Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Review: "Catching Fire," by Suzanne Collins

In need of a quick weekend read, I found myself drawn back to the world of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games, to which I was a latecomer, for the second volume “Catching Fire” ($12.99, Scholastic).

Katniss and Peeta find themselves trying to settle back into a semi-normal sort of life after their harrowing experience in the Hunger Games. They have money and better living conditions thanks to their victory, but nothing can erase the nightmares and other issues the experience has left them with.

To complicate matters, Katniss’ defiance of the Capitol is still resounding throughout the districts. She and Peeta learn this on their victory tour, traveling under threat from President Snow, when they see other districts that are approaching open rebellion, a situation which Katniss unintentionally feeds with an impromptu tribute to Rue. As a result of the tour, things take a turn for the worse in District 12. New, brutal Peacekeepers are brought in, and the district falls more under the thumb of the Capitol.

But things are about to go from bad to worse for Katniss and Peeta. The upcoming Hunger Games will be the 75th anniversary, the third Quarter Quell, and those bring with them new twists to the games. The surprise this year may mean the end for both of them.

While the first book in the series, necessarily, had a lot of setup. This one dives right into the action and runs breathlessly through to the end. Though the intrigue and political machinations are muted, as most of them are hidden from viewpoint character Katniss, that element is added to the plot, and promises to play a bigger role in the third volume.

It does have some of the typical issues of a trilogy’s middle book as it serves as a bridge from an intriguing opening to what will, hopefully, be a fantastic finish, and it does tread some of the same ground covered by “The Hunger Games.” It ends in a cliffhanger, which may bother some, but really whetted my appetite for what’s to come.

I found “Catching Fire” a quick, enjoyable read, and I’m looking forward to seeing how things end.

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