I can't get my hands on the next book until a month from the time I borrowed this one from the Kindle library, which is a bit frustrating. (No, I'm not going to buy a copy. It's overpriced on the Kindle and I don't expect to reread it, which would be the only thing that would convince me to get a three dimensional copy.)
I don't tend to come up with theories or expectations while I'm reading, so twists and surprises work on me the way they're supposed to work. I sometimes feel like I'm the ideal audience - if you can keep me entertained, I won't call you out on anything you didn't do well.
Anyway, I had no idea that Katniss (and Peeta!!) would go back into the Hunger Games. I mean, WHAT? Is the Capitol insane? Did they honestly think that a display of extra cruelty would leave the districts cowed and ready to drop their uprisings? Katniss was a symbol before she was officially the Mockingjay; the last thing they should be doing is drawing attention to her and then killing her off. Hell, they should have cancelled her Victory Tour and just left her to be forgotten about.
Okay, since I'm already talking about it, I guess you could say this is the biggest threat to my suspension of disbelief. The Capitol's strategy is inconsistent. They're squishing their "We know what's best for you, children" propaganda into their "We can crush you like bugs" propaganda, and they're doing it too loudly to ignore. It's not that I think anyone would believe in the benevolence of their rulers if the Hunger Games weren't televised, but why bother with the glitz if the only purpose of the Games was to show everyone just how evil they are? There's no proper attempt to unify and brainwash the audience; no Two Minutes Hate. They go through all this effort to make the tributes look like innocent protagonists, and then they kill them. Nobody can sympathize even if they don't truly consider the tributes human.
I just hope Cinna's alive. (He's really not, is he?)
But that's okay because yay new characters! The arena being full of seasoned adults was an unexpectedly wonderful change. My hope was that they would all get in there and decide amongst themselves to not fight, but the way it actually happened was so much better. I could even understand why Katniss and Peeta were left out of the plan. Pretty much everyone but Katniss is a mastermind, huh? She's all "This time Peeta will live!" while everyone else is like, "We can do better than that, dear." Haymitch was especially impressive. He had me completely convinced that all he was trying to do was keep one of his kids alive one last time, and didn't believe in any possibility beyond that.
Finnick also had me completely convinced. I love it that he was introduced as the tabloid prettyboy and summarily rejected by Katniss and hence the reader. I liked Mags first (no I adored Mags, how can she be that awesome I wish she was mine), so it was Finnick looking out for her that first endeared me to him. And then it turns out that the woman whom he really loves is a broken, hysterical ex-tribute back home. So so glad he survived. OMG who's going to play him in the next movie??
Also liked Beetee and Wiress, Johanna, Plutarch Heavensbee, and a few who very unfairly died before we got to know them. Runaway favorites, though? The morphlings. Sure, I'm nuts. But it was just so beautiful and sad to see how their trauma had turned them to addiction and ruined any second chance they might have had. Additionally, the idea of a drug that wrecks your mind but makes you not violent, not senseless, but completely obsessed with colors is way too attractive and fascinating. Peeta, you good good man, talking about pink as the fried hero slipped away.
Peeta or Gale? LOOK I DON'T KNOW. Shipping Hunger Games is not my job and this book didn't give me a cheat sheet.
Last thing I want to mention is the #1 aspect of this world that's causing me enormous jealousy: the names. I know how minor it appears to be, but the names of characters, especially in fantasy or sci-fi, can affect the whole of the story in ways you don't even notice. I don't have a particular knack for it. I spend ages pondering names for each of my original characters, and sometimes I'm never quite happy with the one I settled on. But the names in Panem are brilliant. Some of them are stupid or have an awkward sound or don't fit the character, but that's right, too, because the real world does that, probably in every language. All of them evoke the kind of culture that could grow out of a post-apocalyptic North America, and they vary in style by district, and some of them have this glorious chiming quality that makes me want to keep rolling them around and around in my head.
Onomastics ftw. This is another good book.