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Suzanne Collins' debut novel, Gregor the Overlander, the first book in The Underland Chronicles, received wide praise both in the United States and abroad. The series has been a New York Times bestseller and received numerous accolades. Also a writer for children's television, Suzanne lives with her family in Connecticut.
Gr 7 Up-Every year in Panem, the dystopic nation that exists where the U.S. used to be, the Capitol holds a televised tournament in which two teen "tributes" from each of the surrounding districts fight a gruesome battle to the death. In The Hunger Games (Scholastic, 2008), Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, the tributes from impoverished District Twelve, thwarted the Gamemakers, forcing them to let both teens survive. In this rabidly anticipated sequel, Katniss, again the narrator, returns home to find herself more the center of attention than ever. The sinister President Snow surprises her with a visit, and Katniss's fear when Snow meets with her alone is both palpable and justified. Catching Fire is divided into three parts: Katniss and Peeta's mandatory Victory Tour through the districts, preparations for the 75th Annual Hunger Games, and a truncated version of the Games themselves. Slower paced than its predecessor, this sequel explores the nation of Panem: its power structure, rumors of a secret district, and a spreading rebellion, ignited by Katniss and Peeta's subversive victory. Katniss also deepens as a character. Though initially bewildered by the attention paid to her, she comes almost to embrace her status as the rebels' symbolic leader. Though more of the story takes place outside the arena than within, this sequel has enough action to please Hunger Games fans and leaves enough questions tantalizingly unanswered for readers to be desperate for the next installment.-Megan Honig, New York Public Library Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
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. (Sept.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Stephen King meets Dr. Zhivago. I am being less than fair in promoting the much-anticipated sequel to Collins's The Hunger Games (see my 2008 Best of the Year list) when it will not be out until September. My only excuse is that it gives the uninitiated a last chance to read the first book before this one climbs to the top of the children's best-sellers list. (Add yourself to your library's holds queue now!) The story takes place in a future world where teens are made to compete to the death in an annual tribute called the Hunger Games. At the conclusion of the first volume, the games' victors face an uncertain future at the hands of a cruel Capitol. All I will say about the second is that it is as much of a page-turner as the first and leaves the reader even more desperate for what comes next. Why It Is for Us: If heart-stopping adventure is not your cup of tea, consider reading The Hunger Games and Catching Fire for their winning characters and epic themes of oppression, rebellion, and love. Collins cannot write the third book fast enough.-Angelina Benedetti, King Cty. Lib. Syst., WA Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.