Catching Fire (Hunger Games Book 2) by Suzanne Collins

Posted on: September 21, 2010

[Spoiler warning: If you’ve not read Hunger Games, the following review contains information that might spoil the first book for you.]

This is book two in the Hunger Games trilogy. It starts up a short time after the first book ended. Katniss and Peeta, our star-crossed lovers, have returned to District 12 victorious. They are given new homes for their families as well as wealth and status. For a brief period, all is well. Katniss also learns of a rumor about District 13. All her life, she has been told District 13 was uninhabitable, due to being destroyed by the Capitol in a war whose end result was the creation of the Hunger Games. She is now told there are indeed people living in District 13, people who are working to overthrow the Capitol.

As part of their duties as Hunger Games victors, Katniss and Peeta are to tour the entire Panem country, visiting each district in turn. On the day they are to depart, Katniss is confronted by President Snow. He is not at all happy with how the Hunger Games ended and believes there is a resistance movement sweeping through the districts. A movement that has chosen Katniss as their symbol of rebellion. President Snow explains to Katniss she must prove to the entire country her defiance in the Hunger Games was not an act of rebellion but instead driven by her love of Peeta.

During their victory tour, Katniss witnesses firsthand both acts of defiance among the populace and the Capitol’s iron-fisted way of dealing with those acts.

The next Hunger Games is a Quarter Quell. This occurs every twenty-five years and allows the Capitol to introduce some sort of twist to the event. This time around, it is determined that the participants will be chosen from all living previous Hunger Games victors. Katniss and Peeta are headed right back into the arena, with every opponent being someone who has survived previous Hunger Games.

Twists and turns abound in this book. But, it does suffer from what I call “middle book syndrome.” In almost every trilogy, the middle book is the weakest of the three. The first book is usually exciting in that there is a goodly amount of world-building. The reader learns who to root for and who to despise. The second book often is not much more than a lead up to a dazzling conclusion in the third volume.

In this particular case, Catching Fire does contribute to the overall story. It is well-written and the characters fleshed out well. But the reader, knowing there is another book coming, might feel this book goes a bit slower than necessary. Certainly by the time the actual Hunger Games begin, the reader is almost out of patience.

Overall, the book is a good follow up to the first volume, but does move slowly. Recommended for all those who loved the first Hunger Games book.

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