Like Theseus, the Greek mythical hero that she is patterned on, Katniss Everdeen can be kind of a dope sometimes. She is incredibly instinctive and resourceful and clever, but completely incapable of seeing the bigger picture. She is also seventeen years old, and even though she has helped support her family since her father's death, and been in tons of life-threatening situations, she has also led a sheltered life. A born rule-breaker, she managed to survive and win the Hunger Games with her fellow district competitor, Peeta Mellark at her side, the first time the Games has ever had two champions in one year.
Sinister President Snow sees the double winners as a direct challenge to his authority and places all the blame with Katniss. As she and Peeta embark on a victory tour of the nation, he visits her and threatens her. She must help quell any rebellious feelings that may be stirring in the districts, or he will come down hard and fast on her and her friends and family. It is soon clear as they travel that the two young winners and "lovers" presence is having the absolute opposite effect desired by Snow, as Katniss and her token, the mockingjay, are taken up as a symbol of hope and a rallying cry to end the oppression by the Capitol.
|Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss and Liam Hemsworth as Gale in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games|
When Collins isn't having Katniss puzzle over the teenage problem of who she really likes the most, she is telling the reader more details about Panem and the rebellion that Katniss and her mockingjay symbol helped jumpstart in the first novel, The Hunger Games. There are times that Catching Fire feels like it's treading water a bit, with expository paragraphs recapping what happened in the first book. Are there really readers who, not having read The Hunger Games, would pick this one up first? Should the author really care about them so much?
We see all the characters through Katniss's eyes and narration, so the reader must at times fill in the blanks, or finds themself actually ahead of Katniss in terms of evil President Snow's plotting. This tends to keep all the other characters rather sketchy, but they are still interesting and appealing enough to stand out, especially Peeta Mellark, their mentor Haymitch, fellow Hunger Games champion Finnick, and stylist Cinna.
|Donald Sutherland as President Snow in the upcoming film.|
The other nice thing about this series is that with all of the science fiction-like creatures and threats that encompass Katniss's world, she and the other main character, Peeta, are really just a couple of kids who are doing their best to keep each other alive. Unlike a lot of other YA fiction, Katniss isn't a vampire or a wizard or anything "special" except a very resourceful young lady. As frustrating as she may be at times — she has a tendency to get a hold of the wrong end of the stick and fiercely pursue it — she is brave and real and we can't help rooting for her. Or hesitate grabbing up the final book in the series and see how it all comes out.