Study Guide

Catching Fire Introduction

By Suzanne Collins

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Catching Fire Introduction

We're guessing you've read The Hunger Games. We're right, aren't we? (Yes, Shmoop has been known to have telepathic powers.) That means you'll get it when pose a very important question:

What could possibly be worse than being a tribute in the Hunger Games?

If you thought we were going to spoil the second book in the series, think again. Catching Fire picks up where the first book left off, which is a good thing, because the ending of The Hunger Games was a serious cliffhanger. Now we get to find out what happens to people who actually win the Games, and how Katniss and Peeta's lives change forever because of their victory. By the middle of the book, their lives are turned upside down all over again. (Yep, that's the "what could possibly be worse than being a tribute in the Hunger Games" thing we were referring to.)

When Catching Fire came out in 2009, it quickly turned out to be a bestseller, just like the first book in the series. While the book had its detractors (in her review for Entertainment Weekly, Jennifer Reese gave the book a grade of "C"), the other glowing reviews it received make it sound pretty darn good. In The New York Times, for example, another author, Gabrielle Zevin, wrote, "I loved it. [...] Collins has done that rare thing. She has written a sequel that improves upon the first book" (source).

Zevin is right: sequel writing is a fine art, and it's pretty difficult to top a great first book, especially one with the instant popularity and commercial appeal of The Hunger Games. With Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins didn't just have to follow up her first book at the same level, she also had to ratchet up the stakes and create even more anticipation for the conclusion of the trilogy, Mockingjay, which came out in 2010. Translation: Be prepared for some intense action, not to mention another cliffhanger ending.

On that note, here's a bit of advice from your friends at Shmoop: buy Mockingjay now, before you even start Catching Fire, because fast as shipping can be, it will seem way to slow when Katniss and Peeta's lives are hanging in the balance.

What is Catching Fire About and Why Should I Care?

Okay, we hear you. The reason you care about Catching Fire is obvious: The Hunger Games ended on a CRAZY cliffhanger. How could you not want to pick up the second book in the trilogy?

But this book offers more than just the entertainment value of finding out whether Katniss hearts Peeta or Gale, and learning whether Katniss is going to lead a revolution against the evil Capitol of Panem. Part of what makes Katniss' story so gripping is that we (probably) share some of her experiences. Her life is kind of like ours on steroids. Don't believe us? We bet you can relate to some of these experiences:

  • Have you ever lied about something in the heat of the moment only to have it come back to bite you in the butt? Really hard?
  • Do you sometimes feel like you are managing your public image endlessly? Do you ever try to maintain a specific image of yourself, maybe on your Facebook profile, that isn't entirely true to who you really are?
  • Have you ever sparked a fire that started burning way out of control? (Either literally or metaphorically?)
  • Do you ever feel like reality TV is going a little too far – becoming too invasive in people's personal lives or pushing people toward some kind of sketchy actions?

We bet that after you indulge in the delicious drama in Panem, you'll find that Katniss' story also has some interesting parallels to your life.

Catching Fire Resources


Suzanne Collins's Website
Find out interesting facts and details about the Hunger Games trilogy at the author's official site.

Read all about it...
... at the wiki fan site for The Hunger Games franchise.

Check out the Scholastic Site
Plenty of authorized details for interested fans.

Hit up this page monthly for new answers to fans' questions from Collins.

See if you have what it takes to be a tribute.

Challenge yourself to compete in this simulation as a tribute.

Movie or TV Productions

The Hunger Games (2012)
Check out the casting for the first film version of the series, starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta.

Catching Fire (2013)
This book-turned-blockbuster-hit was released in 2013, featuring nearly all the original cast from The Hunger Games.

Mockingjay (2014)
After huge successes with the first two movies, the third book in the Hunger Games series hit the big screen in 2014. This third action-packed story is divided into two full-length movies.

Articles & Interviews

Time Magazine Review
Read a glowing review about the Hunger Games franchise by Lev Grossman.

EW Review
Catching Fire doesn't fare so well in this review by Jennifer Reese.

New York Times Review
Collins's book is a hit in the NY Times' review, though.

In Conversation
Read a conversational interview with Collins here. (PDF)


Book Trailer
This book trailer comes from the offices of Scholastic UK.


Book Covers
Check out the original book cover, plus several international covers. Which do you like best?

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