My consumption of Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins, has been so long delayed that most of the people who read this review will probably be surprised that I hadn't managed to read it until now. I did, in fact, possess an Advance Reader's Copy of the book before its publication in 2009, but it was sadly lost somewhere in transit between Amherst and Springfield (luckily before that happened I had the chance to share it with others). Somehow this meant that I just . . . didn't get around to reading it, even after it was published, even after everyone raved about it, and even after the name and cover of the third volume in the trilogy was released. [cue dramatic music] Until now.
As the middle volume of the series, Catching Fire nevertheless manages to hold its own against the high standard set by The Hunger Games. The story picks just before Katniss and Peeta depart on their Victory Tour as winners of the last Hunger Games. A threatening visit from President Snow leaves Katniss with the firm belief that she must make her "relationship" with Peeta as real as possible for the cameras, or her entire family (and love interest, Gale) will be at risk. As they make their way through the districts and try to resume quiet lives at home, signs of political unrest continue to appear, often associated with the symbol of the mockingjay that Katniss wore during the Hunger Games. As President Snow reveals a brutal twist to this year's games, Katniss and Peeta find themselves embroiled once again in a fight for their lives, this time against The Capitol itself. Collins revisits a lot of favorite characters and also introduces a bevy of new ones for us to root for as she moves Katniss inevitably closer to open rebellion.
The book is a little slow in the beginning, setting up the fast-paced cliffhanger conclusion and, presumably, the gripping series finale. I listened to it on audio CD, and the narrator was above average, although it was difficult at first to reconcile an older woman's voice with my mental image of the character. I am not sure which side of the love triangle I prefer, but I definitely appreciate that, unlike in the Twilight series, there is still some mystery as to which one Katniss will end up with (assuming they aren't all dead by the end of the third book). Another thing I appreciate about Collins' writing is the fact that some or all of the major characters could feasibly die in Mockingjay, given the sheer volume of character death and/or dismemberment in the first two books.
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Dead Mother: [Spoiler alert?] No