Catching Fire, By Suzanne Collins
If you are an astute reader of The Hunger Games , then at least a few of the plot lines of Catching Fire will be very straightforward and easy to understand. The defiance of Katniss Everdeen in the games has inspired a weary and hostile nation under the brutal rule of dictatorship to revolt for its freedom. “Peacekeepers” brutally put down any sort of freedom–nearly killing Gale, Katniss’ friend and sorta-boyfriend, as Katniss’ other sorta-boyfriend/fiance Peeta and her face the lonely and dangerous life of victors in their small Appalachian town.
For one, the tense and corrupt atmosphere seems no different than before, only with a more ominous hint. Katniss finds out from other players of the game if the family of her fellow competitors lives. Katniss and Peeta accidentally set off a riot in District 11, the home of the beloved Rue, who so reminded Katniss of her younger sister. Starvation and crackdowns hurt those close to Gale, and destroy the black market, and take away the safety and security of the forest, because Katniss is now known as a mockingjay, a symbol of rebellion against the Capitol.
Naturally, this means the corrupt capitol, including the ominous President Snow, is going to try to destroy this symbol of resistance. And though she tries, half-heartedly at first, to turn down the rebelliousness, it doesn’t work, and she soon engages in a very serous struggle to fight against the corrupt power that seeks to ruin everything she holds dear. So, in the Quarter Quell, the 75th anniversary of the unsuccessful rebellion against the Capitol of Panem, a male and female from all of the winners from every province are called to fight each other off again for the enjoyment of the Capitol in a devilishly clever arena set up like a clock.
After a long setup that hints that District 13 may not be entirely destroyed and may house successful resisters to the Capitol, and a reprise of the brutal struggle (with the odd alliances) of the Hunger Games itself, which ends very quickly, after only three days, there is a very abrupt ending that leads to the kidnapping of Katniss, the rescue of her friends and family from District 12, and the destruction of her home with firebombs as a result of the successful rebellion she started, all of this known by the drunk but very clever mentor Haymitch. Though the ending came as somewhat of an abrupt stop, the fact that the rebellion went so deep within Panem, not only to Cinna (who is beaten up, perhaps even tortured, for his own rebellious act of turning the wedding gown of Katniss chosen by the spoiled Capitol dwellers into a defiant mockingjay), but also to the elite heads gamesman who replaces the one killed because of his failure to stop Kantiss and Peeta’s defiant gesture. The third volume beckons, and would seem to promise a total revolution against the corrupt authority within Panem.