Bookmarks Issue: 

A-Catching FireIn addition to authoring the young-adult series The Underland Chronicles, Suzanne Collins previously worked as a children’s television writer. Catching Fire is the second book in the young-adult series Hunger Games.

The Story: The Hunger Games (2008) told the story of a dystopian future where an oppressive government—"the Capitol"—forces teenagers from the 12 subservient "districts" to compete in a televised gauntlet that only one can survive. Our heroine, Katniss, beat the bloody odds in the first book through a clever partnership with Peeta, a boy from her district. Now, in Catching Fire, Katniss and Peeta must confront the (potentially romantic) consequences of their alliance while living with the dubious honor they have earned by surviving The Hunger Games.
Scholastic Press. 400 pages. $17.99. ISBN: 9780439023498

Chicago Sun-Times 4 of 5 Stars
"The plot is taut with twist after twist, because if despots know anything, it’s that terror is a powerful unbalancing tool. … Collins’ world-building is still superlative, though; and a bevy of newly introduced characters—all former Hunger Game winners—are rounded into people with grace and foibles worth watching." Karen Cruze

Time 4 of 5 Stars
"Collins brings a cold, furious clarity to her accounts of physical violence. You might not think it would be possible, or desirable, for a young-adult writer to describe, slowly and in full focus, a teenage girl getting stung to death by a swarm of mutant hornets. It wasn’t, until Collins did it." Lev Grossman

Cleveland Plain Dealer 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The choice between two guys, with the heroine tied to both, is very Twilight-esque. But after 150 pages of romantic dithering, I was tapping my foot to move on." Rollie Welch 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Catching Fire isn’t quite as strong a book as The Hunger Games, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the first-person narration that served so well in the first book turns out to be a liability this time around." Charlie Jane Anders

Entertainment Weekly 2.5 of 5 Stars
"[A] decidedly weaker sequel, Catching Fire, chronicles the fallout from Katniss’ victory. … Katniss does, however, have plenty of pluck, and in the action-packed second half of the book, she again shows appealing mettle." Jennifer Rees

Critical Summary

Reviewers were happy to report that the Hunger Games trilogy is alive and well, and all looked forward to the third book in the series after this one’s stunning conclusion. But they disagreed over whether Catching Fire was as good as the original book Hunger Games or should be viewed as somewhat of a "sophomore slump." Several critics who remained unconvinced by Katniss’s romantic dilemma made unfavorable comparisons to the human-vampire-werewolf love triangle in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. But most reviewers felt that Catching Fire was still a thrill because Collins replicated her initial success at balancing action, violence, and heroism in a way that will enthrall young readers without giving them (too many) nightmares.