A few months after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games with Peeta Mellark, Katniss Everdeen, now 17, is adjusting to her new life of plenty after spending her entire childhood in poverty and hunger. Despite her family's lush new house in Victors' Village and the newfound wealth, Katniss still hunts in order to feed her friends. Her hunting partner and best friend Gale Hawthorne now works in the coal mines. They shared a single kiss, but she’s confused about their relationship.
President Snow pays Katniss a visit, threatening her loved ones if she doesn’t convince Panem that her final act in the Games – pulling out poisonous berries to kill herself and Peeta – was motivated by love and not defiance. She does her best to keep up appearances on the Victory Tour, but understands she may have to resort to marrying Peeta or run away. When they stop for a celebration in District 11, an old man whistles Rue’s four-note mocking-jay tune and the citizens offer their thanks to Katniss. The man is killed by Peacekeepers. Trouble is brewing in the districts, and Katniss is stroking the flames, whether she means to or not.
Peeta proposes to Katniss on live TV, but President Snow is still not convinced it’s enough. Back home, Katniss sees a transmission intended for Mayor Undersee and learns that District 8 has revolted. She tries to convince Gale to run away with her, but he knows the time is ripe for rebellion. Katniss approaches Peeta, who agrees to flee. However, they see Gale being whipped in the square by Romulus Thread, the brutal new Head Peacekeeper. Katniss gets in between Gale and the whip and Thead relents in his assault against her only when Haymitch intervenes. She takes Gale to her mother's house, where she tries her best to heal his wounds. That night, Katniss sits up with Gale and kisses him, realizing how much she loves him.
Over the next few days, District 12 becomes a police state. Armed guards are everywhere, crimes tolerated for years are suddenly to be punished to the full extent of the law, and the Hob is burned down. The mines are shut down for 2 weeks, bringing the District to the brink of starvation.
Katniss finds Bonnie and Twill, escapees from District 8, in the woods. They tell Katniss they are heading to District 13. Katniss is confused - District 13 was bombed 75 years ago in the Dark Days of the war with the Capitol. Twill tells her that each time a clip of 13's burned-out Justice Building is broadcast, a mockingjay flies through the shot in the upper right-hand corner. It has to be the same footage used over and over again. Twill thinks the survivors have survived underground and that the Capitol leaves them alone because of their chief industry before the war - nuclear development. Recuperating from injuries sustained getting over the newly electrified fence, Katniss sees two reports about District 13 that confirm Twill’s story about the mocking-jay. Haymitch is skeptical about this information. Despite rumors of uprisings in Districts 3, 4, 7, 8 and 11, he tells Katniss an uprising in 12 is impossible.
Katniss and her family watch the "reading of the card," the announcement of the rules for the Quarter Quell, the 75th annual Hunger Games. This year, the tributes from each District will be chosen from the pool of existing victors. As the only female victor in District 12, Katniss must return to the arena.
Katniss approaches Haymitch and they agree they owe it to Peeta to keep him alive no matter what. The three train like Careers and review footage of previous victors. As expected, Peeta volunteers for Haymitch and he and Katniss head to the Capitol again - this time without getting to say goodbye to their families.
At the Opening Ceremony, Cinna dresses Katniss in a jumpsuit that glows like an ember. She is still the girl on fire. They meet some of the other victors - flirty Finnick Odair from District 4, Haymitch’s friend Chaff and Seeder from 11 and contemptuous…