Catching Fire - by Suzanne Collins
"As a general rule, I do not expect a sequel to equal, let alone surpass the first book . . ."
After winning the Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta return to District Twelve, but there is no escaping the memories, the nightmares. Although out of the arena, Katniss is still marked for death—her stunt with the berries unintentionally defying the Capitol and igniting a new flame inside Panem. Rebellion vibrates throughout the districts. During a personal visit to Katniss’ house, President Snow says that she “provided a spark that, left unattended, may grow to an inferno that destroys Panem” (Collins 23). Katniss must convince the world that she acted only out of love for Peeta. If she fails, President Snow will not hesitate to destroy all that she loves—her mother, her sister, Peeta, and Gale.
With the Capitol monitoring her every word and movement, Katniss has little time to work out her feelings toward Gale and Peeta. Before the Hunger Games, she remained blind toward both of their love for her. Gale—her rebellious, fiery, and passionate hunting partner and best friend—is a part of her very being. Peeta—who is wholly good and devoted and who wonderfully weaves words to comfort and empower those around him—sacrificed everything during the Games to keep her alive, embedding himself in her heart.
Katniss loses her grasp on her own identity, not sure who she loves or how she loves them. She unwittingly becomes the mockingjay, the symbol of the rebellion, though she is not certain if she wants to fight or flee, and unravels lies from the Capitol concerning District Thirteen. With the third Quarter Quell—which happens every twenty-five years and adds a ghastly twist to the coming Hunger Games—Haymitch, Peeta, and Katniss must prepare for intensified horrors and hope to get the next two tributes out alive. However, the unthinkable happens, altering all of the rules of the games. Nothing will be the same again.
As a general rule, I do not expect a sequel to equal, let alone surpass, the first book. However, Suzanne Collins incinerated my view of sequels with Catching Fire. I literally flew through the book, hastily grabbing each page and consuming every word. Her twists tossed me around as I fell into the story, causing my heart to ache and exclaim along with the characters. Even the second time through I couldn’t put the book down. By the time I got to the words “The End of Book Two” (391), I sat shivering in awe, pining away for the final segment.