Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

While there are no spoilers for Catching Fire in this post, there are spoilers for The Hunger Games below. (Should be obvious, but I figured better safe than sorry.)

This book got me in a little bit of trouble. See, I managed to obtain a copy of the prerelease from a librarian friend (read: she taunted me with the copy and I then badgered the heck out of her until she gave in and handed it over), but I only got to keep it for a night. So I read 138 pages at lunch (she came back and said, “There is no way that you read that much in an hour”) and THEN after our workshop I had to go to an Open House and talk to people when, really, I just wanted to read my book so I could know what was going to happen next. When I got home, I ignored Mike, which he completely understood, but after I made a horrified noise about halfway through, he requested that I take myself and my prerelease to a different room. Poor man. He didn’t even get to read it, because I had to take it back. Our copy will be here today. At least we won’t have to fight over it.

I’m sorry, this is remarkably incoherent so far. But, seriously. Totally my Good Thing for August 17 – obtaining and reading a copy of a book you’ve been looking forward to completely out of the blue. That will make my day for sure.

Anyway, when last we left Katniss, she and Peeta had won the Hunger Games and returned to District 12. Their refusal to play by the rules has made them a symbol of the resistance. As unrest continues to build among the districts, the Capitol has plans to make Katniss and Peeta pay for what they have started.

I didn’t do a full write-up of the first book, but I mentioned that what I liked so much about it was how Katniss was both likable and unlikeable at the same time. She loved her family and wanted to do what it took to stay alive and be with them. But as she was manipulating the Games, she began to lose sight of who she was. The question is not only who you are when no one is watching – it’s who you become when everyone is watching. I also thought the book had a lot to say about what it means to be a culture where life and death are on display.

This one was less about those things, which surprised me. It’s still about waste and excess and inhumanity, but it’s also about the resistance – about courage and love and loyalty, about measuring the cost and choosing to stand up for what is right. And it’s about setup, that’s for sure – setting up the ending of the trilogy. That’s not to say there’s not action and excitement, because there definitely is. Like everyone else, I wondered if Collins would be able to keep the tension high in the second book after having Katniss win in the first book. Let me tell you – she managed it just fine. And even better (or worse, depending on how desperate you are to find out what happens next), this one leaves you hanging, just like the first one did.

I loved every minute of Catching Fire, and I will be anxiously awaiting the next book. Suzanne Collins, please, from the bottom of my heart, get it to us soon.

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