Catching Fire was pretty much the biggest YA release of 2009, being the second part of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Game trilogy. I found the first book in the series to be extremely promising, albeit a bit flawed. Collins created a fantastic dystopian world, and peopled it with some wonderful characters, but she wasn’t great at story structure.
And unfortunately that description pretty much works for the sequel as well. Well, maybe that’s not totally fair, the story is generally very well told, being a great followup to the Hunger Games that serves to escalate the story and never falls into the trap of feeling like the middle of a trilogy. Collins also manages to retrace much of the material from the original book, but in such a way that it still comes off feeling novel.
But then there’s the ending, which is a bit problematic. The final chapter or two just descends into chaos. It sets up some fantastic material for the last part of the trilogy at least, but to get there Collins resorts to some deus ex machinas, a pretty contrived plot development, and the disappearance of 1 character from the story.
With a bit more work this novel would have been great, but instead I’m left feeling like it doesn’t quite work. Still I’ll be impatiently waiting for Mockingjay, the final book of the trilogy, later this year.