Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Catching Fire

In the second book of her Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins picks up immediately where the Hunger Games left off. The victorious tributes from District 12, Katniss Everdeen and her assumed boyfriend Peeta Meelark, are back home from games. The games are staged every year by the government of Panem in the Capitol, as a way of amusing themselves and keeping the people living in the Districts in line. The wrinkle in the ointment at the end of the Hunger Games was how Katniss and Peeta managed to trick the government into declaring them both winners of the games, where for the previous 73 years of the games, only one tribute could live. This trickery amounted to defiance of the government. This single act sparked bloody uprisings in a number of the Districts. A revolution has begun that threatens to overthrow the oppressive government.

Katniss gets a sense of what her defiance has ignited as she and Peeta make the government-organized victory tour through the different Districts and the Capitol. When they finally get back home, her life is in danger as the government starts to brutally crack down on the citizens and President Snow has targeted her. However, the more the government seeks to gain control of the uprisings, the more it fans the flames of the populace. Now nearly a year after the 74th games, it is time to select the tributes from the 12 Districts for the 75th games. However, every 25 years a special version of the games is played to give extra reminders to the Districts of what their past rebellion has cost them. This year, each District must choose two tributes to send to the games who were past victors. Even the strongest of you cannot overcome the power of the Capitol. No ... Katniss and Peeta must go back to the arena of death again.

In a fight to the death, alliances are made and alliances are broken. There can be only one victor. In this new area, the government has devised terrors to kill off even the heartiest tribute. Mutant primates, flesh-eating bugs, acid fogs. However, behind the backdrop of alliance hunting alliance, something else, quite subtle is afoot. Several of the tributes are secretly part of the rebellion. Their job is to protect the face of the rebellion, Katniss. As the fighting builds to a climax, Katniss takes down the energy field that surrounds the arena and then blacks out. When she comes to, she finds who her real allies are and a bit more of what is really underway. There is something special about District 13, the one supposedly annihilated by the Capitol all those years ago. Now, onward to the final book in the trilogy, Mockingjay.