Letter Essay #7-Jayden Candee

Recently I finished the dystopian novel, Catching Fire. This story was written by Suzanne Collins. There are more books in this series, Catching Fire is the second book in the series. The first book: The Hunger Games, the third book: Mockingjay. All these dystopian novels take place directly after one another. Catching Fire was published on September 1, 2009. This 391 page story is filled with suspense and incredible character development. I never read the first book in the series but luckily for me Collins gives amazing background info within the first 3 chapters. I don’t know why but I was never really interested in this series even though my friend enjoyed reading it, and watching the action packed movies. The 2 reasons I chose this book was because of my class’ “seeking utopia” reading unit. My group and I chose this book in particular for one main reason, we had all never read Catching Fire before. But the core reason for my wanting to read it was because I had not read the first book and I knew it would be a challenge to understand some parts of this novel. I never back down from a challenge. This book was indeed a little bit challenging. But it was so worth it, but by the end I became really annoyed with Suzanne Collins for leaving me on such a cliffhanger.

In the novel, Catching Fire, the main character Katniss has just returned home from the 74th Hunger Games, along with her supposed love, Peeta and their mentor, the only living victor from district 12, Haymitch. Peeta and Katniss, simply desire things to go back to the way life was before the games. But nothing can be done to unsee, and unexperience the traumatizing events from the previous book. So, Katniss tries the best she can to reconnect with people from her district. Later, President Snow arrives at Katniss’ house to have little chat. They discuss there has been plans in the works of a rebellion against the capitol. President Snow wants to understand why it is Katniss’ fault the rebellion is building. But, Katniss rarely did anything wrong. So, President Snow explains that the little stunt she pulled in the games, faking an attempt at suicide with Peeta, to prevent one of themselves having to kill each other, has inspired multiple districts to defy the capitol. Next, Katniss wants to appease the capitol, but throughout the book she realizes what she really wants is to bring it to the ground. So, she resolves in joining the rebellion.

I liked the way the author included  very subtle and broad background information. It explained how Katniss was feeling, what she underwent in the games, and journey and growth as a character. In the text it states “If it were up to me , I would try and forget about the Hunger Games entirely. Never speak of them. Pretend they were nothing but a bad dream.”(pg 3-4) This led to strong insight on the character, and how she already had felt about the capitol and the games.

I was surprised when it took Katniss so long to realize what she truly wanted, because all Katniss ever wanted was to protect those weaker than herself. Constantly throughout the book she asks herself tough questions, I would have thought she would have figured her true desire earlier. But now it makes sense, because it is showing all the discussions and debates Katniss went through. This is important because it proves growth and development of her complicated character.

This book reminded me of Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld not only because it is a dystopian book, showing obvious attempts at creating a perfect world, but because of the choice Katniss made to volunteer as tribute(pg 23 of The Hunger Games). Just like Tally had the choice to become pretty when she turned 16(pg 425 of Uglies). I realized the tough decisions characters make often become huge plot points later in the book, which is what exactly happens in Uglies and The Hunger Games.

I was struck in the book when Katniss realize her Mockingjay was the patriotic symbol of the rebellion. The reason this struck me was because at this moment it was a memorable turning point for her as a character, meaning this really helped her to come to understand  what she is meant to do.

I loved how this book involved the reader in connecting yourself with Katniss and observing her evolve. I rate this book a 6 out of 10.



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