North American first edition cover
|Cover artist||Tim O'Brien|
|Series||The Hunger Games trilogy|
|Publication date||September 1, 2009|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover, Paperback)|
|Dewey Decimal||[Fic] 22|
|LC Classification||PZ7.C6837 Cat 2009|
|Preceded by||The Hunger Games|
Catching Fire is a 2009 science fiction young adult novel by American novelist Suzanne Collins, the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy. As the sequel to the 2008 bestseller The Hunger Games, it continues the story of Katniss Everdeen and the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem. Following the events of the previous novel, a rebellion against the oppressive Capitol has begun, and Katniss and fellow tribute Peeta Mellark are forced to return to the arena in a special edition of the Hunger Games.
The book was first published on September 1, 2009, by Scholastic, in hardcover, and was later released in ebook and audiobook format. A film adaptation of the novel was released on November 22, 2013. Catching Fire has received mostly positive reviews, with reviewers praising Collins' prose, the book's ending, and the development of Katniss's character. According to critics, major themes of the novel include survival, government control, rebellion, and interdependence vs. independence.
After winning the 74th Hunger Games in the previous novel, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark return home to District 12, the poorest sector in the country of Panem. On the day that Katniss and Peeta are to start a "Victory Tour" of the country, President Snow visits unexpectedly and tells Katniss that he is angry with her for breaking the rules at the end of the last Hunger Games, which permitted both Peeta and Katniss to win. Snow tells Katniss that when she defied the Capitol, she inspired rebellion in the districts.
The first stop on the Victory Tour is District 11, the home of Katniss's deceased friend and ally in the Hunger Games, Rue. During the ceremony, Katniss delivers a brief speech, thanking the people of District 11 for their participants in the Games. When she finishes, an old man whistles the tune that Katniss used in the arena to tell Rue that she was safe. The song acts as a signal and everyone salutes Katniss, using the same gesture that she used to say farewell to Rue. To Katniss's horror, the old man and two others are executed.
Katniss and Peeta travel to the rest of the twelve districts and the Capitol. Hoping to placate the growing rebellion and settle the dispute between Katniss and President Snow, Peeta proposes to Katniss during an interview. Despite this, Katniss learns that their attempt to avert revolt in the districts has failed.
Shortly after returning to District 12, Katniss encounters two runaways from District 8. They explain their theory that contrary to what the other districts have been led to believe, District 13 was not wiped out by the Capitol, and that many of its residents survive in underground shelters. Later, it is announced that, for the 75th Hunger Games, 24 victors from previous years will be forced to compete once again. This is the third occurrence of the "Quarter Quell": an event that occurs every 25th year of the Games and allows the Capitol to introduce a twist. Knowing that she and Peeta will both be competing in the Games a second time, Katniss decides that she will devote herself to ensuring that Peeta becomes the Quarter Quell's victor. Likewise, Peeta is devoted to protecting her.
During the Games, set in a jungle with a saltwater lake, Katniss and Peeta join up with two other previous victors: Finnick Odair, a 24-year-old man who survived the Games at the age of 14, and Mags, Finnick's 80-year-old mentor, both from District 4. The party encounters poisonous fog in which Peeta becomes injured and cannot walk. Mags sacrifices herself in order to save Peeta and dies in the poisonous fog. After Mags's death, Katniss, Peeta and Finnick join forces with Johanna Mason, a sarcastic and often cruel victor from District 7, and Beetee and Wiress, an older couple from District 3 who are said to be "exceptionally smart". Wiress soon proves her genius by revealing to Katniss that the arena is arranged like a clock, with all of the arena's disasters occurring on a timed chart. After Wiress is killed, Katniss learns of Beetee's plan to harness lightning in order to electrocute Brutus and Enobaria, the two remaining Careers Tributes from District 2. In the final chapters, Katniss instead directs the lightning at the force field that contains the arena, thereby destroying the arena and resulting in her temporary paralysis.
When Katniss wakes up, she is being transported to District 13, joined by Finnick, Beetee, and her mentor, Haymitch Abernathy. She learns that Peeta, Enobaria, and Johanna have been captured by the Capitol, and is informed that there had been a plan among half of the contestants to break out of the arena— Beetee had been attempting to destroy the force field in the same way that she did. The book ends when Katniss's best friend, Gale, comes to visit her and informs her that, though he got her family out in time, District 12 has been bombed and destroyed.
The main themes of Catching Fire include survival, and the conflict between interdependence and independence. As reviewer Margo Dill noted, "In [Catching Fire], Katniss and Peeta are definitely interdependent. They are both helping each other to survive. As a matter of fact, they want the other one to survive more than they do themselves." Dill goes on to explain how this likely increases the chances of each character dying.
Government control is another important theme, both within the book and throughout the entire trilogy. After suppressing the first rebellion, the Capitol establishes rules in order to restrict and control the citizens' lives. Examples noted by Dill include that, "the 75th annual Hunger Games have 'new' rules that cause Katniss and Peeta to be in danger once again. More 'Peacekeepers' are placed in districts to diminish any hope that the citizens started to have after the last Hunger Games." Another major theme throughout the trilogy is the media and the influence or power that popular culture has over the emotions, wishes and views of society. Other themes in the book include morality, obedience, sacrifice, redemption, love, and law.
Catching Fire had a preliminary hardcover release date of September 8, 2009, which was moved up to September 1 in response to requests by retailers to move the release to before Labor Day and the start of school for many readers. It was also published as an audiobook on the same day. 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. An eBook version was also published on June 3, 2010. Catching Fire had an initial print of 350,000 copies, a number which had grown to over 750,000 by February 2010. The release of Mockingjay, the third novel of the series, followed on August 24, 2010.
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". 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?" The review also praised Collins' development of the character of Katniss. 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 expressed displeasure at how, "after 150 pages of romantic dithering, I was tapping my foot to move on." A review from Entertainment Weekly opined that the book was 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 placed Catching Fire at number four on its list of the top 100 fiction books of 2009, while People magazine rated it the eighth Best Book of 2009. It also won the Publishers Weekly's 2009 award for Best Book of the Year.
Lionsgate announced that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was to be released on November 22, 2013, as a sequel to the film adaptation of The Hunger Games. In April 2012, it was announced that Gary Ross, director of The Hunger Games, would not return due to a "tight" and "fitted" schedule. Francis Lawrence was officially announced as the director for Catching Fire on May 3, 2012. The film's cast includes Jena Malone as Johanna Mason, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee, Lynn Cohen as Mags, Alan Ritchson as Gloss, Sam Claflin as Finnick, and Jeffrey Wright as Beetee. Production officially began on September 10, 2012 and concluded on December 21, 2012. Shooting first took place in and around metropolitan Atlanta. Several District 11 scenes were also filmed in the rural areas of Macon County, Georgia, and the rest of production took place in Hawaii. Some of the wooded scenes were taken in Oakland, New Jersey.
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