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A more sophiscated 2nd edition to the Hunger Games
on July 21, 2011
In Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins our favorite tributes are back with Katniss and Peeta after they've won the 74th annual hunger games. They begin the novel with embarking on the Capitol's cruel Victory tour around the districts. Picking up where Hunger Games left off, Katniss and Peeta have made history with it being the first time more than one tribute has ever survived the Hunger Games. In the aftermath of their rebellious poison berry act, the 12 districts of Panem are in quite a stir and rumors of an uprising begin to pick up more steam than ever before. Even worse for Katniss is the fact that she now appears to be the primary symbol of the revolution and uprising that everyone is hoping for. Much to the shock of no one, President Snow is not very pleased with what the result of the 74th Hunger Games have caused.
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!