Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, sure is a sequel to The Hunger Games. So much so, that there is an entirely new Hunger Games in the novel, in which, of course, our heroine and viewpoint character, Katniss Everdeen, is forced to compete.
Again, there is a love triangle, with the same two love interests focused on Katniss. Again, Katniss is forced to defend and rescue Peeta. Again, Katniss is manipulated by events outside her control, and never proactively acts, just reacts to the plot.
Besides the rehashed plot, this is my main complaint with Catching Fire. Katniss is already a reactive character – in The Hunger Games the only move she made on her own was to volunteer as tribute in place of her sister, though one could argue that a few of her reactions to events in The Hunger Games were at least an example of her employing some agency, some choice in the situation, like when she drugs Peeta against his will so that she can leave him and get the medicine to save his life (this choice, however, while her own, is implicitly condoned and even suggested by outside forces – in this case, Haymitch’s gift of sleeping serum). However, in Catching Fire, Katniss doesn’t make a single choice, and is utterly unaware of the main events of the plot that are bubbling beneath the surface, until the final ten pages. Whereupon she is knocked out, and saved by a deus ex machina.
Perhaps this roller-coaster of a plot (strap-in, and enjoy the ride, but don’t try to change it) appeals to teenagers, who often feel like the events of their life are swirling around them, beyond their control. However, for me, it leads me to believe there was a more interesting book here, hidden beneath the surface, where we follow a character that actually makes decisions and acts according to his or her own will. Haymitch Abernathy sidequel?
3 out of 5 cubes of bread.