Pros: continues the thought-provoking intensity of the first book
For most Hunger Games tributes, surviving the fight to the death and ensuring a somewhat greater food supply for the people of your district is generally the end. Victors get to live the rest of their lives in more luxury than they’d known before they stepped into the arena, forced to kill or be killed among the other tributes. For District 12’s Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, however, surviving the Games was just the beginning. Catching Fire, the second book in the Hunger Games series, continues the intensity of the second book, this time putting the life-and-death urgency on an even larger scale.
Katniss’ subversive actions during the Games have ignited talk of rebellion in the nation of Panem, the former United States. They also made her an enemy: Panem’s ruthless leader, President Snow, who makes a personal visit to Katniss informing her that she must do all she can to quell the uprising as she and Peeta trek across the oppressed country on their victory tour. Easier said than done. As the rebellion - the first since the one that destroyed America seventy-five years prior, bringing about Panem’s totalitarian regime - takes shape, Katniss finds herself struggling with how best to follow her heart when speaking to the crowds while keeping herself and her family safe. That safety may be well out of reach, as a surprise announcement from the Capitol once again has the teenage Katniss and Peeta fighting for their lives.
With Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins once again provides a riveting, action-packed story that is incredibly difficult to put down. Just as in the trilogy’s opening book, however, the action is not the most intense part. Katniss’ internal struggles and the story’s real-life parallels are what truly stick in readers’ minds. Catching Fire has these two elements intersecting even more, as Katniss finds herself even more of an unwitting pawn in a larger game than she was in before. Complicating matters further is her love triangle with Peeta and her longtime best friend Gale. Both love her - and she is again being forced to convince the public that she loves Peeta - yet Katniss herself has no idea how she truly feels. Surviving becomes increasingly difficult as Katniss begins to feel the weight of a nation on her shoulders.
If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, you’ll certainly find yourself enjoying Catching Fire as well. As if a story about children being forced to fight to the death wasn’t captivatingly horrific enough, this book goes even further in revealing the Capitol’s detestable methods of keeping its citizens under its control. Of course, as Collins shows us, totalitarianism can’t last forever. Sometimes a simple act of subversion is all takes to light a spark that sets a nation ablaze.