Why I Read It:
I re-read and enjoyed the first book enough to dive right into the second one.
Before jumping into Catching Fire, I already knew that Katniss and Peeta were going to be re-entered into the Hunger Games. With that said, I wasn't particularly excited about this second installment -- I thought it was just going to be a re-hashing of the first book at best. Thankfully, it wasn't, and it ended up being my favourite book of all three.
What was pretty cool about this book was that readers got to have a glimpse (though sadly, ONLY a glimpse) at the other Districts in Panem because of Peeta and Katniss's Victory Tour. Of course, we don't get to see every single district in any kind of detail, but we're still given a lot more information about them then we were giving in the first book. I especially liked the little tidbit in District 11; that part made me tear up a bit, and then really sad by the end of it. I also liked (though kind of sadistically) the sinking feeling in my gut when we finally get to the end of the tour and Katniss knows that she didn't convince Snow that she had quelled any ideas of an uprising. This still isn't my favourite series or anything, but I knew when I felt that same feeling in my gut that I imagined Katniss must have been feeling that I was at least invested in this story.
Another aspect of the novel that I really enjoyed was that we got to learn about past victors from the Hunger Games. Seriously, how cool is that? Learning how Haymitch won The Hunger Games was pretty cool too, though I don't understand why the Capitol would have been so mad that he figured out that the cliff rebounded stuff with that force-field thing -- I don't see how that's defying or mocking them -- but whatever. It felt slightly forced in so that Katniss would know about the force-fields ahead of time, since they were pretty prominent in second Hunger Games Katniss and Peeta are thrown into.
Speaking of that, like I mentioned before, I already knew Katniss and Peeta were going to be thrown in the Arena a second time (I honestly think I read it on the dustjacket a long time ago) so there was absolutely no tension there for me, which was slightly unfortunate -- that could've been a cool and shocking reveal had I not know. But anwyay, the games themselves were different enough from The Hunger Games that I was still glued to the page. It also gave me the chance to get acquainted with Finnick and I loooved him.
Some of the things I wasn't so fond about: this stupid "love triangle". I obviously knew about it before diving in, but seriously, how can anyone be Team Gale? The guy's hardly ever around. He seriously gets hardly any page-time at all until Mockingjay, which is FINE, but it does absolutely nothing to sell me on this love triangle. And, I have to admit it, I was totally rooting for Peeta the whole time anyway. I'm not sure why because I've never been totally invested in Katniss's character, and he really is too good to be true (he loves Katniss so unconditionally, which I think is something many girls fantasize their relationships being like) but I thought he was so damn CUTE. I think it helps that I kept picturing Josh Hutcherson whenever I read about Peeta...
I'm also still not sold on the first-person present tense POV. It still feels like Katniss is just reporting something that's already happened, or like she's observing herself from outside herself and just describing what she's doing. I never FELT her emotions, especially at the end of the novel when she was so PISSED and upset, which is odd because she's supposed to be describing how she's feeling THEN and THERE. I did, however, like her quite a bit more in this installment than the first one. At certain parts, even when the writing didn't seem to be conveying it effectively, she still felt so afraid for most of this novel, and I couldn't blame her. I also liked that she opened up to Peeta more instead of tiptoeing around each other and being angsty about their feelings. No, she's just focused on keeping the people she loves alive and I just found it easier to relate to her and like her overall.
Speaking of the ending, am I the only one who found it totally confusing? I recall reading it very late at night (I had to do that a lot because I'd work on school stuff or work during the day) so that probably had something to do with it, but I was pretty confused. It doesn't REALLY matter in the long run because it makes sense when it's explained to Katniss, but I still thought it worth noting. Also: I was really glad to already have Mockingjay in hand when I finished this. Very cliff-hanger ending.Final Verdict:
Like the first book, Catching Fire is a fast page-turner and I found myself addicted. The first half of the book isn't quite as fast-paced as The Hunger Games, it makes up for it by fleshing out Panem: we get to learn about the other Districts more, and we get to meet a handful of Victors from past Games, which I thought was really cool. I also found Katniss to be largely more likable and relatable, which was good because I already liked her in The Hunger Games, but I still found myself frustrated with her at times because of how suspicious she was of everyone -- this is not the case here. All in all, this is probably my favourite book in the trilogy, though it's hard to say because they are all pretty close together in that regard.