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The Mo(u)rning Letters, by Jenny McWhaSee more The Mo(u)rning Letters »
Meet GCDA's Book Review Writer, Jenny McWha
Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
by Suzanne Collins
Reviewed by Jenny McWha, October 2009
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When I first received Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins’ eagerly awaited sequel to The Hunger Games) in the mail, I was expecting to read a book with a lot of adventure, mystery, some romance, and maybe a few twists along the way. Well, let me tell you, this book offers so much more than I was expecting. I think I may have even enjoyed it more than it’s predecessor! It took me a grand total of three days to read (and that included getting started on my school readings and a trip to the Exhibition), and I found it incredibly hard to put down the entire time.
Now, I’ll give my summary, but I’ll try not to spoil The Hunger Games for any of you newbies, AND try not to spoil this book, as it has more twists and turns than a maze (but if you really don’t want to know one bit, I suggest skipping this paragraph). At the beginning of Catching Fire, our heroine, Katniss, is back with her family in District 12. She may have survived the Hunger Games, but now she has to deal with a tour of the other eleven districts and see the suffering and hardship first-hand. As if that isn’t hard enough, a rebellion is brewing across Panem, and Katniss is now the face of it. That also means that the President himself is watching her every move very closely. She also has to deal with keeping up her fake relationship with her fellow victor while secretly pining for her best friend. Oh right, and there’s the issue of the next Hunger Games coming up, in which Katniss will have to mentor another pair of kids in a fight to the death. And you thought your life was hard! That’s all I can really say without the whole thing being ruined; but believe me, you really want to pick this one up.
THE GOOD: As I said before, I think this book was even better than the first. I really noticed a change in pacing, with events going by faster and with less explanation (such as the pages dedicated to Katniss being prettied up). I also really liked the tour of Panem—we get to see the country as a whole instead of just Katniss’s district and brief flash of the Capitol. Instead, Collins really highlights the striking differences between the overindulged and wasteful Capitol compared with the poverty, strife, hunger, and disease of the rest of the country. In it, it is possible to see a parallel in the richness of the western world while half of our planet starves. I think this is a great way to open our eyes to what our way of life looks like to those on the outside. What struck me most were the glasses full of a liquid to make one throw up simply so they could eat more. Can you imagine everyone living that way? Collins also expertly keeps you hanging off of every word. I never knew what was going to happen next, and there was one part in which I simply had my mouth hung open, speechless. It’s like you finally know the rules of this world and Collins spins you around again to start from square one!
DOWNSIDE: One thing that I was really hoping for in this book was an improvement in Collins’ writing style. Don’t get me wrong, I think her writing makes for a fast read and is good for any age to get into. However, this is her second novel and as a writer myself I wanted some kind of growth in her style. There are some really interesting things that she has created in her world and I wanted more description so I could really see it happening right before my eyes. However, I really didn’t get that kind of impression. Another downside is the subject matter. I personally loved it, but I am a nineteen-year-old, and if you don’t think you can handle some pretty graphic violence then I would suggest passing on this one.
GENRE: Definitely a science-fiction/fantasy book.
AGES: 12 or 13 and up. But remember that there is graphic violence and you may want to think about this and/or speak to a parent before reading it.
OTHER BOOKS: Before picking this one up I highly recommend reading our last 'be real. be you.' Book Club Selection, 'The Hunger Games'. To understand this book you definitely need to read the first one. And don’t forget this will one day be a trilogy, so keep your eyes peeled for number three!
RATING: Two thumbs up.
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