The Gist: Continuation of the dystopian young adult epic set in what used to be the United States where annually each of the twelve districts (which are like city-states and where most of the citizens are impoverished) must send a male and female tribute to the lavish Capitol as punishment for the Hunger Games, a competition that has only one victor, because of a failed rebellion decades earlier.
Story Summary: The first major event in Catching Fire is President of Panem, Coriolanus Snow, making threats against Gale if Katniss doesn’t convince all of the districts and him that she truly loves Peeta. Collins also demonstrates how oppressed the rest of Panem is in stark contrast to how excessive the Capitol is and how controlling the Capitol can be. Every 25 years instead a normal Hunger Games with 24 tributes chosen at random there is a Quarter Quell. This is where the government imposes a new rule for that year only about how the Games will be run. For the 25th Hunger Games everyone had to vote on who went to the arena, for the 50th Hunger Games twice as many tributes (48) were sent to the arena. Since this year is the 75th Hunger Games there is a condition imposed on the Games. I won’t ruin it to say what it is, but shortly after that announcement the book stops feeling like we’re waiting for something to occur.
We do meet several characters who are integral parts to the larger story, namely the new Head Gamesmaker Plutarch Heavensbee (who toes the line between odious and tolerable), Finnick Odair from District 4 (who knows how the game is played), Johanna Mason from District 8 (who is brash and unnervingly honest), and Beetee from District 3 (who may be the smartest person in the entire series).
Story Review: Like most middle stories there is a sense that we’re waiting for some action. It picks up toward the end, especially once the conditions for the Quarter Quell are announced. There are also subtle differences between how Katniss describes Gale, who is now much more present since he’s not only in Katniss’s memories, (like Gale’s arms entrap her, they belong to one another) versus Peeta (his arms protect her, they have a partnership with one another not an ownership of one another). If we were to boil down Katniss and Peeta into one word symbols again they would be action for Katniss and words for Peeta. Once again balancing each other out.
Katniss uses a lot of distancing language and although she notices a lot Katniss is never an objective observer. I would love to see what this entire story is like through Peeta’s eyes. I would also love to know more about Cinna and periphery characters like the red-headed Avox girl, Portia, and Johanna. And Rue, even though she only exists in memory in this book, I would love to know more about Rue and her family.
As my brother says it’s great for not having either a beginning or an end.
Immersion Activity Ideas:
Cook GOOD food
Learn to hunt
Learn what edible plants grow in the wild in your community
Participate in the Hunger Games movie hype (It feels like its everywhere.)
Learn to bake bread
Teach yourself how to paint
Play a Hunger Games inspired paintball game (I’ve been working on creating something like that. Now all I need is the courage to ask my favorite paintball place here, Dosser Works, if there is a way we could play it.)
Visit the Coliseum
Learn to swim/go swimming
Learn to fish/go fishing
Dive for oysters