When setting out to read The Hunger Games, I remembered the first movie fairly well and the book unfolded the way I expected it to go. When picking up book two, it occurred to me that I didn’t really remember the second movie other than Katniss and Peeta going back into the Games and all hell breaking loose in the arena at the end, which pleasantly meant more of the events in the book were a surprise.
Now I’m not sure if it’s due to my not remembering much about the movie, or whether it didn’t come through as clearly as it did in the book, but something that jumped out while reading is how Katniss, Peeta, and once we meet them, many of the other former tributes are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of their time in the Games. This makes perfect sense. How could you not, considering the murder committed and the tortures the arena itself inflicted.
Reading from Katniss’s perspective shows how deeply she is afraid of and repelled by Snow. The concept of a person smelling of roses and blood is repugnant. Winning the Games was supposed to give Katniss security but President Snow continues to make it clear that he considers her a dangerous element to be closely monitored and controlled. Even though she is distraught by what she must do, Katniss continues to dance to the Capitol’s tune in a desperate desire to protect everyone she loves.
Maintaining the facade of romance with Peeta is a continuing source of torment, knowing that he is not faking his love for her and how she wounds him by not returning it in kind. Her relationship with Gale further ties her in knots, as Katniss still has not fully come to an understanding of how she feels toward him. From the outside looking in it can be perplexing at times that Katniss can’t let Gale go and make her life easier by letting the small spark she feels toward Peeta grow into a proper flame. Or, inversely, walk away from Peeta and make a clean break to stop crushing his heart. Then I remember that she is only sixteen or perhaps seventeen depending on where one is in the book.
As District 12 comes under pressure from the Capitol, feelings of rebellion begin to stir within Katniss but the task seems insurmountable. Then comes the announcement that the 75th Hunger Games would be particularly special as the tributes would be chosen from former winners. Katniss’s almost animal like fear in response to this news is palpable. The Games are once again a horror show but this time instead of trying to survive she is determined to save Peeta. Behind the scenes others have plans for Katniss, a desire to turn her into the Mockingjay and symbol of the rebellion. Katniss continues to be an unwitting pawn in multiple games that are happening outside of the arena and her realization of this leads to a deep sense of betrayal and frustration, which in a sense is worse than the direct manipulation of the Games.
Even though I recall roughly where this is all headed, I am eager to read the conclusion of this trilogy.