Gale hasn't had a lot of on-screen time in the two books. However, from the things Katniss thinks about him we know that her relationship with him is one of those really special friendships. They share common experiences such as the loss of their fathers in an accident, and they've built trust by breaking the law together to hunt and provide for their families. We know from what Katniss tells us that he sacrifices himself to the coal mines to provide for his little brothers and sister, even though he "is only really alive in the woods." We know he's clever and has a gift for setting snares. By the time he made his first siginificant appearance in Catching Fire, I was already primed to like him a lot. And then when they meet for the first time after the Games are over,
"...suddenly, as I was suggesting I take over the daily snare run, he took my face in his hands and kissed me....Then he let go and said, 'I had to do that. At least once.' And he was gone."
Who can resist that?
But Peeta certainly gives Gale a serious contest as the romantic hero of the series. He is so kind and so unselfish, from the first act of taking a beating from his mother so he could give Katness some bread, to his efforts to protect her in the arena. He's clever in his own way, a way that I can appreciate as a teacher of public relations. He has a sense of honor, and although he doesn't rebel against the Capitol as openly as Gale does by hunting, Peeta understands the injustice and inhumanity of the government's policies and is determined to do what he can to stand up to them. The night before he and Katniss go into the arena for the first time, Peeta says,
"No, when the time comes, I'm sure I'll kill just like everybody else. I can't go down without a fight. Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to...to show the Capitol they don't own me. That I'm more than just a piece in their Games."
How do you choose???? I have no idea how I would resolve this plot if I were Collins. I hope she will find some way to let them all win. I hope it doesn't devolve into one of those tired plots in which Katniss ends up with one of them and then some secondary character is tossed in there for the other. I think I'd rather see one of the guys end up alone -- people do survive broken hearts, you know.
I do have to say one thing about Peeta, though. He's almost too perfect to be true. I'm sorry, teen girls, but if you kiss a real guy a bunch of times and then share your bed with him, eventually he's going to want something other than to just hold you all night so you can sleep. It's very romantic, and I know there are guys out there who have a lot of self-control, but everyone's self-control has limits -- in the real world, anyway.