Catching Fire = Best Book I Read in the Past Five Years

Aside from working and sleeping, I spent most of the last two days reading Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Actually, I devoured it. Not literally, mind you, despite it being the second part of the Hunger Games trilogy.

Go, read it now! No, wait, read the first part, simply titled The Hunger Games, first. The books are as good as novels get. They couldn’t be harder to put down once you started reading if they had been glued to your hands.

I was rather sceptical about the second book. Surely, a new plot, plenty of new characters and possibly way too arbitrary escalations would be there. Surely, it would end up being bigger, but not better. Surely, the unique page-turning qualities of the first book would be lost. Never was I happier to be proven wrong. After a slow start things fall into place and before you realize it, you’re in the story, immersed, entangled, trapped. Catching Fire turns out to be as good as The Hunger Games, maybe even better. Fortunately, you can (and should have) both, so no need for unfair comparisons.

What is it about?, you may ask. What do you care?, says I. Book shop owner Josie Leavitt says it “is about kids killing kids (…) It sounds abhorrent—but it totally works.” There you go. Feel free to ridicule my enthusiasm; go ahead and label me crazy. But the sparks already ignited a fire among young (and possibly not so young) readers in the U.S. It will take a while to catch on in Germany, where only the first book has been translated so far (Die Tribute von Panem) and the second is scheduled for autumn next year. But catch on it will. The movie rights have been sold and a decade from now it will stand out as a must-read work. It has and will continue to make many people who found books boring and cumbersome fall in love with reading. It made me rediscover the joy of staying up late reading, calling out loud several times at the twists and turns of the story.

And about kids killing kids: there’s so much more to the story than this. It’s much more about the human spirit and doing the right thing in impossible situations and mockingjays and even the power of music.