Independent Reading Project (Catching Fire)

If you ask me, this book is absolutely breathtaking. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins is a book that constantly has you wanting for more. The author may sound familiar because she is also the author for The Hunger Games. Catching Fire is the second book of the Hunger Games trilogy. You don’t ever want to put it down. This is being made into a movie coming out November 22, 2013. It was also in the “Top 10 books of 2009” in the Times magazine. The trilogy has earned various of achievements and publicity ever since it’s beginning in 2008.

It’s hard to give a book review without giving away any spoilers to people that haven’t read it yet. I’ll just list the important events. So, the first book ended with Katniss and Peeta winning the Hunger Games. Book two starts right where the first one left off. Katniss and Peeta are on their victory tour and President Snow does not like the fact that Katniss is the “leader” of a rebellion soon to rise, even though she doesn’t know it herself. President Snow threatens Katniss that he will erase everyone she loves if she doesn’t calm the rebellion down or show the people that the only reason why she used the berries in the arena before was because she was madly in love with Peeta, not because she was being rebellious against the Capitol. You would think nothing worse could happen after that, right? Nope. It’s the complete opposite actually.

As you work your way through the story you find that Katniss, Peeta, and 22 other victors from different districts are put back into the arena. This was the 75th Hunger Games. Every 25 years there is something called a Quarter Quell which is a Hunger Game with a twist. This Quarter Quell two victors, a boy and a girl, would be pulled from each district from the existing pool of victors. Since Katniss is the only girl in her district that has been crowned victor, she has no choice but to go back in, but this time it’s not the same. This time she is not fighting to save herself, but to save Peeta.

Haymitch, their mentor, was in no condition to be the other male tribute so Peeta, without a doubt, took his place. Peeta has the mindset that he would be the one protecting Katniss, but like I said earlier, that isn’t the plan. Once their in the arena it’s basically the same as the first Hunger Games. There’s alliances are made, tons of blood spilled, friends die, the usual for any regular Hunger Games. However, the games isn’t completed this time around. Katniss’s ally “Volts” explains to her that there is always a “chink” in the armour that the Capitol wears. Katniss knows very well that the arena is just an illusion, it is all the Capitol’s doing and that it isn’t an actual island. She looks around the arena and then at the sky. There. She finds what seems to be a space where the air looks distorted. She shoots an arrow through it. Next thing you know the illusion is dispersed and reality has set back in.

The Head Gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensbee, rescues Katniss, Volts, and Finnick before the Capitol could reach them. At first Katniss is confused because she doesn’t understand why Plutarch would save her and she’s also angry because he didn’t save the others. That means Peeta and the others are in the hands of the Capitol. Plutarch begins to explain to Katniss that he, himself is going to aid in the rebellion and that she will be the leader. Haymitch knew about this all along and they were just waiting for the right time.

Gale, Katniss’s dear friend, visits her while she’s resting. He comes in to break horrible news. He tells her that her family is safe, but there is no longer a District 12. There has been a devastating bombing at District 12 that has wiped out basically everything.

The main characters throughout this book is Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch, Finnick, and Plutarch Heavensbee. What did they do? Well Katniss, Peeta, and Finnick were all participants in the Hunger Games and they basically defy the Capitol. Katniss destroys the arena and Peeta is siding with Katniss. Finnick is in the rebellion as well once he is picked up by Plutarch. Haymitch is Katniss and Peeta’s mentor throughout the Hunger Games and supplied necessities. Plutarch, Head Gamemaker, rescues everyone that he can when the arena is destroyed and is helping with the rebellion. These characters played a major role through the book, without them the book would be changed dramatically.

I believe the conflict in the story is person vs. person. The reason I say this is because there is one man who is continuing the Hunger Games. That man would be President Snow. I say it’s only one man because as I’ve read the book I got the feeling that nobody else in the Capitol likes the idea of the Hunger Games. Especially, when Katniss was invited to the feast at the Capitol. Everyone there sent their regards to her and how it was such a shame or how unfair it was to put her back into the games. Once he is stopped surely, the Hunger Games itself would stop too. If I were to put names in this, it would be Katniss vs. President Snow. That feels more fitting.  

My favorite character is Haymitch. This may be controversial to many because he can seem like a drunk lunatic in the book, but he is a great guy. He’s just really cool. Sure, he gets drunk and lives his life poorly, but when it’s time to be serious, you better believe he’s serious. He’s one of those guys that prefer to fool around and take life easily, but can also get straight into business if needed.

I think readers should take away the idea that one person can make a difference. That person can be you too. I mean take Katniss for example. Katniss was just an ordinary girl living in District 12 doing all that she can to support her family. You can say she was a little bit more than ordinary since she knew how to hunt, which is a skill that a lot of people, especially in District 12, didn’t know how to do. She was the spark to an uprising against the Capitol from many Districts and she didn’t even know till later. Whether she wanted to or not, Katniss and her mockingjay pin are the symbol of freedom. She rose through the “ranks” and is now an iconic figure for everyone. Yes, this book is indeed fiction, but why does that matter? The ideas that it teaches are real and attainable for anyone.

Personally, I don’t think I can relate to any of the characters in the story or the story at all. The reason I say this is because this story is set in the distant future, where many things are different from how I live today. We’re not separated into twelve districts, not forced to send children to death battles, and there is not one group who rules over all. So, I don’t know how I can relate to someone that has gone through this when I’ve never had to experience any of it. The problems that the characters encountered in the story has also never came to me. I haven’t had my home or family taken away from me and I haven’t had my friends die in front of my own eyes. These are the reason why I can’t relate to the characters in the book.

I do like this book a lot. I swear I did not want to stop reading this book. Every time I put the book down to go do something else, I ended back in my chair reading it again. Every chapter is essential and so meaningful. How could I put a book like this down?

There is a fair amount of strengths and weaknesses in the book. For example, the strengths to the book is the “cliffhangers” at the end of each chapter. A cliffhanger is basically the last couple of sentences to a chapter or the last few minutes of a show that’ll make you come back wanting for more. For example, a cliffhanger could go like this: “Then Gerald said something to me I would never forget.”. You’d want to know what Gerald said, right? Well you would never know unless you read the next chapter or watched the next episode.

I find this to be a strength because it keeps bringing the reader back for more. They’re need for more would be insatiable.

One of the weaknesses to this book is the way it’s laid out. I think the book was rushed because I felt like the actual Hunger Games only lasted for a few chapters. I thought it was much longer in the first book than in this one. Then again, the Hunger Games in the second book didn’t finish to its entirety because of Katniss. So, I do understand a little bit about why it would be shorter, but I still feel as if the whole book itself was rushed.

If I could change something in the book it would be how certain parts of the book was worded. For example, when Katniss is in the actual Hunger Games I found some of the visuals hard to imagine because the wording was tricky. It could be thought in many ways, but it seemed as if Suzanne Collins wanted us, the readers, to see the same thing she was seeing. That’s not all though. In the part where Katniss was in charge of planting an electrical wire into the sea to carry out a plan, I was confused. The reason I was confused is because a lot of events occurred at the same time. I knew what happened in a general sense, but if you asked me about specific details I couldn’t tell you because I’m unsure myself.

I would, without a doubt, recommend this book to someone else. The reason I say this is because Catching Fire is truly a marvelous book as a whole. Sure, it has it’s weaknesses, but it has just as many strengths to back it up. The plot and concept is absolutely astonishing. It can’t even compare to any of the previous books I’ve read. If you haven’t read the Hunger Games yet, I highly recommend that you do. You are missing such a great piece of modern literature. There’s a reason why this book is famous. Do you want to know what the craze is about? Why don’t you find out yourself!

Creative Piece: Alternate Ending

I shot my arrow through the space and then everything went black. Suddenly, I was blinded by a bright light. As soon as I was able to look around me, I saw the island, the arena...disappearing bit by bit. I blacked out soon after due to my wounds. Next time I awoke, I was greeted by Plutarch Heavensbee. The rage built up inside of me rapidly. All I wanted to do was scream and kill this man. The man that has put me through this sick game. I just want to destroy him, but my body isn’t responding.

Wait...What’s going on? I’m in a bed and who’s that? It’s...It’s...It’s Haymitch! What’s he doing here? I have so many things going through my head right now I can’t even think straight. I manage to sit up and I’m prepared to have a long talk. “Looks like you’re finally awake there.” Haymitch says “Yeah...” I respond. “We have a few things to talk about.” “Why’s Plutarch here?” “Don’t worry Katniss. He’s on our side.” Normally, I wouldn’t believe what people said, but something about Haymitch’s tone makes me trust him. “Let’s get straight to business then.” I reply. “First things first. You realize what you’ve done right?” “Do you mean the arena?” “Precisely.” I’m prepared to hear the worst and turn my head, but I didn’t expect what he said next. “That’s my girl.” I turn back to him confused. Surely I would get a scolding or yelled at for doing such a thing because we all know that I’m already in trouble. I could be executed at any time and I’ve probably just made things worse for everyone around me.

“Katniss, Plutarch is the one who saved you when the arena exploded.” Haymitch said “Oh...Thanks” I responded. Plutarch gave me a little smile and a nod. “Plutarch and I have been waiting for a moment like this for a while. We are going to overthrow the Capitol.” I thought I was hearing things for a second, but then reality set back in. “That’s all we can tell you at the moment because we’ve got to work out other plans. We’ll leave you to think about it for a bit because it is quite the amount of information.” Haymitch said. Then the two leave the room without another word.

I lay there staring at the white ceiling, thinking...just thinking. I don’t know what to say or do honestly. Is this seriously happening? Yes. Yes, it is. I start to drift off to sleep again and I let it happen. I need to be separated from the world right now.

Then I hear a chair screech next to me. I slowly open my eyes to find someone familiar sitting next to me. This smell...I know this scent. I start to remember the smell of the woods, coal mines, and dust... This is Gale! I immediately sit upright and this startles him. “Gale!” I scream out. “Hey there, Katnip.” he says with a smirk. I embrace him, but he doesn’t seem to like it very much. He slowly pulls me away. “What’s wrong, Gale?” I say puzzled and concerned. “Look, Katniss...I’ve got something to tell you.” he says “What is it?” I respond. “It’s about Peeta...” he said. “Gale, it’s a misunderstanding! I didn’t really love him, it was all an act for the Capitol to save the others-” then he cuts me off. “Katniss, that’s not what here to tell you. I’m here to tell you that no longer with us.” He looks at me with such serious eyes I’m confused. “ What do you mean?” I say. Then he says the two words I dreaded the most. “He’s dead.”