Catching Fire

I've been sick since the sixth with a ghastly sinus/laryngitis/bronchitis/wheezing thing that has left me dazed, exhausted and with $150 bucks worth of cough medicine. (Seriously. That's for three bottles.) Every day when I hear how many days of the Olympics are over I cringe as it means the tally for this particular illness is beyond ridiculous. I've watched an awful lot of Olympics this time around, even staring with my mouth open at ski jumping, a sport I have zero interest in, for long periods of time. Mostly I was too tired to watch anything with a plot and was way too tired to read.

But I did manage to get a little reading in during the emergency room, urgent care, two visits to my family doctor and untold waits at the pharmacy this ridiculous infection has so far required. Mostly I read some paranormal romance but I also zipped my way through a book I've been waiting to read for some time – Suzanne Collins' Catching Fire, the sequel to her incredible novel Hunger Games.

Catching Fire takes place in the year following Hunger Games and is about the tightrope Katniss continues to walk as she tries to keep her family and friends safe from the Capitol. As the next edition of the hunger games approaches, President Snow comes to visit Katniss in her home, threatening and frightening her. Her brilliant move that saved her and Peeta's lives at the end of the last competition has become a symbol of the resistance and she is now inadvertently the face of a revolution she didn't know existed. President Snow makes it clear that she must quash the flames of rebellion or everyone she knows and loves will be punished.

Katniss is still torn between her feelings for Gale and Peeta and, just as in Hunger Games, those feelings are exploited by everyone around her. In an unprecedented move she and Peeta are ordered back into the arena, this time to compete against other previous Games winners, and she is determined to do everything she can to help Peeta survive, even though that means her own death.

But this doesn't mean Katniss is going to just sit down and give up; that's not her nature. Instead she's going to fight like an angry mother bear, giving her all to protect Peeta, destroying anything that threatens him. This is going to be just as hard as when she fought in the first hunger games, maybe even harder, because this time she's making alliances before she enters the arena. Killing her enemies will be hard enough but how will she be able to bring herself to dispose of those she's fighting with?

Catching Fire is just as exciting and suspenseful as Hunger Games. One reason I like the series so much is because I can't figure out what's going to happen next. I can often plan out a course of action for a character, which the character then follows, and with some stories I can even predict dialogue, but with this series I'm just a spectator, cheering Katniss and her loved ones on, hoping for a positive outcome while biting my nails and fearing the worst.

You can hear an excerpt read by the author here, at the Scholastic site. You can also see the cover of Mockingjay, the third book in the series, coming out in only six months! Whoohoo! http://www.scholastic.com/thehungergames/about-the-book.htm

One-Paragraph Review

This week's one-paragraph review is from Amy who writes in to say, "I loved the Olympics Opening Ceremonies. Bummer about the torch thing getting stuck but the rest was amazing." Do you have a one-paragraph (or smaller) review you'd like to share? Send it in to me for consideration. You can reach me at feedback@qualitytimeweekly.com.