Total Hours to Read: Just under 4 ½
--Average pages per minute: 1.49
Sex/Romance: There is repeated mention and allusion to people sleeping around. There are some naked people.
Violence: Yes, again these books are based around an oppressive world that uses violence as its main means of continued oppression.
Thoughts: Again, if you would like the spoiler-free summary of my review, skip the spoiler-filled section and scroll to the bottom.
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I forgot that the majority of this book really focuses on the tactics of the Capitol as it tries to suppress the burgeoning revolution. It focuses on how Snow (and others) manipulate Katniss in various ways and on Katniss' trauma and her struggle to escape her situation. It focuses on her fight to save herself and those she loves. We don't get to the actual games until the final third of the book. This reinforces that the games (and the glorification of violence) are not what these books are about.
Katniss is still 16 as she prepares for her wedding to Peeta. If you read "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" then you know that the reapings are on July 4th. The victory tour is around a harvest festival, so I think we can safely assume it is somewhere around Thanksgiving. Katniss does mention her age as being 17 during the quell, but up to that point she has been preparing to marry as a 16-year-old. And don't try to tell me it's not that bad because in real life other people have it worse. Just because someone else has it worse doesn't invalidate a bad experience, situation, etc. Sixteen is mentioned as being of age, but all that really means is that at 16 the tributes and victors are vulnerable to being prostituted out to the people of the Capitol.
Peeta has an artificial leg. They let that go from the first movie. Also, Katniss' hearing was damaged and had to be repaired by the Capitol as well.
So, did Peeta recover from his shady ways in the first book? We start off with an apology. "Look, Katniss, I've been wanting to talk to you about the way I acted on the train. I mean, the last train. The one that brought us home. I knew you had something with Gale. I was jealous of him before I even officially met you. And it wasn't fair to hold you to anything that happened in the Games. I'm sorry." He even says, "I thought if I stopped being so, you know, wounded, we could take a shot at just being friends." That's two good steps in the right direction. He can still be a bit casual in his treatment of her, not considering how his continued displays and comments of love and care for her might put her in an awkward place -BUT, he does seem to have recovered his decency.
And then in comes Gale, declaring his love for Katniss when she's simply trying to save those she loves. Without an express declaration of reciprocated love for him, he immediately turns cold. Desperate for the help and friendship of her oldest friend she attempts to convince him that she loves him without actually declaring it, stating, "Gale, I can't think about anyone that way now. All I can think about, every day, every waking minute since they drew Prim's name at the reaping, is how afraid I am." With Gale's reaction, it would seem that he really only wanted to run away so he could be with Katniss. His concern for their families and friends was secondary. Katniss continues to be in turmoil, and how can anyone expect her to think clearly when her life is haunted by those she killed, and her family and friends are threatened every moment? She vacillates on who she thinks she romantically loves every time she has to make a new big decision that might somehow indicate love or loyalty to one or the other, but here's the thing: If she hadn't been confronted with Peeta and Gale both telling her they love her and pushing to get that reciprocated, she wouldn't be thinking that she romantically loved either of them. She cared so much for both of them and didn't want to hurt either of them. As such, she did her best to avoid hurting them in any way, and that caused issues. They were both hurt when she didn't reciprocate their love, so she tried to convince them and then herself that she did love them. Can you see why she's confused? I think the best summary of her whole situation here is on page 185 ⤵
As a final note on Peeta, he did drop another bomb on Katniss by yet again not telling her or asking her consent before telling everyone they secretly got married and that she was now pregnant, but he did also immediately ask if he needed to apologize for it as soon as they were alone again. So...yeah.
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I love the characters we get introduced to in this book. I know it's a bit of cheating, but I can't help remembering the next book and how much development we get to see in some of these characters.
This is a very good build-up from the first book. It can feel a bit like a slow-burn, but there is always something going, even if it is subtle. By the end, you'll be champing at the bit for the final book!
In the end: 4 out of 5 stars. The OG Tik tok.