Collins Suzanne, Catching Fire, Scholastic, 2009
On the cover of my copy of Catching Fire, the second book of Suzanne Collins‘ The Hunger Games there’s a quote from Stephenie Meyer of Twilight fame saying: “The Hunger Games is amazing.” Amazing? Surely not the astonishment my dictionary mentions to explain the word. There’s a line in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet when Benvolio beseeches Romeo to flee because he’s killed Tybalt saying: “Stand not amazed.” Amazed? Paralysed. Bewitched. Hypnotised at the sight of what takes place. Unable to move and to escape from danger. Do we not as readers stand thus amazed before the Hunger Games. Surely this is the amazement Stephenie is referring to. Gripping is too weak a word to describe the effect the book has on its readers. But surely there is no danger, you say. Does not the danger lie in being unable to move yet driven by the strongest of emotions? A friend on Goodreads wrote that she wanted to throw the 2nd book against the wall when she finished it such was her frustration with the author’s choice of ending. When I reached the end of the 1st book I wondered why I felt both exhausted and worked up. There was nowhere for those emotions to go. Lest it be to seep into my daily life where they didn’t belong. Now, having read the 2nd book, I believe I understand why. The book holds you bound in its spell while the story tears you apart emotionally. No wonder we feel elated and crushed and outraged and sad and angry and a host of other emotions at the end but have no satisfactory outlet for those emotions. At the root of the word ’emotion’ there’s ‘movement’. In other words, Suzanne Collins simultaneously nails us to the spot and incites us to move with the greatest force she can muster. No wonder we are exhausted. You don’t believe me? Try pushing and pulling a wheelbarrow at the same time. You get nowhere. It is very tiring and frustrating. Having said that, I wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from reading the book, even if I believed I could. Let the emotions role.