Having survived the Hunger Games, Katniss is now thrust into the spotlight at the champion. It is a position that makes her uneasy on a number of levels. Her relationships are strained, and her very life is in danger, though from far subtler dangers than those found in the Arena. Katniss’s amazing win has sparked uprisings amongst the various districts, and the president has made it clear that she is going to be held responsible – and may pay with her family’s lives. So when the next Hunger Games are announced, and there is a twist this time, Katniss is aware that it’s targeted at her: against all expectations she will be thrust back into the Arena to fight.
I had been expecting more of a political thriller this time around, so I was caught off guard by the reintroduction of Katniss in the Arena. In some ways I think that it would have been just as knuckle-whitening if Katniss had, as originally planned, been the mentor to other children fighting in the games. The emotional whiplash would certainly have been present. As it is, while I enjoyed the scenes in the Area, they were a bit of a disappointment, and felt more tacked on than anything. If the entire book, like the first one, had been about survival in the Arena, that would have been one thing. But this one couldn’t quite decide if it was a book about the dangers of political maneuvering or the more obvious dangers of an opponent with a spear. As Katniss matures and questions both her own actions and those of the government, it might make sense to spend more time with the equally dangerous, and perhaps more treacherous, fights to rebel against an oppressive regime.
I can see why the author did not have Katniss immediately start planning a rebellion. Katniss’s success in the Arena was largely a result of her overriding determination to survive at all costs. That is not the personality type that throws itself into an almost hopeless struggle. I’m hoping that in the third book, we’ll see more leadership from Katniss and those around her.
These review makes it seem like I didn’t like the book, which is very far from the truth. As with the first one, I was unable to put the book down, driven to know what was going to happen next. I read it all in one sitting, which is a recommendation in itself.