It's not unusual for me to read the first book in the series, love it, and stop there. Books like The Traveler and Dune struck me as so powerful, I just can't imagine future books being better than the first. (And I was right about The Traveler, the second and third books were pretty blah). So I was actually quite content to leave the Hunger Game Series where I had left it: as being a fun read, that pretty much blew me away.
Alas, I couldn't leave well enough alone. Just the other day, I finished listening to Catching Fire, the second book in the Hunger Games series.
On one hand, it is true that I for the most part devoured the book, listening to it whenever I had a few free moments. And there were a couple moments in the book that got me rooting for the characters, and left me impressed with their problem solving skills. But overall, the book was nowhere near as solid as the first one.
For one thing, most of the book felt like a meandering search for a plot. And, spoiler alert, when we did arrive at some action that the author could bite into, it was sort of a watered down version of the first book. And for another thing, I've pretty much fallen out of like with the main character, Katniss. In book one she struck me as clever, inventive, courageous and the kind of person I could learn a thing or two from. Certainly the kind of person I'd want my hypothetical daughter to emulate. In book two, she strikes me as far less mature, and always seems a few steps behind those around her, rather than a few steps ahead. If book one contained a teenage love story intermixed with a distopian thriller, book two is sort of the sulky teenager mixed with the same distopian thriller. It just didn't do it for me.
A few key points do strike me: First, it doesn't surprise me that the second book in a trilogy would be more of a bridge to the third book, rather than intended to stand on its own. That's probably just the reality of trilogies. And second, Katniss is supposed to be teenager, so I can hardly fault the author for writing her as one. And it's true, given her situation she's probably more than entitled to be angry at the world and those around her. (Though, most of the other characters seem to be far more self aware than her.) My guess is, the author feels that her target audience is probably pissed at the world too, and so why shouldn't Katniss be right along with them. This is probably a case where I part ways with what the young adult crowd is after. I certainly wouldn't want that hypothetical daughter of mine to be following example of Book Two Katniss,
At the end of the day, the book wasn't awful. I just didn't live up to the first book in the series. I do hope that Katniss comes around in the third book, and that she doesn't continue her slide into teenage-boneheadedness. All I know is, by listening to book two I'm committed. So book three, here I come!