‘Catching Fire’ is the second book in the ‘Hunger Games Trilogy’. It was first published on September 1, 2009 by Scholastic. The book picks up after 6 months have passed since the conclusion of the Hunger Games, an annual event in which each District of Panem [the post-apocalyptic North America] sends one male and one female tribute to fight to death in a televised competition to remind the Districts that the capitol can take their children and that no one is safe. President Snow unexpectedly visits Katniss on the day their Victory Tour was supposed to take place and tells her he is angry with her for breaking the rules at the end of the last Hunger Games, which permitted both Katniss and Peeta to live when only one person is allowed to live. Snow tells Katniss that when she defied the Capitol, she inspired rebellion in the Districts. Katniss and Peeta travel the twelve Districts and the Capitol.
Soon after the Victory Tour is over it is announced that for the 75th Hunger Games, twenty four victors from previous years will be forced to compete 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 twist. Katniss [as she is the only living female victor] gets chosen along with Haymitch but Peeta volunteers to save him and also to protect Katniss in the arena. During the Games, set in a jungle with a saltwater lake, Katniss and Peeta form an alliance with two previous victors: Finnick, a 24 year old man who won the 65th hunger games at the age of 14, and Mags, Finnick’s 80 year old mentor, both from District 4.
The party encounters a poisonous fog in which Peeta comes into contact with the fog and cannot walk. Mags sacrifices herself to save Peeta. After Mags’s death, Katniss, Peeta and Finnick join forces with Johanna Mason, 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 the arena’s deadly disasters occurring on a timed chart. After Wiress is killed in a battle with the Careers [tributes from richer Districts like 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 Career 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. She learns that Peeta, Johanna and Enobaria have been captured by the Capitol and is informed that there had been a plan among half of the tributes to break out of the arena-Beetee had been attempting to destroy the force field 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 was destroyed.
I rate this book 10/10. Once we open the book we can’t put it down. This book is not for the faint hearted. I enjoyed all the twists and turns of the story and recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading.
Reviewed by Meera Nair