Anticipation—and speculation—have been building ever since fans closed the page on the cliffhanger ending of Catching Fire, the second in Suzanne Collins’s bestselling Hunger Games trilogy. What will happen in book three? And what will it be called? Though the plot twists are top-secret, the book’s title has just been revealed by Scholastic: Mockingjay. It will have a one-day laydown date of August 24, 2010, and a first printing of 750,000 copies. (The cover, and title, refer to the hybrid birds that are an important symbol—of hope and rebellion—throughout the books; the mockingjay appears on the jacket art for all three volumes in the series.)

Scholastic will not be distributing advance copies of Mockingjay, though it did create ARCs for the first two volumes. (In keeping with the embargo, media outlets won’t be receiving the book in advance either.) According to a Scholastic spokesperson, because this book, which concludes the series, is so highly anticipated, the publisher wanted to give fans the chance to discover the ending at the same time and prevent spoilers.

And there are plenty of fans out there. “Almost everyone I talk to can’t wait for book three,” says teen blogger Tirzah Price. “The number-one most viewed page on my site is my review for book two.” Price says she enjoys the community that had sprung up around Hunger Games fans. “This is definitely one of my favorite series,” she says. “I like finding a series you can get into with other people.” And while she’s “very, very excited” to read book three, she doesn’t mind the wait, either. “I don’t want to get to that final book too quickly. It’s a lot of fun to talk about and speculate with fans.”

Suzanne Collins.
Photo: Todd Pitt.

As the popularity of the series has grown, many adults are becoming big fans alongside younger readers. Kristine Van Amsterdam, mother of three in Natick, Mass., got hooked on the books after her daughters read them, and raves about the audio version as well. 13-year-old Juliana Van Amsterdam especially likes the fact that protagonist Katniss Everdeen is an independent and strong female character. She says she read the cliffhanger at the end of book two, and immediately realized, “Oh my God! I have to wait now, for such a long time!” Her sister Olivia, 12, has been proselytizing about the books since she read the first one. “I love The Hunger Games so much!” she says. “I tell all my friends to read it, and then they come back and say, ‘That book was so good!’ and I say, ‘See, I told you!’ I like spreading the word.” August 24 can’t come soon enough for her. “I want book three so badly!” Olivia says. “I’m really just sitting on my hands and knees begging for a clue about something!”

No clues, Olivia (sorry), but here’s some other Hunger Games news of note:

To date, in the U.S. and Canada there are over 800,000 copies of The Hunger Games in print, and over 750,000 copies of Catching Fire in print, for a combined total of more than 1.5 million.

The paperback edition of The Hunger Games comes out on July 6.

Scholastic Audio will release the audio recording of Mockingjay simultaneously on August 24.

Foreign rights to The Hunger Games have been sold into 38 territories to date, including, most recently, Latvia, Lithuania, Croatia, Ukraine, and Albania.

Film rights for The Hunger Games have been optioned by Lionsgate, and Suzanne Collins is currently in the midst of writing the screenplay, as well as putting the finishing touches on Mockinjay.