Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

This wonderful sequel to Suzanne Collins "The Hunger Games" finds Katniss and Peeta living in the Victor's Village along with Haymitch, their drunken mentor.

Katniss tries to live as she always did, sneaking out into the forest, hunting and trading what she acquires there in District 12 proper. Her friend Gale is now working 12 hours a day in the mines and can hunt only with her on Sundays.

There is no time to settle in to life in the Village, as she and Peeta, her co-victor in The Games, are scheduled to go on a Victory tour of the districts, stopping in each one and paying homage to the fallen players from each area.

Before the tour begins, Katniss has a visit from the serpentine President Snow, who tells her he is not convinced of the love Katniss and Peeta supposedly share, and he lets her know that her every move has been watched since her return to District 12. Coldly he tells her that she must convince everyone in the Districts as they tour and especially that she must convince him of the great love she and Peeta share in order to avoid any further spark of dissention with the government or the games. He hints that there have been uprisings already and she must help quell them.

The Tour shows just which districts are in or near revolt, and Katniss is as careful as she can be. The presence of Peeta and Katniss in some places only fuels the flames, unfortunately.

Upon their arrival in the capital, there is a stunning announcement, there will be a new game called The Quell and it will feature past victors from all previous games from all Districts. It is sort of an All-Star Game of previous victors, of all ages and abilities. With two chosen from each District, it is a foregone conclusion that Katniss and Peeta will once again be thrown immediately back into the Arena to fight for their lives.

This has all of the elements of the previous novel, the purely entertaining Arena challenge, the relationship of Katniss and Peeta, and the added romantic element of Gale, her old friend who finally lets her know he loves her, and rumbling through it all, the possibility that the entire structure of the totalitarian civilization is about to fall.

Great characters, great novel.

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