This has been in my tbr list forever. I tried reading it not long after I finished the first book and I just couldn't get into it. Katniss was frustrating me, and the descriptions of President Snow just turned me off to the point I put it down and didn't return to it until last weekend.
Perhaps the greater length of time from when I finished the first book helped? Because this time through I found myself so caught up in the story I had a hard time putting it down.
My favorite thing: there were several elements here which surprised me. I love it when books can do that. I'm so glad I read this before the movie is released, because being surprised along with the characters was part of what made the experience of reading this so enjoyable.
I may actually prefer this to the first book. I feel like the characters are all much more honest with each other here. Katniss knows everyone well enough now to not need to bother with pretenses--and to be able to see through those of the others. (mostly. she's still surprisingly dim when it comes to a few of the new characters' motives)
I'm usually not a huge fan of cliffhangers, but I really actually liked where this one ended (perhaps because I already have book 3 and can start it right away) because I feel like I've got time to process everything that happened in this book before being introduced to the new elements we're obviously heading for.