Middle episodes are rough. In almost every trilogy the second episode usually ends up being the weakest. While the third book has yet to come out in this series, I'm pretty confident that such will be the case once again.
Don't misunderstand... I still loved it. I just didn't think it was as strong as Hunger Games. To say it wasn't as entertaining as the first book, still leaves it in a very high class of entertainment. Maybe it was just my extraordinarily high expectations.
The book started out strong. I loved the encounter with President Snow. Suzanne Collins put a face to the evil that is the Capitol, and made me ache to see him destroyed. I loved the moment when Snow gave Katniss the little shake of the head that indicated she didn't do a good enough job quelling the rebellion; and instead of falling apart she realizes that she now has nothing to lose and declares her own private war on the Captiol.
At that moment I thought "oh yeah... it's ON!", and I had great anticipation for Katniss realizing her power and leading a rebelion against the Captiol. Problem is, it just didn't develop. Instead I thought Katniss got weaker instead of stronger.
Of course she did have to face the nightmare of the arena once again; and that was an awesome twist to the story. I have a recurring dream that I wake up back in Guatemala and discover that I have been called on a second mission. I am my current age and I try to explain to the Mission President that I have a job and family and can't possibly serve another two years, but he plays the "So you're turning down a calling from the Prophet?", and the "You don't want to serve the Lord?" cards, and I realize that I am stuck. Stuck missing my family for two years, stuck eating black beans and rice, knocking on doors from sunrise to well after sundown, sleeping on straw mattresses with bed bugs and cockroaches crawling all over me... for TWO MORE YEARS! Yes, it's a nightmare and I wake in a cold sweat.
I could not believe that Katniss and Peeta had to go back into the arena one more time. I thought Collins did a good job of keeping it fresh. The new arena was very cool. I loved the clock thing and the little surprises waiting for them in each section. I hope that book three will find a way to have one more arena... maybe this time with President Snow and Katniss pitted against each other.
I didn't like Katniss' resolve to save Peeta regardless of what happened to her. I wanted her to be even stronger that she was in the first games, and become the commanding leader that I expected her to be. I still have full confidence however that she will pull it out in the end, and I just can't wait!