Name of Book: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Book Design: Elizabeth Parisi
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Audience: Ages 12 and up
Summary: The second in a trilogy of science fiction stories, Catching Fire is written for adolescent youth and older due to graphic and violent content.
Katniss and Peeta were victors of the 74th Hunger Games. As victors of the Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta are required to tour all of Panem’s districts in order to personally reveal the victors to each district. President Snow has tasked Katniss with the job of relieving tensions in the districts that have ensued after they witnessed Katniss and Peeta’s very blatant defiance of the Capital during the Hunger Games. At each district stop the tensions continue to rise regardless of Katniss’s best efforts.
After the district tours, as they return to a life of luxury, they soon realize that it will not last for long. In an attempt to squelch the rebellious thought that are engulfing the district, President Snow announces that the next Hunger Games will require former victors to play the games again. As training begins for the Hunger Games it becomes clear that their mentor Haymitch is scheming to have Katniss and Peeta ally with other districts’ victors. Throughout the games things seem strange to Katniss and Peeta. Eventually with the help of Beetee, another past victor, Katniss destroys the arena. The next thing Katniss knows she is on a hospital bed and believes she is in the hands of the Capital. Ready to attempt an escape, she ends up in a room where she realizes that she is safe with her mentor, Haymitch and another victor, Finnick. Katniss realizes that she has been a pawn in the hands of the rebel forces trying to build an uprising against the Capital. As the book ends, Katniss becomes aware that there is a District 13 and that District 12 is destroyed.
Note: While the series has no Christian references at all, there are a number of routes one can take in discussing Christian faith with teenage readers. Parents are strongly encouraged to read this book either before their children or alongside their children and engage in regular faith-based discussions.
Literary elements at work in the story: This is a science fiction dystopia of revenge imposed by the country leadership onto the individual districts. It is told from the first person point of view of Katniss, a 16 year old tribute to the Games. It is her story of rebellion with, and fear of, the Capital. Katniss is portrayed as the protector in this book. The setting takes place in District 12, on the train bound for the other districts, as well as in the Capital and in the games arena.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economic/ability make a difference to the story? Although victors are seen as wealthy in the eyes of their districts, no amount of wealth can keep them from the requirement of taking part in the Hunger Games. The Capital still flexes powerful oppression over the citizens of Panem, leaving no one exempt, especially when the Capital is tricked or threatened.
Scripture: John 3:16-21
Theology: As humans we fall short of the glory of God, but we are still loved and desired by God. We have turned away from God, and each other, in search of our own personal and societal gains. As sinners, we have gone against “the way it’s supposed to be.” We are unable to turn ourselves back toward God and unable to make our relationship with God and one another right. Through God’s mercy and abundant love, we are made right with God and others through Jesus Christ, the light in our darkness.
Faith Talk Questions
- Why are the second Hunger Games so much more difficult for Katniss?
- Why are the Capitol citizens upset to learn that former victors will be tributes again?
- Which characters in this book value human life?
- What does God teach us about the value of a human life?
- When we acknowledge the humanity of someone, how does that change the way we treat them as a person?
- Katniss and Peeta find it hard to trust others. Do you ever find it hard to trust?
- How do you think God would react to the Capitol’s treatment of the citizens of Panem?
- How do you think God would react to Katniss and Peeta’s behavior as they try and survive?
- Is it ever okay to lie about relationships and family dynamics to help save a life?
- As a Christian, how would you handle being in a situation like Katniss and Peeta, fighting for your life? What if your family were at stake?
- Who was the light in the darkness for Katniss and Peeta? Who is the light in your darkness?
Review prepared by Union Presbyterian Seminary graduate Katie Todd
Filed under: Book Reviews, Books written for Grades 9 - 12 (Ages 14-17), Faith Questions For...., Fantasy/Science Fiction, High School Students, Young Adults, Young Adults Tagged: | darkness, fear, rebellion, society, survival, trust