A little slow in the beginning, but picks up quickly
I was almost unable to put the first book in this trilogy, HungerGames, down and then immediately downloaded this 2nd book to my Kindle immediatly upon finishing book 1. I was sitting on the beach on vacation when I finished the first book and couldn't wait to start the 2nd book. I anxiously turned on my whispernet to connect for download and was reading this book within 5 minutes on my Kindle. I love my Kindle.
The beginning of this book seemed to start very slow compared to the first book, but picked up quickly about a quarter of a way through the book. I soon found myself completely ingrossed and unable to put this book down. I completed book 1 and 2 during my week long vacation at the beach and am now anxiously waiting for book 3 to be released in August. I really hate to admit it, but I think I should have waited until after my vacation to have downloaded these books so that I would have spent more time with my 3 and 5 year olds on the beach.
In CatchingFire, it's time for The HungerGames in the capitol again and this year, it's the Quarter Quell. Every 25 years, there is a new twist to The Hunger Games. These twists are used by the capitol as a way to make sure the districts continue to repent for their actions against the capitol years ago. When the twist was announced, I can even describe how wide my eyes became. Oh, the shock and the horror. It took just about half of the book before The Hunger Games began, but every moment of build up and back story was worth it.
As was the way in The Hunger Games, the tears started early and occurred often in Catching Fire. It was so emotionally raw that I think every single character made me cry at some point in the book. Katniss coming to terms with having to choose between Peeta and Gale was less emotional that it could have been though. Being that we don't see her with Gale all that often and their conversations lean more towards hostile friendship than love, I find her indecision confusing. She obviously belongs with Peeta and everyone, sometimes even Gale, seems to get that. The most striking, heart-wrenching scenes were from an unexpected source - Cinna. Katniss' personal stylist proves to be so unbelievable devoted to her and their friendship throughout the book that I almost couldn't even stand it. Can I just be Team Cinna?
I am so glad I waited a little while after The Hunger Games to read Catching Fire. I don't think I could have survived a huge wait between this book and the release of Mockingjay. The powerful ending left me needing to know what happens at once. Catching Fire was simply amazing. I was never able to predict what was going to happen next and found myself totally in the moment for the entire book. It was like I was just along for the ride and my sole task was just to enjoy the experience. Absolutely brilliant beginning to end.
What little bit you thought was safe was ripped out from under you
I tend to find that the first book in a series is always the best, followed by the last book and the ones in the middle tend to be a lot of filler to drag it out (although they are often good entertaining filler). This is an extreme exception. The second book is just as fast paced as the first one and seemed to throw me for even MORE loops and plot twists. If anything, I would say that this book didn't have ENOUGH filler and I could easily have enjoyed this plot spread out over two books. I was even more incapable of putting this book down than the first one. My jaw dropped when an element from the first book, I won't say what element in so many words as it would be a major spoiler, which I thought was done and finished after the first book came back in the second one. What little bit you thought was safe was ripped out from under you.
Side characters in the second book were more fleshed out than in the first (though I still feel a little cheated about Gale still not being fully developed as a character) and that made it more enjoyable. It gave you a lot of different viewpoints from which to guess where the plot was going. While the end was slightly more predictable than I had hoped it would be, the plot twist in the middle was more than enough to make up for it.
I am extremely lad to have read these books, but I find myself wishing I hadn't gotten around to it until after the trilogy was completely out. I know the third book is only a month away, but the suspense for this series is killing me.
Nice follow up to The Hunger Games, sets the stage for Mockingjay
CatchingFire continues on where The HungerGames left off, with Katniss and Peeta preparing for the Victory Tour. Katniss faces consequences from how she ended the previous Hunger Games, and President Snow pays Katniss an unexpected and unwelcomed visit. Believing that she may have "mocked" the Capitol with her actions, he makes it known that he will keep a watchful eye on her and any actions she makes that might be seen as rebellious.
Where the first novel focused more on the Games themselves, Catching Fire spends its majority of time setting up and giving background to the Victory Tour, the fallout of the previous games, the society and possible rebellion brewing, the upcoming Quarter Quell (the 75th anniversary Hunger Games), and the sinister plots of President Snow for these next games. So, it isn't until the last third of the book that the actual games take place. After the previous Hunger Games, there is building momentum of rebellion within the various districts; as Katniss and Peeta make the victory tour, they see evidence that the people are finally lashing out against the Capitol. This time President Snow announces that for the Quarter Quell (the 75th Hunger Games), the participants will be pooled from the previous winners in all the districts. This ensures that Katniss will have to participate, and when Peeta takes Haymitch's place, then the two are back in the games again.
One issue Catching Fire explores is Katniss and Peeta's defiance of the Capitol, but much of the time they are thinking rather than reacting to their emotions. They want to rebel, but have to walk a fine line because they fear for the consequences for their families and friends back in District 12. The dilemma Katniss is left with is how can she rebel against something when the opposition expects her to rebel? President Snow and the Capitol represent sort of a Big Brother: they see all, break down society and individuals with force, devise wicked plots against those who stray from them, and manipulate and brainwash society. Once the games are set, another conflict that presents itself is who, Katniss or Peeta, will be one to try to survive to lead a possible rebellion if they survive. This all gets a little complicated because Katniss and Peeta form alliances with several members from other districts after the Games have started; they know, however, that, if the Gamemakers have their way, all alliances will eventually end in death, being that there is only one survivor.
What I enjoyed about Catching Fire was its focus on possibilities of breaking free from the "system" that is the Capitol, Hunger Games, and all it's twisted policies. Individuals are willing to take more risks to confront those in charge. We are left to determine who will be the leader of this revolution. Collins clearly sets the stage, and gives hints and clues for possible events the third book and final book in the series, Mockingjay, without killing any drama in this book. Catching Fire ends with some ambiguity, so we are still a little hazy on the outcomes of several individuals, which will probably be explained in Mockingjay. Still, there is some closure, so it is a worthy and important book in the series.
If there was one flaw, it was the overdone romantic triangle with Katniss, Peeta and Gale. Katniss' narratives about Peeta and Gale are a bit tedious, with Katniss being redundant and "whiny" in nature. I thought these could have been trimmed down a little.
However, over all, Catching Fire is a great sequel that lives up to The Hunger Games, one definitely that is an equal to the first book. Often the second book in a series suffers the sophomore jinx, but I think Catching Fire sets the stage in the trilogy perfectly. It will have you eagerly anticipating the concluding book.
Suzanne Collins continues the amazing story of Katniss Everdeen in the phenomenal HungerGames trilogy.Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.