Catching Fire: Book Two of The Hunger Games - Reading List

Catching Fire: Book Two of The Hunger Games

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Catching Fire  By Suzanne Collins

There is something about a good author when he or she is able to put together a series of books and make each one worth reading. I mean they must come up with the overall story line before even writing the first book, right?  I mean look at Tolkien with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia. That is the kind of writing I expect out of good writers of series. Although only the test of time will tell if this series will be as classic as those mentioned above, I am willing to say that the trilogy is at least worth reading because the sequels are equally captivating as the first.
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So here’s my little pre-discussion disclaimer – I am going to try to not give away all the great events in this book, but I can’t promise there won’t be spoilers. If you haven’t read Catching Fire, go read it – shouldn’t take you very long, it’s a super quick read, and then come back to let us know what you thought.

Catching Fire picks up only a couple of months after the close of the Hunger Games. Katniss is now trying to find a way to live in district 12 as a Games victor, although she isn’t enjoying it. The story is again told through her vantage point which allows the reader to really feel her torment the circumstances she finds herself in. Again I must compliment Collins’ ability to write in first person so well- as readers we are able to feel Katniss’ heart over so many things, the unfairness of life in the districts, the fear of President Snow and the power of the Capitol, Gale’s desire to rebel and fight, Peeta’s ability to captivate a crowd, no matter the size, Haymitch’s depression, Prim’s newfound maturity, so much more.

The tone of this second book is more ominous, if that is possible. The reader starts to realize that there is much more going on than just some disgruntled districts tired of Capitol’s power. However, the readers are always kept in the dark since our heroine is only a seventeen year old girl – I mean of course she wouldn’t know the extent of political agendas going on around her – did you when you were seventeen- do you now?
There is so much about this story I could talk about it, so I’m going to limit myself to just a couple of quotes, my thoughts and then hope there are a ton of comments so we can talk more about it.

One of the first big plot points has to be President Snow’s unexpected visit to Katniss’ home. Collins does a great job of describing his appearance and how Katniss feels about this ruler. The line that jumped out at me during his spiel to Katniss was, “And uprisings have been known to lead to revolution.” (p 21) That set the tone for the new angle of the books in my opinion. Collins is trying to show that there is a bigger point to her story than just a love triangle, or even kids being forced to kill kids. She, I think, wants the readers to think about our current society and how public unrest can be a telltale sign of a need for change. I just think it is interesting that President Snow put so much pressure on Katniss when most of the adult audience could guess there was already major unrest going on before Katniss’ stunt at the 74th Hunger Games.  Any thoughts?

One of the reasons why I enjoy these books is because in the middle of an extremely serious plot Collins adds a little bit of humor, which I think adds to the humanity of the characters. Sure when our lives are on the line we are going to be focused on staying safe, but over time we will have humorous thoughts, and moments of humanness (at least I think so, since I haven’t been put into a situation like the Arena).  

One of these moments, when I actually laughed out loud, happened at the beginning of the Quell when Katniss and Finnick are teaming up at the Cornucopia. (sorry here’s a spoiler…)
Oh right. I’m supposed to be pregnant, I think. While I’m trying to think what
that means and how I should act – maybe throw up or something- Finnick has
positioned himself at the edge of the water.  p 272

I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’ve been pregnant twice, but I really got a chuckle out of this line, that I’m not sure all young teenagers would get.  But even that moment of laughter is short lived as Katniss tries to stay alive in another Game. 

I’m going to stop there because I don’t want to give away all the great parts of this book. But I’d love to discuss your thoughts on the book as a whole, or the characters, or anything. Like the hour Finnick and Katniss spent listening to the jabberjays- tears! Or the power Cinna has through costume – amazing use of art to say more than words can. How about reactions to the news Katniss receives once she wakes up after the Quell is over- shocked me a little. Can’t wait for this discussion!

**** Here's one my favorite reviews of Catching Fire
**** And if you are a parent to a child who is reading, has read, or probably will read The Hunger Games, here's a great site on why you, the parent should read these books in order to discuss some of the adult topics proposed in the series - I think it is important for parents to use these opportunities to talk about some of the more serious topics of life because we can create a safe environment for learning and maturity for our children, a place that the world will not give them.