Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins: Worth the Wait

catching-fireCindy: It’s very exciting to have had an early peek at Catching Fire (Scholastic, Sept. 1, 2009) but that just means the wait for book three will seem even longer! One thing I know for sure, it will be worth the wait, whether you are a lucky soul in the same boat, or if you will have to wait until September to get your hands on this one. The Suspense (yes, with a capital S) started last year with Hunger Games (2008) It’s the page-turning story of Katniss who volunteers to take her younger sister’s place in the televised reality game that results in one living survivor from the 24 participants from the twelve regions of Panem (a future, dystopian U.S.) Grim it may sound, but Katniss is a compelling heroine and the book’s premise is tempered with wicked humor and thought-provoking political and social themes. The good news? Fans of the first volume will not be disappointed. This one may be even better. I’d read it again to be sure, but for the dozens of teachers and teens threatening my survival if I don’t share the prize. Lynn was supposed to be first to get it, but 15-year-old avid reader, Leah Matchett snuck in first, riding her bike to my house in her pajamas last weekend and scoring not only the galley for a day but national press in a Publisher’s Weekly article about the hot title. On Friday I caused a scene in a math classroom by delivering the galley to the first student on the REAL waiting list and everywhere I go with the book there are gasps! We’re not alone: Teri Lescene reported a great story about in-flight excitement over the book on her way to Book Expo. And I couldn’t agree more with Monica Edinger’s post at Educating Alice. I tried to read slowly, too, not wanting the book to end, but it was hard to not keep turning the pages. I thought I knew what the major plot would be in this book, but I was wrong. Collins’ plotting is as strong as ever and I was surprised again and again. I won’t spoil anything for those who haven’t read it, but even if you have to wait for the book to publish on September first to find out what happens to Katniss next, it definitely will be worth the wait.

Lynn: Scholastic has asked reviewers to be considerate and not give away the plot, which is more than fair with so many people waiting anxiously for the September 1st publication. That is really hard to do but I did have an advantage by reading it after Cindy. I could call her up at each major surprise and shriek! Suzanne Collins has done an amazing job with what must be the most anticipated sequel since Harry Potter. Without giving anything away, let me just say that she not only surprised me completely on more than one occasion but she created more suspense, developed the world and the characters more fully, introduced additional themes and left me hanging breathlessly at the end. This book is much more of a cliffhanger and I don’t know if I can stand the wait for the next installment. I’m itching to start reading CF again right from the first page but our waiting list is waaay too long for that indulgence!

I was only halfway through the book when we had our teen book club meeting and I brought the book to show the kids. When I pulled it out, the entire group of teens drew in their breath so deeply that the oxygen was almost sucked out of the room. If you were to offer those teens their weight in gold or an arc of Catching Fire, I have NO doubt that the gold would go unclaimed. Thank you Suzanne Collins for a terrific read and thank you, Scholastic for letting us have an early look. Hang in there, everyone – it is worth the wait!



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

19 Comments on "Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins: Worth the Wait"

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  1.' Angela says:

    So, this is weird. I went to BEA this morning and was in the line for the Catching Fire galley with a friend. She mentioned she’d read a PW article about this librarian that has a waiting list 3,000 people long for the galley. Little did I know that was my very own Mrs. Dobrez!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I just finished reading my copy. omg, so good. I read the first part of it sitting in the middle of Times Square, but felt awkward making all of my little gasps and cheers in the middle of the city, so I took what felt like the longest ever subway ride home so I could read in (relative) peace – relative because Billy came home from school when I was 2/3 of the way through the book and he started teasing me again for my verbal reactions.

    Absolutely amazing book, and, like you, I feel like getting to read this galley was a blessing and a curse because I now have to wait so much longer for the third book!

  2. Angela, I’m so glad you got a taste of Book Expo and an arc of CF. Were you one of the lucky ones to get it autographed? Did you score a mockingjay pin? And, for the record, I don’t have exactly 3,000 people yet, but there are dozens and they are making enough noise that it feels like 3,000! I was at a grad party tonight and ran into a college sophomore who learned I had this sequel and she is trying to bribe me to work her way up the list. She read Hunger Games three times last year and recommends it to her college friends.–Cindy

  3.' Jack Tiggleman says:

    Hi Cindy, do you think I could be number 3001 on the list? As always, great blog, and your making me so envious! Grr…

  4.' Laura says:

    Oh, you lucky girls! The kids in my book club are finishing Hunger Games this week and are VERY ready for Catching Fire. I told them I’d have enough copies ready for everyone in September!

  5.' Angela says:

    Cindy – no, I was there on the wrong day to get it autographed. I did however get the mockingjay pin and a sample of the audiobook (which I haven’t had a chance to listen to yet – too busy reading!). I’m actually planning on starting to re-read Catching Fire tonight before I let a friend who just finished Hunger Games borrow it (and the friend I met at the show needs to borrow Hunger Games so she can get started on Catching Fire!)

  6.' Jemima, Tzeamara and Lucy says:

    you guys make us so jealous that u havr already read it!!!!! omg we wanna read it now!!!!!!

    lots of love

  7.' Michele R. says:

    Not being a science fiction fan, I resisted reading the Hunger Games for a long time. My daughter, an avid fan, not to mention several middle school students and Cindy Dobrez herself got on my case to read it. So I finally did and I loved it!! Read the sequel, Catching Fire, and enjoyed that as well. Can’t believe how long we’ll have to wait for book three. Contrary to what most people say, I think I enjoyed Hunger Games more than Catching Fire.

  8.' Aby says:

    Im so jealous. I live all the way over in Puerto Rico and I really want to read this book. If there was a show like fear factor to win the ARC for Catching Fire id be the winner. Id do anything to get my hands on a copy for just one day to devour the book. I had to read The Hunger Games for school and was frustrated because i hate science fiction but all that went right out the window when i started reading it. I’ve read it 4 times already and got mad when I saw “END OF BOOK ONE”. I screamed iI got mad at Suzanne Collins then read it again and keep getting mad all over again, but cant stop reading.If there is a way I can get my copy in Puerto Rico please tell me!!

  9. Aby. I don’t know. If you got a copy, you’d just be screaming louder than book 1! This one is more of a cliffhanger. I hope a copy floats up to you in a glass bottle. Thanks for commenting!–Cindy

  10.' bookworm says:

    Not all books have to be great literary gems to be worth 5 starts. This is a good story, told well. A few characters seemed exaggerated but an I enjoyed reading.

  11.' becky says:

    I am searching for some book club discussion questions on this book. Anybody come across any or have any good ideas?

  12.' sirena says:

    I want my book autographed AND a Mockingjay Pin!!!! No one ever comes to this crappy town.
    I can’t wait to see how The Hunger Games movie turns out!!!!!!!!

  13.' laura stillsman says:

    omg,i just finished reading Mocking Jay. eeee! It was awesome. you have to read it, cindy!

  14. Mockingjay was a brilliant conclusion to the trilogy. I can only compare it to “Ender’s Game” – and that is extremely high praise, indeed.

    When I first closed the book last night, I felt shattered, empty, and drained. This book is my favorite of the series, hands-down.

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