17 January 2010

Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Just in case you don't know, Catching Fire is the second in Suzanne Collin's Hunger Games Trilogy. If you haven't read The Hunger Games (click for my review), then skip to below the asterisks.

After they defied the spirit of the Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have returned home to live in their district's Victor's Village. Peeta seems to adjust fairly well, but Katniss misses her freedom and the hours she used to spend in the woods with her true love, Gale Hawthorne.

In the months since the seventy-fourth games ended, Katniss has learned three important lessons: (1) winning the games doesn't bring happiness and independence, (2) life in the districts is not what it is reported to be, and (3) the Capitol expects her to marry Peeta. She is not surprised about the first, doesn't quite know what to do about the second, and is hoping she can get out of the third.

Before Katniss can formulate all her options, President Snow finds a way to take control, leaving her stunned and helpless. Can Katniss find solutions that will not have unthinkable consequences for the people she loves?

* * * * *
After I finished The Hunger Games, I couldn't wait to get started on Catching Fire. Collins's second in the series did not disappoint in terms of action, plot, and character development. It was easy to reenter Katniss's world and to empathize with her as she took on the responsibilities for her family, friends, and community. We were drawn into the dilemmas of her heart and mind and rooted for the choices we would have made. We hoped for her safety and that of her family.

On the other hand, Catching Fire lacked the suspense of the first novel. Once the Capitol's plans were revealed, we began to suspect the outcome. That is not to say that the ending was predictable in its details but that we had a sense of how it must end, especially knowing that a third book will follow.

My hope is that the next book is the last one, so that we can begin reading with the notion that the story line is fairly open-ended. And in case you're wondering, I'll proudly announce my loyalties (thanks to Michelle from Galley Smith for the badge).

I both read the print version and listened to the unabridged audio edition (Scholastic Audio). The audiobook was narrated by Carolyn McCormick. McCormick kept me fully engaged in the story and on the edge of my seat during the action scenes. Recommended for first-time reads or rereads.

Catching Fire has won numerous honors, including best young adult book of 2009 from Kirkus Reviews, Publisher's Weekly, and The Los Angeles Times. For the full list of honors and to learn more about Suzanne Collins, visit the author's website.

Catching Fire at Powell's
Catching Fire at Amazon
These 3 links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by Scholastic, 2009
ISBN-13: 9780439023498
Challenges: 2010, 100+, Young Adult
Source: Bought (see review policy)
YTD: 5
Rating: B+


Anonymous,  1/17/10, 10:06 AM  

It's so nice to see someone with some sense about the Peeta/Gale debate. :-D

Jennifer @ Mrs. Q: Book Addict 1/17/10, 10:07 AM  

"Peeta seems to adjust fairly well, but Katniss misses her freedom and the hours she used to spend in the woods with her true love, Gale Hawthorne." I thought oh no, she didn't. She's team Gale! LOL I love Peeta....lol

Glad you liked the book. I can't wait for the third book to arrive. I love the storyline.

bermudaonion 1/17/10, 10:08 AM  

I haven't read either of the books in this series yet, but Carl has. As soon as he closed Catching Fire, he said, "Where's the next one?" I'll have to ask him if he thought it was as good as The Hunger Games.

christina 1/17/10, 10:27 AM  

I love this series! Fabulous right? And I have to agree with Jennifer - Team Peeta!

Jan von Harz 1/17/10, 12:41 PM  

Loved these two books, but I agree that Catching Fire did lack the edginess of Hunger Games. I think I lean more towards Gale too, but I think the third book could easily sway me back towards Peeta. I can't wait for book three.

Julie P. 1/17/10, 12:48 PM  

I really really liked this but I don't think it was as good as the first one. Don't know if part of the reason was the novelty of the idea and the characters.

Nise' 1/17/10, 1:07 PM  

If I did not have to sleep, I would re-read these two books. Maybe I will listen to them sometime before the third books comes out.

Florinda 1/17/10, 1:22 PM  

I liked Catching Fire just about as much as The Hunger Games. It's transitional, as the second in a trilogy, but I thought it spent more time on character development and framework, which helped add perspective to the first book.


rhapsodyinbooks 1/17/10, 2:07 PM  

I do believe there are only four Team Gale people in the universe - but it's not so bad being only one of four people who are right! :--)

Michelle 1/17/10, 2:22 PM  

**skips in**

Team Peeta Rules!

**skips out**

nomadreader 1/17/10, 4:13 PM  

I liked this book more than The Hunger Games, which I thought had a rather obvious, but enjoyable story arc. Still, I'm with you on Team Gale!

Jackie (Farm Lane Books) 1/17/10, 4:48 PM  

I'm afraid that I'm not with you. I didn't enjoy Catching Fire at all and thought the love triangle was so weak in CF that I couldn't actually say which team I'm on. I just hope that the third book is more like Hunger Games than Catching Fire.

Alaine 1/17/10, 5:17 PM  

I have got to read these books!

Sandy Nawrot 1/17/10, 5:28 PM  

The kids and I so thoroughly enjoyed both of these books. In fact, Emma keeps re-listening to both of the audios over and over again in her room. This is like the Twilight obsession almost. And we are a house divided. I am Team Peeta, and Emma is Team Gayle, and my son thinks they all have cooties.

Anonymous,  1/17/10, 5:50 PM  

I haven't read this one yet, but am very much looking forward to it. Great review :)

The1stdaughter 1/17/10, 6:23 PM  

You've moved to the dark side! Oh no!

Anywho, I think I would agree, I liked the first one better, but as was stated it could definitely be a transitional book. I'm really looking forward to reading the 3rd book.

Melody 1/17/10, 10:42 PM  

I hope the third instalment will be released soon!!

seo company 1/18/10, 6:52 AM  

Hunger games was far more involving I found when reading.

Lina Shaik 1/18/10, 8:44 AM  

Your review and everyone else's comments here have definitely caught my interest. I guess The Hunger Games Trilogy is going to my TBR pile then!

Sheila (Bookjourney) 1/18/10, 9:11 AM  

Great review! I am excited for the next one.... I have some thoughts on how book three will play out....

sarah darlington 1/18/10, 10:46 AM  

I like your thoughts on Catching Fire. Of course I loved both Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I can't wait for book 3. Waiting is so hard. I am team Peeta all the way. Sorry but I just don't understand all you Team Gale people. Just like I never understood all the Team Jacob people. *sigh

caite 1/18/10, 1:45 PM  

I loved The Hunger Games...and am still waiting for my turn to come up on this one at the library.

Lenore Appelhans 1/18/10, 4:47 PM  

Noooooo! Not team Gale!

Alice 1/18/10, 7:43 PM  

I loved this series. I can't wait for the third book. I'm torn between Peeta and Gale. Katniss had gone through different things with both of them and they're all wonderful in their own ways. I wouldn't know how to choose if I were her. I need book 3. NOW.

Jenners 1/18/10, 8:58 PM  

I just read "The Hunger Games" this past weekend ... I think I was expecting more based on all the hype about it but it was a good fast read. And I did request "Catching Fire" from the library. I don't feel ready to declare my "team" yet though ... I barely got to know Gale.

Unknown 1/19/10, 8:30 AM  

I just read this too and just did the review for it last week. I agree with your review. Hey can I steal your team gale badge for my blog??? *Pwetty pwease*

wisteria 1/19/10, 7:10 PM  

I still can't believe I haven't read either of these yet. I have to force myself soon. Thanks for the nudge.

Serena 1/20/10, 10:36 AM  

I really enjoyed both of these books in the series and thought that Catching Fire was a strong middle book to the series. I am looking forward to reading the third book.

Louise 1/21/10, 3:01 PM  

I am looking so much forward to the third book. I loved both one and two! Regarding those teams...I think I'm on Team Peeta :-D

A Buckeye Girl Reads 1/24/10, 11:08 PM  

I was surprised at how much I loved the Hunger Games. I wasn't sure what to expect with the second one. I should be reading it soon-and I'll let you know what team I'm on. :)

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