Today, Olivia reviews Catching Fire, the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins *Spoiler warning: if you haven't read the series, skip this post!*:
"Catching Fire continues following the adventures of Katniss and Peeta after their dual District 12 victory in the games.
"In the previous book, The Hunger Games, Peeta’s name was called in a lottery to participate in the yearly hunger games. Katniss’s sister Prim was called as well, but Katniss elected to replace her. In the games, two citizens (called 'tributes') are summoned from each district to fight to the death in an arena full of cameras with the entire nation of Panem watching. The battle lasts days, sometimes weeks, for 23 out of the 24 tributes to be killed.
"While there is usually only one victor, both Katniss and Peeta escaped from the arena alive after convincing the people of Panem that they were in love to receive valuable gifts to use in the arena. When they were the only two tributes left, they both decided to commit suicide and die together. Before they could follow through, the government 'Gamemakers' stopped the games and declared them both winners.
"The second book starts as Katniss, Peeta and their families are living in luxury compared to their poverty before the games, as the Capitol (as the government is called) supplies the victor of the games with better housing and materials. Katniss has a strained relationship with Gale, her best friend before the games who is now jealous and upset about the false love between Katniss and Peeta.
"Before Katniss has a chance to resolve this, she and Peeta embark on their 'Victory Tour' around all twelve districts where they will give speeches and be received with celebrations. However, before leaving she is informed by Panem’s leader, President Snow, that her act of rebellion in the games (the suicide threat) has now started a wave of rebellion around Panem in which she is seen as a symbol. Katniss receives a frightening threat- if she is unable to convince all of Panem that she acted out of love for Peeta, not a desire to rebel, then her friends and family will be killed.
"Though Katniss and Peeta both make an effort to intensify their fake relationship to the crowds on the tour, it is announced when they return home that victors from the previous hunger games will be drawn to participate again. With this, Katniss and Peeta are thrust into the mayhem and terror of the games yet again.
"While Catching Fire is perhaps not as fast-paced or thrilling as its predecessor, it delves much more deeply into the fascinating government structure of Panem and explores the possibility of a governmental collapse. Catching Fire also tours much more of Panem as a whole- Katniss and Peeta visit every district as well as the Capitol, as opposed to the previous book being set in only the Capitol and District 12.
"The set-up of the hunger games arena is also more appealing in the sequel. A fascinating and mysterious area, its structure actually becomes a major part of the storyline. As in the previous book, the tributes from other districts are all very interesting and well-developed characters that add intrigue to the novel.
"Another positive aspect of Catching Fire was that because the basic set-up of Panem, the districts, and the hunger games were explained in the previous book, the sequel was able to focus more on the thoughts and emotions of the characters, Katniss especially.
"Catching Fire is a thrilling novel best for readers in middle school or older, particularly adventure-genre lovers or anyone who enjoys reading about dystopian governments and societies, similar to Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Among the Hidden Shadow Children series."