Synopsis from Amazon.com: Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.
Of the trilogy, this was my most enjoyed. I found book one to be quite predictable with not too many huge surprises. This one made me think. It wasn't easy to figure out whether she felt more strongly for Peeta or Gale (still don't like that name for him). Katniss seemed to grow up before my eyes, finding her inner strength to carry on the charade of being in love with Peeta (or was it a charade?) not to mention the threats from the Capitol and trying to keep her family safe. I think Peeta is my favorite character of all. He's the only one who never annoyed me.
SPOILER ALERT - Here's where I delve a little deeper, so cover your eyes if you don't want to know.
This time it wasn't too predictable. It was pleasing to see her get right back to hunting after she got back to her home after the games even though she was rich now. I don't always like the tough girl act these characters are written to play, but this was not overkill, IMHO. Although it took a while for this book to hit my preferred level of intensity, I was kind of glad for the suspense. Good things are worth waiting for, and I nearly fell over when they got called into the Hunger Games again! Oh, you thought you were just going to get away with your little stunt and go on with your life, Katniss? Ha! I think NOT. I didn't see that coming, and what a perfect way for President Snow to get back at Katniss for making the Capitol look stupid with the poison berry trick. Cinna being killed really bothered me, but I was proud of him for standing up to the Capitol in his own way, using his designs. He went down fighting, figuratively speaking. I like that Collins came up with a very creative arena this time and didn't just have them running around the wilderness. It was a clock with a different terror at each hour. The whole issue about the force field having a glitch was great! I knew that would be the big deal, but it was still surprising how it unfolded with her shooting the arrow through the hole in force field that blew up the arena. I knew something was brewing when everyone was risking their life to save Peeta, too, which is revealed in book three.
I'm impressed that Katniss manages to bust up the Hunger Games yet again and shame the Capitol. Only this time she didn't get to go home to normalcy but woke up in the mysterious District 13 being tended to sans Peeta. It was a great touch to have him snatched by the Capitol, because I was highly stressed at this point but in a good way. The way you're supposed to be all stressed out and panting behind a good book, dying to know what happens next. While I don't particularly like Collins' writing style, I do fancy the way she manages to leave you breathless at the end of every chapter and keep you wanting to go forward. Leaving an idea totally hanging at the end of every chapter is one of the best tactics a writer can use.
So by the end of the book, I thought my prediction was right about Katniss getting to be with Gale while Peeta was somehow left for dead. But I was wrong ...
Check out the book 3 review to find out how.
I still can't shake the Twilight vibe between Katniss, Gale and Peeta, but oh well ... I give this book 4 stars!