How shall I start except to say that I devoured this book today. While I haven't thoroughly read all of the reviews out there, not wanting to spoil the book for myself, I had seen mainly glowing reviews and a few dissenting opinions, as well.All I can say is that for me, this book worked. In general, I didn't find the first person present tense to be too awkward, with a few exceptions. But what Collins does so successfully (in my opinion) is that she simply grabs you with the story and I just didn't want to put this book down. I thought the pacing was excellent and I never felt like the story was slow at any point--I was always trying to read as fast as I possibly could to find out what was going to happen next. The plot twists were thrilling and kept me at the edge of my seat.And oh, these characters! Naturally, the primary focus is on Katniss and Peeta, but Collins also does a fine job with the supporting cast, in my opinion. From Gale, to Katniss's mother, to Haymitch, to the clueless citizens of the hated Capitol, Collins has created characters and a story that will stick with you long after you put the book down. Yes, the wait for book 3 (when's it due out?) may likely kill me, but I'll do my best to wait as patiently as possible. (The ever-growing TBR pile will probably help with that.) I can honestly say that I enjoyed Catching Fire just as much as I did The Hunger Games.