Catching Fire: A few thoughts. SPOILER ALERT.
Again, this whole post is one giant spoiler for the sequel, Catching Fire, to Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games (HG). Catching Fire (CF) is slated for release on September 1st. I was very fortunate to get an Advanced Reader's Copy, thanks to someone's amazing mother.
If you haven't read HG go get it immediately and do nothing else but read it. In CF Katniss and Peeta are sent back into the Arena for the Quarter Quell, a special, themed, version of the HG which is held every 25 years. They're particularly perilous and supposed to make the people of Panem extra thankful for everything the dystopian communistic dictator in the Capitol has done for them (like making sure they're always on the verge of starvation, cold and worked to the bone.). The theme for the 75th Quarter Quell is that two living tributes from each district are to reenter. The make sure the people know that no one is safe from the grips of the Capitol.
Meanwhile, unrest throughout the land increases. People are unhappy with the status quo. Katniss's defiance against the Capitol during the 74th Games, when she and Peeta attempted a double suicide (either they both left the Games alive or neither did) was a spark. Her mockingjay pin, worn during the games, became a symbol among the people for freedom and rebellion. Since the districts are divided and heavily guarded it was hard for Katniss to learn of uprisings in the other districts but she puts it all together. Once she is in the Arena she and Peeta are clueless about an alliance among several victors. Haymitch and Heavensbee, outside the arena in a hovercraft from District 13 (remember: D13 was blown off the map a few years ago and everyone thought it was destroyed), are the brains behind it.
The alliance tries to keep Katniss alive because she is the image of the rebellion. The people need her. And they keep Peeta alive because Katniss would stop fighting for her own life if Peeta was dead (her goal being to get him out alive). Strange crap happens inside the arena with the other tributes...The readers put together the puzzle pieces along with Katniss. At times I got mad because I thought she was being dense, like when one of the morphling addicts throws herself in front of Peeta and is basically ripped apart by a muttation monkey. Why the eff would a competitor sacrifice her own life for a person she's supposed to kill? Huh?! And this was after the sexy tribute jumps out to fetch Peeta from the ocean, and then the old woman commits suicide when it becomes apparent that she, Peeta, Katniss and Sexy (I forget his name...and the book's at home. Begins with an F.) can't all escape the poisonous acid fog.
Why do these folks want Peeta to live? Then Johanna, who Katniss cannot stand and who cannot stand Katniss, emerges with Nuts and Volts - the two tributes that Katniss adamantly wanted to forge an alliance with. Johanna announced that she brought them for Katniss - why?! She reveals that it was the only way to get Katniss to form an alliance. Why?? Haymitch told her to do it!!
At that point I didn't really know what was up. I wouldn't have figured it out, but Katniss's paranoia leads her to really weird conclusions. Granted, they're in an arena where the point is to kill each other. But if people are killing themselves in order for Peeta to live and risking their lives to do things for Katniss - I would at least entertain other conclusions. I'd be vigilant but c'mon Katniss. Something is seriously going on. The chick's got cajones but she is, like, afraid to speak her mind eloquently. Talking is not her thing. This bothers me because I'd put an arrow to someone's temple and be like "Yo punk ass bitch, wtf. Tell me what is going on or I skewer your grey matter." Wouldn't you love to hear Katniss actually put her rebellious attitude to some good use and extract information from these folks? Shit woulda been a LOT easier.
Then something happens near the end that made me yell at the book: two non-alliance tributes approach to kill Katniss and Johanna. Johanna pushes Katniss down and tells her to stay down, then she slashes her arm open and leaves. Katniss's thoughts are "she turned on me!". Uh, hello. If she wanted to kill you she easily coulda done it ten times over. The first thing I thought was TRACKING CHIP...the one they put in her arm before dropping her into the arean...Johanna took it out. It was IMMEDIATELY obvious to me. Even if it wasn't to Katniss - couldn't she check out the wound and figure it out? That part made me annoyed with her.
The climax brings us to the moment of revelation: Volts's weapon of choice - wire he developed himself - was to be used to essentially short-circuit the force field surrounding the arena. Since Heavensbee, the Game Maker, is in on the rebellion, he ensure that this could be done. It works. The force field collapses and Katniss is scooped up by Haymitch and Heavensbee into the hovercraft.
If I were Katniss I'd want to know what was going on but I understand why Haymitch kept her in the dark. Katniss didn't know who scooped her into the hovercraft - she thought it was the game makers. She went looking for Peeta with plans to kill him with a syringe in order to save him from torture. Instead she finds Haymitch, Heavensbee and Sexy talking. Haymitch goes something like "You and syringes against the capital? That's why we don't let you make the plans." I definitely lol'ed. The thing is, Katniss couldn't know. She's conflicted and stubborn. Sure, once she makes up her mind about something she follows through and is totally bad ass about it. But she wasn't sure about this rebellion (she is a kid for chrissakes, after all). If she did know what was up she probably would have tried to take matters into her own hands, instead of listening to the people trying to organize the rebellion. She probably woulda done something dumb! I love Katniss but...it's Katniss. Haymitch is right :-)
I cannot wait for book three. We're going to District 13! Will they be an advanced underground society?! Did the two women Katniss found in the woods ever make it to D13? Will she and Gale be together and will Peeta be ok? I love Peeta and hope he doesn't die and that he has a good life.