Once again Collins has delivered a book that is engaging and very difficult to put down.
As the book opens, we find that Katniss and Peeta have returned to District 12 to the Victor’s Village, where their families can live in prosperity and peace. But all is not well. PTSD has clearly set in. Katniss’ friend Gale keeps a cool distance from her since the events of the Games, and Peeta will have nothing to do with her. Katniss survived the Games because everyone thought she and Peeta were too much in love to kill each other, but a visit from President Snow reveals that he saw it as nothing more than an act of defiance, and that many people feel the same way. Katniss has unwittingly caused the first rumbles of rebellion, and if she does not convince everyone of her love for Peeta, her family will suffer.
These books are so very readable. Katniss is an engaging, realistic protagonist. She isn’t perfect. She has a temper, she’s very clueless, particularly when it comes to love, and she’s occasionally selfish. But her voice is strong, and she herself is stronger than she realizes.
It also helps that Collins give us a diverse cast of supporting characters, as well as a good contrast to those who are more black-and-white in their morality. On one end of the spectrum you have President Snow, an amoral, bloodthirsty dictator through and through, and on the other end you have Peeta, selfless, giving, and kind. In between you have Katniss, rather selfish, temperamental, yet fiercely loyal to those she loves; Haymitch, the cynical drunk who nonetheless clearly cares for his two charges; and many vain, shallow, yet ultimately kind-hearted people they meet in the Capitol.
The story is very tightly written. It moves quickly, but each moment counts, each moment builds up toward the conclusion.
I give it a 4 out of 5.