The same things that were said about The Hunger Games still apply to the sequel: it’s still gripping, still fascinating, still totally satisfying.
Except it’s not. The first one was more truly dystopian than this one — Catching Fire is more of a political thriller, an adventure story. It holds up well for the middle of the trilogy; most middle books lag in the plot department, with much exposition and very little excitement. This one, however, once it gets going — and it takes about half of the book to really get going — keeps you occupied.
The first half, while slow, doesn’t slog, though. Our favorite characters are back, and Collins adds some depth to most of them. Katniss is still quite angst-y, but it’s played out better here. It’s not so grating, and the twists and turns at the end of the book use Katniss’s weaknesses to great advantage. Peeta is still awesome: altruistic, sure, but not in an annoying way; and he really throws the plot for a couple of loops, too.
The really interesting character here, however, is Haymitch. He was a fascinating side character in Hunger Games — you could sense depth underneath the drunkenness — but in this book, it’s like peeling back the layers: the more you see of Haymitch, the more interesting he becomes. Then the very, very end just blows you away.
Which means the only real question is: when is the next one coming out?
Rated: Moderate (like Hunger Games, it’s an incredibly violent book.)