Catching Fire is the second book in Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games Trilogy, published by Scholastic Press in 2009 between The Hunger Games and Mockingjay. The novel begins a few months after protagonist Katniss Everdeen and her counterpart, Peeta Mellark, emerged as the dual victors of the 74th Annual Hunger Games, a vicious gladiator-like competition where 24 children are pitted against one another in a fight to the death. Like The Hunger Games before it, Catching Fire is both a coming-of-age tale and an adventure story. While the narrative arc is similar to the first book, Collins explores the political implications of the Games in more detail, as Katniss' rebellious acts stoke an uprising in the Districts.
Told from the point of view of its enigmatic teenage protagonist, critics have called Catching Fire "delightfully ruthless" in its depiction of the dystopian world of Panem. Though considerably more violent than other Young Adult novels, Catching Fire skillfully handles the real-world themes of poverty, the distraction of empty entertainment, and government oppression. The events of the first novel have changed Katniss' world forever and, as her journey continues, she is forced to decide between choosing a larger role in the rebellion that she has unwittingly become the face of or running away in a last-ditch effort to save her loved ones. The prominent theme of personal responsibility and bravery in the face of oppression is particularly timely considering recent events such as the shooting of Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year old Pakistani girl who spoke out against the Taliban ban from girls attending school in the Swat Valley. She survived and is now a renowned activist and the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize nominee.
Catching Fire was a critical and commercial success, garnering praise from The New York Times, Kirkus Review, and Publisher's Weekly, among others. It was also a #1 bestseller and appeared on many year-end best of lists, including People Magazine's Top Ten Books of 2009. The novel, like its predecessor, has been adapted into a film, with Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth reprising their roles as Katniss, Peeta, and Gale, respectively. The film is directed by Francis Lawrence, off a screenplay by Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt. After the nearly $700 million worldwide box office success of the first Hunger Games film, Catching Fire has already gathered significant buzz. It will be released by Lionsgate Entertainment in November 2013.