Originally Posted by epb
Not dumb, but no mental giant. She survived the first game by being tougher and more skilled than her opponents, not by out-thinking them - remember that weapons training and hunting were all but unheard of in the Districts; Katniss had a clear advantage over her opponents, especially once she got the bow.
She didn't complete the second game, you'll recall, and was clearly out-classed by the other previous champions - despite most of them being portrayed as mentally compromised by addictions or mental trauma.
Katniss was tough, and as Peeta's mother said, a survivor. She was also none too bright, immature, and impulsive.
The only "mental giant" in the first games was Foxface. Nobody aside from her and Katniss kept their wits in the arena. Your claim of weapons training being almost unheard of in the districts is incorrect as the careers were well-versed in a variety of them. And hunting wasn't an option as they didn't need it or couldn't back home. In addition to her hunting skills, she was able to put food on the table by the time she was 11 using the knowledge her father taught her about plants. Which leads me to the actual games. The careers banding together wasn't overtly strategic or bright, it was common sense. Katniss, on the other hand, was able to fight off 5 careers with nothing but a tracker jacker nest and single-handedly blew up their supplies. In the second games, she used the forcefield to her advantage, noticed the deadly gas quick enough to warn the others, and managed to "heal" their blisters from said gas. She also questions Finnick's allegiance to the very end and constantly thinks up scenarios in which Peeta would make it out alive despite his limited skill set.
I'll agree with you that she is impulsive but hardly immature. Keep in mind that she was 16 and incredibly thin when she enters the first games going up against competitors older, physically superior, and more mentally prepared than she was. If anything, her brightness coupled with her skill set allowed her to progress so far. However, if you are claiming she isn't that "bright" intellectually speaking, then yes, you're correct. Katniss herself admits that if they took an IQ test, Foxface would likely have the highest score. IQ tests don't win Hunger Games though.