CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins [Review]

Catching Fire

Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins’ follow up to her 2008 hit, The Hunger Games (read my review here), continues to follow Katniss as she returns to life back home in District 12. Unfortunately for her, life becomes anything but normal. As a Hunger Games victor she lives in a new home with her mother and sister, and her much publicized “romance” with Peeta during the Hunger Games has meant less time away from her friend (and first love?) Gale. Still, she does her best dealing with the limelight while trying to live her life, even returning to hunting and revisiting friends from her old haunts.

Then her world changes when a visit from the President of Panem on the eve of her Victory Tour of the country with Peeta makes it clear that the government did not approve of how she manipulated the outcome of the Hunger Games. Suddenly Katniss finds herself needing to convince everyone that she truly is madly in love with Peeta (including Peeta himself!) or lose those closest to her. When she finds that she falls short of her goal, she sees that the government of Panem has another way to punish her….a return trip to the Hunger Games.

One of the biggest concerns I have when an author writes the second novel in a series is that they will not be able to recapture what made their first book a hit. In Collins’ case, The Hunger Games did a great job of showing the dystopian future Katniss lives in and the tension and desperation involved in the Huger Games. Catching Fire does an amazing job in keeping up the intensity and the excitement of the first book, with an ending that is outstanding. The character development of the first book is continued, although more focused on Haymitch and Gale than on Peeta or Katniss. I also enjoyed how the book explained a little more about how the Hunger Games are run and provided a better understanding of the role the Gamemakers play. There are no real issues with the books, though I would have liked a little more description of what happened during the Victory Tour or more information about how the districts reacted to Katniss as the new rebel icon (which could have been done through some more exposition). Still the book left me wanting for more and I can’t wait for the third installment in the series, which comes out on August 24, 2010.

As with The Hunger Games, Catching Fire is appropriate for mature Young Adults and Adult readers. The subject matter is still too complicated and dark for younger readers, though I thought Catching Fire was not as violent as The Hunger Games (even though there are still character deaths in the arena itself). I would recommend reading The Hunger Games first because starting cold with Catching Fire will confuse the reader and miss out on a great deal of the main character’s backstory and events referred to in the book. There is also an audiobook version that is narrated by Carolyn McCormick (who narrated The Hunger Games audiobook as well).

Quotes from Catching Fire:

“I came for a drink” – Katniss Everdeen

“I wish I could freeze this moment, right here, right now, and live in it forever” – Peeta

“So it’s you and a syringe against the Capitol? See, this is why no one lets you make the plans.” – Haymitch

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars | Publisher: Scholastic Press | Pages: 400 | Source: Purchased | Buy on Amazon

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