Reviews for Catching Fire

Booklist Reviews 2009 July #1
*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. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2009 September
A riveting return to the world of 'The Hunger Games'

Fans of The Hunger Games, the riveting and wildly popular novel by Suzanne Collins, have been eagerly awaiting the publication of the second book in the trilogy, Catching Fire on September 1. And they won’t be disappointed.

Katniss Everdeen hails from District 12, a poor, coalmining region, part of the nation of Panem, with its shining Capitol surrounded by 12 districts, each with its own products and geography. The Capitol is focused on controlling the districts; rebellion or dissension simply isn’t tolerated. In order to maintain its tight hold on the outlying regions, for the past 74 years the Capitol has required that each district send one boy and one girl between ages 12 and 18 into a horrifying, televised spectacle—a fight to the death.

In Catching Fire, Katniss, an expert with a bow and arrow who has grown up hunting in order to help feed her sister and widowed mother, begins to encounter the ramifications of the events that propelled her into the spotlight of the 74th Hunger Games, when she volunteered to take her little sister’s place. She now finds that her actions there have placed her, as well as her friends and family, in even greater danger.

Although she’s working assiduously on the final book in the trilogy, Suzanne Collins graciously gave BookPage some of her time to discuss the books. Despite her success, Collins is friendly, forthcoming and down-to-earth (her two kids keep her that way, she says).

And, a promise: no spoilers!

You’ve been a successful writer of books such as Gregor the Overlander series. Did the overwhelming reaction to The Hunger Games take you by surprise?

The reaction did surprise me somewhat. I’ve been writing for television a long time, books not so long. Writing for TV is very collaborative, and relatively anonymous. Since there are usually so many writers involved, there’s not much attention on an individual writer.

Has it been difficult to find time to write?

It has been harder to find time to write, especially last fall, when I was promoting The Hunger Games, finishing Catching Fire and developing book three. However, the good news is I think we’re right on schedule!

At what point did you know that your story was a trilogy?

I knew from the beginning. Once I’d thought through to the end of the first book, I knew there would be repercussions from the events that take place there. So I actually proposed it as a trilogy from the outset, with the main story laid out. I started out as a playwright, and have an M.F.A. from New York University in dramatic writing. After I graduated, I began writing for television. Since I’ve worked in television so long, the three-act dramatic structure comes naturally to me. But I don’t like to “over-outline.” I like to leave breathing room for the characters to develop emotionally—which they often do. Characters always have surprises for you. They try on possibilities and even make some decisions you don’t anticipate. It’s a good thing, and I think it indicates that a story has vitality.

In Catching Fire we see a side of Katniss where she is not always as sure-footed or aware, especially in matters of political intrigue.

I think the thing to remember is how limited her experience is to her world and politics. Even as she becomes more embroiled in events, no one sees that it is in her best interest to educate her.

It’s rare to find a book with two such appealing romantic heroes as Peeta and Gale. Do you know how the romantic triangle will turn out in Book Three?

Yes, I do. [Sorry, readers, that’s about all she would say!]

It’s impossible not to ask about the third book and the movie. Will you be involved in any way with the film?

Yes! The Hunger Games has been optioned and I’m signed on to do the screenplay. I am looking forward to telling the story in a different medium. Of course we will be handling the subject matter very carefully and anticipate that the film will have a PG-13 rating.

What do you hope these books will encourage in readers?

I hope they encourage debate and questions. Katniss is in a position where she has to question everything she sees. And like Katniss herself, young readers are coming of age politically.

Where do you live and what does your family think about your success?

We now live in Connecticut. We lived in New York City for a long time but with two children we were bursting out of our apartment. I have a daughter, age 10 and my son, 15. My son’s a great reader for me. And they both have a good time teasing me about all the attention.

What are some of your favorite things to do when you’re not writing?

I like to read and watch old movies. And these days, when I can, sleep!

Deborah Hopkinson’s new books for young readers are Michelle and Stagecoach Sal.

Copyright 2009 BookPage Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Spring
Six months have passed since Katniss and Peeta won the Hunger Games, with the next Games--the seventy-fifth anniversary--fast approaching. The story kicks into gear as the fascinating horrors of the Hunger Games are re-enacted with violence and suspense; a stunning resolution sets the stage for a grand finale. Collins has again delivered a page-turning blend of plot and character with provocative themes. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #5
Six months have passed since Katniss and Peeta won the Hunger Games, and now they are ready to embark on their Victory Tour of the districts, but they do so under an ominous threat to the safety of their family and friends, a threat delivered in person by President Snow himself. It turns out that Katniss's Games-ending stunt with the berries has been read not only as an expression of her devotion to Peeta but also as an act of defiance of the Capitol -- and because most of the districts fester with unrest, the Capitol is pressuring her to reinforce the first interpretation. The Victory Tour and its aftermath give her time to work through her ambivalence toward the rebellion (Does her celebrity obligate her to participate in the uprising?) and romance (How does she really feel about Gale? about Peeta?), but the Hunger Games are fast approaching, and since this is the seventy-fifth anniversary, these Games will be a Quarter Quell, an opportunity for the Capitol to add a cruel twist. This year's twist seems particularly so, but Katniss and company are equal to it. The plot kicks into another gear as the fascinating horrors of the Hunger Games are re-enacted with their usual violence and suspense. Many of the supporting characters -- each personality distinct -- offer their own surprises. The stunning resolution reveals the depth of the rebellion, while one last cliffhanger sets the stage for a grand finale. Collins has once again delivered a page-turning blend of plot and character with an inventive setting and provocative themes. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 July #1
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 famous--and 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 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Media Connection Reviews 2010 January/February
Catching Fire begins where The Hunger Games (Scholastic, Inc., 2008) ends. The story is told by Katness Everdeen, who survived the games in the first book, where the winner was the person who has killed the other participants. Katness manipulated the Gamemasters so that she and the boy Peeta, her competitor, both lived. Through her actions in the previous games and the Victory Tour, Katness becomes the symbol of the rebellion in the Districts to overthrow the cruel Capitol. After the Victory Tour, the government leaders announce that the living winners of previous Hunger Games are required to fight each other. As the book ends, Peeta has been captured and is in the Capitol, and the Districts are in rebellion again. This fast-paced book is filled with action and intrigue. Katness is a resourceful 16-year-old who strives to take care of her family and friends. Although the story seems to take place in the future, the reader can readily identify with its believable characters. Because Katness tells the story, we understand why she makes certain decisions. This book would appeal to readers who identify with action heroes who work to fight injustice. Recommended. Janet Luch, Educational Reviewer & Adjunct Professor, SUNY New Paltz, Touro College, University of Phoenix Online, DeVry University ¬ 2010 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 June #4

Fresh from their improbable victory in the annual Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta get to enjoy the spoils only briefly before they must partake in a Capitol-sponsored victory tour. But trouble is brewing--President Snow tells Katniss directly he won't stand for being outsmarted, and she overhears rumbles of uprisings in Panem's districts. Before long it's time for the next round of games, and because it's the 75th anniversary of the competition, something out of the ordinary is in order. If this second installment spends too much time recapping events from book one, it doesn't disappoint when it segues into the pulse-pounding action readers have come to expect. Characters from the previous volume reappear to good effect: Katniss's stylist, Cinna, proves he's about more than fashion; Haymitch becomes more dimensional. But the star remains Katniss, whose bravery, honesty and wry cynicism carry the narrative. (About her staff of beauticians she quips: "They never get up before noon unless there's some sort of national emergency, like my leg hair.") Collins has also created an exquisitely tense romantic triangle for her heroine. Forget Edward and Jacob: by book's end (and it's a cliffhanger), readers will be picking sides--Peeta or Gale? Ages 12-up. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 September

Gr 7 Up--Every year in Panem, the dystopic nation that exists where the U.S. used to be, the Capitol holds a televised tournament in which two teen "tributes" from each of the surrounding districts fight a gruesome battle to the death. In The Hunger Games (Scholastic, 2008), Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, the tributes from impoverished District Twelve, thwarted the Gamemakers, forcing them to let both teens survive. In this rabidly anticipated sequel, Katniss, again the narrator, returns home to find herself more the center of attention than ever. The sinister President Snow surprises her with a visit, and Katniss's fear when Snow meets with her alone is both palpable and justified. Catching Fire is divided into three parts: Katniss and Peeta's mandatory Victory Tour through the districts, preparations for the 75th Annual Hunger Games, and a truncated version of the Games themselves. Slower paced than its predecessor, this sequel explores the nation of Panem: its power structure, rumors of a secret district, and a spreading rebellion, ignited by Katniss and Peeta's subversive victory. Katniss also deepens as a character. Though initially bewildered by the attention paid to her, she comes almost to embrace her status as the rebels' symbolic leader. Though more of the story takes place outside the arena than within, this sequel has enough action to please Hunger Games fans and leaves enough questions tantalizingly unanswered for readers to be desperate for the next installment.--Megan Honig, New York Public Library

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