Title: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic (2009)
Technically, this isn't going to be much of a book review. I thought Catching Fire was The Hunger Games again so just check out my review of that. Once it became apparent that the second book was pretty much a plot rerun, I expected to end up not finishing it. Turned out, I kept going and am glad I did. Yeah, it's a rerun, but it's an improvement so it wasn't so bad. Ok, Peeta's backstory still sucks but Katniss is just as AwesomeSauce as ever, has a way better ending and she has more female allies. Yay!
Sadly, the world building is still awkward so that's what this post is about. My nitpicks, in list form:
1. District 12 is constantly described as a low population district with very high starvation rates. To not run out of people, they are going to have to find food. And apparently there are woods with game that can be accessed. Desperate, starving people are going to attempt to scavenge no matter how scary those woods might be. It never felt realistic that only Katniss and Gale would be doing this.
2. Katniss' constant conflation of physical affection with marriage just does not track in a place this desperate. People are starving, dying in the mines, can't afford medical care, etc and marriage as the answer to being attracted to someone just does not seem relevant. Now, if Katniss is not interested in pursuing an intimate relationship with anyone then more power to her, but the immediate jump to 'don't want to get married so can't be intimate' doesn't work. She has a lot more reasonable and topical reasons to not be interested in relationships. Stick to those.
3. How does this place maintain any kind of phenotypically distinct merchant class? Again, small population with practically no money. The merchant class is going to be tiny. Even if you get to marry first cousins its phenotype is not going to last long.
4. The capital has hovercrafts and genetic engineering for large mammals and they can't find a better way to mine coal than with humans? Why does District 12 even exist?
5. Where did Katniss get those excellent boots (pre-Games)? (Hey, I described these at nitpicks.:) How would she have found anything valuable enough to trade for those? Or did she make them herself? It's just weird to relate all these reasons why a family is one bad week's hunting away from starvation and then describe supple, leather boots.
Well, these are all I can think of from memory. I have had to return the books so I can't look up some more of the issues but, oh well. I have moaned enough. Oh, wait. Guess not! My biggest annoyance with these books is Collins' decision to have both Gale and Peeta be in love with Katniss. That entire subplot feels so forced. I just try to ignore it.