**SPOILER WARNING.** Contains some spoilers from first book, The Hunger Games. Would advise skipping this review if you've yet to read it!
"After winning the brutal Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen returns to her district, hoping for a peaceful future. But Katniss starts to hear rumours of a deadly rebellion against the Capitol. A rebellion that she and Peeta have helped to create. As Katniss and Peeta are forced to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. Unless Katniss and Peeta can convince the world that they are still lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying."
Catching Fire is the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy and picks up a few months after book one. Katniss' life has changed a lot since she and Peeta were declared victors of the Hunger Games and arrived back in their home, District 12. She, and her mother and sister, now live in victors village and don't lack for food, clothing or money. But Katniss' problems are far from over. She doesn't like being in the spotlight, she doesn't like seeing her friends suffer still and she has a hard time knowing how to deal with Peeta and her best friend Gale, both of whom love her. But when they discover the unrest breaking out in the Districts, fueled by Katniss' 'trick' at the end of the previous Games, life becomes far, far more dangerous for them all and Katniss is forced to make some tough decisions.
Book one, The Hunger Games, completely blew me away. I wasn't sure if Catching Fire could really live up to the tension and emotion of it, but it did. I was grabbed just as quickly and just as hard by Katniss' continued troubles. All the characters grew on me even more through this book as things heated up and more was discovered about them all. I couldn't help feeling for Katniss as she tries to protect those closest to her, but not really knowing how to.
The tension builds from the start and there are some really good twists that caught me out. I could guess towards the end about something that was going to happen, and I willed Katniss to see it, but my figuring it out first didn't spoil it for me any. I couldn't help tears a couple of times when loved characters were hurt and I felt Katniss' fear and pain clear as day. As well as being a well told story of it's own though, this book is the set up for the final showdown in book 3, Mockingjay, and it does a great job of it. The ending was painful and brilliant leaving me desperate for more!
I can see why this series has become such a hit, and it's very well deserved. Collins does a great job of making the scene very real, and delivering the blows unflinchingly. The tension that begins on page one, doesn't end until the final words and all the while I just keep wishing things weren't quite so hard for Katniss. But I know it wouldn't be nearly the story it is if they weren't. There is a little more romance in this book than the previous one, but while I feel it adds to the story, it would also be just fine without it. I personally am rooting for a specific guy, because I am me and I must, but I find I'm not all that fussed about Katniss' romantic life. I'm far more interested in her survival and the rest of her story there is to be told. I am now desperate to read Mockingjay and it is easily in the top three of books I most want in 2010! 10/10