Finished: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, 2009, 9780439023498.
Good story, but I liked the first book better.
Katniss and Peeta are back in District 12 and living in the Victors' Village. Katniss is pining for Gale but her false romance with Peeta during the Hunger Games has driven a wedge between them. Gale is also forced to work at least six days a week in the mines and Katniss does not have much opportunity to see him. Katniss wants to flee the District and take to the woods with Gale and her family.
Katniss and Peeta are due to take a victory tour to all the other Distrcits. Katniss receives a visit from the super-evil President Snow who says her defiance during the Games has sparked discontent and uprisings in the other districts. Snow threatens her to get in line or he will kill all her family, Peeta's family, and Gale's family.
Katniss and Peeta do the tour of other Districts and play all lovey-dovey for the crowds and camera but Katniss and Peeta just barely witness a brutal and murderous crushing of a public dissent. Katniss also realizes she will have to carry on the fraud with Peeta into marriage and children. Discussion ensues on whether District 13 was really leveled 50 years ago. A new police commander in District 12 starts violently cracking down on the populace.
Since the different Districts have been rebelling - Kat gets word of this from several sources - President Snow reads off new rules for that year's 75th anniversary of the Games. Suspicion is that Snow has changed the rules to both distract the Districts and enforce a penalty for their actions. For this Game all previous years winners are selected to compete again. Katniss and Peeta go back in the area and Katniss plans to have Peeta survive this time. Things happen, people die in the arena, rotten people are introduced, duplicity is pondered, etc.
My problems with the novel:
1- The story does not stand on its own. I know this is part of a planned series but Collins references too many instances and people in the first book without explanation. That always annoys me. Yeah, the author's goal or advice may be to have the reader start at #1 but I still think there should be more background info given.
2 - The Hunger Games was the focal point of the first book. Kat's and Peeta's preparation and competition in the Games take up most of the story. This book has Katniss trying to adjust after her win and wondering how to either run away or fight the Capital. The first half of the story lead me to think Kat would be actively involved with a rebellion. But then, Collins sticks her and Peeta back in the stupid Games.