Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Title:  Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Illustrator: Jacket Art by Tim O'Brian
Publisher:  Scholastic Press
Genre: Modern Fantasy
Level: Upper
Number of Pages: 391
Pub. Date: 2009

Summary: After winning the 74th Hunger Games in the previous novel, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark return home to District 12, the poorest sector in the country of Panem. On the day that Katniss and Peeta are to start a "Victory Tour" of the country, she is visited by President Snow, who explains that he is angry with her for breaking the rules at the end of the last Hunger Games, which permitted both Peeta and Katniss to win. Snow tells Katniss that when she defied the Capitol, she inspired rebellion in the districts.  They make many stops on the victory tour including District 11, the home of Katniss's deceased friend and ally in the Hunger Games, Rue. Katniss and Peeta proceed to travel to all of the twelve districts and the Capitol. During an interview, Peeta proposes to Katniss publicly, hoping to settle the dispute between Katniss and President Snow and placate the growing rebellion. Despite this, Katniss learns that their attempts of subduing revolt in the districts have failed. Shortly after returning to District 12, Katniss encounters two runaways from District 8. They explain their theory that District 13 was not wiped out by the Capitol, contrary to what the other districts have been led to believe, and that many of its residents survive in underground shelters.
Scene from the Movie
Later, it is announced that, for the 75th Hunger Games, 24 victors from previous years will be forced to compete once again. This is the third occurrence of the "Quarter Quell": an event that occurs every 25th year of the Games and allows the Capitol to introduce a twist. Knowing that she and Peeta will both be competing in the Games a second time, Katniss decides that she will devote herself to ensuring that Peeta becomes the Quarter Quell's victor. However, Peeta is devoted to protecting her. They compete in the games, making allies and figuring out how the game is set up. In the final chapters, Katniss directs the lightning at the force field that contains the arena, thereby destroying the arena and resulting in her temporary paralysis. When Katniss wakes up, she is being transported to District 13. She learns that Peeta and Johanna have been captured by the Capitol, and is informed that there had been a plan among most of the contestants to break out of the arena—Beetee had been attempting to destroy the force field in the same way that she did. The book ends when Katniss's best friend, Gale, comes to visit her and informs her that, though he got her family out in time, District 12 has been bombed and destroyed.

Critique: This book is an example of science fantasy and does a great job of convincing the readers of its believability. The development of the characters, especially Katniss, Peeta and Gale make them seem like very plausible characters that are just living in an extraordinary world. The action in the Hunger Game competition is gripping and engaging to readers and all of the details about the arena, challenges and people within it continually make the fantastic element believable. The setting is definitely original in time and place and captures readers wanting to know more about it.

Response: In comparing the first Hunger Games book, which I had read before, to this one I think I like the first one better. I think when I first got into it it was new and engaging, but the second time around it didn’t seem to grip me as much. I still wanted to know what would happen in the Quarter Quell, but I wasn’t to the point where I didn’t want to put it down like I was with the first one. I think the government involvement and sly demands had me a little put off in this book versus just the development of it in the first book.

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