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Mirkat Always Reading

I'm always reading something, usually multiple books at a time.

Currently reading

One Hundred Years of Solitude (Audio)
Gabriel García Márquez, John Lee

Hunger Games All Stars?

Catching Fire - Carolyn McCormick, Suzanne  Collins

When you win the Hunger Games you're supposed to be set for life.  Unless the Panem government decides the Games need a new twist.


Katniss and Peeta have become celebrities, living in the District-12 Victor's Village with their new neighbor Haymitch.  They've announced to all of Panem that they are engaged, which means there will be photo shoots of Katniss in an assortment of gowns.  But trouble is brewing because Katniss has inadvertently become a symbol of resistance.  The game-makers looked decidedly foolish when she and Peeta were threatening to leave the Games with no winner by mutually committing suicide via poison berries.  It was either stop the Games and let them both win or have that embarrassing, unprecedented situation.


Katniss and Peeta are supposed to be safe from the Games now, but the next Hunger Games will be a Quarter Quell, an extra-special edition of the Games held every 25 years in order to drive home even further just how vulnerable the citizens of Panem really are (at least those who live in Districts One through 12, as opposed to the privileged Capitol).  At the Quarter Quell held for the 50th HG, the twist was that there were double the usual number of tributes--four from each district instead of two.  For the 75th, the twist is that the tributes will be drawn from the pool of surviving victors in each district.  Although the Quarter Quell twists were supposedly devised way back when the HG were first instituted, Katniss suspects that this is a little bit too convenient (a punishment for inconvenient victors!), and as a reader, I suspect she is right.


In District 12, Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch are the only living victors.  Since there must be one female and one male tribute, Katniss is in by default.  Although Haymitch's name is drawn as the male tribute, Peeta (predictably) steps in to volunteer in his stead.


With all the tributes being former victors, this Quarter Quell edition of the HG is a bit like Survivor All-Stars.  Every single one of these tributes has found a way to prevail in a previous edition of the games.  But that is not the only effect.  The citizens of the Capitol are genuinely upset that their celebrity victors are at risk once again.  And the victors themselves make a show of inter-district solidarity at the opening ceremonies, by joining hands (a bold act Katniss is sure will be edited out of the repackaged broadcasts).


Katniss and Peeta approach the Games very differently this time around, studying highlights of the HG of each former victor's victory year to learn their techniques.  Also, there are some unexpected alliances and twists during their time in the arena.  Who can be trusted?  Has Haymitch been busy working out secret deals and plans behind the scenes?


Second books in trilogies often feel like filler, and I think in this case, Collins has effectively side-stepped that trap.  She has deepened her world-building and set up an intriguing situation to be played out in Mockingjay (which, of course, I started right after finishing this one.)  I'm definitely hooked.


Side note:  I wrote about my "vegan" objections here.  I have to say, I am even more disturbed by Katniss's hunting in Catching Fire than I was in The Hunger Games--at least in the earlier part of CF.  I read in an article about Suzanne Collins that the inspiration for making Katniss a hunter had been that Collins's father had relied on hunting and foraging to keep his family from starving during the Great Depression.  Similarly, in The Hunger Games, Katniss taking up hunting after her father dies becomes the way she keeps them from dying of starvation--both by bringing home animals to be eaten as well as trading/selling them on the District-12 black market.  But in CF, Katniss is wealthy beyond her imagination and wants for nothing.  But she continues to hunt just because.  Although I find her a generally sympathetic character, this really sickens me.