My Thoughts on Catching Fire
Well… I was not entirely prepared for the end of this book. But, I’ll get to that in order.
I’m going to do this as sort of a giant stream of consciousness babble, much like my chapter notations for The Hunger Games. There will be spoilers. Oh so many spoilers! So please, don’t read this if you haven’t read Catching Fire yet. Or at least seen the movie (which, I haven’t since I just finished the book five minutes ago).
First of all, I’m sort of surprised how long it takes for the book to get to the Quarter Quell and we’re well over halfway before the Games actually begin. I had previous knowledge that seriously, spoilers!
Peeta survived into Mockingjay, but I didn’t know anything about how, so I was pretty interested in how that was going to happen, since I knew they both went into the arena. I also knew (because who hasn’t seen those stills) that the arena involved water, which I’m assuming was a big ‘F*#k You’ from the Capitol to the Girl on Fire.
The love triangle that’s kind of there, but not really there? Yeah, I’m not feeling it. And, to an extent, neither is Susanne Collins apparently, because at the start of the book Peeta and Katniss haven’t really spoken for six months. Gale has kissed her once and then they’ve barely seen each other either. So, we just get more internal angst from Katniss.
Gale seems to be defined by his absence. He’s barely in Book 1, since Katniss is in the Capitol and then the arena. We don’t actually see their reunion, since The Hunger Games ends just as they get back to District 12. Then, in Catching Fire, Gale has to work in the mines, so we have Katniss telling us that they hunt on Sundays, but we still don’t see them interacting much.
Katniss goes through a longish bout of intense self loathing and I just… it seems kind of out of character for her. She doesn’t really seem that introspective, but maybe I’m just annoyed. It’s a sort of strange emotional note from a relatively unemotional character. And maybe that’s coming from the fact that Katniss’s emotions are told to us, but not really shown to us. And maybe I think that because I’ve been doing writing workshops. But, I’m told she has all these emotions, but I don’t feel them with her.
Ok, the situation in District 11 is really upsetting. I love what Peeta tries to do with donating part of their pension to Rue and Thresh’s families. Katniss’s speech is touching, and the salute from the District is really moving. And then the Peacekeepers (can we just call them Stormtroopers? They even wear white!) step in and it becomes unutterably terrible. We’ve seen a brief clip of the old man being dragged off in the trailer and it played through my head while I was reading this. Then I flashed back to other scenes from other movies where an old man stood up to a tyrant. The Avengers is really the only place I can think of where that actually works out ok.
Plutarch showing Katniss the mockingjay watch. It bothered me a little bit that it took Katniss so long to figure out that a) the mockingjay was a sign of rebellion, b) she is the mockingjay, c) Plutarch showing her the watch means that he is (theoretically) on her side.
The new Peacekeeper Thread arrives and, apparently, puts things back the way they used to be before Katniss can remember. Gale’s whipping is pretty bad, but maybe I’ve just watched/read enough historical stories. I’m horrified, but not surprised. And it was easy to think, “At least he isn’t being hung.”
President Snow is menacing and horrible. He smells like blood and roses, which sounds like something from Seanan McGuire’s Indexing. I have a guess on the blood, but the roses seem kind of strange. Maybe he likes them because they have thorns.
Bonnie and Twill and District 13. I don’t really know how to feel about them. I wish them luck, but I kind of doubt they’ll make it. I know District 13 is real though, that pesky foreknowledge again.
The wedding dresses were sort of interesting, both because of the gorgeous dress from the trailer and also because that was the only part of The Hunger Games trilogy that I’d read before. Last year, for Banned Book Week, I participated in a read-a-thon at the Desert Island Supply Co. here in Birmingham. We were shooting for 36 solid hours of reading. I don’t think they got that, but I came in in the evening and read from Catching Fire. I started right around the end of Chapter 11 when Katniss is having to deal with the fence. So it was fun to cycle back around to that.
The announcement of the Quarter Quell and the victors becoming tributes again wasn’t a surprise. I did go back and check the back of the book though. It doesn’t mention anything about that. I wonder what it was like to read this when it first came out and not know that Katniss was going back into the arena?
Peeta as the motivational and organizational force behind getting them all in shape is strange, but he’s assuming a leadership role, that makes sense. He’s the one with the charisma. Katniss has the guts and the stubbornness, but Peeta is the one everyone listens to.
I kind of love that Haymitch also outsmarted them in his Games. But maybe it explains why District 12 gets ignored and overlooked. The Capitol has kind of hated them for twenty-five years.
The chariot ride – “We star-crossed lovers from District 12, who suffered so much and enjoyed so little the rewards of our victory, do not seek the fan’s favor, grace them with our smiles, or catch their kisses. we are unforgiving.
And I love it. Getting to be myself at last.” Yeah. Katniss doesn’t like to forgive much of anything. I’m glad she managed to patch things up with her mom some before she had to go back to the Capitol. Although, I do wonder if the ‘no goodbyes’ rule was sent down by Snow or just something Thread thought up.
I’m so glad that Thesh and Rue’s families are ok! I was really worried that the extra shots in District 11 were for them.
And now Katniss is mad at Peeta again because he teased her. For the love of everything, woman, WTF? Seriously? You can’t take some teasing? Yes, Joanna was naked in the elevator because she likes to shock people. But you know Peeta would never do anything mean spirited (he’s kind of unbelievable that way). So, you know he’s not being mean when he teases you, so why are you so bent out of shape? To the point where you don’t even want to be friends anymore? (Although, that passes pretty quickly).
Katniss’s trick with the dummy during her exhibition for the Gamekeepers just struck me as childish. Although, that and Peeta’s painting do seem to make Effie check in with reality for a brief moment.
The wedding dress is one of the places I feel like the movie design really excelled. And, of course, the transition into the mockingjay is great. Dangerous, but great. I don’t think that the medieval-style gown that Susanne Collins described would have played well on screen. I happen to really like that style of dress, but it would have come off as costumey in the wrong way I think. Katniss trying to be Galadriel instead of being a strong, beautiful woman of Panem. (That being said, what is up with the jumpsuit during the Reaping scene? Jumpsuits are not cute. Maybe they were trying to work the arena outfit in somewhere, since they’re not actually using it in the movie?)
Baby?!? I did a spit-take on that one. Was not expecting Peeta to go there.
I’m curious if the tributes holding hands will be in the movie. I could see it being cut, but it’s a great scene.
Ok, now we’re getting to the Games themselves and it’s mostly a long list of agony:
Peeta and the morphling
Thank you, Finnick for retrieving the arrows after the monkeys. That made me happy.
The evil clock is kind of brilliant, but it seems designed to kill the tributes really quickly. I’m wondering what the original plan for the arena was, because it seems like that’s too much work to revamp in only the year since Kantiss rocked the boat.
Once again, Katniss is super suspicious of everything. Even I figured out that Joanna was removing her tracker, not betraying her. If Joanna had wanted her dead she would have hit Katniss with the pointy end of the ax.
The forcefield, the explosions, the hovercraft – once again, the end of the book is going really fast.
I’m absolutely on board for her plan to kill everyone before the Capitol can torture them. (I also had controversial views on Beloved when we read it in college.)
And again, we have the crazy anger. Haymitch betrayed her. Everyone was using her. Blah, blah, blah. Ok, yes, Peeta was captured and that’s terrible. No one told her the plan because, well, she wouldn’t have gone with it. I get that. It’s not really a Harry Potter situation here, where he has a destiny and knows about it, has accepted it, and should have been kept in the loop because it would have kept more people safe. Katniss isn’t prepared to be the symbol of the rebellion. She hasn’t worked in secret for it for years. She’s just a girl who got lucky and became a symbol. A very rash girl.
I’m not saying she doesn’t have the right to feel betrayed. She’s got the right to feel anything she wants to. But I find it mildly disappointing that that’s what she goes with. And then she tries to die out of spite, which I kind of respect.
Then Gale shows up. Mrs. Everdeen and Prim are safe, everything else in District 12 is gone. The End.
WTF? Again. That’s an ending alright. I hate cliff hangers, have I mentioned that? I get really anxious. Fortunately, A) I know a bit about Book 3, so I’m not freaking out, and B) it’s in the car, so if I didn’t I could dive right in. I’m not going to, because it’s midnight and I’ve got work at 8:00 in the morning, but I could if I needed to. Again, what must it have been like to read this right after it came out? With at least a year to go until Mockingjay came out? I’m pretty sure I would have gone nuts, and I’m not even sure I like the books.
And that’s the thing. I’m committed. I have to know what happens, but I still don’t really like Katniss, especially after the Pit-of-Despair thing going on at the end of this book. I like Peeta better, but he’s a little too good. Honestly, I’m attached to Fennick, Joanna, and Beetee almost as much as I am Katniss and Peeta.
I don’t particularly care about Gale, to be honest. And Prim is more a symbol than a person.
I’m sad about Madge, and Greasy Sal, and everyone else from District 12. The old man from District 11. Cinna, and the friendly tributes who died in the arena. But I’m still just not that attached to Katniss herself.
Expect my thoughts on Mockingjay later this week.