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Catching Fire

A book by Suzanne Collins

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A Good Sequel to The Hunger Games

  • Sep 25, 2009
Rating:
+4
In 2008, Suzanne Collins came out with The Hunger Games.  A startling dystopia about a sadistic capital that puts kids in an arena to fight to the death for the sake of entertainment.  The winner was given fame and fortune.  It placed us in the shoes of Katniss Everdeen, as she went into the arena with a boy named Peeta.  Against all odds, she survived... and so did Peeta.  What she's unaware of is that her little stunt which allowed them both to survive in the first place has consequences.  The first book was about the hunger games and the fight for survival.  The second book gives us a deeper look at the world which we were introduced to in the first book.  Here we'll learn more about the capital and discover that in this world, things are always going crazy.

The first book ended a little abruptly, and the second one picks up just about from where the first one left off.  With Katniss and Peeta returning to District 12 to celebrate their victory.  A victory which the capital doesn't see as being all that fantastic.  The President of Panem: President Snow is interested in making sure that Katniss behaves herself.  Thanks to her little stunt that was able to keep her and Peeta alive there has been a lot of unrest in the Districts.  Some of them are planning their own uprising.  At the center of it all is Katniss, who is looked at as something of a hero for defying the capital.  President Snow wants her to work to settle things down, but the more Katniss learns about the capital, the more it becomes clear that she can no longer be a pawn.  

Just as she is learning this, however, the Capital pulls another fast one... that puts Katniss, Peeta and those she cares about in danger.  

Catching Fire is a pretty good follow up to The Hunger Games.  It begins a little slowly, however, because the book spends a bit of time in the beginning recapping events from the first book while trying to move the story in the second book forward.  If you're one who actually read the first book, this can be a little grumbling at times.  The book doesn't just recap some things once, they do it again and again.  At some point, however, the book really just starts pushing forward and bringing up new questions and revelations.  There are also a good number of plot twists... especially at the end (that might leave you feeling a little confused). 

The characters manage to be well done as well.  Every character has their own flaws and personalities that we can come to admire.  In particular, Katniss manages to be the most interesting character.  And she should be.  She not only wrestles with her actions that caused the capital to come down on her in the first place, but she also wrestles with her own confused feelings for Peeta and Gale (she is a teenager).  When first hearing about this your first thoughts immediately turn to a love triangle in which Peeta and Gale perhaps compete for her affections, but Suzanne Collins goes for a different route.  Her focus here is mostly on the Capital.  This means you're not going to get any melodrama.  Katniss is confused and she has a hard time dealing with her feelings, but the book is done in such a way that it doesn't come off as overdramatic.  As a result, there's no sort of sexual energy or even love tension that rides throughout the book at all.  This is even better because we never get the feeling that Collins is trying to manipulate us to choosing one character over another.  You might find people on forms trying to turn this into a Twilight-like rivalry (the whole "Team Edward" and "Team Jacob" stuff is enough to make you start slitting your wrists) but the book itself does very little to push a "Team Peeta" and "Team Gale" discussion.  Suzanne Collins is juggling a lot, but she keeps it in perspective and is constantly telling readers that the focus of the book is on the capital more so than how Katniss feels about Peeta and Gale.

If there was anything about the book that may have really been aggrivating, it would be the ending.  Like the first book, you're reading and it just ends.  It's the second book in a projected trilogy.  Some argue it doesn't have to wrap things up in a bow.  I agree, it doesn't.  But it leaves off on one hell of a cliffhanger, and leaves you with a sense of dissonance.  A lot of movies and books do this sort of thing.  The books in The Hunger Games series, however, does it in such a way that you feel as if someone is talking to you and then just drops off in mid sentence.  It's not that big a deal, at least.  Although it means that you'll have to wait a year before you can know the exciting conclusion to the story. 

One of my main criticisms of a lot of Young Adult Literature is that many authors in the genre don't seem to take their audience seriously.  In some books you feel as though the author is talking down to the audience or in some cases the authors seem to "dumb themselves down."  I've always had a problem with Young Adult Literature that tries too hard to be cool.  Catching Fire doesn't do this.  It's plain and direct.  It doesn't try to be cool and it doesn't dumb itself down for its audience.

Catching Fire is a bit more mature in its themes than The Hunger Games is, but because of its slow start it takes a while before it becomes nearly as exciting as the first book does.  Thankfully, Catching Fire doesn't spend too much time reminding us of what happened in the first book and it's a quick read. It uses simple language and gets to the point.  Most of all, it's entertaining.

If you like The Hunger Games, Catching Fire doens't stray too far away from the things which worked with the first book.  It doesn't try too hard to best The Hunger Games at all, but it also doesn't go above and beyond what the first book was like so many sequels.  Suzanne Collins doesn't go by this idea that bigger is better.  So if you enjoyed The Hunger Games you're likely to enjoy Catching Fire because Catching Fire doesn't strive to be something it isn't.

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More Catching Fire reviews
review by . December 09, 2010
Dystopia, Big Brother and post-apocalypse are themes that have been included in novels so often that it could well be a life's work for a librarian to prepare an exhaustive catalogue of titles. But, in terms of quality, the devil is in the details and Suzanne Collins has justifiably taken the world by storm. Suzanne Collins HUNGER GAMES trilogy, inspired by the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur, is an innovative, dare I say unique, young adult twist on the recurring themes of violence, cruely, …
review by . November 13, 2010
Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire, has survived the Hunger Games saving not only herself but also her fellow tribute, Peeta Mellark.      But there can only be one victor in the Games and her desperate move has made Katniss a target not only of the Capitol's anger but also of the fledgling rebellion. Saving herself and Peeta set off a spark that is spreading quickly through the other districts. A spark that the girl on fire is not sure she wants to put out.      …
review by . August 29, 2010
"A visit from President Snow. Districts on the verge of uprisings. A direct death threat to Gale, with others to follow. Everyone I love doomed. And who knows who else will pay for my acions? Unless I turn things around on this tour. Quiet the discontent and put the president's mind at rest. And how? By proving to the country beyond any shadow of a doubt that I love Peeta Mellark." -- From Catching Fire    In the second installment of the Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss, Peeta, …
review by . June 16, 2010
Catching Fire is the 2nd book in Suzanne Collins’ fascinating Hunger Games trilogy. This book picks up where The Hunger Games left off. After winning the Hunger Games with Peeta Malarck, Katniss Everdeen is back in District Twelve with fame and fortune, but Katniss soon finds she has created an uprising in Panem, something she hadn't counted on. She may be famous for winning the annual Hunger Games, but she has become the symbol for a revolution that threatens to overthrow the government.   …
review by . May 10, 2010
"Catching Fire" is a rare case - a book where a sequel lives up to (and perhaps exceeds) the standard set by an excellent first book.    The story picks up only a few months after "The Hunger Games" leaves off, and wastes little time before setting of at the same breakneck pace, in unexpected directions. Suzanne Collins has a talent for efficient, clever plotting with lots of twists and turns, and she shows a unique understanding of her characters through clever one-off lines …
review by . August 27, 2010
My Summary (SPOILER FOR 1st BOOK!): After surviving the Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta both try to live their lives as normally as they can. Only problem is that everyone is supposed to believe they're in love, some Districts are starting to unsettle and rebel against the Capital, and it all just might be Katniss's fault.    Katniss struggles with her feelings before she's off for the victory tour, unable to truly love Peeta, but things with Gale aren't going well either. Yet, …
Quick Tip by . June 21, 2010
Fantastic! Even better than Hunger Games. Awaiting the next one.
Quick Tip by . June 15, 2010
Another amazing book by Suzanne Collins!
Quick Tip by . June 12, 2010
These are going to make great movies. Quick moving and well put together in action and characters
Quick Tip by . June 04, 2010
Suzanne Collins is a fantastic writer, bringing about some serious topics that gets you thinking without the reader even realizing it.
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #5
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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Starred Review. Gr 7 Up--Every year in Panem, the dystopic nation that exists where the U.S. used to be, the Capitol holds a televised tournament in which two teen "tributes" from each of the surrounding districts fight a gruesome battle to the death. InThe Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, the tributes from impoverished District Twelve, thwarted the Gamemakers, forcing them to let both teens survive. In this rabidly anticipated sequel, Katniss, again the narrator, returns home to find herself more the center of attention than ever. The sinister President Snow surprises her with a visit, and Katniss’s fear when Snow meets with her alone is both palpable and justified.Catching Fireis divided into three parts: Katniss and Peeta’s mandatory Victory Tour through the districts, preparations for the 75th Annual Hunger Games, and a truncated version of the Games themselves. Slower paced than its predecessor, this sequel explores the nation of Panem: its power structure, rumors of a secret district, and a spreading rebellion, ignited by Katniss and Peeta’s subversive victory. Katniss also deepens as a character. Though initially bewildered by the attention paid to her, she comes almost to embrace her status as the rebels’ symbolic leader. Though more of the story takes place outside the arena than within, this sequel has enough action to pleaseHunger Gamesfans and leaves enough questions tantalizingly unanswered for readers to be ...
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Details

ISBN-10: 0439023491
ISBN-13: 978-0439023498
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: Children's Books, Teens
Publisher: Scholastic Press
First to Review

"Collins has done it again"
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