Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

catching fire(Don’t worry – this will be deliberately vague!)

Suzanne Collins knows how to deliver a punch to the gut. It’s certainly not the only trick in her arsenal – she’s great at the shivers creeping slowly up your spine, she can get your eyes to fly open in surprise along with the best of them, and she produces a mean whisper in your ear – both the bad and the good kind.  But on those big punches to the stomach, the ones that knock you right off your feet and leave you gasping for air, she’s at the very top of her game.

Something happens in this book that is devastating.  It is not the only punch Ms. Collins lands, but it’s definitely the knockout in her series of body blows.  The truly astonishing thing about this moment, and so many of the other surprises she delivers, is that while I NEVER would have anticipated it happening, looking back it seems almost inevitable.  It’s the mark of a truly great storyteller, and I have no hesitation awarding that title to Suzanne Collins.  If you had any reservations about whether a sequel to The Hunger Games could possibly live up to the first book’s brilliant developing storylines and nuanced characterizations, leave those worries at the door.  Catching Fire is exactly the book you hoped it would be – thrilling, thought-provoking, and absolutely devastating.

For all of you who, like me, have felt like the wait for this book has been almost interminable: I have some advice.  Don’t read it yet.  Please, for your own sake, wait as long as you possibly can.  No, I’m totally serious.  Because as bad as this wait has been, the wait for the third book is going to be a million times worse.  Five minutes after I finished reading, I said something that is very unrepeatable and threw my book at the wall.  (On that note, another warning: don’t read this book in a public place.  I’m still a little bit embarrassed.)  I hate Suzanne Collins for leaving me hanging.  But not as much as I love her for writing these books.

Catching Fire on the web.

Suzanne Collins on the web.

Review copy provided by the publisher at BEA.