Monday, August 18, 2014

Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

I really like this plot, Catching Fire, the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy.  But, oh, how I wish it was written by George Orwell or Franz Kafka or Émile Zola!  (I was actually thinking about this while I was reading it.)

Imagine the depth of the language and vocabulary and the force of the narrative if it was delivered by one of the aforementioned. Catching Fire is written for a juvenile or young adult audience, and the action and emotion are either simplified or limited.  It almost feels mechanical, and I am left wanting so much more from the story.

Here is just one part that I feel a little snarky about:

Katniss, our heroine, often struggles with her thoughts about Peetr, and at one point she thinks about her feelings for him, over his kisses.

She contemplates:
This time, there is nothing but us to interrupt us.  And after a few attempts, Peeta gives up on talking.  The sensation inside me grows warmer and spreads out from my chest, down through my body, out along my arms and legs, to the tips of my being.  Instead of satisfying me, the kisses have the opposite effect, of making my need greater.  I thought I was something of an expert on hunger, but this is an entirely new kind.
In the margin I added my personal notation: "Blah! Such awful writing!  True love is not what you feel in a kiss."  (That is to assume the author wants the reader to believe this is the beginning of true love.  I don't know, yet.)

But I still like it, and I am going to finish the trilogy with Mockingjay.  Before I read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, I was familiar with the plots because I saw both of the movies.  Of course, the film version is a lot different from the book, but I knew what to expect, to some degree.  However, there is no film version for Mockingjay, yet, so finally I will read this book in ignorance, which I prefer.

Have you read The Hunger Games trilogy?  If so, what did you think about the writing style?  Am I being too hard on Collins considering this is young adult fiction?


Unknown said...

I'm glad you liked the book! I've read it recently and unexpectedly also enjoyed it!

I agree that the writing is a bit simplistic, but, unlike you, I was very satisfied with the descriptions of what's going on in Katniss's mind. The passage you marked is not love, it's pure hormones. They are teens in a very stressful situation, and they needed some kissing serotonin to cheer them up a bit! :) Also, the PTSD descriptions are so real they amazed me.

I'm looking forward to your thoughts on book 3! I won't reveal anything, but I think it'll surprise you :)

Unknown said...

I enjoyed the series but certainly don't consider it great literature (what a series it would have been if written by Kafka or Orwell!).

I also agree with Ekaterina - I don't think that passage is describing love... it's more about hormones/physical sensations - that first experience with kissing.

Ruth said...

It is definitely hormones! I was just curious if Collins wanted us to believe it was Katniss' feelings changing for Peetr, and that this was now love. I don't know yet if her feelings for Peetr will develop in the next book, but at this point, is Collins trying to convince us that this change in Katniss is love? Or, like you said, is it ONLY hormones, and will remain ONLY hormones? I guess I will find out in the next book.

Ruth said...

Yes, it's definitely hormones, but, like I asked Ekaterina...does Collins want us to believe that is love? Katniss's feelings are definitely changing for Peetr, but I don't know how serious they are, yet. And actually, this was not her first experience with kissing, but something was different for her, she said. So that's why I was thinking, "You can't tell it is love (if that is what Collins is implying) just by kissing." Or maybe I am just reading too much into it.