Catching fire - Just finished

Finally finished Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, and, of course, all I can do now is count the days until the third volume ships. It looks like none of my librarian friends were able to get an advance copy, so I'll have to wait like all the rest of you suckers.

The story picks up a few weeks after The Hunger Games, so, if you haven't read HG, you should probably stop reading right now and go get a copy. It's impossible to talk about the sequel without spoiling everything. And Hunger Games is such a compelling page-turner, you'll be happy to give up your entire Sunday reading it. Honestly, most people I know who have read it did so in just two or three sittings. It's that much fun to read.

Now, my first and only real criticism of Catching Fire is that it begins so slowly. The tumultuous action of HG hooks you from the very beginning. But Collins really takes her time in this volume, working hard to establish a world that is politically and socially interesting, and setting the stage for the events that will happen later in the book.

Again, we meet Katniss, Peeta, Gale, and Haymitch, who all maintain their unique character. However, District 12's win, we learn, has had heavy ramifications throughout the country of Panem. As the two victors begin their Victory Tour (not unlike the Jacksons in 1984), Katniss learns that President Snowe, the leader of the known world, has special plans for her, as well as certain expectations of behavior.

When the tour doesn't go as Snowe has planned, and the presence of Katniss and Peeta causes unexpected repercussions in the Districts, he decides that there is still one more way he can have his revenge while squashing any hope of revolution.

After this lengthy exposition, Catching Fire really takes off, and once again, we're back in the thick of the action, and Katniss the Appalachian Amazon is kickin' ass and takin' names. Haymitch is communicating in his cryptic way, and Peeta becomes the baffling object of protection while the world seems to be spinning out of control. The big reveal in the last chapter reminds us why we love this series so much, and leaves us with an unquenchable thirst for more.

New characters include Finick, the crazy-gorgeous career contestant from District Four, Nuts and Volts, the inventors, and Johanna, who seems to like getting naked all the time. Everyone's favorite designer, Cinna (who we desperately hope will be played by Christian Siriano), returns, as well as Effie, the annoying scheduler lady.

Overall, the book is a great read, but it ends so abruptly that it leaves you with a narrative hole the size of District 13. Guess we'll just have to wait until Fall.

Please cast Christian! He's the only person who can be Cinna!