Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Catching Fire (Novel)

Catching Fire (Novel) Release date: 2009. Author: Suzanne Collins. Publisher: Scholastic Press. ISBN: 9780439023498.
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Plot summary
: This second novel in the Hunger Games trilogy picks up directly where the plot of the first left off. Katniss and Peeta have won the Hunger Games, but their win is shrouded in uncertainty. A visit from President Snow confirms that the Capitol is angry at the way in which the games were won: by defying the Capitol’s last minute decision to allow only one winner through Katniss and Peeta threatening to commit suicide. Now Katniss must convince Panem that she is lovesick for Peeta, despite the fact that she has feelings for Gale. As the victory tour commences, Katniss and Peeta sense that there is unrest in Panem. After a particularly emotional visit to District 11, home of Katniss’ ally Rue from the first novel, an elderly man is shot and killed for whistling Rue’s tune during Katniss’ speech. Unsure of what their future holds, Katniss and Peeta are shocked when the Capitol announces the rules for the next Hunger Games. It is to be a Quarter Quell, a Games that occurs every 25 years, and this time victors will be pitted against one another in the ultimate test of survival. As the only girl victor from District 12, Katniss will be forced to participate in the event that she barely survived the first time.

Critical evaluation: Although any story would be hard-pressed to top Suzanne Collins’ masterpiece The Hunger Games, the second novel in the series, Catching Fire, manages to compete with its predecessor quite admirably. The suspense of the first novel’s climax is picked right up as Katniss and Peeta embark on life as victors. Although they were promised luxury and comfort, they are instead met with fear, distrust and uncertainty. Collins does a remarkable job of allowing the reader to experience the tension in their journey through Panem. It begins as uncomfortable than becomes borderline dangerous as violence begins to suddenly erupt. The reader is also given a better introduction of President Snow, the mastermind behind the Hunger Games and ruler of the Capitol. Collins creates her villain quite well, giving him a creepy almost pedophilic nature that is sure to unnerve the reader as it does Katniss. The action of the first novel is also continued in the Quarter Quell Hunger Games. The arena of the new games is even more brutal than what Katniss and Peeta originally faced, but is made somewhat more easy to bear with the introduction of several lovable players. The stand-out character in the second novel is Finnick Odair, a winner from District 4 who is a lothario but also a skilled competitor. Johanna Mason is another interesting character, a victor from District 7 who is complicated and dangerous. In Catching Fire, Collins does an outstanding job of maintaining the excellence of her first novel while furthering the story. The novel, and the entire series, will appeal to adults and teens alike.

Reader's annotation: Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have survived the Hunger Games, but will they survive the victory tour? When President Snow pays a visit to Katniss, informing her that the Capitol is none too pleased with how she won the Hunger Games, she fears for the safety of those she holds most dear.

About the author: Suzanne Collins began her writing career in 1991, writing for children’s television. She was on staff for several popular Nickelodeon shows such as Clarissa Explains it All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. She also wrote for programs on different networks, including Little Bear, Oswald, and Clifford’s Puppy Days. In 2003, Collins released her first children’s novel, Gregor the Overlander. This book was the first in the Underland Chronicles series for which she wrote five more books by 2007. In 2008, Collins published The Hunger Games, the first in her best-selling trilogy. The sequel to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, was published in 2009 and the final book in the trilogy, Mockingjay, was released in August 2010. Since their release, the first two novels of The Hunger Games trilogy have sold over 1.5 million copies in North America alone. The film rights for The Hunger Games have been purchased by Lions Gate Entertainment, and the film version is set to be released in 2013. Collins lives in Connecticut with her husband and children. (

Genre: Science-fiction

Curriculum ties:
Tyrannical governments/government control

Booktalking ideas:
Government oppression

Reading level/Interest Age:
Grade 7 and up

Challenge issues:
Graphic violence

Challenge counterpoints:Recommended for grades 7 and up.
If parent has issue with violence, recommend another book for child.
Recommend parent read book before child.
Recommend parent discuss book with child.

Reasons for inclusion:
Positive reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Bookmarks Magazine, The New York Times, and School Library Journal.
Winner of Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year Award for 2009.
Named by People magazine as one of top ten books of 2009.

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