Catching Fire: Katniss Actually Has to Deal With People

…and she’s not great at it, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone.

For the media portion of this post, I’m putting in a Hunger Games song/music video posted on ‘s YouTube channel:

I can’t figure out how to do this review without some big spoilers. So if you don’t want to know half a book’s worth of plot, this is one to skip.

Spoilers start now.

I wasn’t sure about the decision to have Katniss go back into a second Hunger Games round, at first. It made sense for the story, but the author would have to do something different to distinguish it from the previous games, and not just in terms of the environment and characters. She would have to really make this story feel like it wasn’t just a repeat of the first book. Luckily, she accomplished that.

When I saw the Hunger Games film and got glimpses of the Careers all interacting with each other, I realized one of the things we didn’t get from Katniss’ perspective in the first book was character interaction. We didn’t get to see clashes of personalities or how people distributed the work among them. It was something that I felt I missed out on; it was right for the story, but I still wished I’d gotten to see that interaction between the participants in the games. The second book gave us that interaction, because Katniss is the one with alliances now. We get to see allies conflict and disagree. We get to see them form clusters based on who they get along with best, and deal with suspicions and distrust.

The style of this particular version of the Hunger Games was interesting in itself. Last game, the arena was mostly about surviving the wilderness and evading the Careers while they hunted for the other contestants. This time, there was a lot more active participation from the environment. As in, everything in the arena was actively trying to kill the contestants. I feel like this set-up actually made it easier to create a sense of cooperation between the characters–they had a constant and ever-present enemy to hold them together.

And from the moment it was announced who would participate in the games, I was waiting to see how they’d act differently. I was waiting to see more defiance. After all, these aren’t kids that don’t know what they’re getting into anymore. All of them have killed people to survive. Well, with one notable exception.

The point is that from the moment this announcement was made, I felt that the Capitol was taking a huge gamble by putting these particular people into the arena. I wanted the story to show that.

I wasn’t disappointed, by either the shows of defiance or by the character interaction. And of course, they went further than I thought they would, with their goals. And the Capitol went further than I thought it would, though looking back, I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Can’t say much about the conclusion, as we end with the second-book-in-a-trilogy classic: the cliffhanger ending. So I guess I’m more likely to touch upon that when I talk about the next book.

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