Catching Fire Keeps the Tension High in the Second Book of the Hunger Games Trilogy
Review by Tricia Mills
I think one of the biggest compliments an author’s book can receive if she’s writing a series is if someone finishes a book in the series and then immediately wants to start the next. That’s how I felt after reading the last page of The Hunger Games earlier this year, and once again when I finished reading the second in the series, Catching Fire, just a few days ago. I can’t believe I have to wait another year to find out what happens!
For those who are unfamiliar with the books by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games is the first in the trilogy about 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a sort of dystopian world where people live in 12 poor districts around a rich Capitol that rules with an iron fist. Each year, one boy and one girl from each district are chosen by lottery to go to the Capitol and participate in the televised Hunger Games – mandatory viewing by all citizens. It’s a fight-to-the-death competition that means wealth and a life of ease for the winner and his/her family, but death for the other 23 participants. Joining Katniss from District 12, the coal-producing poorest of the districts, is Peeta Mellark, a boy she knows and who once gave her bread when her family was starving. Initially, they agree to work together even though they know they’ll eventually have to face off against each other. Complicating things is Peeta’s admission that he loves her – on air. Katniss believes it’s a ploy but plays along to get audience support and thus gifts to help her during the game. The public falls in love with this star-crossed couple, and the end result is a rule change that allows them both to win.
Catching Fire starts out several months after the conclusion of the Hunger Games depicted in the first book, and we see the aftermath of the first Hunger Games ever to have two victors and how the all-powerful Capitol is reacting to that and the actions of our heroine, Katniss Everdeen. She’s glad to be alive, but she’s suffering from nightmares caused by the brutality of the Games; guilt about those who lost their lives and how her life is now one of plenty while those around her still suffer; fear for those she loves; and confusion about her feelings for Peeta and for her long-time best friend Gale, who has been forced to go to work in the mines to support his family. On top of all that is the knowledge that what she did in the Games might very well have been the spark that ignites the districts into rebellion against a Capitol that forces them to send their children off to die in the Games each year. But of all the retribution the Capitol could have taken against her, she’s not prepared for what they dish out. Once again, she and Peeta are thrust into even more danger. I won’t go into specifics because I want you all to be as surprised and shocked as I was, to get the full effect of the situations and Katniss’s emotions.
These books are wonderful, truly the kind that keep you up reading way past when you should turn off the light and let your burning eyes have a rest.
Tricia Mills writes young adult fiction for Razorbill. Her first YA novel, Heartbreak River, was released in April 2009. Her second, Winter Longing, is set to release in the summer of 2010. Visit her at www.triciamills.com.