So, Catching Fire. Action packed, yes, but just packed in general. I took about the same amount of time to reread this one as I took to reread the first, and yet I ended up feeling rushed. Why? Because there was too much going on. Where in The Hunger Games there was some time in the beginning for the premise and the world to seep into the skin, the sequel gave no such quarter. Action action action with no breaks and no time to get used to this world. Yes, it makes some sense to do it this way, but it also left me dizzied and confused in the end. (I suppose the point might be made that dizzied and confused is exactly the way Katniss would feel at that point...plus exhausted and terrified.)
To me, Catching Fire also seemed to struggle a bit with what I like to call middle book syndrome - where its main purpose seems to be to connect the first book to the third, and so it gives up a lot of what would make it stand on its own. It starts in the middle and ends in the middle, and while that also makes sense, I'm the kind of person who likes middle books to be more cohesive than that.
All in all, I would call Catching Fire enjoyable, but not as good as the first. I attribute much of that loss to middle book syndrome, though, so I definitely have high expectations for the third book.
The hardest hit: Suzanne Collins definitely hit the nail on the head with the Gale-Peeta-Katniss triangle in this book. While in The Hunger Games Gale was pretty much a distant memory, making Peeta the one practically everyone (including me) rooted for. But she definitely provided some strong incentive to Team Gale in this book by giving him screen (page?) time and making him an actual romantic contender.
So that's all for my pre-Mockingjay celebration - I'm pretty low-key, as you can probably tell. I will say, however, that I did a little jig when I got the e-mail that the book had been shipped. I didn't pay extra for expedited shipping, so I'm hoping for it sometime this week...