We thought the first book ended on a cliffhanger, but this one – yeesh. District 12 was destroyed? Peeta is stuck in the Capitol?! Hand over Mockingjay – right now!
In other words, the ending of this middle book in the Hunger Games trilogy has totally done its job: it has gotten us all fired up for Mockingjay. All good middle books face this challenge. They have to get the characters out of one jam and into another. The more interesting the next jam, the more excited fans will be to get their hands on the third book.
Let's do a little recap of the end of Catching Fire, just so you can see how Collins achieves this total exciting cliffhanger ending:
Just as Katniss has escaped the arena and the clutches of the Capitol, Peeta has fallen into them. If Katniss is temporarily out of danger, Peeta is in more danger than ever. Plus, all the rules of the Games have just been broken. For the first time in Panem's history, there was no clear victor in the Games. Katniss already bent the rules once in the last Games. Now when the Capitol comes back after her, as they're sure to do, she'll be in even more danger than before.
As an extra bonus, we find out that the mysterious District 13 does exist. It's not a pile of rubble but a stronghold for the rebels. And boy are there rebels – way more than Katniss had anticipated.
The final bombshell of the book is that Katniss' home district has been thoroughly destroyed. This is definitely a game-changer, and it sets the groundwork for an explosive beginning to book three.