Review of Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

catching_fireCatching Fire

by Suzanne Collins

Scholastic Press, New York, 2009. 391 pages.
Starred Review

Wow. The Hunger Games was gripping, heart-wrenching drama, but in this sequel Suzanne Collins has turned things up a notch.

Katniss’ troubles and her family’s troubles should have been over at the end of The Hunger Games, but she challenged the power of the Capitol, and those in power were not pleased with her.

What’s more, Katniss has become a symbol of rebellion. Could that rebellion be spreading? One thing is sure — if it is, it will be brutally squelched. And if Katniss can’t convincingly quiet the uproar she started, she knows her own loved ones will suffer.

This is definitely not light, cheery reading. As if all this weren’t enough, we’re stuck reading about the next year’s Hunger Games, this time a Quarter Quell, for the 75th year of the games, with its own fresh horror.

The story is not complete with this volume. I will definitely be one of the people clamoring for the third book. I do join with my friend Farida to say that it had just better offer some happiness and hope for these people!

Even though the topic is unpleasant — a future repressive and brutal government — the story is transcendent and definitely worth reading. The story has a love triangle, life-and-death drama, and people risking their lives for freedom and justice. The book will keep you reading and then stick with you when you have to put it down.

The only awful thing about this book is how long we’re going to have to wait before we can find out what happens next.

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Review of Still Life, by Joy Fielding

still_lifeStill Life
by Joy Fielding

Atria Books, New York, 2009. 369 pages.
Starred Review.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2010: #6 Fiction

This book is wonderful. Richly textured and thought-provoking, it also includes life-or-death suspense.

Casey Marshall has a perfect life. Having lunch with her best friends, it’s clear that one at least thinks it’s a bit too perfect. Casey and her handsome husband are even talking about starting a family soon.

But after lunch, something happens. Casey wakes up in darkness, only able to hear voices. They are talking about a terrible accident that happened to “the patient,” run down by an SUV. She begins recognizing distraught voices of people she knows and loves, and it dawns on her that the accident happened to her.

Nobody knows that she can hear them. People tell her husband that he should get on with his life, but he says he can’t stay away from her, he loves her too much. Her sister Drew is mad because Casey’s the executor of their parents’ estate, and Drew wants her allowance. A nurse’s aide talks about how handsome her husband is, and how she thinks she’ll be able to seduce him. Casey hears her making progress.

Then a detective comes along. He suspects the accident was not an accident after all. Now Casey has memories of all her friends and wonders who would want to hurt her.

Eventually the book becomes like the old classic Rear Window. Casey knows who wants to kill her, even though they have everyone else completely fooled. She knows when that person is planning to do it. But she is absolutely powerless to stop them. Or is she?

I would love to say more, but I will settle for saying that I loved this book and found the ending thoroughly satisfying.

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