Rebellion is Catching Fire

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins; published by Scholastic, New York, 2009; 391 pages.

Back in District 12, Katniss Everdeen has fallen back into her routine of escaping into the forbidden woods to hunt.   Although she now lives in the Victor’s Village with her mother, sister (Prim), Peeta and Haymitch, she continues to hunt to support Gale’s family.  With the next Hunger Games about six months away, Katniss and Peeta must tour all the districts as a reminder of the control the Capitol has over everyone.  President Snow makes an unexpected appearance at Katniss’ home with a threat if she does not convince the general populace of her love for Peeta.  Uprisings occur around Panem, fueled by Katniss’ disobedience during the games; she and her mockingjay pin have come to symbolize the resistance movement.  As if she isn’t stressed enough, her feelings for Gale and Peeta have her confounded.  When the rules for the upcoming Hunger Games are announced, Katniss is overcome with anxiety.  Every 25 years, the rules for the Hunger Games can be amended; as this year marks 75 years since the revolution attempt, the rules change.  The tributes will be selected from the pool of victors.  Katniss must fight again.  As symbols of the mockingjay appear in odd places, organized revolution becomes more than just a rumor.  But what role does Katniss have in the scheme?  And what about Peeta, and Gale?

I seamlessly stepped back into the dystopian world of Panem.  Collins has done a remarkable job of keeping her characters in character in a sequel.  Her narrator’s voice has not changed.  It’s as though she continued writing straight through both books.  It will be hard to wait until Fall 2010 for the third book in the trilogy to be released!

What captivates me most about this series is the strong, female protagonist.  While she is not without fault, Katniss is a complex, reluctant heroine.  Peeta continues to surprise readers with his strength behind his sensitivity.  Other characters are allowed to come forward into well-rounded foils for Katniss; particularly her mother, Haymitch and even Cinna.  Even though Katniss is a 16-17 year old girl, her adventures will intrigue male and female readers alike.

5P     5Q     Grade Level: 7-12

Cover art: The mockingjay pin continues as the focus of the cover art; it seems almost to be a military insignia on this, the second book of the trilogy.  Fans of The Hunger Games will instantly recognize the cover.  Unfamiliar readers might think this book will appeal more to males, but will surprised at its universal appeal.

From Reading List: Best Books for Young Adults (YALSA), 2010; Teens Top Ten nomination, 2009.

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