What You Need to Know:|
• Catching Fire is the sequel to Hunger Games. SPOILER ALERT...if you haven't read Hunger Games, you may not want
to read this recommendation, as it will spoil the plot of that book. You can go to the bottom of this review and click
on Hunger Games to see that recommendation.
• The third and final book in this planned trilogy hits shelves in August and has been titled, MokingJay.
• This is a thrilling, compelling, disturbing and terrific read.
• This is best-seller for a reason. But it has killing, violence, slavery, war, and starvation. It can be read on many
levels, but there is no simple level. You should think very hard before you put it in the hands of a child.
Sweet Series Background:|
The Hunger Game Trilogy is currently flying off bookshelves. The three books are on lots of bestseller lists, including 73 weeks and still going on the NY Times List. It is these types of books that we debate reviewing and recommending, because it is likely you will have already heard of them, without our "sweet" help. However, these much publicized books for older readers, the chapter books, are precisely why you need us. Sweet on Books reads them for you, if you don't have the time to, and let's you know what's in them so you can make an informed decision on whether your child should read them. And ultimately, if your child does read it, you can be informed about what discussion points are in there.
It is very common for kids who can read well, to get ahead in their reading. But even if they can decode and understand the text, is the content always appropriate? This is a decision we need to make individually and personally as parents, but here at Sweet on Books we would like to provide you the information to make those decisions.
The Hunger Games Trilogy is set in the not-so-distant future in a fictional nation called Panem, which lies where North America once was. Panem has one central city called The Capitol and thirteen outlying Districts. The Capitol calls the shots for all the Districts and effectively keeps the Districts oppressed by rationing food, electricity and all basic needs. We learn that the Districts live in abject poverty and life is pretty miserable. So miserable that District 13 got so disgusted that they rose up and rebelled. The Capitol was able to quell the uprising and only smoking toxic remains are left of District 13, the land and the people obliterated as an example to the other 12 Districts. Then, in the ultimate form of control, and as a reminder to never do what District 13 did, the Capitol requires each District to send a boy and a girl between the ages of 12-18 each year to the Hunger Games. This abhorrent event is where the 24 tributes, as they are called, will compete to the death on live television until only one survivor is standing and declared the winner. The tributes are picked by lottery, with the poorest and least desirable in each district having the most entries.
Suzanne Collins, the author, has said the story for this trilogy is loosely based on the Greek myth Theseus and the Minataur. Collins has also said Panem is loaded with Roman references, and the actual Hunger Games is modeled on the Roman gladiator games. Click here to read the whole interview with Suzanne Collins.
Catching Fire starts where Hunger Games left off. Katniss and Peeta have returned to District 12 and they are now living the victor's life with their families in the part of District 12 reserved for winners of the Hunger Games. But Katniss' final act in the Hunger Games, which saved Peeta's life and allowed, for the first time, two victors in the Hunger Games, has angered the government. The President is not happy with Katniss' publicly defiant act, and he has found a even more despicable way to assert power and control over Katniss and the entire nation of Panem.
In an unprecidented act, the President declares that the next Hunger Games will basically be an All-Star revivial. All past victors will be thrown back in the ring to kill each other. May the best killer win! If it's not bad enough these kids, now adults , had to kill the first time to survive, at least then they knew if they won they and their families could never be hurt again. Now, with the invention of this All-Star Games, that protection is gone, and they quite possibly killed the first time in vain.
The romance angle is bigger in this book than the first. Peeta and Katniss still need to pretend they are in love, but this time the Capitol knows they are lying and go after Katniss' possible true love, Gale, at home. They use his safety and the safety of her family to make Katniss participate. And to make it a little more romantically complicated, Peeta is truly in love with Katniss. So you've got the whole love triangle thing going on.
All the districts watch the games carefully, and the end has quite a stunning twist, not to be revealed here, though! The books ends on the same kind of suspenseful note Hunger Games ended on, and I can't WAIT until August to find out what happens!!
But it is a terrifically violent and emotional read, as was the first book. You really have to be sure your reader is ready for this. I truly think it would be outrageous to even think of letting an elementary student read this, and I think you should proceed with caution in the early middle school years. I think older readers, who are interested in this type of read, will love it. As with the first book, Catching Fire has many themes embedded that could be used as discussion points with an older audience, including government control, socioeconomic divisions, racism, personal liberties, exploitation (Reality TV, anyone?) and many more. If your reader is not ready for this trilogy, maybe you are?
2009, 400 pages
Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship, Mystery, War
This recommendation was written by: