Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian Fiction
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.
Catching Fire is the fiery second book in the trilogy of The Hunger Games. Split into three parts, beginning with a recap of The Hunger Games and the ensuing victory tour; the second part leads up to the Hunger Games "The Quell"; and the latter portion of the book is the Games themselves, Catching Fire takes off right where The Hunger Games left us.
Catching Fire is not so action packed, not until the last third of the novel, really, but it is not a boring trip to the games this time around either. To recap, in the first novel Katniss and Peeta, the two tributes from District 12, are the winners of The Hunger Games. It is the first time two winners have made it to the end, and this only due to some manipulation of the Capitol and the Gamekeepers with threats made by Katniss, and secondly Peeta, of the death of them both. It is allowed but a price must be paid for Katniss' defiance. In a mandatory television broadcast, an announcement is made....
"My mother gives a faint shriek and Prim buries her face in her hands, but I feel more like the people I see in the crowd on television. Slightly baffled. What does it mean? Existing pool of victors?
Then I get it, what it means. At least, for me, District 12 has only three existing victors to choose from. Two male. One female...
I am going back into the arena." (page 173)
Thus, The Quell is announced. The living victors from previous years' Hunger Games are forced to relive their horrors in yet another life and death competition, and this means Katniss and Peeta must return to the arena. We have already read half the book by the time this is announced!
In Catching Fire, Katniss and Peeta are a year older, a year wiser, and we see Katniss develop as an individual, as a woman and as a potential leader. The author takes the time for some character development, which is noted in the growth we see in Katniss, though Peeta still remains a bit of a vague person. We know of his love but we don't really get a good look into his psyche, to see what makes him tick, what his true strengths and beliefs are. The plot is strong and well thought out, though not so action packed as the first, The Hunger Games. More time is spent developing the story line, showing the tension of the people, the effort of the government to maintain control. Plot building..... Catching Fire is more about the people than the games.
Leading up to the games, threats of rebellion against the controlling government of the Capitol are throughout the districts, consequently armed patrols invade the districts and there is no leeway on any rules. Rather than quiet the rebels, though, a great and strong current of unrest continues to rise up. The mocking jay is their symbol, it is Katniss' token, and the people look to Katniss as the face of the rebellion. The people of the districts want Katniss to win the games again. To be their victor, to be their champion of the people. The games are on again. Who will win this time?
“The bird, the pin, the song, the berries, the watch, the cracker, the dress that burst into flames. I am the mockingjay. The one that survived despite the Capitol’s plans. The symbol of the rebellion.”(page 386)
Suzanne Collins authors another powerful novel in Catching Fire, the second book in The Hunger Games series. She manipulates the environment, the mood, the plot masterfully, weaving in subplots and new characters while maintaining the hold she has on the readers' attention. It is hard to put down, though not so difficult as The Hunger Games was (probably because The Hunger Games was so action-packed). Catching Fire ends with a lovely little cliffhanger, just to keep the reader excited and eager to read the next book in the series, Mockingjay. Which I will pick up next.
Stay tuned for the upcoming review!
PS rumours have it that Catching Fire will be in theatres in 2013!
Reader warning: suitable for junior high (middle school), high school and adults due to mature themes of violence