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Catching Fire

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This article is about the 2009 novel by Suzanne Collins. For its film adaptation, see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. For other uses, see Catching Fire (disambiguation).
Catching Fire
Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins novel - cover art).jpg
North American first edition cover
Author Suzanne Collins
Cover artist Tim O'Brien
Country United States
Language English
Series The Hunger Games trilogy
Genre Adventure
Science fiction[1]
Publisher Scholastic
Publication date
September 1, 2009
Media type Print (Hardcover, Paperback)
Pages 391
ISBN 978-0-545-22724-7
OCLC 288932790
[Fic] 22
LC Class PZ7.C6837 Cat 2009
Preceded by The Hunger Games
Followed by Mockingjay

Catching Fire is a 2009 science fiction young adult novel by the 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. Catching Fire 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, authoritarianism, rebellion and interdependence versus independence. The book has sold more than 19 million copies in the U.S. alone.

A film adaptation, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, was released on November 22, 2013.


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. But 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' deceased friend and ally in the Hunger Games, Rue. During the ceremony, Katniss delivers a speech thanking the people of District 11 for their participants in the Games. When she finishes, an old man whistles the tune that Rue used in the arena to tell Katniss 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 the horror of Katniss, 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 discovers on the mayor's television that District 8 has had an uprising, and she fears that what she has done to placate the crowds is not enough, as there may be uprisings in other Districts as well. She then meets two runaways from District 8, Bonnie and Twill. They explain their theory which contradicts what the other districts have been led to believe: District 13 was not completely wiped out by the Capitol, and its residents survive in underground shelters.

Later, it is announced that , for the 75th Hunger Games, twenty-four 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 or Haymitch will be competing in the Games a second time (since they are the only living victors from 12, and she is the only living female victor), Katniss decides that she will devote herself to ensuring that Peeta becomes the Quarter Quell's victor (or mentor - if Haymitch is chosen or he himself volunteers as tribute) and convinces Haymitch, to help her. Likewise, Peeta is devoted to protecting her, but Katniss is determined that Peeta returns home safely - even if that means her and Haymitch die. Haymitch gets chosen, but Peeta volunteers to save him (and help Katniss in the arena).

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 65th Hunger 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 comes into contact with the gas and cannot walk. Mags sacrifices herself 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 in a battle with the Careers (tributes from the richer districts 1, 2 and 4, who train all their lives for the Games and are usually the winners), 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' best friend, Gale, comes to visit her and informs her that, though he got her family out in time, District 12 has been destroyed.


The main themes of Catching Fire include survival, sacrifice, 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.[2]

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."[2] 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.[3]

Publication history[edit]

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.[4] It was also published as an audiobook on the same day.[5] Advance reading copies were available at BookExpo America in New York City,[6] 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.[5] Catching Fire had an initial print of 350,000 copies,[4] a number which had grown to over 750,000 by February 2010.[7] The release of Mockingjay, the third novel of the series, followed on August 24, 2010.[8][9] As of March 2012, the book has sold over 10 million copies.[10]

Critical reception[edit]

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."[11] Booklist commented on how the "unadorned prose provides an open window to perfect pacing and electrifying world building".[3] 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.[12] The Plain Dealer wrote, "The very last sentence of Catching Fire will leave readers gasping. Not to mention primed for part three."[13]

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."[13] 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."[14]

In addition, Time magazine placed Catching Fire at number four on its list of the top 100 fiction books of 2009,[15] while People magazine rated it the eighth Best Book of 2009.[16] It also won the Publishers Weekly's 2009 award for Best Book of the Year.[17]

Film adaptation[edit]

Lionsgate announced that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was to be released on November 22, 2013,[18] 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.[19] Francis Lawrence was officially announced as the director for Catching Fire on May 3, 2012.[20] The film's cast includes Jena Malone as Johanna Mason,[21] Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee,[22] Lynn Cohen as Mags,[23] Alan Ritchson as Gloss,[24] Sam Claflin as Finnick,[25] and Jeffrey Wright as Beetee.[26] Production officially began on September 10, 2012 and concluded on December 21, 2012.[27] 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 filmed in Oakland, New Jersey.[28]

The film was successful, grossing more than $800 million to become the fifth highest-grossing film at the box office in 2013[29] and receiving positive reviews from critics.


  1. ^ "Mockingjay proves the Hunger Games is must-read literature". io9. August 26, 2010. Retrieved February 12, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Dill, Margo (July 15, 1234). "Novel Study Guides: Themes in Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins". Retrieved July 22, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Chipman, Ian. "Booklist Catching Fire Review". Booklist. Retrieved July 21, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "The On-Sale Calendar: September 2009 Children's Books". Publishers Weekly. July 1, 2009. Retrieved April 3, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Amazon Catching Fire. Amazon. ISBN 0545586178. 
  6. ^ Roback, Diane (January 22, 2009). "'Hunger Games 2': A First Look". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on January 25, 2009. Retrieved January 26, 2009. 
  7. ^ Roback, Diane (February 11, 2010). "'Mockingjay' to Conclude the Hunger Games Trilogy". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved July 16, 2010. 
  8. ^ Staskiewicz, Keith (February 11, 2010). "Final 'Hunger Games' novel has been given a title and a cover". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 11, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Suzanne Collins's Third Book in the Hunger Games Trilogy to Be Published by Scholastic on August 24, 2010" (Press release). Scholastic. December 3, 2009. Retrieved December 3, 2009. 
  10. ^ "'Hunger Games' books: More than 36.5M in print in the U.S. alone". Entertainment Weekly. 
  11. ^ "Children's Book Reviews: 6/22/2009". Publishers Weekly. June 22, 2009. Retrieved June 29, 2009. 
  12. ^ Zevin, Gabrielle (October 9, 2009). "Constant Craving". The New York Times. Retrieved July 21, 2010. 
  13. ^ a b Welch, Rollie (September 6, 2009). "'Catching Fire' brings back Suzanne Collins' kindhearted killer: Young Readers". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved July 21, 2010. 
  14. ^ Reese, Jennifer (August 28, 2009). "Catching Fire (2009)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 21, 2010. 
  15. ^ "The Top 10 Everything of 2009". Time. December 8, 2009. Retrieved January 10, 2010. 
  16. ^ "People Magazine's Top Ten Books of 2009". BookGuide. January 2010. Retrieved November 7, 2010. 
  17. ^ Grossman, Lev (December 8, 2009), "Scholastic Catching Fire page", 
  18. ^ Weinstein, Joshua L (August 8, 2011). "The Hunger Games Sequel Set for 2013 Release". The Wrap. Retrieved August 15, 2011. 
  19. ^ Hertzfeld, Laura (April 10, 2012). "Gary Ross will not direct second 'Hunger Games' installment 'Catching Fire'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 18, 2012. 
  20. ^ Staskiewicz, Keith (May 3, 2012). "Francis Lawrence confirmed as 'Catching Fire' director". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  21. ^ Kit, Borys. "Jena Malone Chosen as Tribute for 'Catching Fire' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 10, 2012. 
  22. ^ Cornet, Roth (July 9, 2012). "Philip Seymour Hoffman Cast As Plutarch Heavensbee in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire". AMC Entertainment. Retrieved October 18, 2012. 
  23. ^ Games, Hunger. "Lynn Cohen Hunger Games". Facebook. Retrieved August 2, 2012. 
  24. ^ Adly MacKenzie, Carina (August 9, 2012). "'Smallville's' Alan Ritchson joins 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' as Gloss". Zap2it. Retrieved August 9, 2012. 
  25. ^ Wigler, Josh. "'Catching Fire' Casts Sam Claflin As Finnick". Retrieved August 27, 2012. 
  26. ^ Sperling, Lindsay (September 7, 2012). "Jeffrey Wright Joins Catching Fire". Complex Media. Retrieved October 18, 2012. 
  27. ^ Vary, Adam B. "'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' begins shooting in Georgia, before moving to Hawaii". Retrieved September 10, 2012. 
  28. ^ McAllister, Cameron. "'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' officially begins production in Georgia". Retrieved September 10, 2012. 
  29. ^ "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 13, 2014. 

External links[edit]