This book is a far better book than The Hunger Games and I have no idea how that’s possible.
Let me explain. I accept that I’m going to come into contact with books that are exceptional, books that are better than what I had previously read in the past, but a sequel kicking the ass of the original? I know! I couldn’t believe it either - especially when I factor in just how much I loved “Book 1”.
This time around, Katniss and Peeta have to deal with the fact that by becoming co-winners of The Hunger Games, they inadvertently became rebels, inspiring the beginning stages of an uprising. Fuel is only added to the fire when Peeta declares his intentions to share the spoils of victory with the families of the allies he had in battle. The Capitol does not take kindly to their unselfish ways and in an effort to put an end to the potential crumbling of society, they respond with vicious and ruthless force. The response? Extreme reinforcement of rules, public torture and even execution.
When Katniss witnessed the revision of the Quarter Qwell, placing past victors back into the arena for another go around in The Hunger Games, I felt for her. I literally felt this enormous weight in my gut, like someone had punched me. Probably due to the way that Collins writes Katniss’ reaction; it was just so vivid. Screaming, breaking furniture and running into the streets like a person overcome with madness. For Katniss, the nightmares never stopped; she never fully recovered from the horror of killing her peers, from surviving the brutal battle in the Games. The idea of having to go back in after being assured that she was safe from future involvement (aside from being mentor) had to be soul crushing.
As I mentioned earlier, the feeling in my gut rarely went away. Collins' ability to write about violence without the use of vulgarity is the key to this series being YA. It's certainly refreshing for me. Hey, don't get me wrong, I loves me some over the top violence (one of the reasons I love Stephen King and movies like "Machete") but its nice to use a characters emotions and feelings of vulnerability to instill feelings of disgust. Does that make sense?
I love this book and I'm poised to view this trilogy as one of my favorites (provided Book III is not a let down). I can't recommend this enough.