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Catching Fire |Hunger Games|2 Paperback – June 4, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up—In the second title (2009) in Suzanne Collins's planned trilogy, set in the dystopic nation of Panem, Katniss has survived The Hunger Games (2008, both Scholastic), a fight to the death, and learns that she is now considered a danger to the Capital because she has become a symbol of rebellion. President Snow lets her know he is out to "get her" and those she loves. After she and Peeta complete a victory tour to all of the districts and witness firsthand the unrest and force used to squelch it, she learns that in this year of the Quarter Quell (a special version of The Games), former champions are to be the competitors once again. She enters this game with one goal in mind—to keep Peeta alive. The only problem is that he has the same goal. Suspense abounds as, along with Katniss, listeners experience the games once again, with new secrets and questions about the "true" loyalty of her supposed allies. Katniss's feelings about Peeta and Gale continue to confuse her, sometimes clouding her thinking. While Carolyn McCormick's voice sounds older than one might expect for Katniss, she perfectly captures all of her moods. She is very versatile in voicing Peeta's earnestness, Gale's quiet strength, Haymitch's sarcasm, and the feelings of all the lesser characters. The ending is a cliffhanger, and fans of the series will eagerly await the next installment.—Edie Ching, Washington Latin Public Charter School, DC
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Reviewers were happy to report that the Hunger Games trilogy is alive and well, and all looked forward to the third book in the series after this one's stunning conclusion. But they disagreed over whether Catching Fire was as good as the original book Hunger Games or should be viewed as somewhat of a "sophomore slump." Several critics who remained unconvinced by Katniss's romantic dilemma made unfavorable comparisons to the human-vampire-werewolf love triangle in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. But most reviewers felt that Catching Fire was still a thrill because Collins replicated her initial success at balancing action, violence, and heroism in a way that will enthrall young readers without giving them (too many) nightmares. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
The Capitol becomes increasingly more aware and even afraid of a very real possibility of a major uprising, the likes of which have not been seen in nearly 75 years. After a visit from President Snow, Katniss is made quite aware of the dire consequences that will await her, Peeta, and all of those they hold dear to them if they do not put on an extremely convincing display of love for each other during the Victory Tour.
Soon after the Victory Tour, preparations for the 75th annual Hunger Games are made. However, these hunger games will allow the Capitol to introduce a little bit of a twist with it being the third Quarter Quell. Every 25 years, a Quarter Quell takes place in which the lucky contestants all happen to be previous winners of the Hunger Games and have varying ages from 14 to even 80 years old. There are some very intriguing bits of information in the second part of the book as there are even rumors of a secret district and the intrigue for the reader only gets better from there.
The third part of Catching Fire deals with the 75th Hunger Games. Per usual, there are no shortage of surprises that Collins draws up for her readers. Surprise alliances are formed, romantic relationships deepen, and all new stops from the game makers are introduced. It becomes clear that Capitol will stop at nothing to have one tribute alive yet again and even then that doesn't appear to be a guarantee.
What I liked most about Catching Fire was the coming of age for Katniss as a much deeper and stronger character. I also liked the fact that this book was so much more than just the first book re-hashed. The reader is filled in with a tremendous amount of backdrop information as the power structure of Panem and the people of the 12 districts are explored in much more detail than the previous book in the series. Arguably, there is a case for stating that waiting nearly two-thirds of the book is too long for the real action to start, but as the reader goes along it's clear to see why the book was laid out this way.
As I said before, I couldn't quite give this book 5 stars (even though I did with ratings of 4.5 stars not existing). It's a solid 4.5 stars though mainly because it just didn't have the same shock value and freshness that the first book did. That often can be the case when the first book is great and then the second one doesn't quite measure up. That being said, Catching Fire is no slouch of a sequel and I really enjoyed reading it. I can only hope the finale holds up to the first two!
Suzanne Collins is a good, clear writer. Her main characters are sympathetic, and we know who the villains are and why we despise them. Although a teen series, this book serves up entertainment and themes that will keep the adult reader interested. "Catching Fire" continues to explore themes of the individual versus the all-powerful state and what it means to contemplate and take action that moves toward freedom. The heroine Katness Everdeen, and her male cohorts Peeta and Gale, add personal dilemmas that make this a multi-dimensional story.
Like "The Hunger Games," the larger issues are the backdrop for a good action packed story that moves. Think of "Indiana Jones" (Ms. Indiana Jones) being inserted as the lead character in George Orwell's "1984" and you get an idea of the flavor of this book and the series.
Aside: I can't help thinking millions of soon to be and newly registered voters are reading a book that clearly places a large and omnipresent state as the enemy of liberty. It will be interesting to see if this series - given the polarization in our country over the role of government and the individual - will have any impact on the philosophy of young voters.
Of course the major downside of reading a book early is that now I have to wait even longer for the 3rd book to come out!