REVIEW: Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Genre: Dystopian Fiction/ Young Adult, Pages: 400, Reading Level: Easy

Book Description:

“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 second in The Hunger Games series. Katniss and Peeta are now Hunger Games victors. Catching Fire is what happens afterwards. What their life is like. What obligations their status brings. And the anticipation of now having to mentor the tributes for the next Hunger Games, which will be a Quarter Quell, a special Hunger Games. What will be the surprise for this Quarter Quell and how will it affect Katniss? How will it affect the seemingly growing tension in the districts?

I admit that I didn’t re-read the entire book The Hunger Games with my daughter. She couldn’t wait until bedtime to continue reading and ended up reading it most by herself. So I will have to go back to that one and re-read it myself. Not a big deal because I read really fast. However, with Catching Fire, I forbid her to read it without me. For one, there are a few parts that I wanted to skim before I actually read them out loud, but second, because I wanted to share the experience with her and see her excitement. That’s priceless. So we read a chapter or two a night. Then maybe three chapters a night. Until two nights in a row, I kept my fifth grade daughter up until ten o’clock at night on school nights to read just one more chapter, which ended up being 5 or 6 by the time we finally tore ourselves away. Bad mommy!

I’d like to begin with Katniss. I’ve heard some criticism about Katniss’ character. Some don’t like that she is distant and cold. Some think she is mean. And on and on. I’ll admit I hated the main female character in the Sookie Stackhouse series, I have no great love for the main female character in the Divergent series and the main female character in the Matched series is a little ho hum. On the other hand, I love Katniss. I love that she is not as smart as Peeta. I love that she is not as pumped up and strong of conviction as Gale. She is not the be all end all of main characters. She has flaws. And the whole Gale or Peeta thing… 1. She is a normal teenage girl. 2. Don’t you think she has more important things to worry about?

And still, both Gale and Peeta are in love with her, despite her indecision. They see her potential and instead of taking off and just jumping into the pants of the next girl they see, they stick around. Their love is unconditional. Gale and Peeta show an understanding of love that most adults do not.

For those who think most Young Adult novels are not really that challenging, meaningful or intelligent:

A mockingjay is a creature the Capital never intended to exist. They hadn’t counted on the highly controlled jabberjay having the brains to adapt to the wild, to pass on its genetic code, to thrive in a new form. They hadn’t anticipated its will to live. p93

This is the perfect quote for a high school literature essay or even final exam on Catching Fire. The book does not clarify the correlation for the reader. That’s why Collins is such a great writer. She doesn’t assume the reader is dumb.

This quote describes Katniss; it describes the revolution; it describes the ideal endgame. President Snow had not counted on Katniss’ will to live. President Snow had not counted on a revolution being able to form under his highly controlled regime. And President Snow, having separated each district from each other, but especially from the Capital, does not have the foresight to see a future where the districts and Capital comingle and a new society is born.

Since my daughter is only 9 years old, I have to explain some of the more subtle points to her. Usually, I find that a little distracting, but it forced me consider some of the details with a little more scrutiny. Not only does my daughter appreciate the story more, but now I have talked my way into more discussion topics. Win win.

It is common for sequels not to live up to the first in the series, but Catching Fire absolutely does. Collins is a phenomenal writer and keeps me at the edge of my seat. When I think there could not possibly be any more shockers, she hits me with one. I highly recommend Catching Fire to those who have read The Hunger Games, although I don’t think you’re going to need my encouragement. For those who have not, I strongly encourage you to begin the series now. You are not likely to regret it.

Reviewed by Christina
September 9, 2013

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