Sunday, January 6, 2013

Catching Fire

Catching Fire
© Suzanne Collins 2009
391 pages



 When Katniss Everdeen stepped foot into the arena of the 74th Hunger Games, she didn’t expect to leave alive,  let alone a victorious symbol of rebellion and hope against tyranny. She defied the odds and the rules, but she won all the same; there’s no business like show business. Now they want her back for more.
In Katniss’ world,  a depraved Capitol forces twelve subordinate districts of the nation to each send two of their young people to compete in gladiator games to the death. Perhaps the greatest comfort of having won the games is exemption from having to compete again…but when the 75th anniversary of the games’ being instituted rolls around, the powers that be decide to prove to their subjects that “even the mightiest” are no match for the power of the state. For the 75th games, the competitors will be drawn exclusively from the ranks from past victors…which is unfortunate for Katniss, because she’s the only female victor from her district. The leader of the Capitol, President Snow, sees Katniss as nothing but trouble…and as she prepares to fight for her life once again, she sees these games as a deliberate attempt to kill her without anyone being the wiser. Fortunately for Katniss, Capitol isn’t the only power with secret plans.

Though initially dismayed by the plot – Katniss having to survive the games again? – the games are a bigger story's  ignition point, bringing a sea of tension to a rolling boil, and matters get decidedly interesting. Even if the plot were a rehash of the first, it might still be worth reading. This year’s contestants aren’t all  teenagers: most of the victors were adults, slowed and damaged by the years, and some are addled or elderly. Katniss may be a prime target, but she’s also young and still wired for action from the last Hunger Games. Still, nothing goes as expected.

The Hunger Games trilogy continues to provide a fast, unpredictable, and thrilling read, with characters that fascinate. It suffers only mildly from being the bridge between The Hunger Games and Mockingjay. Character drama plays a larger role here, but it's not tiresome: Gale, Peeta, and Katniss have all put in their time as characters already, so they're allowed to fret over some romantic tension...but even so, they're all three bigger character than that, and each in turn swallows their stress and goes back to doing what needs to be done in the larger scheme of things -- resisting the Capitol.

I cannot wait for more.

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