Thursday, September 17, 2009

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 391
Reading Level: Young Adult

In the fall of 2008, I discovered Suzanne Collin’s book Hunger Games. However it took me a couple of months to finally read the book. Even though it had gotten great reviews, I struggled with the concept of a book premise where teenagers were forced into a game where they were required to kill one another. Yet, once I finally picked up the book and started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. It was one of those “disturbing in a good way” books. To my amazement, I ranked the Hunger Games as the top book I had read in 2008. But then began the wait for the sequel Catching Fire.

At the end of the Hunger Games, main character Katniss Everdeen had found a way to not only win but to also keep fellow tribute, Peeta Mellark alive as well. Her behavior was viewed as an act of rebellion, and upon her return home, life was not as she expected. Her relationship with her best friend Gale is strained. Peeta, her fellow victor, is ignoring her and there are rumors of a rebellion rising as a result of her and Peeta’s actions in the arena. So what’s a 17 year old girl to do when the Capital feels that her actions were an act of defiance, and she has become a symbol of a potential uprising?

Suzanne Collin’s second book in the Hunger Games Trilogy picks up shortly after the end of the first novel. With this installment, Collins again contrasts the shallow, arrogant, self-centeredness of the Capital’s leaders and residents with the struggles, poverty, and oppression of the residents of the 12 Districts. Sinister President Snow informs Katniss that he is aware of her feelings for Gale and that if she doesn’t want it to seem as if she intentionally defied the authority of the Capital that she and Peeta will need to prove that their displays of affection in the arena were sincere. Embarking on the Capital’s cruel Victory Tour, Katniss slowly begins to recognize the role she has played in the growing unrest.

Though Catching Fire is somewhat slower paced than its predecessor, the intensity never quits. I found myself having to periodically stop reading and take a break, but my curiosity with how the book would end kept drawing me back to the story. I was particularly enthralled with how Collins gave readers glimpses into the lives of former victors, and the impact the games had on each of them. Additionally, I found a growing appreciation for Katniss as the ultimate flawed heroine who struggles as the reluctant symbol of a burgeoning insurgence. And with the 75th Hunger Games, Collins creation of new surprises doesn’t fail to keep her readers on the edge of their seats.

Once again, I find myself waiting for the next installment of the Hunger Games Trilogy. Wonder what I have to do to get an ARC of the third book????

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