Title: Catching Fire
Series: Sequel to The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Narrator: Carolyn McCormick
ISBN: 9780545101417
Pages: 391 pages
Publisher/Date: Scholastic Press, c2009.

“And if a girl from District Twelve of all places can defy the Capitol and walk away unhardmed, what is to stop them from doing the same?” he says. “What is to prevent, say, an upraising?”
It takes a moment for his last sentence to sink in. Then the full weight of it hits me. “There have been upraisings?” I ask, both chilled and somewhat elated by the possibility.
“Not yet. But they’ll follow if the course of things doesn’t change. And upraisings have been known to lead to revolution.” President Snow rubs a spot over his left eyebrow, the very spot where I myself get headaches. “Do you have any idea what that would mean? How many people would die?” […]
“Please don’t hurt Gale,” I whisper.
(21, 28)

Katniss is in trouble. BIG trouble. After defying the Capital by allowing herself and Peeta to escape, the two of them tour each of the districts as victors of the Hunger Games. But their meer presence and show of affection is not doing enough to quell the dissent felt by the public. She has quickly become a symbol of dissent and unrest, however unexpected and unplanned it is to Katniss. President Snow places the blame solely on her shoulders, and threatens to hold her friends and family responsible if she can’t convince him otherwise. She finds no consolation in Gale or Peeta as she struggles to come to terms with her feelings for both of them. As the new year’s Hunger Games approaches, Katniss finds herself in more trouble then she bargained, and is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice rather than live with the uncontrollable consequences of her actions.

It took me about a disc and a half to really get into the audiobook of this sequel to the very popular Hunger Games. Once I got to the third disc though, I was hooked. Suzanne Collins has a way with words, and brings to life the conflicted and convoluted feelings that Katniss finds herself experiencing. I can’t find one good passage to quote, because there are so many excellently crafted scenes to choose from where Katniss is debating with herself what is the right way to act. While some readers might see her as whiny, I think she has every right to be self-endulgent. She’s been through a lot, that poor girl, and there’s more to come I’m sure.*

Not only are the emotions high, but the plot twists are many and varried, as they should be in any story that takes place in this world of Districts, espionage, intrigue, and secrecy. While listening, I found myself shouting at my radio, mostly things like “WHAT?!” when some twist of fate or unforseen strategy was revealed without any sort of introduction. It’s fast-paced and engaging, with events happening in a breath-taking and blinding speed that leaves readers struggling to keep up. Heck, even Katniss was confused by events sometimes because she (in conjunction the readers) is trying to piece together the minimal amount of clues garnered. I’m trying really hard not to say anything that would be construed as a spoiler. I worked really hard to avoid spoilers after this book originally came out because of I had heard there was a cliff hanger ending. And yes, I admit that it was a shocker, but I think it was somewhat predictable given other events throughout the book.

Regardless of whether or not you’re Team Peeta, Team Gale, or Team Katniss, I do feel sorry for Katniss. She is a strong character, smart and filled with really good instincts, but she is also being manipulated by so many people that she can’t really trust anyone, even the people she thinks she can trust. Her position is one of an unwitting revolutionary or martyr, and in that case she has little control over her decisions, actions, or her life in general.

*As of this writing, I haven’t read Mockingjay, because I didn’t want it to influence my review of this book, but you can be sure I will be reading and blogging it shortly.