Catching Fire: Book Review

Since I wrote a book review for The Hunger Games, I decided to add the next installment. Now that the movie is out, I’ve been thinking about the story.

catching fire coverCatching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2), by Suzanne Collins, Scholastic Press, September 1, 2009. 391 pages

Katniss and Peeta are sent to each District to show solidarity with President Snow. Their rule breaking at the end of The Hunger Games caused others around the Districts to rebel as well. Trouble happens when they appear at District 11. The home of Rue, the little girl Katniss teamed up with during the Games. There an act of rebellion happens and the results shock and disturb Katniss.

Later on their journey around the Districts and the Capitol they give an interview with a surprise announcement. They hoped it would curb the rebellion, but have little success.

After her return home, Katniss encounters runaways who explain a theory about the elusive District 13. They believe it is occupied by people unhappy with the Capitol and the Districts. Katniss wonders about their revelation, but mostly dismisses it as fanciful.

The efforts of President Snow resulted in little influence so he announces another Hunger Games. The 75th Hunger Games, or the Quarter Quell. For the anniversary special instructions are given that pertain to the contestants. It’s revealed that 24 previous winners would have to enter the games. They hold the same type of lottery with previous contestant who have their names drawn. Katniss and Peeta are chosen along with 22 other previous winners.

The Games are in a new setting and have new challenges. The unexpected ending opens the way to the third installment and the conclusion.

My thoughts on the book:

We delve more into the relationship of Katniss and Peeta and wonder about Gale and if he might ever get his chance with her.

This book stayed as action packed as the first book and I read it with a quick pace. The game winner participation is a twist that I enjoyed. It gave a new perspective for strategy and ability. Everyone understood the rules, so the entire experience of reading this story seemed new and exciting.

The ending comes out of nowhere, but is still relevant and serves a purpose for the plot.

I had a few issues with this story. The 75th annual game seemed odd. For such an important anniversary we received little notice of its approach. I also wanted more in terms of Katniss’ relationships. She came off as distant to everyone and though she is close with Peeta, it still seemed underdeveloped.

catching fire movie coverSince the story intrigued me I overlooked those small issues. I delighted in reading the characters I cared about. An overall good read.

I look forward to seeing the movie and seeing how close it stays to the book.

I would love to discuss with you about this and I love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading my blog.
A.G. Zalens



Witch of Blackbird Pond: Review


Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare, HMH Books for Young Reader, December 1, 1958. 256 pages

This is one of my all-time favorites, simple, innocent, yet deep, meaningful, and thought-provoking.

Witch of Blackbird Pond the story of Katherine (Kit) a seventeen year old orphan moving from Barbados to Connecticut to live with her Aunt and Uncle’s family. Her journey takes place during a time when Puritans cities were popular in New England states, where unbelievers were witches, and outsiders were chased from towns.

Kit’s story begins with her travels across the ocean, her interactions with the Captain and his son Nat, and her abnormal behavior, pointing out her foreign attributes.

Once she arrives at her Aunt’s house she experiences a culture shock, the ocean water is cold, their family doesn’t have much, and she’s expected to contribute with the work load and attend their church functions.

Eventually, Kit meets an elderly woman named Hannah − a Quaker living on undesirable swamp land. Hannah has a frequent visitor in Nate, showing up when his ship docked in the area, completing difficult tasks for her.

By the end, the action builds, the romance blooms, and the friendships blossom: resulting in a compelling story worthy of a read…or two.

What I love about this story is the easy connection to Kit and how relatable her experiences are to everyone. Just living the teenage years can be like a culture shock! Always feeling as though no one understands you and finding comfort in the group of people who try.

The romance between Kit and Nate is provoking and sweet. I like the initial hesitation but eventual time taken to get to know each other. Even more attractive is Nate’s willingness to support her when she is practically alone.

I recommend this book to anyone wanting a quick read with intriguing characters and a compelling plot.

Thanks for reading my blog!

A.G. Zalens

The Hunger Games: Book Review

ImageThe Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, Scholastic Press, September 14th 2008. 374 pages

For my blog post I wanted to do something fun and write a book review; yet I couldn’t quit decide which book to start with. So, I decided on the book, which made the young adult genre into a completely new possibility for creativity: The Hunger Games.

For those who haven’t read this book (the few and far between) The Hunger Games is set in the future where one city rules twelve Districts; each sectioned off and required to do particular functions for society. In order to keep the Districts compliant one boy and one girl from each District are randomly selected to participate in the Hunger Games: a gladiator type battle where each child has to fight for his/her life to become the winner.

The story begins by introducing Katniss, a poor teenager with a younger sister and a grieving mother. Katniss spends most of her time illegally hunting in the nearby woods to feed her family and barter with her neighbors. Suzanne starts the book with appeal and interest right away; the illegality of Katniss’ actions keeps the book fast paced and full of anticipation.

With the novel’s body we see Katiniss volunteering as a contestant to save her younger sister, training to defeat the other contestants, and showing off to get sponsors to help during the Games.  We also meet Peeta the boy from District 12 and his potential as a love interest for Katniss.

The climax includes intense battles, strategic positioning, and an unexpected conclusion. A wonderfully well-rounded story, which draws the reader in and keeps them interested to the end.

When I first read this story, I was hooked by the originality and creativity wrapped around characters I wanted to read about. This story has the suspense that I love and the character interaction I adoreIt is no wonder I couldn’t put it down.

Thanks for reading my blog!

A.G. Zalens