A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this follow-up to The Hunger Games concerns a TV tournament in which 20 teens fight a gruesome battle to the death. The violence, while not gory or graphic in detail, is plentiful. Fighting involves primitive weaponry, hand-to-hand combat, poisoning, and spearings and stabbings. The futuristic government that sponsors the event terrorizes and tortures citizens that revolt.
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What's the story?
Katniss and Peeta, rich and famous from having won the annual Hunger Games, are reluctanly embarking on a Capitol-sponsored victory tour through the 12 districts of the dystopian world Panem. They are now seen as a threat to oppressive Capitol, having defied the Gamemakers with their subversive victory. This act of rebellion has ignited growing unrest within the districts. To her dismay, Katniss is looked upon as the leader of this uprising. Katniss briefly considers escaping with her family and friends before reluctantly assuming her role as rebel leader. The insidious President Snow is prepared to do whatever is necessary to quash this budding uprising.
Is it any good?
Collins does not disappoint in this enthralling, entirely satisfying sequel. The pace is a little slower and the emphasis more on character than plot -- Katniss grows considerable as a character -- but readers will find CATCHING FIRE as much of a gripping page-turner as The Hunger Games. More of the story takes place outside the arena than within, but there is plenty of action-packed combat.
Collins offers readers intriguing insights into the nation of Panem: its power structure, rumors of a secret district, and the spreading rebellion. The story is equally rich in provocative political and social commentary, and exploring epic themes of morality, obedience, oppression, rebellion, redemption, sacrifice and, of course, survival. The author also creates a tantalizing and unresolved love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale that will leave questioning readers desperate for the next installment. This novel can stand alone but readers will have a much a richer experience if they begin with The Hunger Games.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about all the rich themes in this book. Considering current reality TV offerings and America's cultural obsession with violence, how hard is it to imagine people killing one another as entertainment? What are some examples from the past in which such "entertainment" did exist?
Are there any TV programs or video games that remind remind you of the Hunger Games tournament? How are they similar?
What does the Capitol do to people in the distrcits that can be called oppressive? Are there governments in the world today that could be considered as oppressive?
What lengths would you go to in order to survive?
Why is Katniss the best person to be the symbolic leader of the uprising? What are Katniss' true feelings towards Gale and Peeta?
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