Sad to say, it is a rare instance that the follow ups hold a candle to the original. I must admit, I felt this way about Trenton Lee Stewart's continuation of The Mysterious Benedict Society. The first was just SO good that it was going to be a tough thing to blow me away again.
Not so with Catching Fire. I'm going to go out on a limb here, and say that this may be the best sequel I've ever read, any genre. Collins find a simply brilliant way to continue the story of Katniss, Gayle, and Peeta, and their involvement with the horrible Panem Capitol tradition of The Hunger Games. It's difficult to explain why it's so brilliant without giving away the storyline, and it's just too fun a read to deprive anyone of the glorious twists and turns of Book 2.
All I can say is if you're a fan of The Hunger Games, it's a must-read. If you haven't read The Hunger Games, maybe I can convince you to read both books with this review -- they go so far beyond their setting and genre to deliver a (often) disturbing message on the human condition. But they are also incredibly entertaining page-turners that will make you forgo your bedtime night after night.
Again, I would recommend this series for 14 and up, it's quite violent and while the love triangle element remains fairly innocent, there are situations that may be too adult for tweens.
The only negative is that Book 2 is a cliff-hanger that will leave you unable to believe you'll have to wait until August to find out what happens next. Consider yourself warned.
5 bookmarks. Yeowza.