so I already kind of knew what to expect, at least in terms of the general story line. I also thought that the first movie was the best and then the rest of the movies went a little bit downhill from there.
So far, the same holds true of my experience of the books, but the fact that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this as much as the first book kind of helped to make sure that I didn’t feel disappointed. In fact, it was just alright. I think it’s one of the great ironies of The Hunger Games that I avoided it for so long because I worried it was going to be a badly done Battle Royale clone, and it turns out that the first book is fresh and original but that after that, it teeters dangerously close to self-parody.
With that said, there are still plenty of great ideas here, and I was particularly struck by a scene in the capitol where people at a banquet drink a liquid to make them throw up so that they can eat more food. This takes part against a backdrop of poverty in each of the districts, and what was strange about it was that it came up in a conversation with my other half when she was talking about how she doesn’t like the way that food shows glamorise over-eating and unsustainable food sources.
For me, the best part of each of the first two books has been the time that they’ve spent in the arena, and they spend less time in there here than they do in the others. That was a little bit of a disappointment, but at the same time I was pretty happy with the backstory and the way all of that developed. Although perhaps I would have liked a little bit less of a focus on Katniss’s wedding.
All in all though, would I recommend reading this? You bet, and I’m a little bit embarrassed (and also kind of humbled) that I didn’t get to it earlier. Even if you’ve seen the movies and you know what to expect, the books do a better job of telling the story. Sure, Collins might not be the best writer in the world in terms of her style, and I’ve never really been a fan of stories that are told in the first person, but she more than makes up for it with her worldbuilding. There’s just a lot to like here, for all sorts of different types of reader. I reckon there’s something here for everyone.