A disappointment after the Hunger Games which was a well paced and crafted dystopian story. Catching Fire is almost the stereotypical middle installment of a trilogy. Its just a link and nothing much new happens. In a way the fact that so much of the same ground is covered is kind of a bold choice. However, I was always wishing for something more or something different and I didn't get it until the last 10-15 pages which were pretty darn exciting.
But the story/pacing problems story were not what prompted me to give it two stars (really I'd probably give it 2.5 if I could). The problems I had loving this book could be summed up in one word...Katniss. Her characterization in this book drove me to distraction - there was a lot of eye-rolling going on while I listened.
A few of my problems with the character of Katniss in this book:
1) She has not grown at all in response to her experiences in book 1. In fact, she seemed to regress in her emotional maturity.
2) I use the word emotion cautiously, because I'm not sure that Katniss has them in any real sense of the word. She seems wierdly unable to recognize what emotion she herself is feeling and is also completely unable to read even the simplest and most obvious emotions in other people. Except when its useful to the plot.
3) Katniss' level of intelligence/intuition seems to be entirely at the whim of the plot. Katniss is dumb as a stump in this book - like shake her in frustration dumb -mostly because the plot, as is, wouldn't have worked if she hadn't been unable to put 2 and 2 together. This was probably my biggest complaint - for me the characters are all powerful and should not be wibbly wobbly to make a weak plot work.
4) Katniss in book 1 demonstrated that she's really a pretty cold and angry young woman. She has such a seething resentment of her mother that she can hardly bring herself to hug her before going off to what likely could have been her death. So where is that Katniss in the beginning of this book? With the treatment she has received from the Capitol, why isn't she angry? Her abject fear and terror that drives her to act incredibly dishounorably in the first half of the book doesn't jive. Again it feels like she acted out of character because it suited the plot.
This feels like such a rant and I didn't mean it to be - it was just such a disappointment after the greatness of Hunger Games. I actually can't quite put a finger on why I disliked Katniss so much more in this installment than in the 1st. You could make arguments that her characterization is an attempt to make her more real but thes books really need a heroine and that bit kind of got left out in this one. I just could not connect with her and it pulled me out of the story.
Overall, I certainly didn't hate it despite the rant! Like the rating says it was okay. But I have to say much of my goodwill towards the book was because the Hunger Games was so great. And because of that I have hope and am looking forward to Mockingjay.