Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins follows up where The Hunger Games (Click here for my review) left off.
In this novel, Katniss discovers that her final act in the arena had unintended consequences and she must now decide whether to run and hide with her loved ones or face a new reality--rebellion. However, readers may find that the final act in the hunger games is not necessarily the catalyst for the rebellion so much as the Capitol's unwitting acceptance of her defiance for the rules.
"The smell of roses and blood has grown stronger now that only a desk separates us. There's a rose in President Snow's lapel, which at least suggests a source of the flower perfume, but it must be genetically enhanced, because no real rose reeks like that." (Page 20-1)
Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games), like The Hunger Games, is an excellent book club selection for adults given the regime that makes up Panem and the inner workings of the Capitol itself. From democracy run amok in the Capitol to a dictatorship or totalitarian regime in control of Panem and its districts. While the totalitarian/dictatorship of the Capitol may not be precise in that President Snow's manipulative actions run contrary to traditional totalitarian/dictatorship reactions of crushing the enemy and rebellion with an iron fist, readers will have a number of issues to discuss. However, Collins may not be intentionally shedding light on these political structures, but simply writing dystopian fiction.
"Desperate, yet no longer alone after that day, because we'd found each other. I think of a hundred moments in the woods, lazy afternoons fishing, the day I taught him to swim, that time I twisted my knee and he carried me home. Mutually counting on each other, watching each other's backs, forcing each other to be brave." (Page 117)
Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch, and Gale find more action and intrigue in the sequel and must deftly navigate the twisted rules and procedures of their nation to find themselves and freedom. Katniss, Peeta, and Gale are still in the midst of a young-love romantic triangle, but again the struggles they face against the government take precedence. More is revealed about Haymitch in this book, which readers will find helpful given his past behavior, but still too little is known about the how the current government came to be and who President Snow really is and how he came to power.
If readers think the mockingjay on the cover is a nice touch, they may soon get sick of the symbol as Collins uses it repeatedly in her narration. However, its use is not overly bothersome, just a bit overdone.
Meanwhile, readers will be introduced to new characters, like suave Finnick, unintelligible Mags, and Nuts and Volts, rounding out the cast for some additional suspense, drama, and amusement. The final scene in the book will leave many in shock, but anxious for the next installment. Overall, Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) is a strong middle book to the trilogy.
***As an aside, there's a quote from the book that should spark some recognition about current environmental concerns in readers, as we struggle to modify our behavior to preserve our resources***
"Where the sand ends, woods begin to rise sharply. No, not really woods. At least not the kind I know. Jungle. The foreign, almost obsolete word comes to mind. Something I heard from another Hunger Games or learned from my father." (Page 274-5)
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