Catching Fire spreads its wings beyond the annual Hunger Games and encompasses the suppressive world and their districts lead by a Nazi-like ruler, President Snow. I found this to be a more appealing story. The Hunger Games are still prominent, but this time, they are told in a way that doesn't have me question my own morals about being entertained by youth violence. But that is not to say the Games are without another - different - moral compass that brought its own special brand of tension. The somber romance of the original story returns on a slightly grander scale, as well as a cast of interesting new characters. Some of my favorites: Johanna, Finnick, and Wiress.
Overall, a very good story that gives a clearer understanding of the world they have to survive in whether it is inside or outside of the arena. I did come across a few minor plot holes or "far reaches" that momentarily knocked me out of the story, but none were major and I found it easy to get back into Collins' dystopia. I am looking forward to reading Mockingjay (Book 3) and will not be waiting a year to do so.
To begin with the negatives, the story did not evolve with the same excitement that only this dystopia could create. This may be partly because the writing was not as precise as its predecessor, but that point is completely subjective to the reader. Normally, the third act of a trilogy that is centered on violence and oppression is filled with more tension, better excitement, and parallels of the inciting moment of the first book. Though there were reminiscences of Suzanne Collins attempting to achieve those occasions, they were not present. There were moments when I struggled to keep my eyes open while reading.
But as for "Mockingjay"s positive points, the relationships between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale were worthy of a final installment, and the torment of what Peeta goes through after the end of Book #2 was imaginative and unpredictable; a story highlight. Additionally, there did not appear to be any unanswered questions or gaping holes in the plot once the last page was turned. The series ended wrapped up in a tight package, I just thought it could have used different wrapping paper.
Overall, there was much more to be expected from a series that has been so widely received. Although I would recommend this read, I would do so with a cautionary suggestion for the reader to ignore all the hype and add some leniency to their expectations. Perhaps the movie will be more entertaining.