Here's the thing... and please, keep this in mind....I really liked Catching Fire. Really. I did. I devoured it and read it in a matter of hours.
That being said.............
...............I didn't like it as much as the first book ::taking pocket watch out of my pocket and rubbing my thumb across its face as you catch a glimpse of the mockingjay symbol while I wait for this information to sink in::
It just... I just.... Suzanne just.... I dunno.
The thing I loved about book one was all the Peeta/Katniss action-- and I know you know what I'm talking about here. I NEED sexual tension. I NEED self-sacrifice for the love of your life. I NEED kisses that stir something in your chest confusing you because you want more. I NEED one liners like "Come to finish me off, sweetheart?" and I WOULDN'T MIND if Gale was gone.
I barely cared he got whipped, you gize. That's how dead inside I am/how much Suzanne didn't sell me on him.
What I DIDN'T need was for Katniss to go back into the games. I've seen her in the games. I know how they work. I know Katniss dominates the games. I DIDN'T need to meet a bunch of new homies (elderly homies, btw), pretend to care about them and then ultimately NOT care about them which lead me into a nasty guilt spiral of shame. I DIDN'T need for Peeta to be treated like some kind of a porcelain doll that everyone needed to take care of. I mean, I get why, don't think I don't get why...I just DIDN'T need to see that. I hate him being portrayed that way.
What I WANTED was for Peeta to be the tough guy. I WANTED Peeta to save Katniss in some heroic use of his brute strength and smarts. I WANTED to see the games from a different perspective like maybe Gale or Prim got drafted and Katniss, Peeta & Haymitch became their mentors. I know a revolution needed to take place (I WANTED that too) but not this way. No, not this way. This seemed like a repeat of book one but with crazy monkeys, old people & nerve gas.
It did have its poignant moments, I'll give you that. The old man with the wise eyes, for example, doing Rue's whistle in District 11 and then being shot. Whats-her-face old lady sacrificing herself so whats-his-face dude with the trident could carry Peeta faster (again, cuz he's a baby & can't do anything by himself--boooooo). Cinna getting beaten (I very much did not enjoy that but it was an awesome moment just before she pops up in the games). Some very nice moments riddled throughout indeed.
Finally, my biggest beef here...I HATE STEPPING STONE BOOKS. That cliff-hanger is unforgivable. Each book needs to at least TRY to be its own story. This was ridiculous and it's like Suzanne doesn't even feel bad about it. Each Harry Potter book is a story unto itself with a beginning, middle and (mostly) tied up ending. Each Twilight book was it's own (except, in a strange twist, the last one). But this... THIS? No. Didn't even try.
The bottom line is that I expected too much. I upped my expectations and Suzanne didn't deliver. It left me flat, not bedazzled like the first one. And now I get to wait at least another year to see if she can redeem herself with book 3.