Life should be good for Katniss Everdeen now: she not only survived and won The Capitol's Hunger Games, she outsmarted the powers that be and saved her fellow player from District Twelve, Peeta. She's rich now, living in a special section reserved for victors of the Games, and her mother and little sister are safe from the hunger that surrounds her community. Even better, she's able to spend her Sundays back in the woods with her best friend Gale, hunting and sharing their special bond. And then The Capitol comes calling for Katniss and Peeta to do their Victory Tour of the other districts and once again, Katniss finds herself in unbelievable danger as she realizes that the government will do anything to make her pay the price for defying them. Wow. Just Wow. Catching Fire had me from the first pages and didn't let go (and still hasn't). As Katniss and Peeta tour the other districts, they see that there is more oppression out there than they'd realized, and they are unable to stop themselves from speaking out, however subtley, against The Capitol. Of course this doesn't go over well and the pair know they will have to pour on their pretend love affair thickly in hopes that they can repair the damage they've done. It's only when they return home to a very changed District Twelve that it becomes clear that they are going to have to pay the ultimate price. The characterizations in this novel just got better and better as the story went on, with Katniss and Peeta's relationship deepening significantly. Collins does an outstanding job of making Katniss uncertain to whom her heart belongs as her life is on the line. Haymitch is back as well; his personal demons seem poised to destroy him on the surface, but is he hiding behind them for different reasons than it seems? So many layers, so much going on, all of it unbelievable in its wonderful, riveting awfulness. The world Suzanne Collins has created in Catching Fire is grim and despicable; yet hope abounds in the symbols of Katniss, Peeta, and a mockingjay pin. With former Games victors mixed into this novel, I could begin to see and understand the desperation that exists on all levels of this dystopian world. With all the action, betrayals, and subterfuge going on, I had to force myself not to gulp this entire book down in one big gorging session. With the final page, my anxiety was still climbing, and I know for a fact it won't be relieved until I hold the next book in the series in my hot little hands. It's that good. This is a not to be missed series for readers of all ages.