Posted by: teachergirl | January 8, 2010

Catching Fire

Catching Fire
Suzanne Collins
New York: Scholastic, 2009
Genres: Young adult dystopian fiction
Interest level: 7th grade and up
AR level: 5.3

Catching Fire follows Katniss after she and Peeta return home from their victory in the Hunger Games, a battle to the death between 24 teenagers from the 12 districts of Panem.  Katniss comes to realize the consequences she faces for forcing the Capitol to accept two victors in the Games instead of the standard one—consequences involving her family’s safety and that of her best friend Gale.  She struggles to understand and reconcile her conflicting emotions toward both Peeta and Gale.  Meanwhile Katniss has become a symbol of rebellion against the Capitol and some districts begin to stage uprisings.  Katniss and Peeta find themselves thrown back into the arena when the terms of the Quarter Quell, a “celebration” of the 75th Hunger Games, are announced; once again it is kill-or-be-killed.

Suzanne Collins has done it again.  Readers are pulled into another great story with well-defined and well-developed characters.  She takes a different approach from the usual dystopian novel; Catching Fire is more about Katniss’s personal struggles than it is about the growing rebellion against the Capitol.  The writing is both emotionally engaging and emotionally draining.  It’s a hard read because so many heart strings are pulled to breaking.  Usually a good book will keep me reading until the end, but with this one I had to take breaks to escape from the utter despair and desperation Katniss was experiencing.  It just became too much to handle; crying was necessary.  And this, I think, is the mark of a great book, when characters become real in the heart of the reader.

I loved the development of the relationship between Katniss and Peeta, and Katniss and Gale.  When I first finished the book, I was unsure who I wanted her to choose in the end.  Now, though, I’ve thought about it, and I vote for Peeta.  Katniss needs him more than she needs Gale.  I don’t think Gale will ever be able to understand what she has gone through.  I think she is starting to fall for Peeta, even if she doesn’t realize it yet.  Her relationship with Gale seems more like that of siblings, at least on her part.  Not to mention Peeta has gotten a lot more “screen” time (page time?) than Gale, and I think his character is slightly more developed.  But that’s my opinion.  We’ll have to wait until August to find out.

I heartily recommend this series to readers, from middle school to adult.

My review of The Hunger Games is here.

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Responses

  1. I find it really interesting that though Katniss has more history with Gale, the reader doesn’t. I’m always surprised *anyone* pulls for Gale.

    Great review!

  2. I’m pulled between Peeta and Gale but leaning a little toward Gale. I guess because he came first.

  3. Good point Seth. I guess that’s why I think she’ll choose Peeta. We know more about Peeta. Then again, if you look at Harry Potter, I did not see Ginny coming at all.

    Framed – I felt that way after The Hunger Games, but Catching Fire converted me. heh. Gale did come first in terms of a relationship with Katniss, but I think Peeta’s liked her longer. Didn’t her give her bread when they were kids, when her mom was grieving?

    Thanks for the comments! 🙂

  4. Hi, I bought the first book of the serie, in English version (I’m French) and I long to read it. This series is recommended by french reader’s blogs too.

  5. Ankya – It’s nice to have visitor from France! I hadn’t thought about the interest in these books in other languages, although that’s silly, because everyone wants to read good books. Seems like the Hunger Games trilogy is well-received as a translation. yay.


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