I thought this was better than the first book, but at times it was a bit formulaic. Collins follows the typical pattern of 1. building toward a conflict, 2. conflict, 3. Katniss reflecting on the conflict and other things, 4. building toward a new conflict, 5. new conflict, 6. Katniss reflecting, ya da ya da. You get the picture.
Collins, however, kept the suspense high, the mystery of people’s motives well hidden until the end, and the conflict riveting at the same time. She is a master story teller and his created a wonderfully bleak world. The only thing stopping this book from becoming a five star in my mind is the lead character, Katniss, is not as sympathetic as other characters in other books. On the other hand, maybe this is a five star because it’s a plot driven rather than character driven book, and Katniss is as bleak of a character as the world Collins has created. On the other hand, Cormac McCarthy created an even bleaker world in “The Road” and I found myself rooting and feeling sorry and hoping for the best for the kid in that book. So I’ll keep Catching Fire at four stars.