I had high expectations for the sequel to The Hunger Games and Suzanne Collins delivered! Catching Fire was incredible! I enjoyed every page. Katniss is back in District 12 in her new huge house in Victor’s Village. She still hunts to feed her friend’s families. After a cold few months with a very hurt Peeta, Katniss must convince the Capitol that they are still in love. The President himself makes a visit to Katniss’s home to prove to her how much he is willing to punish her. Peeta and Katniss begin their victor’s tour of the districts and can feel the unrest along the way. Peeta’s bold act of generosity in District 11 fuels a revolt that spreads throughout the other districts. In order to squash the rebellion the Capitol changes the rules for the next Hunger Games, punishing Peeta and Katniss far more than they could have imagined. The plot twists are so unexpected and imaginative, making this sequel as good if not better than the first book. Peeta becomes a brilliant character, taking risks disguised as kindness. Does District 13 still exist underground? We get some glimpses that show us all is not as it seems. Katniss becomes the icon of hope in the districts. But will she have to become a martyr to save countless others? My only complaint is that I have to wait so long for the third book.
Some ideas for discussing with teens:
Talk about the stark different in the frivolity of the Capitol with their tattoos, feather and tinted skin compared to the people starving in the districts. Compare that to the world we live in.
Talk about the wedding/mockingjay dress Katniss’s designer made for her. Talk about Cinna’s sacrifice and how art can speak louder than words.
Should Peeta have lied about Katniss being pregnant?
Talk about risking your life to make life better for others. Peeta’s gesture to share with the families of District 11 helps to start a revolt. Would you take the risks Katniss takes?
Talk about what it would mean if Katniss were a martyr.
Who would you choose, Gale or Peeta?
What are your theories about District 13?
Thomas awakes in a dark moving box. He doesn’t know where he is and all of his memories are gone. The box opens up into a glade with strange teenagers. They must run the maze and find a way to escape. They have no idea who is doing this to them or why. The boys set up a farm-like community in the center of the maze where they survive while others called “runners” try to solve the maze and get everyone home. Each night the maze doors close as the electronic walls shift and change. Frightening animal/machine monsters called grievers patrol the maze corridors each night making certain death for anyone who gets stuck out there after the doors close. Thomas has a strong urge to run the mazes and memorials are just beyond his grasp. One day a girl is sent up to the maze. She and Thomas share a talent. But does this girl signal the end or the beginning?
I had trouble putting this book down! It is a fast paced read. Teens that like books full of action will enjoy this one! I have one complaint. Chuck seems so annoying and then all the sudden he’s Thomas’s symbol for all that’s good in the world. There needed to be a moment or event that linked the two. The change in attitude didn’t work for me. The slang reminded my of Battlestar Galactica and the use of “frak” instead of the other four-lettered “f word.” I can’t decide if I liked that or not.
Some ideas for discussing with teens:
Talk about the glader’s made up slang. Talk about how teens today use slang.
Talk about how the teens keep order by banishing people into the maze.
The teens are treated like lab rats. Who has the right to do this? Do humans have a right to do this to animals?
Is it justified in a time of apocalypse to help the human race survive?
Each teen has a purpose that helps the group survive. Which job would you want?
What do you think it means for the gladers to have a B team in another maze?
Stargazer, the #2 book in Claudia Gray’s Evernight series starts with plenty of pining. Bianca is missing Lucas terribly. She is constantly plotting to meet him again. Lucas’s Black Cross family still has no idea she is a vampire, a precarious situation that could get ugly very fast. The beginning made me lose interest a little. I became tired of all the longing. However, when the ghosts started showing up and taking a big interest in Bianca, I was pulled right back in. The ghosts, or wraiths, as they are called in the book, want Bianca. She has many terrifying encounters with them before we find out why. This part of the plot is well written and woven in a way that made me want to keep reading. We also learn more about Balthazar’s background, which is very interesting. He will need to form an alliance with Lucas in order to save his sister from the clutches of Black Cross. We also find out why Bianca has a special affinity for the stars.
Some ideas for discussing with teens:
Did Claudia’s parents have the right to lie to her about her origins?
Talk about the wraiths. What do you think they are? What do they represent?
Why do you think Miss Bethany really is allowing humans at Evernight?
Lucas says he will never become a vampire for Bianca, even thought he is only one bite away. Talk about the differences between this exchange and Bella’s willingness to join Edward as a vampire. What does this say about these two very different characters?
Balthazar wishes he had died with his parents and not been made a vampire. Talk about whether human life or vampire immortality is more appealing.
My 10-year-old daughter loved Twilight, do you have anything like that for her? This is a recent challenge that often has me at a total loss. (First of all, why are 10-year-olds reading Twilight? The content is a little mature for that audience.) Most of the other vampire or supernatural romance books that are Twilight-ish have content aimed at a much more mature audience. But if you do let your 10-year-olds read Twilight, Aprilynne Pike’s Wings is a good read for them. Sex is mentioned in a casual non-reproductive way, although never actually takes place.
Laurel is an unusual girl. She can only eat fruits and vegetables and she does not have a pulse. However, she is very much alive and very healthy. Her parents live a holistic lifestyle, so her unusual tendencies go unnoticed. She has just moved to a new town and school and after years of home schooling she attends high school. An over friendly boy, David becomes her new best friend. David can be compared to Twilight’s Edward in that he is both gorgeous and almost obsessively devoted to Laurel. Laurel discovers a bump on her back that grows into a beautiful wing-like blossom. She is terrified and tries to hide it. During a visit to the woods near her former home, Laurel meets a gorgeous stranger named Tamani and discovers she is not human at all but a faerie. She is more plant than human. She must convince her mother not to sell the land that has been in her family for generations in order to save the faerie realm. Many girls growing up will be able to indentify with the body changes and the fear that can surround them. I don’t mean that the girls will sprout wings, but pubescent changes none the less. The writing is ok, not spectacular, but fans of supernatural romance will love it.
Wings is the first book in a series of four. No word at this time on when the next installment will be released. According to Pike’s website, Disney purchased the movie rights to Wings. Miley Cyrus may star in the film.
Ideas for discussing with teens:
Why do you think supernatural romance is so popular right now?
Does David seem realistic? Compare him with Edward Cullen.
Should Laurel choose David or the male faerie, Tamani?
If you were a friend in David’s circle, how would you react to Laurel?
Laurel cannot get pregnant by traditional means. So what will sex mean for her?