Caroline the Future Librarian

Caroline Davis | LIBR 265-10 | SJSU | Wrenn-Estes

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Title: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Date: September 2009
ISBN-13: 9780439023498

Plot Summary: Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have survived the Hunger Games and returned home to District 12, but President Snow makes it clear that her act of defiance in the arena will have severe consequences – especially if it is true that her behavior has inspired rebellion against the Capitol.  On the victory tour through the Districts, she has to act convincingly in love with Peeta, in order to save her best friend, Gale.  As the 75th Hunger Games draws closer, they learn that for the Quarter Quell (celebrated every 25 years), the tributes will be drawn from the existing survivors, so Kat knows she is destined to go back, as the only female winner from District 12.  Determined to focus on helping Peeta survive, her second Hunger Games is very different from the first, both because of the new arena, and due to the alliances Haymitch has urged them to form – alliances that have more significance than she realizes.

Critical Evaluation: While I loved the book, Catching Fire suffers from the unenviable position as second in a trilogy – not quite satisfying on either end, just a chunk of story from the middle.  The plot is divided roughly into three parts – her new life in District 12, the victory tour through the districts, and back in the arena for the Quarter Quell – and each of the parts felt rushed to me (maybe a result of reading too quickly).  Katniss is as resourceful and determined to survive as ever – it was interesting that in this version of the Games, her survival techniques led to completely different behavior, both in seeking alliances and without acting for the cameras.  One thing this installment makes clear, more than ever, is who the real enemies are – not the armed adversaries in the arena but the Capitol.  Katniss learns to appreciate the talents of her fellow tributes and the novel ends with a diverse group, ready to rebel in Mockingjay.

Reader’s Annotation: Katniss and Peeta are forced back into the arena for the Quarter Quell – the 75th Hunger Games.  With experienced winners and even the government against her, does Katniss have any hope of surviving?

Author Information: Suzanne Collins was born on November 21, 1947.  Her father was an air force officer, which had an influence on her future writing, because he wanted his children to understand the impact of battle and its consequences.  Collins received her M.F.A. from New York University in Dramatic Writing and went on to become a writer for children’s television shows.  She worked on several Nickelodeon shows in the 90s, including Clarissa Explains it All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, before meeting the children’s author James Proimos, who encouraged her to try writing books.  She currently lives in Connecticut with her family, which consists of her husband, Cap, their daughter and son, and three feral cats that they’ve adopted from their backyard.

Collins was inspired to write The Hunger Games when she was channel-surfing between war coverage and a reality TV show, of which she says, “I was tired, and the lines began to blur in this very unsettling way.”  She was also influenced by the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, in which Athens requires tributes of 14 young people from Crete to be sent in the monster’s labyrinth. (Source)

Genre: Science Fiction

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Should Katniss choose to be with Peeta or Gale?  Is one option safer?
2) If her family and friends had taken the opportunity to escape, what would be the consequences?
3) Does the censorship of the Capitol cut off the rebellious districts from each other or inspire them to revolt?
4) How does Katniss know who to trust?

Interest Age: 11 and older

Challenge Issues: violence and death, sleeping with the opposite gender (not in a sexual context)

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the book and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews from School Library Journal and others available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the book from teens who have read it.

Selection: After reading The Hunger Games as a requirement for this course, I was eager to read the next installment of the trilogy.

Extras:

Suzanne Collins website.

Book Trailer for Catching Fire:

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May 5, 2010 - Posted by | Books |

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