- "At some point, you have to stop running and turn around and face whoever wants you dead. The hard thing is finding the courage to do it."
- ―Katniss Everdeen[src]
Catching Fire is the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. It is the sequel to the 2008 bestseller The Hunger Games. The book continues the story of Katniss Everdeen and the fictional, futuristic nation of Panem.
The book was released on September 1, 2009, and was later released in Kindle and audiobook format. The book had an initial print run of 350,000 copies. Advance reading copies were available at BookExpo America in New York City, and were sent out to some booksellers, and offered as prizes in Scholastic's "How Would You Survive" writing contest in May 2009. Major themes include survival, government control, rebellion and interdependence versus independence.
Catching Fire has received mainly positive reviews. Reviewers praised the prose, the ending, and how Katniss became more sophisticated.
- Katniss Everdeen — She returns for the second installment as the narrator and the main character, facing new challenges which involve painstakingly difficult decisions to be made. In order to prove her desperate action at the end of the 74th Hunger Games was triggered by mindless love as opposed to rebellion against The Capitol, she is forced to convince the nation of her undying love for Peeta. Unfortunately, she ultimately falls short of President Snow's expectations. When she is forced to compete in the 75th Hunger Games (also known as the 3rd Quarter Quell), Cinna dresses her in a wedding dress for her interview, but because of his alterations, the dress burns off via synthetic fire into a mockingjay outfit. Katniss battles with her devotion to Peeta versus Gale, and remains undecided.
- Peeta Mellark — Katniss' fellow tribute, who has now become her fiancé. Peeta volunteers to take Haymitch's place in the Quarter Quell in an effort to keep Katniss alive. During the Quell, Peeta runs into a force field and his heart stops, but Finnick restarts it with CPR. Peeta is among those captured by the Capitol at the conclusion of the novel.
- Haymitch Abernathy — Katniss and Peeta's mentor in The Hunger Games. He is an alcoholic, and drinks to escape the torture of the Games. He was the only living victor in District 12 before Katniss and Peeta in the 50th Hunger Games, another Quarter Quell. Haymitch is the duo's instructor throughout The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Because he favored Katniss' survival in the first Games, he promises Katniss that he will help Peeta to survive this time.
- Effie Trinket — The escort for the tributes of District 12, Katniss and Peeta. She is very prim and proper, and is known for having a distinct Capitol accent. Manners are very important to her as well as keeping an immaculate schedule. She dresses flamboyantly as she is a resident of The Capitol. She helps organize sponsor gifts alongside Haymitch to send Katniss and Peeta during the Games. At the end of the 75th Hunger Games, Effie is arrested along with Katniss and Peeta's prep teams.
- Gale Hawthorne — Katniss' best friend and hunting partner in District 12. He is nineteen years old, openly expresses his hatred of the Capitol, and wishes to start an uprising as the people of District 8 did. Katniss must pretend that they are cousins to keep him alive, or President Snow could order to have him killed since he suspects that Katniss has feelings for him, not Peeta. Before the Quarter Quell, he is whipped within an inch of his life by the cruel, newly appointed Head Peacekeeper Romulus Thread for poaching a wild turkey.
- President Coriolanus Snow — The President of Panem. He speaks to Katniss face to face for the first time at the beginning of Catching Fire. President Snow is described as having very puffy lips which was most likely from an appearance-altering operation that is very popular in the Capitol. His breath smells slightly of blood, and because of this he wears a genetically-modified white rose in his breast pocket to cover up the smell.
- Finnick Odair — The handsome beau - tribute from District 4. He won the 65th Hunger Games by using a trident and net (District 4's trade is fishing) and his good-looks to win sponsors. Katniss is hesitant to make Finnick her ally at first due to his seemingly shallow and arrogant personality, but he proves to be valuable and altogether trustworthy. Finnick is a key person in the rebellion, as revealed to Katniss in the hovercraft at the end of the book.
- Plutarch Heavensbee — Plutarch was the Head Gamemaker of the 75th Hunger Games. During Katniss' Victory Tour, he tipped her off that the Arena was a clock, but didn't inform her until the last chapter. Katniss later learns that he was part of a secret group whose main objective was to take down the Capitol.
- Mags — The female tribute from District 4, and Finnick's mentor during the 65th Hunger Games. She is around 80 years old and volunteers to take the place of a young woman, Annie Cresta, to spare her from the Games. Mags is one of the first people Katniss wants for an ally, along with Beetee and Wiress, due to her overall kind personality. Katniss observed that she can make a fishing hook out of anything. While the group are trying to escape poison fog, Mags gives herself up without question so Finnick can carry a wounded Peeta to safety, and so Katniss can keep going.
- Johanna Mason — The female tribute from District 7. She won an earlier Hunger Games by pretending she was a weakling until there were only a handful of tributes left, then showing that she could kill viciously. Katniss remembers watching these Games herself, so Johanna is fairly young. Johanna is captured by the Capitol at the end, along with Peeta and Enobaria.
- Beetee — The male tribute from District 3. Also known as "Volts," he is extremely intelligent and a crafty inventor. He notices a soft spot in the Capitol's forcefield surrounding the Gamemakers, and points this out to Katniss in training. This convinces Katniss that Beetee and Wiress would make good allies. During the Quarter Quell, he uses a special wire he designed to blow up the arena's forcefield. Beetee joins Katniss at the end on the way to District 13.
- Wiress — The female tribute from District 3. Due to the fact that she often doesn't finish her sentences, Johanna refers to her as "Nuts." Beetee often finishes them for her as the two are good friends, thus the joke "Nuts and Volts." However, like Beetee, she is also very intelligent, and is able to figure out that the Quarter Quell arena behaves like a clock, with different challenges at appearing at a certain time and place on the face of the clock. During the games, she is killed by the male tribute from District 1, Gloss, who slits her throat.
- Enobaria — The female tribute from District 2. She is famous for ripping a tribute's throat out with her teeth during the Games that she won. She is a threat to Katniss in the arena, but is later captured by the Capitol along with Peeta and Johanna.
- Cinna — Katniss' stylist, who continues to help Katniss outsmart the Capitol with his sly designs. During the Quarter Quell, he transforms Katniss' wedding dress into a symbol of resistance, the mockingjay. While Katniss is in the glass tube going into the arena, Cinna is beaten and dragged out of the room by three Peacekeepers.
- Darius — Friendly, red-headed Peacekeeper from District 12. He is turned into an Avox and made to serve Katniss and Peeta during the Quell because he attempted to stop Gale's whipping after 20 lashes.
- Seneca Crane — Former Head Gamemaker. He is killed for allowing Katniss and Peeta to get away with the berry suicide pact. He then was killed by Snow with nightlock. President Snow implies that he was killed for his lack of foresight.
- Romulus Thread — A ruthless Peacekeeper who replaced Cray as the Head Peacekeeper of District 12. He is cruel and unyielding, presumably sent to District 12 specifically to control the "rebellious" Victors of the 74th Hunger Games, Peeta and Katniss. Thread flogged Gale nearly to death as punishment for poaching and oversaw the burning of the Hob.
- Primrose Everdeen— Prim helps her mother with patients and goes continues with her schooling. She moved to her new house in the Victor's Village with her mother and Katniss. Prim was one of the people President Snow threatened to kill if Katniss didn't prove that she was in love with Peeta and that the suicide threat was an act of love, not rebellion. When Katniss was stuck in the woods by the re-electrifying of the fence, the Peacekeepers went to her house presumably question Prim and her mother and to catch Katniss out of bound. The Capitol had arranged for a showy wedding to Peeta, complete with a contest to decide her wedding dress, decided by voting residents of the Capitol. Prim makes Katniss promise not to try on any dresses until she got home from school. After Katniss was reaped for the 75th Hunger Games, being the only living female Victor from District 12, Katniss was unable to say goodbye to Prim, being instantly whisked away with Peeta to the train. When District 12 is bombed, Gale saves Prim and her mother.
"Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance, Peeta has turned his back on her completely, and there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol — a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create."
"Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying."
Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark both survived the Hunger Games. Both returned home wanting and expecting a somewhat peaceful future. But the Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.
When rumors of a rebellion that she started reach Katniss' ears, everything changes. Now, as Peeta and Katniss are forced to visit the districts on the mandatory Victory Tour, everything can and will go wrong—if Katniss and Peeta cannot pull off their act as two madly-in-love teenagers. If they fail, both their families and their entire district could be in danger of President Snow's wrath.
Part One, The Spark
Katniss Everdeen is now back in District 12 living in the Victors' Village with her mother, Prim, and neighbors Peeta Mellark and Haymitch Abernathy. Soon they will both have to leave home again for the Victory Tour where the winners of the previous Hunger Games travel to each district and make various appearances and public speeches. Katniss expected that when she returned home everything would be the same, but now her best friend, Gale, seems farther away than ever now that he works in District 12's mines twelve full hours a day, and with the Victory Tour coming up, Katniss has more on her mind than ever. During much of the day, Katniss is bored with her new life because now, she has everything: money, a good home, and a constant supply of food. One day after Katniss returns home from hunting game outside of the District, an unexpected visitor appears, President Snow, the president of Panem. He explains to Katniss that during the last Hunger Games when she tried to commit suicide with Peeta by eating poisonous nightlock berries, she ignited a possible uprising in the districts. President Snow and Katniss have a lengthy conversation about the fact that if she doesn't convince the districts that she made the decision out of temporary lovesickness, then he would personally make sure she suffers.
Katniss, now convinced she has started a fire she cannot control, tries her best to convince everyone that she and Peeta are madly in love. When she and Peeta finally set off for the Victory Tour, everything is going smoothly, and Peeta has agreed with Katniss that outside of being star-crossed lovers, they should try to be friends. When the tour arrives at their first destination, District 11, Katniss gets to meet the families of Thresh and Rue (two tributes who were killed by the Careers in the 74th Hunger Games). When it is time for the public speech to begin, Katniss thanks the people of District 11 for their contributions to her during the Hunger Games and is about to leave when one of Rue's siblings gives her such a look that Katniss comes back quickly to make one final speech. Katniss tells everyone about the story of how Thresh spared her life, and how Rue became a valued ally during the Games. After her speech, an old man whistles her and Rue's four-note tune that meant they were safe, and the crowd simultaneously does a traditional District 12 gesture to show their thanks to Katniss. Right after Katniss finishes her speech, she realizes she forgot something, so she goes back to retrieve it. There, she sees a Peacekeeper shoot the man who whistled in the head.
Afterwards, Katniss and Peeta confess what had happened to Haymitch. He tells Katniss to explain to Peeta what is going on, so Katniss tells Peeta everything about President Snow, the threat of uprisings, and how they are all in jeopardy if something doesn't change soon. Peeta becomes angry and tells Katniss and Haymitch to stop keeping secrets from him, then leaves.
The rest of Victory Tour fell into a routine (giving speeches, eating fancy dinners, riding on the train, and sleeping). Finally, Katniss and the crew get to the Capitol. That night, when she and Peeta go to get interviewed by Caesar, Peeta performs a fake proposal to Katniss which she accepts. Caesar is beside himself, the audience is hysterical, and the crowds in the districts are overflowing with happiness. President Snow then makes an unexpected appearance to congratulate the newly engaged couple. Katniss then makes a discreet gesture to President Snow to ask him if she was convincing enough to which he replies "no" with an almost imperceptible shake of the head. Katniss now knows her life is in constant danger, but despite that, she feels somewhat relieved, and carries on like nothing ever happened.
That night, Katniss has dinner in President Snows' mansion and feasts like never before. Many Capitol citizens drank something that made them vomit so they could eat more. Soon it's time to go and Katniss and Peeta are on their way back to District 12. Katniss suffers from terrifying nightmares throughout the night on the train, so Peeta sleeps in her bed to calm her and keep her company. Finally they get back to District 12 and a huge party is thrown for them. While in the mayor's home, Katniss sees on the mayor's television that there is an uprising going on in District 8. Katniss arranges a secret meeting with Gale, at which Gale confesses his love for her but she says that she does not have those feelings for him. Gale gets angry and disappointed but before he leaves Katniss accidentally tells him there was a rebellion in District 8. Gale then says that they could have a rebellion in District 12 as well, and he runs off to spread the news. Katniss then goes to Peeta to ask him if he would run away with her and he says yes, but while they are discussing the plans, they see that Gale is being violently whipped in the square by an unfamiliar man.
Katniss steps in to stop the man, whose name is Romulus Thread, but he gives her a lash across the face. Katniss gets severely hurt but Haymitch and Peeta step in to save her. Eventually the people of District 12 (including many who frequent the Hob), convince Thread to stop whipping Gale. As soon as he leaves, everyone helps Katniss take Gale to her mother. Katniss' mother tries to soothe the pain by giving him medicine when suddenly Madge, the mayor's daughter, comes with some morphling to help soothe Gale's pain. Later on that night, Katniss says she picks Gale, but is still torn between Peeta and Gale.
The next day, there is a huge blizzard, during which Thread constructs several stockades, an official whipping post, and a gallows, as well as a series of machine gun positions perched on the rooftops in the square. While walking in town, Haymitch, Katniss, and Peeta see these ugly tools of torture, and then the Hob is destroyed by the Peacekeepers. The last thing Katniss notices when leaving the square is that she does not recognize even one of the Peacekeepers' faces.
Katniss realizes that she cannot stand to be at home, so she goes into the woods and heads to the lake. She sees two Peacekeepers, and before she shoots them, one of them holds up a cracker with a mockingjay on it.
Part Two, The Quell
The two Peacekeepers were actually two young women who had run away from District Eight. Their names were Bonnie and Twill, and brought news to Katniss about the uprising in their district, the one that made Peacekeeper uniforms which explains why they are wearing the uniforms. They said they were headed to District 13 which, to Katniss, was unbelievable. They believed that people lived underground in District 13. Bonnie and Twill explain to Katniss that they know District 13 exists because the Capitol reuses old footage of District 13 whenever it is shown on TV, as they believe that they always see the same bird in the same place. This leads Katniss to wonder what the district currently looks like.
She gives the women her food supplies and shows them how to hunt. When the evening comes, they leave her and she returns to the village. However she realizes that the fence to the district is now electrified and she is unable to enter the village through her normal passage. She decides she needs to go over the fence, and searches for the right tree. She climbs up and over and must jump from 25 feet in the air. She lands, and hurts her tailbone and heel. She returns home and tells her mother and Prim that her slipping on some ice caused her injuries, but there are two peacekeepers there waiting for her. They are surprised to see her, because they know she was in the forest and believed she would be trapped on the other side of the fence.
They were waiting for her not to show up so they can bring her family in for questioning. Luckily, Haymitch, Peeta and Prim were able to go along with a story to cover for her. After the Peacekeepers leave, Katniss' mother examines her broken foot, and Peeta stays with her through the night after she asked him to stay. She is in bed for the winter, while Peeta keeps her company and they enter information in her mothers' medicinal and edible plant book, with pictures that Peeta is drawing.
Once she is healed, her prep team comes in to help her with her wedding fashion shoot, along with Cinna. She listens to them speak of how they have not had shrimp in the Capitol for weeks and realizes that other districts are rebelling. The next day, she speaks to Haymitch and he tells her that because District 12 is so small, everyone would need to join in for them to overthrow the Peacekeepers and the Capitol. The same day, Prim comes home and tells everyone that there is a mandatory television scheduling that night, which she believes is the footage from the wedding fashion shoot.
Prim is partially correct, but there is also another big announcement. President Snow appears with a wooden box, and reminds the audience of the dark days and when the Hunger Games were born. He also states that every 25 years, the anniversary of the Hunger Games is marked by a Quarter Quell, a glorified version of the Games. He talks about the first Quell, when every district was made to vote on who was sent to the Hunger Games. In the second Quell, every district was forced to send twice as many tributes into the Hunger Games. The wooden box holds the information for the 3rd Quarter Quell. Snow pulls out an envelope and states that the male and female tributes will be reaped from the existing pool of victors. Since District 12 has only three winners, Peeta, Haymitch, and Katniss, Katniss knows that she is now going to be forced to go back to the Hunger Games.
She runs out of the house and into a basement of an empty house to scream and cry. She makes her way to Haymitch where he already tells her Peeta has come to visit him, and told him that Peeta wants to go back into the arena to protect Katniss. She tells Haymitch that whatever they do, she wants Haymitch to make sure Peeta comes back alive. She and Haymitch get drunk and the next afternoon, she goes back to Haymitch's house where Peeta has emptied all of his liquor and has threatened to turn them or anyone who gives them alcohol in. He tells them that they will be training for the Quarter Quell because two people will come back alive, and they begin to work out and also study footage of past winners to see their competition.
On the day of the reaping, Katniss has decided to say goodbye to Gale, to tell him how much he means to her. The reaping has Katniss as only choice for the female competitor, and the male competitor chosen is Haymitch; however, Peeta volunteers to take his place. Instead of being able to tell their families goodbye, they are brought directly to the train and leave for the Capitol.
Once at the Capitol, they eat and find out who the competitors from the other districts are. That night, after Katniss is woken from a nightmare, she goes to see Peeta. The two embrace and are interrupted by a waiter bringing in warm milk. They decide to watch more videos and come across Haymitch's victory from the 2nd Quarter Quell which they have not seen. Katniss recognizes the name Maysilee Donner as her mother's friend, and realizes that she was a twin to Katniss' friend Madge's mother. She also sees her mother crying and embracing Maysilee when she is called. Katniss also sees Haymitch being called up. She notes that he was powerful looking, and even somewhat handsome.
Haymitch allied with Maysilee and he broke through the foliage surrounding one end of the arena; he discovered the force field surrounding the arena to prevent the tributes from escaping. He wished to investigate further but Maysilee did not so the two tributes parted ways. Just after the two broke off their alliance, Maysilee was killed by a flock of birds that pierced her throat and Haymitch stayed with her until she died, holding her hand.
Haymitch became one of the last two remaining tributes, the other being a female Career tribute. The girl pursued Haymitch to the edge of the arena where the force field was located. Both tributes were wounded, but Haymitch more so; the female tribute attempted to win the Games by outlasting Haymitch. However, Haymitch used the force field during the final fight when his adversary threw her ax at him; it was repelled back by the field and killed her. Haymitch was crowned victor of the 50th Hunger Games. However, President Snow, the leader of the Capitol, was furious about Haymitch's trick with the force field, which Katniss would later describe as being "almost as bad as the berries." Katniss wonders what the Capitol did to punish Haymitch.
Once they arrive, they are ushered to prepare for the Opening Ceremonies. Right before the ceremony, Finnick Odair from District 4 hits on Katniss, asking her to divulge her secrets but she brushes him away. After the ceremony, Johanna Mason from District 7 walks by Katniss naked. Katniss does not understand why everyone is acting weird until Peeta explains that to the Capitol, she is "pure" and they are trying to get under her skin, which angers her.
They go to the rooms where she sees the Avox girl, Lavinia, from the 74th Hunger Games, and also a new Avox, which turns out to be Darius from District 12, who tried to stop Thread from whipping Gale. He, like all Avoxes, was forced to suffer getting his tongue cut out. She is warned by Haymitch not to say anything because it would mean punishment for Darius. Later, Haymitch tells them that they must form alliances this year and make friends. During training, Katniss befriends Wiress and Beetee from District 3, who point out the force field used to separate the Gamemakers from the tributes. Katniss displays her archery skills and is wanted by many to be in an alliance. In their solo performances for the Gamemakers, both Peeta and Katniss are unsure of what to do. Peeta goes first, and after a long wait Katniss goes. She doesn't know what Peeta did, but she can tell that the Gamemakers are angry. She sees Plutarch Heavensbee, the new Head Gamemaker, and has an idea. She ties a noose to a dummy and with berry juice writes the name "Seneca Crane," the former Head Gamemaker during Katniss' Hunger Games, who let both Katniss and Peeta live. He was executed by orders of President Snow.
Afterwards, she finds out that Peeta made a drawing of Rue with the flowers on the ground which could not be washed away, and was covered by the Gamemakers. Haymitch is not happy because now they have made enemies. The scores are shown, and Katniss wonders to Cinna if anyone has ever received a 0. But instead, she and Peeta both receive perfect 12s. Haymitch explains that this was done to make sure the other tributes are gunning for the both of them. Peeta and Katniss stay together that night, and Katniss has come to accept her death, which she knows will be the spark for the rebellion. That night, both do not have nightmares. The following day, they spend the entire day and night together alone on the roof.
The day of the interview, the prep team comes into Katniss' room and find her and Peeta together. Peeta leaves and as the prep team starts to cry, they leave one by one until Venia is left. She then says goodbye Katniss and Cinna comes in with her wardrobe, specifically chosen by President Snow, the chosen wedding gown from the photo shoot. She notes to Cinna that it's heavier than before, but he explains that he had to do some alterations and tells her do not lift her arms until she twirls on television.
The interview atmosphere is different from the previous year. The tributes are speaking out against the Capitol, asking why President Snow is not stopping this if he is great and powerful. The second last tribute to speak is Katniss, who comes on stage with the dress on, apologizing to the crowd for not letting them see her get married. She twirls and raises her arms and the wedding dress burns away to reveal a different dress underneath. When she looks towards a television, she realizes that Cinna has turned her into a mockingjay.
Although Cesear knows what the dress represents, they play it off as the bird on Katniss' token. Next comes Peeta, the last tribute to speak. He tells the audience that he and Katniss are already married, and tells them that Katniss is pregnant. This drives the audience to madness and hysteria. As Peeta makes his way back to the other tributes, he holds Katniss' hands amidst the chaos, and in turn she grabs the hand (stump from what is left) of Chaff who is next to her, and then all the tributes join hands before the Capitol has time to turn the cameras off, and Katniss knows that this, the joining of unity on the stage, has now rippled into the districts and will stir the rebellion even more. Effie was forced to leave without saying goodbye to Peeta and Katniss, and they say their goodbyes to Haymitch. He tells them to stay alive, and to always remember who the real enemy is.
Getting ready for the ceremonies, she is in the room with Cinna when she steps on the plate to be taken to the arena, when she is frozen in place and can't move. She looks at Cinna who just shakes his head in confusion, when three peacekeepers enter the room, who then arrest, beat him into submission and drag him out of the room. A frozen Katniss watches in horror, but then is transported to the arena.
The plate leaves her in the middle of blue water, which she realizes "is no place for a girl on fire."
Part Three, The Enemy
When the gong sounds, Katniss dives into the water and swims to shore, noting that she feels very light and very fast. First to arrive, she heads for the weapons, as she knows the Careers would do. She grabs a bow and arrows, and turns when she hears a noise, poised to kill. It's Finnick with his trident raised. She sees his gold bracelet which once belonged to Haymitch and realizes that this was his way of telling her to form an alliance. Finnick yells for her to duck, and spears a man from District 5 with the trident. They search the other items and notice that it only contains weapons, no food etc. The Careers are now making their way to shore. Katniss tries to shoot one, but misses and shoots Gloss in the calf. She then aims for Brutus who is charging towards her but he manages to stop it with his belt before it punctures his liver. She realizes that Peeta is still on the metal plate and goes to retrieve him, but Finnick offers to do it. Katniss notices Mags jump into the water and doggy paddle to shore. When Peeta and Finnick are on shore, Mags explains to Finnick (who is apparently the only person who understands her) that the belts on their outfits are flotation devices.
From the beach, they run into a jungle. Finnick carries Mags and Peeta leads the way. After their first stop, Katniss climbs the trees to get a look and sees that there are many bodies in the water and on the beach, but she can't tell who they are.
As they are walking, searching for drinkable water, she notices a shimmering square and realizes that it is a force field surrounding the arena. Before she can stop him, Peeta walks into it and is repelled back, knocking Mags and Finnick to the ground. Peeta is not breathing. Panicked, Katniss begins to slap him but his heart has stopped. Finnick offers to help by beginning CPR. She doesn't realize what he is doing at first and begins fighting him, but he slaps her away and Peeta eventually is resuscitated. Peeta asks Katniss how she recognized the force field. She does not want to let them know she can spot them visually, because the Gamemakers might do something to retaliate, so she tells them she heard it. Afterwards, they realize that they must move on and after a while, Katniss climbs a tree to see that the arena is actually a perfect circle. She tells them that there is a wheel in the center and that she did not see any water, but perhaps there will be streams within the jungle.
After resting, Katniss offers to hunt. She notices animals she doesn't recognize and shoots what she names a tree rat. She notices its nose is wet, which means there must be water nearby but she cannot locate it. She brings the food back to the camp where Peeta has the idea to throw the food into the force field to cook it. The horns blare, announcing the fallen from the first day of the Games: the male from District 5, killed by Finnick, the male from District 6, Cecelia and Woof from District 8, both tributes from District 9, the District 10 female, both tributes from District 10, and Seeder from District 11.
Then a silver parachute floats down and Peeta opens it to reveal a small metal pipe, which no one can identify. Knowing that Haymitch would never send anything unless it was life-saving, Katniss stops to think. In frustration, she thinks of her family and it comes to her: a spile, which could be inserted into a tree like a tap, to reveal sap. These trees, however, contain water, which the group drinks. Later, Finnick takes first watch as the others sleep. Katniss wakes to gongs, which Peeta and Mags sleep through. Finnick counts 12 gongs, and sees lightning in the distance. After an hour, the lightning stops and rain begins. She hears the cannons indicating another death of a tribute. She notices fog in the distance, and realizes it's an unnatural fog created by the Gamemakers. The mist from the fog causes blisters where it touches. When Peeta stumbles, she notices it also attacks the nerves, as his face droops and his legs stop working. Finnick agrees to carry Peeta if Katniss can carry Mags, which she agrees to. But after a while, Katniss can not carry Mags anymore as her legs become paralyzed. Finnick comes back and tells Katniss he cannot carry them both. Mags kisses Finnick and runs into the fog, convulsing and dying. The three continue on, away from the fog. After not able to move any further, due to exhaustion, Katniss turns to the fog to watch it and realizes that it stops as if meeting an invisible wall. The fog then disappears. Katniss finds the body of salt water from the beginning of the Games, which at first burns, but she realizes that the water forces the poison from the fog out of her body. She slowly puts her limbs into the water and Peeta does the same. Finnick is too hurt to do it himself, so Peeta and Katniss help him. After regaining their strength, Peeta sets out to get water from a tree nearby. Katniss and Finnick are sitting and Katniss hears the sound of multiple monkeys gathering. She tries to signal Peeta calmly but as Peeta approaches, he glances at the horde of monkeys and they attack. Katniss realizes that they are mutts. After killing many, one aims for Peeta's chest, who is currently unarmed. Katniss tries to block with her body but misses. The insane morphling from District 6 comes out of nowhere and attacks the monkey, getting bitten by the animals. The monkeys retreat. After, Peeta brings the morphling female to the beach and they notice that the bites have punctured a vital organ. They stay with her until she dies.
Later, Katniss asks Haymitch for medicine for the scabs from the poison, which he delivers along with a loaf of bread. While they eat they hear a scream and see a tsunami charge through and although they are far enough away, the water reaches their camp. They hear a cannon fire and know that there are 12 victor tributes left. The trio see three bodies emerge from the pool, and notice that one of them is Johanna Mason. Finnick runs to her and they hug. As Katniss and Peeta figure out what to do, they realize they cannot leave Finnick after all he has done, and go to Johanna. She has Beetee and Wiress with her. Beetee has received a knife in back, while Wiress is spinning in a circle, and all three are covered in red. Johanna explains that when the lightning finished and it began to rain, they thought it was water, but it turned out to be blood. Meanwhile, Wiress starts to spin in circles again, and says "tick tock, tick tock" repeatedly. Johanna yells at Wiress, then pushes her to the ground, and Katniss tells her to give Wiress a break, which Johanna replies to by also pushing Katniss down as well.
Later during first watch, Johanna and Katniss talk about Mags and how she died. Also, Katniss asks what she was doing with Wiress and Beetee, and Johanna states that Haymitch told her to bring them to Katniss for an alliance. Later that night, Katniss sees the lightning again, when Wiress restates "tick tock," and Katniss begins to realize the arena is in the shape of a clock. Wiress is relieved because someone understands her, and Katniss quickly explains the situation to the team. She also remembers Plutarch Heavensbee showing her his clock watch and saying, "It begins at midnight," as an image of a mockingjay flashed on the watch face.
They go to the Cornucopia to see if they are correct and are proven to be right. Beetee, starting to feel a little better, tells the group that Wiress is not only very smart, but very intuitive. While drawing up the map of the clock, Katniss realizes that Wiress has stopped singing, and turns with an arrow ready and hits Gloss in the temple, while Johanna buries an axe in Cashmere's chest. As they try to follow the tributes from District 2, the Cornucopia starts to spin fast. Beetee is thrown from the island, and Katniss goes to Wiress' body to retrieve a wire that Beetee wanted desperately.
When they go back to the jungle, they conclude that the jungle sections could have been switched and they will not know until the tidal wave. Also, Katniss starts to realize that everyone is protecting Peeta and wonders if they believe that he can be the leader of the rebellion. At this point she hears Prim screaming and runs towards it, only to find that they sounds are coming from a jabberjay. Finnick runs to Katniss when he hears a scream as well, and runs after it. Katniss follows him through the jungle to another jabberjay screaming in Annie Cresta's voice. Katniss climbs a tree to kill the jabberjay and Finnick is heartbroken. Finnick explains to Katniss that it might not be his Annie, but that jabberjays mimic what they hear, and he wonders in horror where the jabberjays heard the screams. As she starts to hear Gale's voice from a jabberjay, Finnick grabs Katniss' arm and drags her back to the jungle opening where Peeta and Johanna are. Mad that Peeta did not help her, she realizes that Peeta is yelling but she can't hear him and both she and Finnick run straight into an invisible wall. They are trapped in a wedge of the clock, and the jabberjays arrive with their screams of horror for the next hour until the wall disappears. Peeta calms her down by telling her that Prim and the others were not tortured. As the final 8, their families will be interviewed and they cannot do that if the families are dead. Finnick asks Beetee if it's true, and he agrees with Peeta.
Later, Peeta tries to give Katniss a gold locket filled with pictures of Gale, Prim, and her mother as a reminder of all the other people who depend on her. He insists she should survive, rather than him, because if she dies he has nothing to live for. Katniss is overwhelmed, and kisses him with true feeling, like when they were back in the cave, and decides she must still attempt to fulfill her plan. The next day, Katniss asks Peeta to leave the alliance, but he tells her to wait because he believes Beetee has a plan. The plan is to tie Beetee's wire around the lightning tree (which is struck by lightning at 12:00) and run the wire into the ocean, making the beach a conductor to electrocute everything in its path, thanks to the dampness of the tidal wave at 10:00. Katniss and Johanna are in charge of running the wire down to the beach because they are the fastest, however they are attacked by Brutus and Enobaria. Just before the attack, Katniss is knocked out by Johanna, and through her blurred vision, sees Johanna on top of her stabbing her arm, attempting to take out her tracker. Johanna tells her to stay down, and runs off. Brutus later storms in telling Enobaria to leave Katniss because she is 'as good as dead.'
Katniss hears Finnick running but stays quiet so as not to alert him to her whereabouts, since she believes that he and Johanna have betrayed them. She struggles to make her way to the lightning tree and sees Beetee on the ground with a knife and more wire. She sees that he was trying to cut through the forcefield that lies close to the tree. She then realizes that just beyond this forcefield is the real world. At that moment, she hears Peeta calling her name, and because she is so wounded, she does the only thing she can, which is call to him, alerting all enemies to her so Peeta can have a shot at winning.
She collapses after hearing other cannons sound off, and replays Haymitch's last words in her mind: "Remember who the real enemy is," and she realizes he was referring to the Capitol. Realizing that Beetee was trying to blow up the forcefield, she wraps the wire around an arrow and shoots it straight into the flaw in the forcefield at the exact moment when the lightning strikes the tree, blowing up the arena.
She lays there realizing that the Capitol will not let anyone live after this, and that she has just killed Peeta because of it. She sees Plutarch Heavensbee come over to her and close her eyes and she passes out. She awakes in a hospital bed next to Beetee. She searches for Peeta, believing that the Capitol has captured her and planning to kill Peeta to save him from being tortured.
She passes a room and hears Plutarch talking to Finnick and Haymitch about getting someone out of District 4. She opens the door and Haymitch tells her that there was a plan to break them out the minute the Quell was announced. The victors from Districts 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 11 had varying degrees of knowledge about it. Plutarch had been for several years part of a group planning to overthrow the Capitol. He made sure that the wire was among the weapons, as it was to be used to blow up the forcefield. The bread drops in the morning were code for the rescue. The hovercraft is from District 13, which is where they are headed. Upset, she asks why she and Peeta were not informed. Haymitch explains that once the forcefield exploded, she and Peeta would be the prime targets and the less they knew the better, in case of capture. She tells them that Johanna tried to kill her, but Finnick explains that she was removing Katniss' tracker, and that all of victor tributes in those districts have pledged their lives to her and the rebellion; that she is the mockingjay, the symbol of the rebellion.
She realizes that Haymitch never had any plans to keep Peeta alive. He tells her that everyone kept Peeta alive because they knew that if he died she would never keep an alliance with the others. She asks where Peeta is, and Haymitch tells her he was picked up, along with Johanna and Enobaria, by the Capitol. In horror and anger, she attacks Haymitch, scratching his face. Finnick and others strap her down and drug her to keep her calm. Finnick tells her that the Capitol will at least keep Peeta alive to use as bait against Katniss.
Later, Gale visits her. He tells her that after the Games, the Capitol sent bombers to the districts. He explains that he was able to get her family out in time, but District 12 has been destroyed.
Catching Fire received mainly positive reviews from critics. Publishers Weekly wrote, "If this second installment spends too much time recapping events from book one, it doesn't disappoint when it segues into the pulse-pounding action readers have come to expect." Booklist commented on how the "unadorned prose provides an open window to perfect pacing and electrifying world building." A review from The New York Times also gave a positive review, writing, "Collins has done that rare thing. She has written a sequel that improves upon the first book. As a reader, I felt excited and even hopeful: could it be that this series and its characters were actually going somewhere?" and also praised how Katniss became more sophisticated in the book. The Plain Dealer wrote, "The very last sentence of Catching Fire will leave readers gasping. Not to mention primed for part three."
However, not all reviews were positive. The same review from The Plain Dealer became annoyed at how, "after 150 pages of romantic dithering, I was tapping my foot to move on." A review from Entertainment Weekly called the book weaker than the first and wrote, "Katniss pretends to be in love with her sweet-natured Games teammate Peeta Mellark, but she secretly pines for brooding Gale, a childhood friend. Except — why? There's little distinction between the two thinly imagined guys, other than the fact that Peeta has a dopier name. Collins conjures none of the erotic energy that makes Twilight, for instance, so creepily alluring."
In addition, Time magazine named Catching Fire the fourth top fiction book of 2009, while People magazine rated it their eighth Best Book of 2009. It also won Publishers Weekly's Best Book of the Year for 2009 award.
The original red cover depicts a mockingjay in flight in front of a round circle with twelve sections, a symbol of the clock arena.
- ↑ Children's Book Reviews: 6/22/2009. Publishers Weekly (2009-06-22). Retrieved on 2009-06-29.
- ↑ Chipman, Ian. Booklist Catching Fire Review. Booklist. Retrieved on 21 July 2010.
- ↑ Zevin, Gabrielle (October 9, 2009). Constant Craving. The New York Times. Retrieved on 21-07-2010.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Welch, Rollie (September 6, 2009). 'Catching Fire' brings back Suzanne Collins' kindhearted killer: Young Readers. The Plain Dealer. Retrieved on 21 July 2010.
- ↑ Reese, Jennifer (August 28, 2009). Catching Fire (2009). Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 21 July 2010.
- ↑ The Top 10 Everything of 2009. Time (2009-12-08). Retrieved on 2010-01-10.
- ↑ People Magazine's Top Ten Books of 2009. BookGuide (January 2010). Retrieved on November 7, 2010.
- ↑ Grossman, Lev (8 December 2009). Scholastic Catching Fire page. Retrieved on 22 July 2010.