Summary: In this sequel to The Hunger Games, Katniss, one of the victors of the Games, is back at home in District 12. Although a winner, life has not become any easier. She finds herself trying to balance her relationships with Peeta (her fellow victor) and Gale (her longtime friend) while attempting to appease the Capitol, still angry over her "defiant" win in the Games.
Musings: I absolutely loved Hunger Games and have been eagerly awaiting Collins' second book in the trilogy. Although Catching Fire was perhaps not as strong as the first novel, I enjoyed being back in the midst of the characters I had grown attached to.
From the beginning, Catching Fire starts off differently than Hunger Games. Where the first novel was almost non-stop action, relatively little happens in the first half of the sequel. Katniss, a star when simply trying to keep alive, is less successful at navigating the new social relationships for her back at home. The Twilight-esque love triangle between her, Peeta, and Gale is overwhelming, and Katniss avoids it by going back to her strength - surviving. I am in love with Gale, but like in the Hunger Games, relatively little is known about him. Although he clearly loves Katniss, he does not pursue it with the same "I'll die for you!" devotion of Peeta. Katniss is simply no Bella and tries to avoid both men's declarations of love.
For many reasons, life in the Games was much easier for Katniss than life at home. In the Games, her only focus was keeping herself alive. With such a straightforward goal, she stayed strong. Back at home, Katniss must begin to decide whose survival is most important. Hers? Her family's? The people she loves? District 12? All the districts? Districts have begun uprising, using Katniss as their symbol of hope, but Katniss herself is not ready to be the figurehead of a revolution.
Katniss appears weaker through much of the first half of the book, even needing Peeta to hold her in her sleep. In the second part of the book, when her immediate survival is again in jeopardy, she is more powerful and confident, but her new position within the country means things are less black and white than she is capable of understanding.
I can't wait for the last book in the series to appear. I want some happiness for the characters -- and, even though it's not a romance, I'm dying for Katniss and Gale to really hook up.