You already know what the Hunger Games is about, so I figure brevity is the soul of not saying unnecessary words when you don’t have to or something. Katniss – that is, Jennifer Lawrence, heretofore known as Babe – gets home from the Hunger Games with PETA, and she feels sad she can’t love him because all he does is paint and bake bread and lift sacks of flour all day. Then Snake Dude comes and tells Babe to act convincing when she’s with PETA, because he might do something drastic if she doesn’t, like reinstalling shag carpeting into Babe’s house. He suggests (well, he didn’t actually, but he probably wanted to) that Babe give PETA a bouquet of a dozen roses, 11 real and one fake, and when PETA says “What is this I only know what bread looks like” Babe could say, “I’ll stop luving u when the last rose dies.” This would explain why Snake Dude was always trying to leave roses around Babe’s house. Anyway, she goes to some districts and gives all her money away, and then she meets Plutarch Heavensbee, which is definitely a blue-movie actor name, who shows her a watch with a mockingjay on it. Babe curtly replies, “Oh hai I know that burd” but doesn’t think anything further of it because she never played “hunt-the-symbol” in her high school English class. Anyway, Babe is all over PETA and she asks Snake Dude if she did all right and Snake Dude’s like, “naw.” Meanwhile, Skye or Breeze or Whisper or whatever his name is almost dies from the new head peacekeeper’s inability to take a joke, and Babe realizes he might not be a tool after all. It turns out he is, but for a bit even Collins had me going. Finally, Babe is sent to play in the next Hunger Games, and she gets so sad that she finds Woody Harrelson and they drink themselves silly, waking up the next morning with a couple broken teeth, a lump of coal, and some muskrat pelts.
In-depth synopsis aside, I actually enjoyed the book, though not as much as the previous one. The first half of the book, right up until Katniss is shipped off to the games again, is rather boring, a trait that manifests itself in each of these three books, though it becomes more pronounced each succeeding time. We see a government desperately trying to hold onto its power, fearing and loathing a girl who doesn’t have enough time to think about which guy she likes better, let alone prepare for the imminent revolution. The second half was high-stress and high action, two things that made the first book great. Although I found some of the characters ill-contrived, like Beetee as the resident Q (though this would again become more pronounced in the succeeding volume), I still had stock in their lives, which constructed The Hunger Games’ potency as well.
In the interest of time, I would probably only teach The Hunger Games, but if I did allow outside reading I would definitely encourage picking up this book. Katniss is slightly more able to process the attrition going on around her, and if 17-year-olds see someone their age making these insightful and terrifying observations, perhaps they would be compelled to take in the activity as well.