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Catching Fire - Suzanne  Collins So this one is worse than the first. Plot-wise it was still readable (despite the direct and repetitive language), but overall nothing much new or different...just more of the same. I have a list of specific complaints below:

There is lots more evidence that Katniss is a dolt (see my review of Hunger Games); first, why is it that when she meets Plutarch and he flashes her the mockingjay she is not more interested? Why doesn't she connect this to the symbol for the rebellion? Especially considering this is AFTER she meets Bonnie and Twill in the forest and they show her the mockingjay bread.

How come she does not realize that they are all in an alliance to protect her ever? Even her assumption that they are going to protect Peeta (wrong in itself, but still fairly obvious) does not come until pg 337!

She never thinks on the grander scale...EVER. She worries about herself, she worries about Peeta; when it comes to mind (when they are present and when the jabberjays come) she worries about Prim, Gale (and her mother). Why is it exactly that she is so selfish she never thinks about the rebellion as a worthwhile cause? Why does she never consider that she and Peeta together are a symbol for the rebellion that the other victors might value?

Some new developments in this one (besides the Katniss is a dolt theme) are that she is a hysterical mess. She has a fight with Gale at the lake house in which neither of them makes a single rational argument, but instead resort to screaming. When she finds out that she is going to go back to the Games she is irrationally hysterical for several hours. When she is trying to decide between Gale and Peeta she never stops to discuss anything with either, but instead pretends that she doesn't really care about either. She is irrationally crazy over the jabberjay in the Game that sounds like Prim (fair enough it is the first one), but then gets hysterical AGAIN at Gale's voice..even though she should know it is just another bird! She gets crazy again at the end and takes it out on Haymitch because Peeta has been captured. Certainly this was not his intention and he is not the bad guy. Overall, there are just several instances in which she does not make any sense and is reduced to a screaming, flailing, emotional wreck. Certainly not the strong fighting woman that the first book works to portray.

Not only is Katniss a dolt and an emotional wreck, but she also is a total pessimist. I don't think she has a single happy thought the entire novel. She is highly suspicious of everyone and always assumes the worst. Yes, lots of bad things happen and the world in which she lives is ugly, but jesus lighten up a bit and try to look on the bright side.

Overall, I found Katniss to become much less likeable in this book than in the first (and she wasn't really a compelling character for me in the first one).

Plotwise, I have a few other concerns/criticisms. Minor point, but slightly annoying...when they first leave on the train to go on the Victory Tour, it takes almost a full day to travel from D12 to D11; then they travel for quite some time to each of the districts. However, when they leave the Capitol to go back to D12, it takes less than a day. If the area of Panem is supposed to encompass all of North America (except for the area that was D13), one would expect a longer trip than just a few hours from the centermost city to the outreaches. In a similar vein, the population of Panem is supposed to encompass that of North America. There are only 12 districts plus the Capitol, so each district should hold the population of several states. Why is it exactly that people pretty much know EVERYONE in their district? Collins has written this as if each district is the size of a small village. Certainly if that was true, then the whole Panem would have less than a million people. Small point, but annoying and distracting.

I was absolutely annoyed at the Bonnie and Twill in the forest episode. Not only was it too coincidental that she stumbles on them in the few hours they will be there (she only treks out there a few times a month), but the whole purpose of the meeting is to introduce the idea of rebellion to thick-headed numbskull Katniss and yet there would have been many other simple and more effective ways that Collins could have done this.

I wanted to know how the citizens would take the fact that without a normal reaping they couldn't enter tessarae for their kids. Far from being happy that the victors are the sole potential contestants, many families will now starve because they can't get extra grain this year. I know, other changes are just as upsetting (such as the burning of the Hob and the increased Peacemaker presence), but Collins didn't even address this issue.

Finally, I was once again struck by the idea that the contestants did not discuss (or even entertain) the idea of simply not killing each other. I know that the Gamemasters can just kill them off one by one, but if they refuse to even attempt to kill each other and instead protect each other, then the rebellion could be stronger. Especially since we discover in the end that over half of them were working for the rebellion anyway.

I also didn't quite understand why Katniss continues to expect people to hold it against her for the individuals that she kills in the arena. She comes back to this thought over and over through both books, yet she (and all other competitors) are compelled to do these killings. It is not as individuals that they murder each other, it is through the course of a competition. I just don't see the mindset here as consistent in any of the characters. Overall Collins just has a bloodbath and twists things whichever way she feels like at a whim without any strong thread of believability. Fantasy is okay, but characters have to consistent and truthful (at least to themselves) and the main character should always be likeable.