Book Review “Catching Fire”

Catching Fire” is, of course, the vaunted sequel to “The Hunger Games” – both by Suzanne Collins.  I was given this book as a Christmas present, in preparation for a much-needed holiday I took with my wife in Marrakech.  Lazing around an all-inclusive resort between tourist expeditions through the Medina is not the time for heavy reading.  For this reason, “Catching Fire” – which is a teenager’s book, and does not pretend to be anything else – was the perfect choice.

The story is simple.  Katniss Everdeen has won the Hunger Games, but in doing so has angered the Capitol.  An act of sacrifice laid bare the scheme, exposing the tyranny for what it was.  The Capitol must have its revenge.  Defiance does not go un-noticed or un-punished.  But the Capitol also has a problem – Katniss’s act of courage has lit a tinder box which threatens the Capitol’s tenuous stranglehold on the districts.  They cannot afford to make Katniss a martyr.  They devise a plan to bring her personal narrative back into their control.  Will they succeed? 

My takeaway from this book was summarized in one line.  During a discussion with Coriolanis Snow, the President, who is trying to explain to her the danger she is in if she does not submit, Katniss quietly says “It (the Capitol) must be very weak, if a handful of berries can bring it down…”  Totalitarian regimes are wholly dependent upon their subjects meekly playing their part.  From the endless elections in Venezuela where the outcome is never in doubt; to the bizarre mourning at the passing of a North Korean tyrant; the carefully crafted pantomime and pageantry of authority must have its actors.  This is why free societies are so resilient and dictatorships so fragile – despotism often cannot survive an individual act of defiance; how could they possibly retain control when millions of people behave as their hearts guide?

Read this book – whether in Morocco or at your kitchen table, you will be carried away.

Joel D. Hirst is a novelist and author of “The Lieutenant of San Porfirio

About Joel D. Hirst

Joel D. Hirst is a novelist and a playwright. His most recently released work is "Dreams of the Defeated: A Play in Two Acts" about a political prisoner in a dystopian regime. His novels include "I, Charles, From the Camps" about the life of a young man in the African camps and "Lords of Misrule" about the making and unmaking of a jihadist in the Sahara. "The Lieutenant of San Porfirio" and its sequel "The Burning of San Porfirio" are about the rise and fall of socialist Venezuela (with magic).
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3 Responses to Book Review “Catching Fire”

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  3. Pingback: Hunger Games | Joel D. Hirst's Blog

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