North American first edition cover
|Cover artist||Tim O'Brien|
|Series||The Hunger Games trilogy|
|September 1, 2009|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover, Paperback)|
|LC Class||PZ7.C6837 Cat 2009|
|Preceded by||The Hunger Games|
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. On the day that Katniss and Peeta are to start a "Victory Tour" of the country, President Snow visits unexpectedly and tells Katniss that her televised acts of defiance in the Hunger Games has inspired rebellion in the districts. Snow lets her know that she must convince the people she sees on the tour that she was acting out of love for Peeta, not against the Capitol.
The first stop is District 11, the home of Katniss' deceased friend and Hunger Games ally, Rue. During the ceremony, Katniss delivers an impromptu, heartfelt speech expressing her feelings toward Rue and also Thresh, who spared her life. When she finishes, an old man whistles the tune that Rue used in the arena to tell Katniss that she was safe. Everyone else salutes Katniss, using the same gesture that she used to say farewell to Rue. To Katniss's horror, the old man is quickly executed before her eyes.
Katniss and Peeta travel to the rest of the districts and the Capitol. Hoping to placate President Snow, Peeta proposes to Katniss during a televised interview. Katniss accepts, but Snow is dissatisfied with her overall performance, leaving her fearing for her loved ones.
Shortly after returning to District 12, Katniss accidentally discovers that fighting has broken out in District 8. She then meets two refugees from that district, Bonnie and Twill. They tell her they are trying to reach District 13, hoping the Capitol's story that it was completely destroyed is not true, and that its residents survive in underground shelters.
The 75th Hunger Games is the third "Quarter Quell"; the Capitol implements a special twist every 25th Games. It is announced that the tributes will be selected from the surviving victors of previous years. Katniss and either Peeta or Haymitch will be competing in the Games a second time (since they are the only living District 12 victors). Katniss decides to devote herself to keeping Peeta alive. She persuades Haymitch to agree to volunteer in Peeta's place if he is chosen. Unfortunately, Haymitch is picked, and can do nothing to stop Peeta from volunteering (to try to protect Katniss).
In the Capitol, Haymitch tells Katniss that she and Peeta will need allies this time, but she takes a liking to some of the weakest tributes, much to Haymitch's exasperation.
The arena is a jungle surrounding a saltwater lake. Katniss and Peeta join up with Finnick Odair, a strikingly handsome 24-year-old from District 4 who won his Games at the unusually young age of 14, and Mags, Finnick's 80-year-old mentor. In the jungle, Peeta is knocked out when he touches the nearly invisible force field enclosing the circular arena. Finnick manages to revive him, however. The party then has to flee from poisonous fog, with Finnick carrying Mags. When a weakened Peeta cannot go any further, Mags sacrifices herself, running into the advancing fog, so that Finnick can help him. 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 realizes that the arena is arranged like a clock, with each danger occurring at a fixed and predictable time and place for one hour.
Wiress is killed in a sneak attack by the Careers (tributes from the richer districts 1, 2 and 4, who train all their lives for the Games and are usually the winners), but the Careers suffer more losses, leaving them outnumbered. Katniss learns of Beetee's plan to harness lightning in order to electrocute Brutus and Enobaria, the two surviving Careers from District 2. Their enemies interfere with their plan, so Katniss instead uses her bow and arrow to direct the lightning into the force field, destroying the arena. She is knocked unconscious.
When Katniss wakes up, she is being transported to District 13, along with Finnick, Beetee, and Haymitch. She learns that Peeta and Johanna have been captured by the Capitol. She is informed that there was a secret plan among half of the contestants to rescue her from the arena, because she has become the living symbol of the rebellion. Gale, Katniss's best friend and possible love interest, visits her and informs her that, though he got her family and some of the other residents out, 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.
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. As of March 2012[update], the book has sold over 10 million copies.
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 filmed in Oakland, New Jersey.
The film was successful, grossing more than $800 million to become the fifth highest-grossing film at the box office in 2013 and receiving positive reviews from critics.
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