The Scruffy Rube’s #CBR4 Review #5 Catching Fire
You can read the rest of this review on my regular blog, here
Expanding your world view is the real premise of Catching Fire, the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy. Sure there’s the continuing saga of a girl in peril, the mounting drama of political upheaval and the slow burn of romantic complication–but really Catching Fire is about a girl starting to realize that there’s a much larger, more complicated world beyond her home and previous experiences.
The first book gave the sense of a girl adrift away from home for the first time (and under the intense pressure of a deathly battle royale with other teenagers). But after the climactic victory comes the hard business of going on with life while the world watches. For Katniss Everdeen, that’s a challenge that is more than daunting, it’s practically immobilizing.
Yet, as she moves from state to state, speaking to citizens who see her as an inspirational figure, she’s less adrift and more aware of the ties that bind her to other people she has never met before. Her intimate circle of trusted friends supports her as she rises up from a provider of meals to political force.
Even when the book shifts away from a quiet, introspective, survivor’s-narrative, to another intrigue-laden battle to the death; the theme remains one of growth in society. Fellow victors grow from mere opponents to complex characters with a multiplicity of motives. As the protagonist realizes this, so too does the audience. And slowly but steadily, all of our world-views expand until we come to appreciate the dynamic forces at work in a world we thought we knew.
That’s the golden opportunity of a sequel–a chance to build upon what is already established (and probably make a little more money). Even though Catching Fire struggles to capture the same intensity and drive in daily life that it has in the arena’s battle sequences, it succeeds in expanding the world of the series and eliciting more questions and interest in it’s audience.
That ought to be the goal of any serial writer, and to be fair, of any teacher. We want to help students venture out into the world beyond our four walls with the skills and curiosity to succeed. We want to prompt questions and enthusiasm where there is complacency and boredom. We to urge our students on as they go from passive listeners to active thinkers and actors.