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Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Review of Book Two in The Hunger Games Trilogy

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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Cover of Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Book 2 in The Hunger Games trilogy

Scholastic

Introduction

District 12 is celebrating the return of Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch, victors of the 74th annual Hunger Games. Yet, the celebration rings hollow for Katniss who knows her final act of defiance in the arena has made her a target for the Capitol. Unrest is stirring within the districts while the Capitol seeks revenge on the face of the rebellion: Katniss. Relationships are shifting, tension is mounting, and retaliation is threatening in Catching Fire, the second book in Suzanne Collins’ thrilling dystopian series, The Hunger Games.

Storyline

The 74th annual Hunger Games has ended and the victory belongs to Katniss and Peeta. Despite the excitement and celebration of District 12 there is an underlying feeling that the Capitol will find a way to curtail any threat of rebellion. Katniss knows her defiance has lit the kindling of something greater than herself and she is ever alert and anxious about her surroundings.

Attempting to bring some normalcy to her pre-Hunger Games existence, Katniss describes daily life as, “I hunt. He (Peeta) bakes. Haymitch drinks,” but simplicity is not meant to be hers. Katniss returns home to find her relationships with Peeta and Gale strained and confusing. She is trapped between wanting her independence and submitting to her status as the symbol of a rebellion. To further complicate her life, Katniss receives an unexpected visit from President Snow who advises Katniss to calm the uprising. He issues thinly disguised threats warning her that if she cannot stop the rapidly growing revolution, then those she loves most will be killed.

Sixteen-year- old Katniss must now decide if she’s willing to lead an uprising against the oppressive, volatile, and dangerous Capitol or continue a charade that would require her to marry Peeta and for the remainder of her life worry about the threat of the Capitol. Although she wants to run away, Katniss ultimately decides to protect her loved ones by becoming engaged to Peeta and continuing on with the victory tour. Despite her attempts to appease the Capitol, she is unable to stop the districts’ increasing demonstrations of rebellion.

In a surprising change of events, the Capitol announces that for the 75th annual Hunger Games, there will be a reuniting of past victors. Once again Katniss and Peeta are thrown back into the arena where they must fight to the death, and this time their defiance will not be in question.

Catching Fire sets the stage for a major uprising against the Capitol and solidifies Katniss’s role as the symbol of the rebellion. In this second installment of the exciting series, readers will finally learn more about the twisted plots of the Capitol, understand the mystery of District 13, and see a clear development of a love triangle.

Author: Suzanne Collins

Television writer, novelist, and bestselling author of two major series, Suzanne Collins is a consummate professional and advocate for educating youth about the realities of war. Colllins began her writing career in 1991 writing television scripts for children’s programming.

In 2003 Collins published the first of her five-part series The Underland Chronicles, a fantasy series for upper elementary readers. In 2008 she published the The Hunger Games, her first book about a post-apocalyptic nation and its totalitarian government. Collins is the daughter of a war veteran and military specialist. She grew up learning about the battlefield and understood the ramifications of war. Collins believes that young people don’t have a political awareness or understanding about the realities of war.

In an interview with Scholastic, Suzanne Collins said, “'There's this potential for desensitizing the audience so that when they see real tragedy playing out on the news, it doesn't have the impact it should. It all just blurs into one program. And I think it's very important not just for young people, but for adults to make sure they're making the distinction. Because the young soldier's dying in the war in Iraq, it's not going to end at the commercial break. It's not something fabricated, it's not a game. It's your life.'” (Source: Scholastic Q&A)

Collins lives in Connecticut with her family and is currently working on another children’s book.

My Recommendation

The Hunger Games Trilogy is an addicting series. I finished the first book in record time and the year- long wait for the release of Catching Fire was pure torture. My questions needed answers: What happens between Katniss and Peeta? How will the Capitol get revenge? What’s Gale up to? And most importantly, how can a sixteen-year-old girl lead a rebellion against such a formidable power? Catching Fire begins to answer these questions, and while the book begins at a moderate pace with the trio’s adjustment back into District 12 and plans of a victory tour, Katniss’ personal struggles with her emotions and her encounter with President Snow accelerate the tension.

Unable to calm the districts desire to rebel against the Capitol, Katniss and Peeta are tossed back into the arena where the action begins anew. The Hunger Games is revisited, but this time there is more at stake. Who is working with the capitol? Who is part of the rebellion? Who can be trusted?

Catching Fire also introduces new characters to the story who will be significant in laying the groundwork for the final rebellion in the third book, Mockingjay. As noted in the first book, characters are subject to the nature of war and it’s uncertain who will live and who will die. Furthermore, it’s not readily apparent who is siding with the Capitol and who is secretly plotting the rebellion. Collins has a masterful ability for building a climax and leaving her audience breathless with anticipation right until the final page.

Additionally, Collins excels at writing quick moving and emotion filled action sequences that are filled with unpredictability. A nail biting cliffhanger and Gale’s shocking revelation to Katniss will have readers scrambling for Mockingjay, the final book in this highly popular series. Parents should be forewarned that due to the nature of war, Catching Fire does have mildly violent action sequences and unpredictable character deaths. The publisher and I both recommend this book for ages 12 and older. (Scholastic, 2009. ISBN: 9780439023498)

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