Katniss Everdeen survived the Hunger Games. Now the Capitol wants revenge.
Since her return from The Hunger Games, Katniss and her friend Gale have revealed their feelings for each other, even though the public believe Katniss to be in love with Peeta. When the vile President Snow uses Katniss’s affair to coerce her public support for the Capitol during the Victory Tour, she discovers how her actions in THE HUNGER GAMES have encouraged rebellion in the other Districts. When this unrest proves impossible to contain the Capitol exacts its revenge on Katniss and Peeta by using the Quarterly Quell (a super Hunger Games that happens every 25 years) to put them back into the ring and rig the odds to ensure that neither survives ...
The second half of this book is a re-run of The Hunger Games, albeit with a different arena and contestants. Because of this, much of the tension that was present in the first book is lost and with Katniss serving as narrator, it is obvious that she is going to survive. Although there are some nice moments in the ring (notably psychological torture involving Mocking-Jays screaming in the voices of the competitors' loved ones) the events were too imbued with deja vu for me to enjoy whilst a checklist of competitors who are clearly not going to make it, meant the only novelty was in wondering how they would be despatched.
Because so much of Gale and Katniss's relationship has occurred off-page the love triangle element never truly lights up. Katniss remains a somewhat selfish and self-absorbed character and her blindness to the true cause of the rebellion is too naive in the circumstances while Peeta and Gale could do with more page time to prevent them from lapsing into caricature.
All this is a pity because there is some excellent world-building in the first half of the book with Collins using the Victory Tour to give more of a sense of life in the other Districts. The sense of rebellion is well portrayed and the barbarity of the Capitol vividly depicted. One of the best scenes involves the Capitol deciding to enforce the laws in District 12 to the letter, bringing new horror to its residents. Although the book ends on a cheap cliff hanger, there is a strong hint of an exciting and original denouement to the trilogy, enough for me to want to see how this adventure ends.
There was too much repetition of The Hunger Games for this to truly satisfy me as a novel, although the cliff-hanger ending hints that the final book in the trilogy will pack more of an original punch.