2009 YA

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

I loved The Hunger Games, so was really looking forward to reading Catching Fire. Unfortunately I was disappointed. Perhaps because I have been immersed in the Bookers, I was immediately struck by the poor quality of the writing. I don’t remember having the same problem with The Hunger Games, but then I didn’t read 13 Bookers before starting it!

The first half of the book was also quite slow. It has been 6 months since I read The Hunger Games, so I probably did need to be reminded of some of the smaller plot details, but I became irrated by the continual references to the first book. I felt patronised and bored. It took almost half the book before the plot began to take off, but when it did I was again disappointed. Catching Fire just seemed to take all the best bits from The Hunger Games and repeat them in a less convincing way.

There was a point in the middle when district 13 was mentioned that I began to think things would take a turn for the better, but sadly it veered away from this potentially great thread to follow a much more disappointing one. I am sure that the third book in the trilogy will be great, but I don’t think this one was necessary – it felt like they had taken a great two book story and padded it out into a trilogy, as by the end the plot didn’t seem to have made any progression from the first book.

If you loved The Hunger Games then you’ll have to read this anyway, but please be warned that you may be disappointed. Catching Fire is a quick, mildly entertaining read, but the frustration and disappointment I felt meant that I can’t recommend it.


If you haven’t read Catching Fire yet: What do you hope will happen in it?

I know I’m in the minority with my opinion. What made you love Catching Fire?

Are you more or less excited about the final book in the trilogy after reading this one?

2009 Recommended books YA

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

I bought this book about ten seconds after I finished reading Semicolon’s review for it, and I’m really glad I did, as I think this is my favourite book of the year so far.

The Hunger Games is an annual televised event in which twenty-four children fight-to-the-death. Two children from each of the twelve regions of Panem, a new land created from the ruins of post-apocalyptic North America, are randomly selected to take part.

This sounds like a scary, violent book, and if I’d have thought about it too much I may not have bought it. I admit that when I was reading the first chapter I was worried about the kind of book I’d started, and wondered how on earth it could be suitable for eleven-year-olds (the age suggested on the back cover). I didn’t have to worry, although the children do fight to the death, it isn’t graphic, and in a strange way you are hoping that each of them die, so that the narrator, Katniss, can survive.

Many important issues are raised in the book, including poverty, war, the misuse of power and the evolution of reality television – for this reason I think it would be great for reading groups.

The book is perfectly paced; the plot drives the book on so well that I didn’t want to put it down, but at no point was it going so fast that I was skimming sections. The characters are well thought out, and although survival is a large part of the book, I think the main theme is love. Katniss’s confusion over who she truly loves is very touching. I enjoyed this book so much that I have already pre-ordered the second book in the trilogy, which is released in September.

I can’t fault it. Highly recommended.