Catching Fire is the sequel to The Hungers Games. When we last saw Katniss Everdeen, at the end of The Hunger Games, she had survived the games and was the victor – or more accurately one of the victors. At the pinnacle of the games, when only she and Peeta remained, she threatened to take her own life rather than kill Peeta. The Gamemakers were forced to break tradition and their own rules and allow there to be two victors. Katniss had made some serious enemies and even in victory there was a strong sense of foreboding.
Catching Fire picks up where The Hunger Games left off. Katniss and Peeta are traveling from district to district on a victory tour. As per President Snow’s orders, they are striving to make it clear that Katniss’ act was not one of rebellion against the Capitol, but instead was an act of love for Peeta. But it is becoming more and more clear that the spirit of rebellion is growing in the districts, and Katniss was the trigger.
To make things worse, the 75th Hunger Games approaches – and the games will be bigger, to mark the anniversary.
The first book could, if the reader desired, be viewed as a single story with no need to read the next book. The second book is not really structured in that way. Although it does have some closure, it is apparent that this trilogy will have a structure much like the original Star Wars trilogy or the Back to the Future trilogy – wherein the middle chapter is the most fast paced and action filled, but serving as connecting tissue from the first to the third, rather than as its own story.
It’s fine when that works – and it does, here. Catching Fire is an exciting read, even if it has lost some of the novelty of the newness that The Hunger Games had.
It was interesting reading this second book after seeing the trailer for the movie of the first. Some of the characters now appeared in my imagination as their respective actors. Katniss was now played by Jennifer Lawrence. Haymitch was now played played by Woody Harrelson. One strong exception was the role of President Snow. Although the trailer shows the wonderful Donald Sutherland in the role – in my imagination, the role is still played by the actor I saw when I read the first book – Malcolm McDowell.