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Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have just returned home after being the first ever dual victors of the Hunger Games, an annual event in which 24 children between the ages of 12-18 fight to the death in an arena created by the Capitol of their country, Panem. They became dual victors by threatening to eat poisonous berries at the same time when they were the only two remaining, which would have left no victor of the games.
The story picks up with Katniss and Peeta residing in the Victor’s Village with their families where all winners of the Hunger Games go to live when they return home. The only other resident of this village is Haymitch Abernathy, the winner of the 50th Hunger Games and mentor to Katniss and Peeta. The first task that must be completed upon winning the games is a Victory Tour to each of the 12 districts in their country, Panem, and the Capitol. In anticipation of this tour, the president of the country, Coriolanus Snow, comes to Katniss’s home in District 12.
He informs her the show of affection her and Peeta put on during the games must continue in order convince residents of the country they acted on love, not rebellion. If they are unable to convince the country and President Snow himself, there will be dire consequences. The first stop on the Victor’s Tour is District 11. Upon making a speech about her fellow competitor in the games, Rue, an outpouring of affection is shown to Katniss.
Subsequently, a man is shot and killed proving to Katniss how sensitive the situation actually is. Once they arrive in the Capitol, Peeta publicly proposes to Katniss in an effort to convince the President that their love is real and keep the country from thinking it was a ploy to win the games. Despite their attempts to prove it was not rebellion, President Snow lets Katniss know the efforts were not substantial enough to convince him. This leads her to believe herself and her family are in danger. She also has an encounter with the head game maker of the 75th Hunger Games, Plutarch Heavensbee, which has her quite confused. He flashes her a watch with a Mockingjay on it and says “It starts at Midnight.”.
Upon returning home to District 12 after the tour, Katniss comes upon two women who are on the run from District 8. The women inform her they are running to District 13, which is known to have been completely destroyed years earlier. They also present her with bread that resembles the Mockingjay pin she wore in the games. Though she does not believe District 13 exists, she helps the women by giving them food and clothing. It is now time for the 75th Hunger Games to be announced. Every 25th game is what is known as a Quarter Quell.
The Quarter Quell always houses a change in the rules to celebrate the landmark, for example, the 50th games had twice as many competitors as normal. The twist to the Quarter Quell this time around is all competitors will be previous victors. Because Katniss knows Peeta will not let Haymitch compete and she is the only female victor in District 12, she will be competing against Peeta. She instantly pledges she will do whatever it takes to save Peeta, even though she knows that will ultimately result in her death.
Peeta and Katniss now head to the Capitol for training. It is a much different scene then the first time around. They get a chance to meet their fellow tributes at this time. Haymitch tells Katniss and Peeta their best shot is to form an alliance with other victors. Katniss decides she wants to team up with the reputable Finnick Odair who comes with Mags, his eighty year old mentor, Beetee and Wiress from District 3 who are incredibly smart, however lacking in social skills and Johanna Mason a feisty victor from District 7.