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Catching Fire ~ Suzanne Collins

September 2, 2009

Genre: YA fiction

Publisher: Scholastic Press

400 pages

ISBN: 9780439023498

You can’t play a player.

Not when the player is your government with 75 years of sadistic oppression under its belt.

Of course for every rule, be there a rule breaker.

Or several hundred.

Sometimes change can lie dormant, each segregated segment cold and unwilling to commit to a spark until each knows that organization is on the way. Power in numbers is the old cliche but then there is the one about the straw that broke the camel’s back. Sometimes the floodgates begin to crack before the entire water wall is able to escape in an organized mess. It turns out that Katniss and Peeta, two reluctant and unsuspected heroes in the arena, became overnight faces of the new wave of change through Panem following a simple act of defiance and what begins as government paranoia spirals out of control setting a very uneasy backdrop for this year’s Hunger Games.

There is absolutely no way to say any other words about Catching Fire without blowing the whole thing. True to its name, the story is the thing catching fire, picking up speed at an alarming rate that book one did not. That is not to say that it is rushed or sloppily done, though, as even in the heightened chaos that accompanies any good political science thriller, Collins is careful to lay the intricate history of the country, building on what we know, shattering assumptions and illuminating loopholes.

The seeds of oppression and government conspiracy sown in The Hunger Games grow into excellent explorations of censorship, propaganda and control. On a personal level, Catching Fire also delves deeper into family and social life in District 12. Katniss and Peeta have joined Haymitch in the Victor Village, giving rise to the inevitable discussion of what veterans face on their return from the field in any manifestation of combat. We learn a good deal more about Katniss, Prim and their mother as well as Gale’s family. Gale and Katniss are finally reunited and are able to process the fallout as much as they possibly can.

Avoiding the sophomore slump that often plagues the middle book in a trilogy, Catching Fire maintains the momentum of the Hunger Games, lashing out at atrocities of upper class hedonism and government crime. Who says teens can’t be persuaded to grip tight to a deep and meaningful book? Bradbury and Orwell should probably watch out. There’s a new girl in town and she is playing for the win.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2009 12:29 am

    Sadly, I was actually disappointed by this book, and felt it really had that sophomore slump. I’m posting all my thoughts tomorrow morning.

    • iwriteinbooks permalink*
      September 3, 2009 3:56 am

      It’s interesting. In many ways it WAS just filler but I don’t think I felt that until the end. I thought it could have used about two hundred more pages but I guess the third book will have that? I just liked the social commentary in the majority of the first half to two thirds.

  2. September 3, 2009 8:58 am

    I thought it was pacey and action-filled and certainly not lacking in any way that middle books often can be.

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