I covered the first book of The Hunger Games trilogy a few months ago, and I decided to write on Catching Fire this time. If you have not read The Hunger Games, this blog will be FULL OF SPOILERS from the end of the first book. You have been warned!
Last we left our main characters, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark; they won the Hunger Games and were on their way home to District Twelve. Hopefully you read the book, but if you haven’t then that first sentence is a major spoiler. 😉 However, if you read it then you know that Katniss and Peeta were told that if the two tributes from the same district were still alive in the end, they could both win. However, when they were the last two tributes left, the Head Gamemaker, Seneca Crane, changed the rules again and said only one was allowed to win. So, in a stubborn and not so thought-out plan, Katniss grabs the Nightlock berries and gives some to Peeta and they decide to suicide so neither would win, which means no winner of the Hunger Games that year. Which the people of the Capitol would hate as the Capitol has a big fondness for the winning Tributes from each year. So, just as the berries are about to touch their lips, the Head Gamemaker announces Peeta Mellark and Katniss Everdeen the winners of the 74th Hunger Games.
What happens after them winning is a whirlwind of interviews where Katniss finds out that President Coriolanus Snow is not happy with her little stunt and Haymitch (their mentor) tells her that she has to prove to Snow that the reason she did it was because she was so in love with Peeta. Once they are on their train back to District Twelve, Katniss pretty much tells Peeta that it was all a show for the games and that she really didn’t know what her feelings were. Mostly due to her having some feelings for a boy, Gale, back at home. That’s the end of the first book recap.
Catching Fire opens much like the first book with Katniss out hunting, Gale no longer comes with her as he has to work now. Since Gale is over the tribute age and is the head of his family, he has to make any kind of stable money by working in the mines. So, Katniss hunts to keep both his family and her family fed now. Though now it’s more to feed his family since winning the 74th Hunger Games, she now has a different life. Her family was moved to the Victor’s village and they have their own house now. She receives an amount of winnings every month for the rest of her life, so they will never starve anymore. Primrose and her mother now have a pseudo hospital in their house and both are working as the district’s doctors for people who can’t afford going to the actual healers.
The day is a special day as that morning marks their Victory Tour, where Peeta and Katniss would be going to each District, touring them, and then ends up in the capitol. The Victory Tour takes place six months after the last games, so it reminds the people of Panem about the Hunger Games, and so they will never forget. But I mean honestly, who could forget about a horrific event like the games anyway, especially as they happen annually. Katniss and Peeta have not spoken to each other since the last train ride, or if they had they would speak small amounts here and there, mostly just greetings. When both go to wake up their mentor Haymitch is when they see each other again and it’s obvious that they need to have some warming up to each other again because they have to “play their parts” as the couple in love yet again.
Thankfully once they are on the train and they spend more time together, they were able to fall back into their rhythm that they had in the first Games. Snow had made a visit to Katniss the Victory Tour and tells her that the Districts are starting to revolt, and the only way to squash the rebellion that she inadvertently started, she had to prove to him that she did it out of love. If she was able to prove it to Snow, then maybe the rest of the Districts would realize that she hadn’t meant it in anyway other than she couldn’t live without Peeta.
However, they make a mistake and when they go to District Eleven, where Rue and Thresh were from, Katniss at first has a hard time talking and Peeta steps up to talk, he says that in order to help out he wants to give Rue and Thresh’s families one month of their winnings every year for the rest of their lives. Then Katniss is able to speak and she thanks both Thresh and Rue for saving her in the arena, and to the people of District Eleven for the times they sent bread in the arena. Then just as they are about to finish the ceremony, they hear Rue’s four-note mockingjay tune. Then every person in the crowd presses the three middle fingers of their left against their lips and extends them to Katniss. Which is what Katniss did as a goodbye to Rue, and if she hadn’t known what was going on in the other Districts, Katniss would have been moved to tears.
Suddenly Katniss and Peeta are pushed into the building and just as the doors are about to close, they hear a single gun-shot fired at the man who started the tune. Katniss then has to tell Peeta and Haymitch what she had spoken to Snow about, which changes their whole strategy now going into the other Districts and Capitol. They continue to play the lovers, but by the time they come close to the Capitol, it’s obvious they were going to have to step up their game, and when they are interviewed by Caesar Flickerman once again, Peeta “proposes” to Katniss and now they are engaged. Of course, this makes all the citizens of the Capitol go crazy, but when Katniss sees Snow at their Victory Tour end gala, she asks if it was enough and he shakes his head no. She also meets the new Head Gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensbee, who took over the job after Seneca Crane was “fired.” Her and Plutarch have a small conversation and he sort of spills that Crane was killed for his decision to let both Peeta and Katniss win in the last games. He also gives her a hint about the arena for the Quarter Quell when he shows her his watch face which has the image of a Mockingjay on it.
When they return to District Twelve, life returns mostly to normal, Katniss goes to see her friend Madge who is the Mayor’s daughter and she witnesses an uprising in District 8. She also meets two refugees, Bonnie and Twill, on one of her hunting trips. The two girls are on their way to District Thirteen, which Katniss says that the District is no longer there, and they tell her about their theory that the people of the District live underneath the surface and are actually still alive. This sticks with Katniss, but she doesn’t really think about it after she leaves them in the woods. As she’s returning, she hears the hum of electricity and notices that the fence that always had to electricity was not full of it. She twists her ankle while falling out of a tree to get back over the fence and when she gets home, she is told that the new head Peacekeeper wants her to know that the fence will now always be electrified.
With the arrival of the new head Peacekeeper the District that was usually lax on rules suddenly everyone has to follow the rules. The Hobb, which was a trading place, was now shut down and burned and when Gale and Katniss go on a hunting trip, he gets caught taking a pheasant to someone in town. He is then strapped and whipped for his transgression. Katniss intervenes and almost dies because intervening is punishable by death. If it wasn’t for Haymitch and Peeta also standing up, she would have been shot. They get him back to her mother and Prim, and they begin to heal him. Once he is healed, and Katniss is finally feeling like things will go back to normal, the announcement for the 75th Hunger Games is made.
Every 25 years of the games they hold special games, called the Quarter Quell. In the 25th Hunger Games, the citizens of the districts had to vote on who would compete in the Hunger Games as a way of reminding the rebels that they were responsible for the Hunger Games, and it was their fault that their children died in the Games every year. This also gave the districts a chance to either get rid of their unwanted or to up their chances of winning the Hunger Games. The victor is unknown. In the 50th Hunger Games, the amounts of Tributes were doubled, so the normal 24 tributes were upped to 48. This was the games where Haymitch won, making him the second victor from District Twelve. This year marked the 75th Hunger Games and the announcement came that the Tributes would be selected from the existing pool of Victors from the games beforehand. So, because there were only three of the four Victors from District Twelve were still alive, and only one female victor alive, that meant that Katniss would be going into the games again automatically. And of course, that also means that either Peeta or Haymitch will also be going back into the Games.
They decide that they will train for the Games, and get Haymitch in fighting shape, as he had been drinking for way too long and was in no shape to go back into the games. Katniss also makes a deal with Haymitch that no matter what, this time they would focus on Peeta surviving which meant that she was asking Haymitch to volunteer if Peeta’s name is called at the reaping. Haymitch agrees with her and makes the promise. When the reaping comes, everyone in Twelve is there and the whole District is in worse moods than they usually would be. Effie is having a hard time keeping it together when she has to call Katniss’ name for the Tributes. Then comes time for the guys and Effie pulls the name out, and she sort of smiles when reading Haymitch’s name. However, Katniss realizes what is going to happen right before it does, and before Haymitch’s name is fully said, Peeta volunteers and Tribute.
The second book of the Hunger Games is just as fast paced and addicting as the first. It’s rare to me when a second book in a series lives up to the hype of the first. Much like with movies in my opinion, usually the sequel is lacking in some parts. However, this sequel is just as good as the first in my opinion. I remember tearing through this book at a crazy fast speed. Suzanne Collins was able to deliver the same tone and fast paced writing as she did with Hunger Games. I remember reading that they would be going back into the games, and crying right alongside Katniss when she found out. I feel like when an author can make someone cry just from the tone of the book and from the emotion of the character, I always feel like that’s a great author.
What I loved about the second book is getting to meet someone of the other victors from the previous games, and getting to see what other Games would be like. I loved the tone of the whole book as Katniss is once again thrust into the spotlight of the Capitol and thrust back into the games. There is so many things that happen to her again in the 75th Games that you are constantly on the edge of your seat reading. She makes friendships this time, whereas the last time she stuck to herself, and she is with Peeta the entire time so, it’s nice to see their relationship grow as well. She also is much more focused on keeping Peeta alive this time and it’s a shift in her character as you see her develop more trust and friendship with him, so her rough exterior is melted more this time around. It’s just a nice character progression, and not only in her, but in Peeta as well. It’s just easier to see in Katniss’ character as the book is written in her point of view.
If you’re interested in reading Catching Fire, we have it and the rest of the series for loan here at the Library or in our Network of libraries.