Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins ***1/2

Catching Fire is book two in the popular trilogy The Hunger Games.  Katniss and Peeta won the 74th Hunger Games in the previous novel and are forced to go on a “Victory Tour”.  Before they leave, President Snow shows up in Katniss’ home and threatens everyone she loves because her action with the berries at the end of the last Hunger Games has been taken as rebellion in some of the districts.  Without knowing it, Katniss started a rebellion.  President Snow tells her essentially that she has to calm the masses, convince him that she’s in love with Peeta, and tow the company line if she wants to save everyone she cares about.

At every turn, because Katniss does not know her own power as the only victor to save another person, she tries to calm people and only succeeds in riling them up.  At the end of the Victory Tour, Peeta proposes publically, hoping that this will appease Snow.  It doesn’t.
This year, for the 75th Hunger Games, 24 of the pervious Hunger Games winners are forced to compete as a part of something call the “Quarter Quell”, a specially brutal set of Games that happens every 25 years.  Knowing that they’re going back in, Peeta vows to protect Katniss again and she vows to protect him.  Yeah, because we know they’ve both made deals with Haymitch, we know somebody’s been lied to.
I like the arena this time.  I think the layout is an interesting concept.  However, even though we had different players and a different arena, it still felt a little bit like same old, same old during the Games.  It is only after the Hunger Games come to a crashing halt that the book picked up for me. 
I know that we needed this book for the emotional development.  I know that we needed it so that she would decide if she is going to become the Mockingjay.  But I wanted a book with a title like Catching Fire to leap off the page for me and it simply didn’t quite make it until the end.  There’s some definite character development.  I like the characters that were introduced.  It just felt too much like what it was to me, a bridge novel.

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