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Catching fire
Book
2009
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  New York Times Review

Call it a trilogy, smack a number on it, pump out the books at the rate of one a year. Novelists everywhere lament the diminished prospects for the proper, stand-alone novel, though this is a whole lot of foolishness. If anything, the ascendancy of the series should be encouraging. In this oppressive Twitter-verse, we, or our children at least, still embrace the long form. The problem is, most series aren't all that good. Sometimes the first book is engaging enough, but the volumes that follow seem like "The Continuing Adventures of So-and-So in a Quest for No Particular Reason Other Than to Make Money." Characters who seemed so full of promise in Book 1 haven't advanced an inch by Book 13. By then, it's hard to remember what the initial attraction was anyway. "The Hunger Games," the best-selling first book in Suzanne Collins's planned trilogy, has a plot you think you've already heard. Two teenagers from each state of a totalitarian dystopia called Panem (America after an environmental apocalypse) are selected at random to participate in a reality show known as the Hunger Games. Having killed everyone else in the arena or watched them die, including his or her own teammate, the victor is celebrated as a hero and receives food for life. The novel follows Katniss Everdeen, the "tribute" from District 12. And now, I'm about to spoil the ending for you. . . . Katniss wins. It's the first in a trilogy, after all. By the way, I really liked "The Hunger Games." But I love the new book, "Catching Fire." "Catching Fire" begins with Katniss in the aftermath of her victory. With the calculated rebelliousness of her performance in the Games, she angered the leaders in the Capitol. So instead of enjoying semi-retirement, celebrity and all that free food, Katniss is drawn back into the arena. In addition to the continuing story of the girl in the ring, "Catching Fire" is a portrait of how a desperate government tries to hold off a revolutionary tide and as such has something of the epic feeling of Orwell to it. (But for kids.) Collins has done that rare thing. She has written a sequel that improves upon the first book. As a reader, I felt excited and even hopeful: could it be that this series and its characters were actually going somewhere? It certainly helps that at the heart of this exotic world is a very real girl, the kind lacking even a single supernatural gift. (Those "real" types seem to be in short supply in children's books lately.) Katniss is good with a bow and arrow, not because she was born that way or struck by lightning, but because she was poor and hunted to survive (i.e., practice). In a memorable scene from the first book, Katniss is forced to exhibit her hard-earned archery skills before a panel of distracted Gamemakers more interested in the pig being served for dinner. Tired of being "upstaged by a dead pig," she sends an arrow straight through the apple in its mouth. A bold move, but not a terribly well-thought-out one. Katniss is essentially a kid throwing a tantrum. When she revisits the Gamemakers in "Catching Fire," she uses the moment far more deliberately: to draw fire away from her teammate and break through the veneer of the people who "find amusing ways to kill us." Katniss is more sophisticated in this book, and her observations are more acute. We see this when she notices how much more difficult it is to kill people once you know them, or when she observes the decadent (and for the reader perhaps uncomfortably familiar) citizens of the Capitol gorging and then taking pills to make themselves vomit, or with her gradual realization that she may just stand for something greater than herself. All this is accomplished with the light touch of a writer who truly understands writing for young people: the pacing is brisk and the message tucked below the surface. Incidentally, just because this book is intended for a young audience doesn't mean that Collins isn't delightfully ruthless. This is a world in which bad things happen to good characters. Right before her return to the arena, Katniss is made to watch as a beloved adult character is beaten and dragged away. At that moment, Panem feels like a place where anything might happen, and where a reader will want to return to see what happens next.

  Library Journal Review

Stephen King meets Dr. Zhivago. I am being less than fair in promoting the much-anticipated sequel to Collins's The Hunger Games (see my 2008 Best of the Year list) when it will not be out until September. My only excuse is that it gives the uninitiated a last chance to read the first book before this one climbs to the top of the children's best-sellers list. (Add yourself to your library's holds queue now!) The story takes place in a future world where teens are made to compete to the death in an annual tribute called the Hunger Games. At the conclusion of the first volume, the games' victors face an uncertain future at the hands of a cruel Capitol. All I will say about the second is that it is as much of a page-turner as the first and leaves the reader even more desperate for what comes next. Why It Is for Us: If heart-stopping adventure is not your cup of tea, consider reading The Hunger Games and Catching Fire for their winning characters and epic themes of oppression, rebellion, and love. Collins cannot write the third book fast enough.-Angelina Benedetti, King Cty. Lib. Syst., WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

*Starred Review* At the end of The Hunger Games (2008), breathless readers were left in the lurch with any number of questions. Will Katniss lead an uprising against the Capitol? Does she fancy Peeta or Gale? Both? Neither? And perhaps most importantly, how in the world is Collins going to live up to the (well-deserved) hype? Without divulging too much, don't sweat it. The book opens with Katniss and Peeta reluctantly embarking on their victory tour through the 12 oppressed districts of Panem, where they witness more than a few surprising things. And right when it seems as if the plot might be going into a holding pattern between the first and third acts of the trilogy, a blindsiding development hurtles the story along and matches, if not exceeds, the unfiltered adrenaline rush of the first book. Again, Collins' crystalline, unadorned prose provides an open window to perfect pacing and electrifying world building, but what's even more remarkable is that aside from being tremendously action-packed science-fiction thrillers, these books are also brimming with potent themes of morality, obedience, sacrifice, redemption, love, law, and, above all, survival. Honestly, this book only needs to be good enough to satisfy its legions of fans. Fortunately, it's great. And if you were dying to find out what happens after the last book, get ready for pure torture awaiting the next.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2009 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

In the sequel to the hugely popular The Hunger Games (2008), Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, having won the annual Games, are now rich and famousand trapped in the fiction that they are lovers. They are seen as a threat to the Capitol, their unusual manner of winning an act of rebellion that could inspire uprisings throughout Panem. Knowing her life is in danger, Katniss considers escaping with her family and friends but instead reluctantly assumes the role of a rebel, almost forced into it by threats from the insidious President Snow. Beyond the expert world building, the acute social commentary and the large cast of fully realized characters, there's action, intrigue, romance and some amount of hope in a story readers will find completely engrossing. Collins weaves in enough background for this novel to stand alone, but it will be a far richer experience for those who have read the first installment and come to love Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch and the rest of the desperate residents of this dystopia. A humdinger of a cliffhanger will leave readers clamoring for volume three. (Science fiction. 12 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
The powerful second novel in The Hunger Games Trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Collins. <p>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.</p> <p>Suzanne Collins continues the amazing story of Katniss Everdeen in this second novel of the phenomenal Hunger Games trilogy.</p>
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