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Catching Fire (Collins)

Catching Fire (Hunger Game series #2)
Suzanne Collins, 2009
Scholastic, Inc.
400 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780439023498


Summary
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy.

After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—ca. 1964
Where—N/A
Education—M.F.A., New York University
Currently—lives in Connecticut


Collins's career began in 1991 as a writer for children's television shows. She worked on several television shows for Nickelodeon, including Clarissa Explains It All, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, Little Bear, and Oswald. She was also the head writer for Scholastic Entertainment's Clifford's Puppy Days. She received a Writers Guild of America nomination in animation for co-writing the critically acclaimed Christmas special, Santa, Baby!

After meeting children's author James Proimos while working on the Kids' WB show Generation O!, Collins was inspired to write children's books herself. Her inspiration for Gregor the Overlander, the first book of the best selling series "The Underland Chronicles," came from Alice in Wonderland, when she was thinking about how one was more likely to fall down a manhole than a rabbit hole, and would find something other than a tea party.

Between 2003 and 2007 she wrote the five books of the "Underland Chronicles": Gregor the Overlander, Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of Secret, and Gregor and the Code of Claw. During that time, Collins also wrote a rhyming picture book illustrated by Mike Lester entitled When Charlie McButton Lost Power (2005).

In September 2008 Scholastic Press released the The Hunger Games, the first book of a new trilogy by Collins. The Hunger Games was partly inspired by the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Another inspiration was her father's career in the Air Force, which allowed her to better understand poverty, starvation, and the effects of war.

This was followed by the novel's 2009 sequel, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay in 2010. In just 14 months, 1.5 million copies of the first two "Hunger Games" books have been printed in North America alone. The Hunger Games has been on the New York Times Best Seller list for more than 60 weeks in a row. Collins was named one of Time magazine's most influential people of 2010.

Collins earned her M.F.A. from New York University in Dramatic Writing. She now lives in Connecticut with her husband, their two children, and 2 adopted feral kittens. (From Wikipedia.)



Book Reviews
Fresh from their improbable victory in the annual Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta get to enjoy the spoils only briefly before they must partake in a Capitol-sponsored victory tour. But trouble is brewing—President Snow tells Katniss directly he won’t stand for being outsmarted, and she overhears rumbles of uprisings in Panem’s districts. Before long it’s time for the next round of games, and because it’s the 75th anniversary of the competition, something out of the ordinary is in order. If this second installment spends too much time recapping events from book one, it doesn’t disappoint when it segues into the pulse-pounding action readers have come to expect. Characters from the previous volume reappear to good effect: Katniss’s stylist, Cinna, proves he’s about more than fashion; Haymitch becomes more dimensional. But the star remains Katniss, whose bravery, honesty and wry cynicism carry the narrative. (About her staff of beauticians she quips: “They never get up before noon unless there’s some sort of national emergency, like my leg hair.”) Collins has also created an exquisitely tense romantic triangle for her heroine. Forget Edward and Jacob: by book’s end (and it’s a cliffhanger), readers will be picking sides—Peeta or Gale? (Ages 12–up.).
Publishers Weekly


(Grade 7 & up) in Suzanne Collins's planned trilogy, set in the dystopic nation of Panem, Katniss has survived The Hunger Games (2008), a fight to the death, and learns that she is now considered a danger to the Capital because she has become a symbol of rebellion. President Snow lets her know he is out to "get her" and those she loves. After she and Peeta complete a victory tour to all of the districts and witness firsthand the unrest and force used to squelch it, she learns that in this year of the Quarter Quell (a special version of The Games), former champions are to be the competitors once again. She enters this game with one goal in mind—to keep Peeta alive. The only problem is that he has the same goal. Suspense abounds as, along with Katniss, listeners experience the games once again, with new secrets and questions about the "true" loyalty of her supposed allies. Katniss's feelings about Peeta and Gale continue to confuse her, sometimes clouding her thinking. While Carolyn McCormick's voice sounds older than one might expect for Katniss, she perfectly captures all of her moods. She is very versatile in voicing Peeta's earnestness, Gale's quiet strength, Haymitch's sarcasm, and the feelings of all the lesser characters. The ending is a cliffhanger, and fans of the series will eagerly await the next installment. —Edie Ching, Washington Latin Public Charter School, DC
Library Journal


World-weary after her historic victory during the Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen finds her life forever changed. She and her fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark embark on the requisite Victory Tour, where there are hints of rebellion in several of the districts. Inspired by her earlier example of defiance, citizens have taken to wearing the mockingjay pin Katniss wears. There are twists, turns, and unexpected developments as Katniss faces possible betrayal at every turn. The action in this sequel to The Hunger Games never lets up, with hints of things to come and wrongs to be righted. All of the secondary characters are fleshed out effectively. President Snow's palpable hatred for Katniss oozes throughout his plans for the Seventy-fifth Hunger Games. Readers will groan in frustration at the book's conclusion, since there are so many loose ends. The tantalizing hints of a possible District 13 guarantee more surprises for readers. —Barbara Ward
Alan Review


In the sequel to the hugely popular The Hunger Games (2008), Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, having won the annual Games, are now rich and famous-and trapped in the fiction that they are lovers. They are seen as a threat to the Capitol, their unusual manner of winning an act of rebellion that could inspire uprisings throughout Panem. Knowing her life is in danger, Katniss considers escaping with her family and friends but instead reluctantly assumes the role of a rebel, almost forced into it by threats from the insidious President Snow. Beyond the expert world building, the acute social commentary and the large cast of fully realized characters, there's action, intrigue, romance and some amount of hope in a story readers will find completely engrossing. Collins weaves in enough background for this novel to stand alone, but it will be a far richer experience for those who have read the first installment and come to love Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch and the rest of the desperate residents of this dystopia. A humdinger of a cliffhanger will leave readers clamoring for volume three.
Kirkus Reviews



Discussion Questions
(Scholastic, Inc., the publisher, has provided two sets of questions—one set for Catching Fire and the second set compares Catching Fire to The Hunger Games.)

1. How did Katniss’s participation in the Games change her relationship with Gale? Why does she say, “The Games have spoiled even that…There’s no going back.”

2. What emotions does Peeta stir in Katniss? Though she is stiff and formal with him, what are her true feelings? How did the events in the first Games affect their relationship?

3. Why does President Snow come to Katniss’s home? What does he mean when he says, “you have provided a spark which left unattended may grow into an inferno....” What, exactly, was the significance of the handful of poisonous berries at the end of The Hunger Games?

4. How do the events of the Victory Tour affect Katniss and Peeta, their relationship to each other, and their feelings about their future?

5. Why does the Capitol devise a special reaping procedure for every 25th Game? Do you believe the requirements for this Quarter Quell were decided in the past or were they designed for this Game to force Katniss and Peeta back to the Arena?

6. What is the significance of the mockingjay image? What does it mean to the people in the Districts and the people in the Capitol? Why does Plutarch Heavensbee show Katniss the hidden mockingjay image on his watch? Discuss how the mockingjay species developed and how Katniss happened to wear the pin during the first Games.

7. Why does Gale refuse Katniss’s offer to try to escape into the wild? What does he mean when he says, “It can’t be about just saving us anymore”? How does Gale’s whipping change Katniss’s thinking about escape and her feelings for Gale?

8. What makes Katniss say, “No wonder I won the Games. No decent person ever does.” Is she being too hard on herself? What makes her realize that fighting the Capitol is more important than running away? What is the importance of her meeting with Bonnie and Twill in the forest?

9. Why does the Capitol push plans for the wedding of Katniss and Peeta if they know that they will be returning to the Games in the Quarter Quell? What does the Capitol hope to gain by sending previous victors back to the Games? Is it really, as Katniss says, a way to show “that hope was an illusion”?

10. What do Katniss and Peeta learn when they watch the video of Haymitch’s Hunger Games, the 2nd Quarter Quell? How does it affect their understanding of Haymitch and the mockingjay symbol? How did Haymitch trick the Capitol?

11. How do both Peeta and Katniss mock the Gamemakers during the “talent show” portion of the training? Why do they each take the chance of offending those who will control the Games? How does this change their feelings for each other?

12. Discuss the effect on Katniss of what happens to Darius and Cinna. Why are the Capitol officials attacking those who have befriended her? Why is Cinna attacked just before Katniss is placed in the Arena?

13. Why is Katniss determined to keep Peeta alive during the Games, even at the expense of her own life? When does she realize the importance of forming alliances with the other tributes? Why does Finnick save Peeta’s life? When does Katniss realize that her first impression of Finnick was wrong?

14. Describe the relationship between Katniss and Johanna. What made Katniss realize that Wiress and Beetee would be helpful allies in the Arena? What important contribution does each one of the allies make to keep the group alive? What is the role of the unseen “sponsors”?

15. What is more harmful to the players in this Game—the physical traumas like the fog and rain of fire, or the emotional trauma of hearing the jabberjays?

16. What does Haymitch mean when he tells Katniss before the Game begin, “You just remember who the enemy is—that’s all.” Who is the enemy? Have the other tributes been trying to keep Peeta or Katniss alive? Which of them is most important to the rebellion?

17. Why were Katniss and Peeta not aware of the plans for the rebellion? Why were they kept in the dark when other tributes knew about it?

18. What is the meaning of the title? How many different ways can you identify the theme of “catching fire” in this volume?

__________________

Comparing The Hunger Games and Catching Fire:

1. Discuss the differences between the Games in the first volume and the second—the training sessions, the interviews, the set-up of the Arena, the strategies that Katniss and Peeta use. How is each of them changed by the time they spend in the Arena?

2. What are the forces that contribute to the rebellion in Catching Fire? Were they already starting to happen in The Hunger Games? What clues can you find in the books about the rebellion?

3. Why are all citizens of Panem required to watch the Hunger Games on television? How does this affect the people? Why haven’t they rebelled earlier against the brutality of the Games? Discuss the effect of television and reality TV in your own life.

4. What are your predictions for the third volume in the series?

5. Compare the society in Panem (the government, its tight control on the population, and the growing rebellion) to others that you have studied or encountered in books or films. Consider historical and contemporary nations as well as fictional worlds. What does Panem have in common with these cultures, and how does it differ? What can we learn about our own world from studying and reading about historical and fictional societies?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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