Catching Fire is the second book in the Hunger Games Trilogy. Peeta and Katniss have survived the 74th Hunger Games and returned to their families in District 12 to prepare for their victory tour. They are expected to learn a talent as new victors and they are settling in to their new homes in the Victor's Village. Katniss has returned to her life as much as possible; hunting with Gale and caring for her mother and sister. Gale has not given up on his feelings for Katniss (feelings that she didn't know existed) and kisses her while they are out hunting one day. Shortly thereafter, President Snow comes to visit Katniss and he tells her that her act of defiance in the games has caused other acts of defiance. He doesn't believe that Peeta and Katniss are the star-crossed lovers all of Panem believes them to be. He tells her that she must convince him of her love for Peeta (and her loyalty to the Capitol) while on the victory tour. While on the tour, Katniss begins to ask Peeta to sleep in her bed to keep her nightmares away. Peeta even publicly proposes to her on the tour in an attempt to divert President Snow's attention from Katniss.
You really get the feeling that Katniss does love Peeta but she feels like she can't tell what parts of their relationship are real and which parts are Capitol influence. She hates being engaged to Peeta because she sees it as the Capitol forcing her to do something, even though she does care for him. It's one of those cases where things would have progressed better if the couple had just been left alone. The pressure ends up forcing Katniss to rebel against the idea even though she'd probably have been alright with it if they'd been able to come to that point on their own. It also doesn't help that she now know that Gale sees her as something more than a best friend. She feels like she's somehow betraying Gale by loving Peeta- so messed up.
During their victory tour Peeta and Katniss see various signs of unrest throughout the districts of Panem. They also learn that they will have to participate in the Quarter Quell after their return to District 12. The Quarter Quell is a form of the Hunger Games that happens every 25 years where victors from previous games are brought back into the arena to fight again. As the only female victor in District 12, Katniss has to go. Peeta volunteers to take Haymitch's place and they travel back to the Capitol to prepare for the Quell. They meet all the returning victors- many of whom Katniss remembers from watching the games or from the fame they received after the games. The returning victors are a diverse set of new characters but I think most people's favorite is Finnick Odair the 24 year old Victor from District 4. I like Finnick fine, but I LOVE nerds (the candy and the people) so Beetee is one of my favorites. How will it end? Will Katniss make it out alive? Will anyone?
What a good book! I really liked Catching Fire but I not as much as Hunger Games. The ending was a real cliff hanger that had Team Gale fans cheering. I really liked to see Peeta grow a little stronger in himself. He is so attuned to Katniss and he is always doing little things that show how steadfast he is. Peeta is like her anchor is the sea of unrest that is flowing around her. Katniss can tune out the nightmares when Peeta sleeps with her. His words inspire her to say the right thing on their tour stop in District 11. Peeta keeps her focused and grounded in the arena. He gives her a pearl on the beach inside the arena, along with some sweet words that you know are from his heart. I anyone who liked the first book will love this one as well. It's fast paced and full of action, romance and drama.
Catching Fire earns 5 Fairies for an amazing continuation of the Hunger Games and legendary Peeta-ness.