Jason Reads The Hunger Games

I'm reading The Hunger Games Trilogy for the first time. Laugh at my naivety.
~ Tuesday, February 7 ~
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Catching Fire: Chapter 18

Caesar gestures for Cinna to rise. He does, and makes a small, gracious bow. And suddenly I am so afraid for him. What has he done? Something terribly dangerous. An act of rebellion in itself. And he’s done it for me. I remember his words …

“Don’t worry. I always channel my emotions into my work. That way I don’t hurt anyone but myself.”

… and I’m afraid he has hurt himself beyond repair. The significance of my fiery transformation will not be lost on President Snow.

Shit, shit, shit, Cinna what have you done? Is this why he asked for District 12? Did he predict that he could facilitate an uprising with his clothing, that Katniss could become the face of the rebellion with his help?

“We’re already married,” says Peeta quietly. The crowd reacts in astonishment, and I have to bury my face in the folds of my skirt so they can’t see my confusion. Where on earth is he going with this?

He’s making everyone feel even worse! They may be the most tragic tributes of them all, the star-crossed lovers, now married, soon to be facing each other in the arena again only a year after they won. And Peeta is just rubbing their noses in it!

“I’m not glad,” says Peeta. “I wish we had waited until the whole thing was done officially.”

This takes even Caesar aback. “Surely even a brief time is better than no time?”

“Maybe I’d think that, too, Caesar,” says Peeta bitterly, “if it weren’t for the baby.”

PEETA YOU GENIUS. Now they’re married, AND they’re expecting?

As the bomb explodes, it sends accusations of injustice and barbarism and cruelty flying out in every direction. Even the most Capitol-loving, Games-hungry, bloodthirsty person out there can’t ignore, at least for a moment, how horrific the whole thing is.

Hmm, sending previous victors back into the games is beginning to sound like less and less of a good idea, huh, Gamemakers?

And then it happens. Up and down the row, the victors begin to join hands. Some right away, like the morphlings, or Wiress and Beetee. Others unsure but caught up in the demands of those around them, like Brutus and Enobaria. By the time the anthem plays its final strains, all twenty-four of us stand in one unbroken line in what must be the first public show of unity among the districts since the Dark Days. You can see the realization of this as the screens begin to pop into blackness. It’s too late, though. In the confusion they didn’t cut us off in time. Everyone has seen.

But what does this mean for the tributes? Are they going to stay this united once the gong sounds and they’re in the arena? I can’t imagine every single tribute would be on board for a sit-in, but DEAR GOD how I’d love a sit-in.

We wait for the others to return, but when the elevator opens, only Haymitch appears. “It’s madness out there. Everyone’s been sent home and they’ve canceled the recap of the interviews on television.”

Peeta and I hurry to the window and try to make sense of the commotion far below us on the streets. “What are they saying?” Peeta asks. “Are they asking the president to stop the Games?”

“I don’t think they know themselves what to ask. The whole situation is unprecedented. Even the idea of opposing the Capitol’s agenda is a source of confusion for the people here,” says Haymitch. “But there’s no way Snow would cancel the Games. You know that, right?”

Either way, they’ve done something. They’ve stirred something in the other districts, and even the Capitol. Everyone saw what happened, they’re going to remember it, and they’re going to do something about it. I just feel like this is the turning point for all of Panem.

“Then we’ll never see Effie again,” says Peeta. We didn’t see her on the morning of the Games last year. “You’ll give her our thanks.”

“More than that. Really make it special. It’s Effie, after all,” I say. “Tell her how appreciative we are and how she was the best escort ever and tell her … tell her we send our love.”

Effie! I never thought I’d get upset over Effie! :(

For a while we just stand there in silence, delaying the inevitable. Then Haymitch says it. “I guess this is where we say our good-byes as well.”

“Any last words of advice?” Peeta asks.

“Stay alive,” Haymitch says gruffly. That’s almost an old joke with us now. He gives us each a quick embrace, and I can tell it’s all he can stand. “Go to bed. You need your rest.”

I know I should say a whole bunch of things to Haymitch, but I can’t think of anything he doesn’t already know, really, and my throat is so tight I doubt anything would come out, anyway. So, once again, I let Peeta speak for us both.

“You take care, Haymitch,” he says.

We cross the room, but in the doorway, Haymitch’s voice stops us. “Katniss, when you’re in the arena,” he begins. Then he pauses. He’s scowling in a way that makes me sure I’ve already disappointed him.

“What?” I ask defensively.

“You just remember who the enemy is,” Haymitch tells me. “That’s all. Now go on. Get out of here.”

What the…yeah. The Capitol, right? Or does he mean the other tributes? Is he disappointed in their striking back at the Capitol? He was never on board with a rebellion, but does he still expect them to “play” the Games and kill each other? After all this? I just wish I new what Haymitch meant and how he really feels!

“What do you think?” I ask, holding the fabric out for Cinna to examine.

He frowns as he rubs the thin stuff between his fingers. “I don’t know. It will offer little in the way of protection from cold or water.”

“Sun?” I ask, picturing a burning sun over a barren desert.

Oh yeah, I just remembered, where are they going to go? Where will the arena be? Did I ever say it might be in District 13? Because I feel like it could be there.

We sit, as we did last year, holding hands until the voice tells me to prepare for the launch. He walks me over to the circular metal plate and zips up the neck of my jumpsuit securely. “Remember, girl on fire,” he says, “I’m still betting on you.” He kisses my forehead and steps back as the glass cylinder slides down around me.

Suddenly the door behind him bursts open and three Peacekeepers spring into the room. Two pin Cinna’s arms behind him and cuff him while the third hits him in the temple with such force he’s knocked to his knees. But they keep hitting him with metal-studded gloves, opening gashes on his face and body. I’m screaming my head off, banging on the unyielding glass, trying to reach him. The Peacekeepers ignore me completely as they drag Cinna’s limp body from the room. All that’s left are the smears of blood on the floor.

NO. NO NO NO. WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?

THEY’RE GETTING BACK AT HIM FOR THE COSTUME.

OH MY FUCKING GOD, PLEASE DON’T LET HIM BE DEAD.

,XMCNREU87g^&fg5R^8G67FGVHOM

Sickened and terrified, I feel the plate begin to rise. I’m still leaning against the glass when the breeze catches my hair and I force myself to straighten up. Just in time, too, because the glass is retreating and I’m standing free in the arena. Something seems to be wrong with my vision. The ground is too bright and shiny and keeps undulating. I squint down at my feet and see that my metal plate is surrounded by blue waves that lap up over my boots. Slowly I raise my eyes and take in the water spreading out in every direction.

I can only form one clear thought.

This is no place for a girl on fire.

I’m still shaking from Cinna’s attack.

But what the hell? Where are they? The ocean? Do they have to swim around and tread water until they get too tired and drown?

What the fuck just happened?

What the fuck is going to happen?

jnzSAXCUEIFV

Tags: the hunger games jason reads the hunger games catching fire chapter 18 cf18 chapter book review analysis katniss katniss everdeen peeta peeta mellark cinna haymitch effie portia mockingjay president snow hunger games hunger games president snow district 12 the capitol finnick johanna chaff caesar flickerman
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~ Tuesday, January 31 ~
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Catching Fire: Chapter 17

As I stand in the water, I begin to wonder about the wisdom of my latest trick. The question that should now always be my guide is “Will this help Peeta stay alive?” Indirectly, this might not. What happens in training is highly secretive, so there’s no point in taking action against me when no one will know what my transgression was. In fact, last year I was rewarded for my brashness. This is a different sort of crime, though. If the Gamemakers are angry with me and decide to punish me in the arena, Peeta could get caught up in the attack as well. Maybe it was too impulsive. Still…I can’t say I’m sorry I did it.

Honestly, Katniss, they were probably going to try to kill you both no matter what you did.

“Well, that would be standard. They can’t let one tribute know what another did,” says Effie, unconcerned. “What did you paint, Peeta?” She looks a little misty. “Was it a picture of Katniss?”

“Why would he paint a picture of me, Effie?” I ask, somehow annoyed.

lol come on Effie

“Actually, I painted a picture of Rue,” Peeta says. “How she looked after Katniss had covered her in flowers.”

JESUS CHRIST, PEETA, WHY DON’T YOU JUST PUT A KNIFE THROUGH MY HEART

“And, Haymitch?” says Peeta. “We decided we don’t want any other allies in the arena.”

“Good. Then I won’t be responsible for you killing off any of my friends with your stupidity,” he says.

“That’s just what we were thinking,” I tell him.

Wait what? When did they decide that? And Haymitch is just okay with that? Your friends most likely going to get killed, anyway, Haymitch, no matter who does it!

And it turns out he’s right. Because when Peeta and I each pull a twelve, we make Hunger Games history. No one feels like celebrating, though.

“Why did they do that?” I ask.

“So that the others will have no choice but to target you,” says Haymitch flatly. “Go to bed. I can’t stand to look at either one of you.”

So they got a twelve for their…performances. But wouldn’t that also make people want to team up with them? I just feel like these scores could go either way.

And Haymitch, can you just stop killing my buzz, thanks.

Peeta walks me down to my room in silence, but before he can say good night, I wrap my arms around him and rest my head against his chest. His hands slide up my back and his cheek leans against my hair. “I’m sorry if I made things worse,” I say.

“No worse than I did. Why did you do it, anyway?” he says.

“I don’t know. To show them that I’m more than just a piece in their Games?” I say.

He laughs a little, no doubt remembering the night before the Games last year. We were on the roof, neither of us able to sleep. Peeta had said something of the sort then, but I hadn’t understood what he meant. Now I do.

I just love that this conversation happens at almost the same exact point last year. And I love that it means a whole hell of a lot more to Katniss now than it did last year. It’s amazing to think of how far her character hs come since then.

And for the first time, I distance myself from the personal tragedy that has consumed me since they announced the Quell. I remember the old man they shot in District 11, and Bonnie and Twill, and the rumored uprisings. Yes, everyone in the districts will be watching me to see how I handle this death sentence, this final act of President Snow’s dominance. They will be looking for some sign that their battles have not been in vain. If I can make it clear that I’m still defying the Capitol right up to the end, the Capitol will have killed me…but not my spirit. What better way to give hope to the rebels?

The beauty of this idea is that my decision to keep Peeta alive at the expense of my own life is itself an act of defiance. A refusal to play the Hunger Games by the Capitol’s rules. My private agenda dovetails completely with my public one. And if I really could save Peeta … in terms of a revolution, this would be ideal. Because I will be more valuable dead. They can turn me into some kind of martyr for the cause and paint my face on banners, and it will do more to rally people than anything I could do if I was living. But Peeta would be more valuable alive, and tragic, because he will be able to turn his pain into words that will transform people.

We lie there for a while, in no rush to begin the day. Tomorrow night will be the televised interview, so today Effie and Haymitch should be coaching us. More high heels and sarcastic comments, I think. But then the redheaded Avox girl comes in with a note from Effie saying that, given our recent tour, both she and Haymitch have agreed we can handle ourselves adequately in public. The coaching sessions have been canceled.

Wow, really? That seems really odd. Though I guess nothing they say can make President Snow and the Gamemakers like them any more or less.

“I wish I could freeze this moment, right here, right now, and live in it forever,” he says.

This is already heartbreaking considering Peeta’s love for Katniss, but now cthe fact that they really won’t live much longer after this moment makes it ten times more depressing.

His fingers go back to my hair and I doze off, but he rouses me to see the sunset. It’s a spectacular yellow and orange blaze behind the skyline of the Capitol. “I didn’t think you’d want to miss it,” he says.

“Thanks,” I say. Because I can count on my fingers the number of sunsets I have left, and I don’t want to miss any of them.

My prep team. My foolish, shallow, affectionate pets, with their obsessions with feathers and parties, nearly break my heart with their good-bye. It’s certain from Venia’s last words that we all know I won’t be returning. Does the whole world know it? I wonder. I look at Cinna. He knows, certainly. But as he promised, there’s no danger of tears from him.

This is kind of funny and yet sad because I had really grown to like Venia, Flavius, and Octavia. And Cinna, dear God, make me cry why don’t you? That stupid man doesn’t even have to say anything and I just lose it. :(

“President Snow put in the dress order himself,” says Cinna. He unzips the bag, revealing one of the wedding dresses I wore for the photo shoot.

What the…FUCK? She’s wearing her wedding dress? I think I’m going to throw up. It’s just so…cruel. And it’s President Snow’s way of reminding her that she really is no more than a piece in their games.

Cinna helps me carefully into the gown. As it settles on my shoulders, they can’t help giving a shrug of complaint. “Was it always this heavy?” I ask. I remember several of the dresses being dense, but this one feels like it weighs a ton.

“I had to make some slight alterations because of the lighting,” says Cinna. I nod, but I can’t see what that has to do with anything.

I would have passed by this completely, but the last time something seemed odd about her outfit and Cinna gave an odd explanation for it, it turned out to be much more significant.

We meet up with Effie, Haymitch, Portia, and Peeta at the elevator. Peeta’s in an elegant tuxedo and white gloves. The sort of thing grooms wear to get married in, here in the Capitol.

Haha I just love that he’s wearing white gloves. Where’s his cane and top hat?!

Back home everything is so much simpler. A woman usually rents a white dress that’s been worn hundreds of times. The man wears something clean that’s not mining clothes. They fill out some forms at the Justice Building and are assigned a house. Family and friends gather for a meal or bit of cake, if it can be afforded. Even if it can’t, there’s always a traditional song we sing as the new couple crosses the threshold of their home. And we have our own little ceremony, where they make their first fire, toast a bit of bread, and share it. Maybe it’s old-fashioned, but no one really feels married in District 12 until after the toasting.

I took this as a kind of poke at our own wedding traditions today. We set the date months in advance, spend lots of money, get all dressed up and buy a huge cake and drink champagne and whatnot. Actually, I see a lot of parallels being made of the Capitol and our first world countries, if you will.

Finally Finnick says, “I can’t believe Cinna put you in that thing.”

“He didn’t have any choice. President Snow made him,” I say, somewhat defensively. I won’t let anyone criticize Cinna.

AS YOU SHOULD.

I’m confused because, while they all are angry, some are giving us sympathetic pats on the shoulder, and Johanna Mason actually stops to straighten my pearl necklace.

“Make him pay for it, okay?” she says.

It’s amazing how one line can completely change my ind about a character. I mean, I don’t think I ever thought Johanna would be bad, but this made me really like her. It reminds me that in a way, they’re all on the same side. Them vs. the Capitol.

This is the first time I realize the depth of betrayal felt among the victors and the rage that accompanies it. But they are so smart, so wonderfully smart about how they play it, because it all comes back to reflect on the government and President Snow in particular.

Wait so they’re all using their interviews to criticize the Capitol? Nice.

Cashmere starts the ball rolling with a speech about how she just can’t stop crying when she thinks of how much the people in the Capitol must be suffering because they will lose us. Gloss recalls the kindness shown here to him and his sister. Beetee questions the legality of the Quell in his nervous, twitchy way, wondering if it’s been fully examined by experts of late. Finnick recites a poem he wrote to his one true love in the Capitol, and about a hundred people faint because they’re sure he means them. By the time Johanna Mason gets up, she’s asking if something can’t be done about the situation. Surely the creators of the Quarter Quell never anticipated such love forming between the victors and the Capitol. No one could be so cruel as to sever such a deep bond. Seeder quietly ruminates about how, back in District 11, everyone assumes President Snow is all-powerful. So if he’s all-powerful, why doesn’t he change the Quell? And Chaff, who comes right on her heels, insists the president could change the Quell if he wanted to, but he must not think it matters much to anyone.

NO I just ripped a page in my book when I was turning it! :(

Anyway, I never in my life expected these tributes to do their interviews this way. I sort of thought they’d be “too proud” for it. But I guess that would make more sense in any other year. New children that we’ve never met refusing to play along, or else trying to win the crowd over. Now, however, it is a completely different ball game. They’re using their “fame” to tell it like it is and try to sway the Capitol. And I wonder if the Gamemakers and President Snow are slowly regretting their decision to send in tributes that the whole world already knows and loves.

And by the way, Finnick’s poem was about me. You can all go home now.

By the time I’m introduced, the audience is an absolute wreck. People have been weeping and collapsing and even calling for change. The sight of me in my white silk bridal gown practically causes a riot. No more me, no more star-crossed lovers living happily ever after, no more wedding. I can see even Caesar’s professionalism showing some cracks as he tries to quiet them so I can speak, but my three minutes are ticking quickly away.

Well it certainly looks like the tributes’ plan is working.

I don’t have to look at Cinna for a signal. I know this is the right time. I begin to twirl slowly, raising the sleeves of my heavy gown above my head.

When I hear the screams of the crowd, I think it’s because I must look stunning. Then I notice something is rising up around me. Smoke. From fire. Not the flickery stuff I wore last year in the chariot, but something much more real that devours my dress. I begin to panic as the smoke thickens. Charred bits of black silk swirl into the air, and pearls clatter to the stage.

WHAT THE FUCK ARE THEY BURNING HER ALIVE IN FRONT OF EVERYONE?

Somehow I’m afraid to stop because my flesh doesn’t seem to be burning and I know Cinna must be behind whatever is happening. So I keep spinning and spinning. For a split second I’m gasping, completely engulfed in the strange flames. Then all at once, the fire is gone. I slowly come to a stop, wondering if I’m naked and why Cinna has arranged to burn away my wedding dress.

But I’m not naked. I’m in a dress of the exact design of my wedding dress, only it’s the color of coal and made of tiny feathers. Wonderingly, I lift my long, flowing sleeves into the air, and that’s when I see myself on the television screen. Clothed in black except for the white patches on my sleeves. Or should I say my wings.

Because Cinna has turned me into a mockingjay.

CINNA, YOU’RE A FUCKING GENIUS.

But maybe I don’t understand how this dress works, but does she actually look like a mockingjay? It’s basically the same dress but with black feathers. And…wings? How does that work? I don’t know but I’m not doing to worry about it because that is freakin’ AWESOME.

Tags: the hunger games jason reads the hunger games catching fire chapter 17 cf17 book books review analysis hunger games hunger games katniss katniss everdeen peeta peeta mellark cinna haymitch rue johanna mason finnick effie trinket effie chaff cashmere seeder beetee quarter quell quell president snow
~ Wednesday, January 25 ~
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Catching Fire: Chapter 15

Having been through prep with Flavius, Venia, and Octavia numerous times, it should just be an old routine to survive. But I haven’t anticipated the emotional ordeal that awaits me. At some point during the prep, each of them bursts into tears at least twice, and Octavia pretty much keeps up a running whimper throughout the morning. It turns out they really have become attached to me, and the idea of my returning to the arena has undone them. Combine that with the fact that by losing me they’ll be losing their ticket to all kinds of big social events, particularly my wedding, and the whole thing becomes unbearable. The idea of being strong for someone else having never entered their heads, I find myself in the position of having to console them. Since I’m the person going in to be slaughtered, this is somewhat annoying.

omg lyke i am so sad u guize, my favrt victor is goin bck in2 the hunger gamez 2 almost die agen, dis is so sad 4 me, how wil i evr get ovr dis, how cud dey do dis 2 me, mi lyf sukz u guize.

The costume looks deceptively simple at first, just a fitted black jumpsuit that covers me from the neck down. He places a half crown like the one I received as victor on my head, but it’s made of a heavy black metal, not gold. Then he adjusts the light in the room to mimic twilight and presses a button just inside the fabric on my wrist. I look down, fascinated, as my ensemble slowly comes to life, first with a soft golden light but gradually transforming to the orange-red of burning coal. I look as if I have been coated in glowing embers — no, that I am a glowing ember straight from our fireplace. The colors rise and fall, shift and blend, in exactly the way the coals do.

That…is……AWESOME.

He turns me toward a mirror so that I can take in the entire effect. I do not see a girl, or even a woman, but some unearthly being who looks like she might make her home in the volcano that destroyed so many in Haymitch’s Quell. The black crown, which now appears red-hot, casts strange shadows on my dramatically made-up face. Katniss, the girl on fire, has left behind her flickering flames and bejeweled gowns and soft candlelight frocks. She is as deadly as fire itself.

I just, I didn;t think anything could top their costume in the last games, but this definitely takes the cake. Oh man. I can’t wait to see this in the movie. Assuming they make the next two books into movies?

“Want a sugar cube?” he says, offering his hand, which is piled high. “They’re supposed to be for the horses, but who cares? They’ve got years to eat sugar, whereas you and I…well, if we see something sweet, we better grab it quick.”

I…what…was that….was that like…a pick-up line? Because it was truly awful. Plus, isn’t he like, in his mid twenties?

Tall, athletic, with golden skin and bronze-colored hair and those incredible eyes. While other tributes that year were hard-pressed to get a handful of grain or some matches for a gift, Finnick never wanted for anything, not food or medicine or weapons.

So basically, if you’re good-looking, you get to live. Or at least, you’ll get a lot of sponsors to give you whatever you damn please so that you can live.

When he received a silver parachute with a trident—which may be the most expensive gift I’ve ever seen given in the arena—it was all over. District 4’s industry is fishing. He’d been on boats his whole life. The trident was a natural, deadly extension of his arm. He wove a net out of some kind of vine he found, used it to entangle his opponents so he could spear them with the trident, and within a matter of days the crown was his.

Wait, hang on, did I read that right? A trident? He used a fucking trident to kill his opponents? I don’t even, what? This is pretty badass!

He’s draped in a golden net that’s strategically knotted at his groin so that he can’t technically be called naked, but he’s about as close as you can get. I’m sure his stylist thinks the more of Finnick the audience sees, the better.

“Then how do they pay you for the pleasure of your company?” I ask.

“With secrets,” he says softly. He tips his head in so his lips are almost in contact with mine. “What about you, girl on fire? Do you have any secrets worth my time?”

SECRETS DON’T MAKE FRIENDS. But seriously, he could get just about anyone to spill their deepest darkest secrets. What kind of secrets is he keeping in that beautiful head of his?

I climb up and pull him up after me. “Hold still,” I say, and straighten his crown. “Have you seen your suit turned on? We’re going to be fabulous again.”

“Absolutely. But Portia says we’re to be very above it all. No waving or anything,” he says.

GOOD. Don’t give those fuckpieces the satisfaction or the attention that they don’t deserve. I like this angle. Because the audience is going to love them no matter what they do. They were the most recent victors, and the “star-crossed lovers” on top of that, and now they’re going back to the games immediately after that. So they already have the sympathy of the crowd. Now they’re going to refuse it. Show them they they don’t need anything from the Capitol. They are better than the Games, and can win it again if they have to.

I look up into those blue eyes that no amount of dramatic makeup can make truly deadly and remember how, just a year ago, I was prepared to kill him. Convinced he was trying to kill me. Now everything is reversed.

IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL AND YOU BOTH HAVE COME A LONG WAY AND I AM SO PROUD OF YOU BOTH.

We star-crossed lovers from District 12, who suffered so much and enjoyed so little the rewards of our victory, do not seek the fans’ favor, grace them with our smiles, or catch their kisses. We are unforgiving.

And I love it. Getting to be myself at last.

This is why I like it so much. There’s no faking it. District Twelvers don’t front. District Twelvers are keeping it real. They’re probably the only “real” people in this joint.

I know Chaff by sight because I’ve spent years watching him pass a bottle back and forth with Haymitch on television. He’s dark skinned, about six feet tall, and one of his arms ends in a stump because he lost his hand in the Games he won thirty years ago. I’m sure they offered him some artificial replacement, like they did Peeta when they had to amputate his lower leg, but I guess he didn’t take it.

Suddenly I’m wondering if Haymitch will have a hard time supporting Peeta, and even Katniss, when he has friends in there fighting against them. Will he be able to overcome his friendship with Chaff and the others, knowing that for Peeta to live, they all have to die?

The woman, Seeder, looks almost like she could be from the Seam, with her olive skin and straight black hair streaked with silver. Only her golden brown eyes mark her as from another district. She must be around sixty, but she still looks strong, and there’s no sign she’s turned to liquor or morphling or any other chemical form of escape over the years. Before either of us says a word, she embraces me. I know somehow it must be because of Rue and Thresh. Before I can stop myself, I whisper, “The families?”

“They’re alive,” she says back softly before letting me go.

Phew. Well, at least Rue and Thresh’s families don’t have to suffer any more than they already are. And I wonder if Katniss and Peeta will befriend Chaff and/or Seeder. Them being from District 11. Or at least as much of a friendship you can have in the Games.

Johanna Mason. From District 7 Lumber and paper, thus the tree. She won by very convincingly portraying herself as weak and helpless so that she would be ignored. Then she demonstrated a wicked ability to murder.

WATCH YOUR BACK, BITCH.

While we wait for the elevators, Johanna unzips the rest of her tree, letting it drop to the floor, and then kicks it away in disgust. Except for her forest green slippers, she doesn’t have on a stitch of clothing. “That’s better.”

“It’s you, Katniss. Can’t you see?” he says.

“What’s me?” I say.

“Why they’re all acting like this. Finnick with his sugar cubes and Chaff kissing you and that whole thing with Johanna stripping down.” He tries to take on a more serious tone, unsuccessfully. “They’re playing with you because you’re so…you know.”

“No, I don’t know,” I say. And I really have no idea what he’s talking about. “It’s like when you wouldn’t look at me naked in the arena even though I was half dead. You’re so…pure,” he says finally.

“I am not!” I say. “I’ve been practically ripping your clothes off every time there’s been a camera for the last year!”

“Yeah, but…I mean, for the Capitol, you’re pure,” he says, clearly trying to mollify me. “For me, you’re perfect. They’re just teasing you.”

“No, they’re laughing at me, and so are you!” I say.

So…people are messing with her because she’s PURE? I just can’t think of anyone who’s won the Hunger Games as anywhere near pure. It’s the whole thing that’s been messing Katniss up! And what is teasing her going to accomplish, exactly? I’m pretty sure her sexuality isn’t going to matter much in the arena. Is it for intimidation? Because anyone who knows Katniss should not waste their time.

Then a chill runs through me. Because I know him, too. Not from the Capitol but from years of having easy conversations in the Hob, joking over Greasy Sae’s soup, and that last day watching him lie unconscious in the square while the life bled out of Gale.

Our new Avox is Darius.

WHAT THE FUCK? The old Peacekeeper guy from District 12? The one who was at gale’s whipping?! Did he get punished for interfering, or was it something else? If it were for that, you’d think Gale, who actually committed the crime, would have become an Avox. Maybe because of his leiency over the years? Or to make an example out of him? I don’t know but this is just fucked.

Tags: the hunger games jason reads the hunger games catching fire chapter 15 cf15 catching fire katniss katniss everdeen peeta peeta mellark haymitch cinna finnick johanna mason johanna chaff seeder hunger games hunger games book trilogy suzanne collins finnick odair effie review
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~ Saturday, January 21 ~
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Catching Fire: Chapter 14

Let them go, I tell myself. Say good-bye and forget them. I do my best, thinking of them one by one, releasing them like birds from the protective cages inside me, locking the doors against their return.

Real rebels don’t put a secret symbol on something as durable as jewelry. They put it on a wafer of bread that can be eaten in a second if necessary.

Oh, so that’s why Twill had it on a cracker! I really didn’t know, it seemed weird to me. But now it makes sense.

In the history of the Games, there have been seventy-five victors. Fifty-nine are still alive. I recognize many of their faces, either from seeing them as tributes or mentors at previous Games or from our recent viewing of the victors’ tapes. Some are so old or wasted by illness, drugs, or drink that I can’t place them. As one would expect, the pools of Career tributes from Districts 1, 2, and 4 are the largest. But every district has managed to scrape up at least one female and one male victor.

I was thinking earlier, could the victor of the first ever Hunger Games still be alive? If they competed 75 years ago, they would be between the ages of 87 and 93. I mean, the average life expectancy in certain districts probably isn’t very high (it’s not even that high IRL), but it’s possible, right? I don’t even know what the significance of it would be, just a random though I had.

FRESHADOWING ALERT:

There’s the classically beautiful brother and sister from District 1 who were victors in consecutive years when I was little.

What the- they’re brother and sister, got chosen one year after the other, both won, and were both chosen to compete now? Besides the fact that one sibling might end up having to kill the other, that’s one unlucky family!

Brutus, a volunteer from District 2, who must be at least forty and apparently can’t wait to get back in the arena. Finnick, the handsome bronze-haired guy from District 4 who was crowned ten years ago at the age of fourteen.

Okay, I have to admit, I’ve heard a lot about Finnick outside of reading these books, so I know he’ll have some kind of important role, ja?

A hysterical young woman with flowing brown hair is also called from 4, but she’s quickly replaced by a volunteer, an eighty-year-old woman who needs a cane to walk to the stage.

At first I read this and was like “Aww, some old lady got chosen to compete in the games” and then I was like “WAIT WHAT SHE VOLUNTEERED?!” This automatically makes her really fascinating because either she is much better than she appears or is basically sacrificing herself because she’s lived a long life and would rather let the other woman live hers. Ugh, I want to know!

Then there’s Johanna Mason, the only living female victor from 7, who won a few years back by pretending she was a weakling.

Well, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!

The woman from 8 who Effie calls Cecelia, who looks about thirty, has to detach herself from the three kids who run up to cling to her. Chaff, a man from 11 who I know to be one of Haymitch’s particular friends, is also in.

It’s such a reverse parallel; instead of people’s children being taken away, it could be people’s parents, or even grandparents!

When Peeta holds out his arms, I walk straight into them.

;_; <3333333

I wrap my arms tightly around his neck before he can order me to do push-ups or something. Instead he pulls me in close and buries his face in my hair. Warmth radiates from the spot where his lips just touch my neck, slowly spreading through the rest of me. It feels so good, so impossibly good, that I know I will not be the first to let go.

I HONESTLY THOUGHT THEY WERE GOING TO DO IT. I thought I was about to read a sex scene in The Hunger Games. But I guess that’s what fan fiction is for!

The tapes are marked with the year of the Games and the name of the victor. I dig around and suddenly find one in my hand that we have not watched. The year of the Games is fifty. That would make it the second Quarter Quell. And the name of the victor is Haymitch Abernathy.

………………..omgthisisiticanfeelmyheartrateincreasing

But I feel weird. It seems like some major invasion of Haymitch’s privacy. I don’t know why it should, since the whole thing was public. But it does. I have to admit I’m also extremely curious.

I feel like Haymitch would come in and see this and go into like a drunken rage or something. But I also just really want to find out what went down in his Hunger Games. And suddenly I’m reminded of The Prince’s Tale. Like whatever I’m about to see on this tape will be the answer to fucking everything in these books. And I’m only halfway through.

She calls out the name of a girl who’s from the Seam, you can tell by the look of her, and then I hear the name “Maysilee Donner.”

KATNISS’S MOTHER’S FRIEND

“I think that’s your mother hugging her,” says Peeta quietly. And he’s right. As Maysilee Donner bravely disengages herself and heads for the stage, I catch a glimpse of my mother at my age, and no one has exaggerated her beauty. Holding her hand and weeping is another girl who looks just like Maysilee. But a lot like someone else I know, too.

“Madge,” I say.

“That’s her mother. She and Maysilee were twins or something,” Peeta says. “My dad mentioned it once.”

WTF so Maysilee was friends with Katniss’s mother and he twin sister was Madge’s mother! So the relationship between Katniss’s mother and Madge’s mother would be like my twin brother’s relationship with one of my friends, if I died.

I think of Madge’s mother. Mayor Undersee’s wife. Who spends half her life in bed immobilized with terrible pain, shutting out the world. I think of how I never realized that she and my mother shared this connection. Of Madge showing up in that snowstorm to bring the painkiller for Gale. Of my mockingjay pin and how it means something completely different now that I know that its former owner was Madge’s aunt, Maysilee Donner, a tribute who was murdered in the arena.

OMG THE SYMBOLISM

“So, Haymitch, what do you think of the Games having one hundred percent more competitors than usual?” asks Caesar.

Haymitch shrugs. “I don’t see that it makes much difference. They’ll still be one hundred percent as stupid as usual, so I figure my odds will be roughly the same.”

The audience bursts out laughing and Haymitch gives them a half smile. Snarky. Arrogant. Indifferent.

“He didn’t have to reach far for that, did he?” I say.

It probably made him a lot of enemies. But I love it.

The beauty disorients many of the players, because when the gong sounds, most of them seem like they’re trying to wake from a dream. Not Haymitch, though. He’s at the Cornucopia, armed with weapons and a backpack of choice supplies. He heads for the woods before most of the others have stepped off their plates.

LIKE A BOSS

Others begin to die off and it becomes clear that almost everything in this pretty place—the luscious fruit dangling from the bushes, the water in the crystalline streams, even the scent of the flowers when inhaled too directly—is deadly poisonous. Only the rainwater and the food provided at the Cornucopia are safe to consume.

kldrt9w5ndyy76r^6

Haymitch has his own troubles over in the woods, where the fluffy golden squirrels turn out to be carnivorous and attack in packs, and the butterfly stings bring agony if not death. But he persists in moving forward, always keeping the distant mountain at his back.

I’m sorry, but all I can think of is that bunny in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And where is Haymitch going?

Four days in, the picturesque mountain erupts in a volcano that wipes out another dozen players, including all but five of the Career pack. With the mountain spewing liquid fire, and the meadow offering no means of concealment, the remaining thirteen tributes — including Haymitch and Maysilee — have no choice but to confine themselves to the woods.

sdkgreiu wtf a fuycking volcano omg dhuewbv

Maysilee Donner steps out of the woods. “We’d live longer with two of us.”

“Guess you just proved that,” says Haymitch, rubbing his neck. “Allies?” Maysilee nods. And there they are, instantly drawn into one of those pacts you’d be hard-pressed to break if you ever expect to go home and face your district.

OMG WHAT they were fucking allies?!?!?!

“Why?” Maysilee keeps asking, and he ignores her until she refuses to move any farther without an answer.

“Because it has to end somewhere, right?” says Haymitch. “The arena can’t go on forever.”

“What do you expect to find?” Maysilee asks.

“I don’t know. But maybe there’s something we can use,” he says.

FUCK I never documented it but I kept wondering where the arena ended and what was there AND HAYMITCH IS GOING TO FIND OUT HOLY SHIT

When they finally do make it through that impossible hedge, using a blowtorch from one of the dead Careers’ packs, they find themselves on flat, dry earth that leads to a cliff. Far below, you can see jagged rocks.

“That’s all there is, Haymitch. Let’s go back,” says Maysilee.

“No, I’m staying here,” he says.

“All right. There’s only five of us left. May as well say good-bye now, anyway,” she says. “I don’t want it to come down to you and me.”

“Okay,” he agrees. That’s all. He doesn’t offer to shake her hand or even look at her. And she walks away.

What does he expect to do or find there? Why is he staying? And omg how sad is it that they’re finally splitting up with the knowledge that one of them will die, and with the hope that it isn’t at the hands of the other.

Haymitch skirts along the edge of the cliff as if trying to figure something out. His foot dislodges a pebble and it falls into the abyss, apparently gone forever. But a minute later, as he sits to rest, the pebble shoots back up beside him. Haymitch stares at it, puzzled, and then his face takes on a strange intensity. He lobs a rock the size of his fist over the cliff and waits. When it flies back out and right into his hand, he starts laughing.

OMFG THE CLIFF SHOOTS YOU RIGHT BACK TO WHERE YOU WERE HOLY SHIT. It’s like that cheat in the Lego games (or at least Lego HP) where if you fall over the edge, you just get picked up by some invisible force and land back on the platform.

And Haymitch is TOTALLY going to exploit it like the BADASS that he is.

That’s when we hear Maysilee begin to scream. The alliance is over and she broke it off, so no one could blame him for ignoring her. But Haymitch runs for her, anyway. He arrives only in time to watch the last of a flock of candy pink birds, equipped with long, thin beaks, skewer her through the neck. He holds her hand while she dies, and all I can think of is Rue and how I was too late to save her, too.

MORE PARELLELS, I JUST CAN’T EVEN RIGHT NOW.

Haymitch makes a beeline for his cliff and has just reached the edge when she throws the ax. He collapses on the ground and it flies into the abyss. Now weaponless as well, the girl just stands there, trying to staunch the flow of blood pouring from her empty eye socket. She’s thinking perhaps that she can outlast Haymitch, who’s starting to convulse on the ground. But what she doesn’t know, and what he does, is that the ax will return. And when it flies back over the ledge, it buries itself in her head. The cannon sounds, her body is removed, and the trumpets blow to announce Haymitch’s victory.

HOLY SHIT he totally did it that was awesome and badass and Haymitch is the best character ever. And I wonder if this will come into play later on, like in these games.

Finally Peeta says, “That force field at the bottom of the cliff, it was like the one on the roof of the Training Center. The one that throws you back if you try to jump off and commit suicide. Haymitch found a way to turn it into a weapon.”

“Not just against the other tributes, but the Capitol, too,” I say. “You know they didn’t expect that to happen. It wasn’t meant to be part of the arena. They never planned on anyone using it as a weapon. It made them look stupid that he figured it out. I bet they had a good time trying to spin that one. Bet that’s why I don’t remember seeing it on television. It’s almost as bad as us and the berries!”

You see? District 12 can totally manage a rebellion, look who they’ve got as victors! Katniss and Haymitch have both oursmarted the Gamemakers. They have both done something to “defy” the Capitol. It’s the perfect combination! I mean, besides the fact that Katniss could die. Again.

I’ve spent all these weeks getting to know who my competitors are, without even thinking about who my teammates are. Now a new kind of confidence is lighting up inside of me, because I think I finally know who Haymitch is. And I’m beginning to know who I am. And surely, two people who have caused the Capitol so much trouble can think of a way to get Peeta home alive.

Tags: the hunger games jason reads the hunger games catching fire chapter 14 cf14 chapter analysis review book books trilogy suzanne collins katniss katniss everdeen peeta peeta mellark haymitch finnick maysilee donner madge brutus johanna mason chaff hunger games hunger games quarter quell district 12 the capitol panem
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Catching Fire: Chapter 13

I’m cold and wet and winded, but my escape attempt has done nothing to subdue the hysteria rising up inside me. It will drown me unless it’s released. I ball up the front of my shirt, stuff it into my mouth, and begin to scream. How long this continues, I don’t know. But when I stop, my voice is almost gone.

Is it possible that this was really the Quarter Quell written down seventy-five years ago? It seems unlikely. It’s just too perfect an answer for the troubles that face the Capitol today. Getting rid of me and subduing the districts all in one neat little package.

This had to have been intentional. The way President Snow read the card, the cicumstances being what they are. It’s too perfect.

I hurry back into the night and head straight to Haymitch’s house. He’s sitting alone at the kitchen table, a half-emptied bottle of white liquor in one fist, his knife in the other. Drunk as a skunk.

This actually made me tear up. I just thought of Haymitch, who had not just been in the Hunger Games previously, but in the last Quarter Quell. After all that, he clearly has had a huge difficulty coping with it, and now he’s discovered that he has a 50/50 chance of having to do it all over again.

I bite my lip because once he’s said it, I’m afraid that’s what I do want. For Peeta to live, even if it means Haymitch’s death. No, I don’t. He’s dreadful, of course, but Haymitch is my family now.

I can’t entirely blame her for thinking this. The way Haymitch acts, I’m honestly surprised that he hasn’t killed himself before now.

“Peeta’s argument is that since I chose you, I now owe him. Anything he wants. And what he wants is the chance to go in again to protect you,” says Haymitch.

I knew it. In this way, Peeta’s not hard to predict. While I was wallowing around on the floor of that cellar, thinking only of myself, he was here, thinking only of me. Shame isn’t a strong enough word for what I feel.

“You could live a hundred lifetimes and not deserve him, you know,” Haymitch says.

Don’t be so hard on yourself, Katniss! What would anyone else in your position have done? Peeta is the exception. He’s an exceptional boy with a heart of gold, but you are worth it, too. You are a good person to whom bad things have happened. But that does not make you a bad person. You both deserve the best and I just want to give you a big hug but I CAN’T.

There’s something else I want from Haymitch. “Okay, I figured out what I’m asking,” I say. “If it is Peeta and me in the Games, this time we try to keep him alive.”

Something flickers across his bloodshot eyes. Pain.

God, Haymitch, every mention of you in this scene is breaking my heart.

“I’ve poured all the liquor down the drain,” says Peeta.

This seems to jolt Haymitch out of his stupor, and he paws through the box in disbelief. “You what?”

“I tossed the lot,” says Peeta.

“He’ll just buy more,” I say.

“No, he won’t,” says Peeta. “I tracked down Ripper this morning and told her I’d turn her in the second she sold to either of you. I paid her off, too, just for good measure, but I don’t think she’s eager to be back in the Peacekeepers’ custody.”

Haymitch takes a swipe with his knife but Peeta deflects it so easily it’s pathetic. Anger rises up in me. “What business is it of yours what he does?”

“It’s completely my business. However it falls out, two of us are going to be in the arena again with the other as mentor. We can’t afford any drunkards on this team. Especially not you, Katniss,” says Peeta to me.

PEETA MELLARK: HBIC SINCE SOME HUNDREDS OF YEARS IN THE FUTURE.

“The point is that two of us are coming home from the Capitol. One mentor and one victor,” says Peeta. “Effie’s sending me recordings of all the living victors. We’re going to watch their Games and learn everything we can about how they fight. We’re going to put on weight and get strong. We’re going to start acting like Careers. And one of us is going to be victor again whether you two like it or not!” He sweeps out of the room, slamming the front door.

I love Peeta in this scene. Oh wait, I love Peeta in every scene. But anyway, this kind of attitude is exactly what they need! Attitudes influence behavior. Maybe that’s why the Career Tributes always did so well. They put a positive spin on it (or as positive of a spin as you can put on something like this) and because they treated the Games as a chance at glory instead of just trying not to die, they tried harder and were more successful (not to belittle the efforts of the tributes from the other districts; as we know, the Careers don’t win all of them). It’s simple psychology at work!

“You and me. That’s who he plans on coming home,” I say.

“Well, then the joke’s on him,” says Haymitch.

But after a few days, we agree to act like Careers, because this is the best way to get Peeta ready as well.

Aaaand cue training montage!

LET’S GET DOWN TO BUSINESS

TO DEFEAT

THE GAMES

Since I don’t plan on making it back alive a second time, the sooner Gale lets me go, the better. I do plan on saying one or two things to him after the reaping, when we’re allowed an hour for good-byes. To let Gale know how essential he’s been to me all these years. How much better my life has been for knowing him. For loving him, even if it’s only in the limited way that I can manage.

But I never get the chance.

Remember in my second review EVER in the first book where I was lamenting the short time Gale and Katniss had between them before Katniss had to leave and essentially face her death? Well that is what I’m feeling again, but ten times worse. I just really hate goodbyes.

We are immediately marched into the Justice Building to find Head Peacekeeper Thread waiting for us. “New procedure,” he says with a smile. We’re ushered out the back door, into a car, and taken to the train station. There are no cameras on the platform, no crowd to send us on our way. Haymitch and Effie appear, escorted by guards. Peacekeepers hurry us all onto the train and slam the door. The wheels begin to turn.

And I’m left staring out the window, watching District 12 disappear, with all my good-byes still hanging on my lips.

Tags: the hunger games jason reads the hunger games catching fire chapter 13 cf13 chapter book books trilogy review analysis suzanne collins katniss katniss everdeen peeta peeta mellark haymitch gale primrose gale hawthorne prim primrose everdeen hunger games hunger games tribute tributes career quarter quell
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~ Friday, January 20 ~
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Catching Fire: Chapter 12

“Why couldn’t you get shrimp? Is it out of season?” I ask.

“Oh, Katniss, we haven’t been able to get any seafood for weeks!” says Octavia. “You know, because the weather’s been so bad in District Four.”

My mind starts buzzing. No seafood. For weeks. From District 4. The barely concealed rage in the crowd during the Victory Tour. And suddenly I am absolutely sure that District 4 has revolted.

Do these three genuinely not know about the revolts, or are they lying? Either way, it’s very clear what is actually going on. And it’s not weather related.

I begin to question them casually about what other hardships this winter has brought them. They are not used to want, so any little disruption in supply makes an impact on them. By the time I’m ready to be dressed, their complaints about the difficulty of getting different products — from crabmeat to music chips to ribbons — has given me a sense of which districts might actually be rebelling. Seafood from District 4. Electronic gadgets from District 3. And, of course, fabrics from District 8. The thought of such widespread rebellion has me quivering with fear and excitement.

Me, too! It’s good to know that other Districts are rebelling. It’ll give the people of District 12 hope to do the same if Katniss can get the word out! She’s kind of the only one that knows.

Haymitch and I can speak in a kind of shorthand now. In a few minutes I’ve updated him and he’s told me about rumors of uprisings in Districts 7 and 11 as well. If my hunches are right, this would mean almost half the districts have at least attempted to rebel.

Yeesh, even more! I wonder how many guys the Capitol has. Like, if every district rebelled at the same time, would the Peacekeepers be spread too thin? It was easy for them to overcome District 8 because they were the only ones. But would such widespread chaos be enough? Could they stand a chance? Of course that’s what happened last time, isn’t it. They all tried to rebel at once, and got defeated.

Also, where does Haymitch get his information? He always seems one step ahead. Maybe he’s just observant like Katniss. 

“So you think Thirteen was really destroyed? I mean, Bonnie and Twill were right about the footage of the mockingjay,” I say.

“Okay, but what does that prove? Nothing, really. There are plenty of reasons they could be using old footage. Probably it looks more impressive. And it’s a lot simpler, isn’t it? To just press a few buttons in the editing room than to fly all the way out there and film it?” he says. “The idea that Thirteen has somehow rebounded and the Capitol is ignoring it? That sounds like the kind of rumor desperate people cling to.”

"I know. I was just hoping,” I say.

“Exactly. Because you’re desperate,” says Haymitch.

I don’t argue because, of course, he’s right.

I don’t buy it. There’s something going on there. There’s just got to be.

Each shot is met with a huge reaction from the crowd. People screaming and cheering for their favorites, booing the ones they don’t like. Having voted, and probably bet on the winner, people are very invested in my wedding gown. It’s bizarre to watch when I think how I never even bothered to try one on before the cameras arrived. Caesar announces that interested parties must cast their final vote by noon on the following day.

Wow how did I not guess that Katniss’s wedding dress would be a show for the Capitol in itself? They always need something to vote and bet on, don’t they?

President Snow goes on to tell us what happened in the previous Quarter Quells. “On the twenty-fifth anniversary, as a reminder to the rebels that their children were dying because of their choice to initiate violence, every district was made to hold an election and vote on the tributes who would represent it.”

What the…fuck? Now that is hugely fucked up.  What criteria would they base it on? How did the voting system work? I feel like everyone would vote for the better-off people. Like, if they had done that this year, I feel like people would have voted for Madge. Not that that’s entirely okay, it’s still fucked up and twisted, but they probably wouldn’t have much of a problem sending the girl who has money and food to eat and has never had to sign up for tesserae. And I wonder what it was like for the victor when he/she finally made it home.

“On the fiftieth anniversary,” the president continues, “as a reminder that two rebels died for each Capitol citizen, every district was required to send twice as many tributes.” I imagine facing a field of forty-seven instead of twenty-three. Worse odds, less hope, and ultimately more dead kids. That was the year Haymitch won…

Oh man, imagine the Cornucopia at that one! And how the fuck did Haymitch win? I’d like to FIND out. And based on what President Snow said, two rebels died for every Capitol citizen. How many people died in the rebellion? I guess if the entire District 13 was (allegedly) blasted off the map, it much have been a lot.

Without hesitation, he reads, “On the seventy-fifth anniversary, as a reminder to the rebels that even the strongest among them cannot overcome the power of the Capitol, the male and female tributes will be reaped from their existing pool of victors.”

WHAT THE FUCK, so these people who have already survived the Hunger Games once will have to go again? And there will be people of all ages, too, which is weird. It’s a great way to send the message they’re trying to make, but GD IT!

Then I get it, what it means. At least, for me. District 12 only has three existing victors to choose from. Two male. One female…

I am going back into the arena.

AND KATNISS IS GUARANTEED A FUCKING SPOT IN THE GAMES FUCKING JESUS CHRIST HOLY SHIT SNACKS. When I wondered aloud a few chapters back whether we’d see another Hunger Games, especially this being the Quarter Quell, I didn’t think we’d be ACTUALLY SEEING IT. LIKE WE’D BE ACTUALLY IN IT. AGAIN. And Haymitch has already been through not just a Hunger Games, but the last Quarter Quell! He might have to do a second one! Or Peeta! And they’re not really going to need mentors since they’ve done it already. And the tributes for the Games next year will have two less mentors (well, one less in the district of the victor)!

This is just all kinds of fucked up.

Tags: the hunger games jason reads the hunger games catching fire chapter 12 cf12 katniss everdeen katniss peeta peeta mellark haymitch prim primrose primrose everdeen quarter quell quarter quell octavia flavius venia cinna effie trinket effie chapter book books trilogy suzanne collins district 12 district 13
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~ Tuesday, January 17 ~
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Catching Fire: Chapter 11

What is going on? Has Thread turned on the fence as an additional security precaution? Or does he somehow know I’ve escaped his net today? Is he determined to strand me outside District 12 until he can apprehend and arrest me? Drag me to the square to be locked in the stockade or whipped or hanged?

My guess is the latter. Nothing that happens to this girl is by coincidence.

But today my family would never imagine I’d be in the woods. I’ve even taken steps to mislead them.

You know who else didn’t tell anyone where he was going? Aron Ralston. And look what happened to him.

I begin to skirt along the tree line, searching for a tree with a branch high and long enough to fit my needs. After about a mile, I come upon an old maple that might do. The trunk is too wide and icy to shinny up, though, and there are no low branches. I climb a neighboring tree and leap precariously into the maple, almost losing my hold on the slick bark. But I manage to get a grip and slowly inch my way out on a limb that hangs above the barbed wire.

JUST LIKE RUE OMG.

There’s the sensation of falling, then I hit the ground with a jolt that goes right up my spine. A second later, my rear end slams the ground. I lie in the snow, trying to assess the damage. Without standing, I can tell by the pain in my left heel and my tailbone that I’m injured. The only question is how badly. I’m hoping for bruises, but when I force myself onto my feet, I suspect I’ve broken something as well. I can walk, though, so I get moving, trying to hide my limp as best I can.

Oh, great, more injuries, awesome, as if I didn’t already have enough to worry about!

Two Peacekeepers, a man and a woman, are standing in the doorway to our kitchen. The woman remains impassive, but I catch the flicker of surprise on the man’s face. I am unanticipated. They know I was in the woods and should be trapped there now.

Yeah, that comfirms it. The fence was turned on to keep her out. Well, it didn’t work this time, Asskeepers! You have to get up pretty early in the morning to pull one over on Katniss!

“From Head Peacekeeper Thread,” says the woman. “He wanted you to know that the fence surrounding District Twelve will now have electricity twenty-four hours a day.”

“Didn’t it already?” I ask, a little too innocently.

Having stripped off my sock, my mother’s fingers probe the bones in my left heel and I wince. “There might be a break,” she says. She checks the other foot. “This one seems all right.” She judges my tailbone to be badly bruised.

GOD DAMN IT.

I’m further reassured when Peeta casually tells me the power is off in sections of the fence because crews are out securing the base of the chain link to the ground. Thread must believe I somehow got under the thing, even with that deadly current running through it. It’s a break for the district, having the Peacekeepers busy doing something besides abusing people.

Okay, two things/kind of predictions: what if, while the electricity is off in certain parts of the fence, the people of District 12 like, charged at the Peacekeepers and took down that part of the fence and escaped? To District 13 or something? And I guess to back it up, if the Peacekeepers are busy with the fence, what if the people of District 12 are organizing something? Are there any Peacekeepers left monitering the rest of the place?

One afternoon Peeta stops shading a blossom and looks up so suddenly that I start, as though I were caught spying on him, which in a strange way maybe I was. But he only says, “You know, I think this is the first time we’ve ever done anything normal together.”

“Yeah,” I agree. Our whole relationship has been tainted by the Games. Normal was never a part of it. “Nice for a change.”

Can I just point out how cute the two of them are in this chapter? Katniss wanting him to stay with her while she sleeps and then watching him draw the plants and just them spending time together that isn’t Hunger Games related?

My first sighting is in a news story referencing the Dark Days. I see the smoldering remains of the Justice Building in District 13 and just catch the black-and-white underside of a mockingjay’s wing as it flies across the upper right-hand corner. That doesn’t prove anything, really. It’s just an old shot that goes with an old tale.

YES IT DOES, KATNISS, I CAN’T WAIT FOR YOU TO BE WRONG.

However, several days later, something else grabs my attention. The main newscaster is reading a piece about a shortage of graphite affecting the manufacturing of items in District 3. They cut to what is supposed to be live footage of a female reporter, encased in a protective suit, standing in front of the ruins of the Justice Building in 13. Through her mask, she reports that unfortunately a study has just today determined that the mines of District 13 are still too toxic to approach. End of story. But just before they cut back to the main newscaster, I see the unmistakable flash of that same mockingjays wing.

The reporter has simply been incorporated into the old footage. She’s not in District 13 at all. Which begs the question, What is?

YOU SEE? SOMETHING FISHY IS GOING ON IN DISTRICT 13 AND WE’RE GOING TO FIND OUT WHAT.

Tags: the hunger games jason reads the hunger games catching fire chapter 11 cf11 analysis review book books trilogy suzanne collins katniss katniss everdeen peeta peeta mellark haymitch thread prim primrose primrose everdeen thread mockingjay dostrict 12 district 13 the capitol hunger games hunger games rue gale
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~ Sunday, January 15 ~
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Catching Fire: Chapter 9

Before I go down to face this new life, though, I take some time making myself acknowledge what it will mean. Less than a day ago, I was prepared to head into the wilderness with my loved ones in midwinter, with the very real possibility of the Capitol pursuing us. A precarious venture at best. But now I am committing to something even more risky.

a.k.a. SHIT’S ABOUT TO GET REAL.

It’s weird though. I feel like this whole chapter is like the calm before the storm. We spend about two pages going through Katniss’s head as she tries to sort out her thoughts and feelings. She’s weighing her options now and and really thinking about the outcome of both actions. It shows her development as a character to see her CAREFULLY make these decisions that not only decide her own fate, but the fate of those close to her, and even possibly the fate of Panem.

I can’t let the Capitol hurt Prim.

And then it hits me. They already have. They have killed her father in those wretched mines. They have sat by as she almost starved to death. They have chosen her as a tribute, then made her watch her sister fight to the death in the Games. She has been hurt far worse than I had at the age of twelve. And even that pales in comparison with Rue’s life.

And THAT is why the Capitol needs to go down!

Gale is right. If people have the courage, this could be an opportunity. He’s also right that, since I have set it in motion, I could do so much. Although I have no idea what exactly that should be. But deciding not to run away is a crucial first step.

I’m really, really glad that she’s not running away. I mean, I guess I would have been fine with either one. The dyanamic of characters that she would have brought with her would have been really, really fun to read. But I think each character will also be able to grow from the alternative, by facing the Capitol themselves. And I’m excited to see it.

Words. I think of words and I think of Peeta. How people embrace everything he says. He could move a crowd to action, I bet, if he chose to. Would find the things to say. But I’m sure the idea has never crossed his mind.

I like that she is considering Peeta to join her in her plan for the uprising. I think he’ll end up being an invaluable asset to her team, especially since he was also in the Hunger Games.

“Hey. I just wanted to make sure you got home,” I say.

“Katniss, I live three houses away from you,” he says.

lolpeetayusosassy

“I want to start an uprising,” I say.

Am I the only one who thinks this sounds so lame when it’s finally been verbalized?

“My plan is to make sure everything is just perfect for your wedding,” says Haymitch. “I called and rescheduled the photo shoot without giving too many details.”

A wedding?! There’s still going to be a wedding? What’s the point? It’ll sure make it easier for them to round up Katniss and her “gang” into the Capitol, but they could have done that anyway. Are they still worried about giving a good show? Do the regular citizens of the Capitol know about all the unrest in the other Districts? Do they know about the scene in District 11 during the Victory tour, or the riots in District 8? How would they react if they did?

“Haymitch.” I can hear the pleading creeping into my voice.

“Katniss.” He mimics my tone. “It won’t work.”

What won’t work? The uprising? Why not? I WAS COUNTING ON YOU FOR A PLAN, HAYMITCH.

Nothing much will happen during the blizzard. That’s what Peeta and I had agreed. But we couldn’t have been more wrong. The square has been transformed. A huge banner with the seal of Panem hangs off the roof of the Justice Building. Peacekeepers, in pristine white uniforms, march on the cleanly swept cobblestones. Along the rooftops, more of them occupy nests of machine guns. Most unnerving is a line of new constructions - an official whipping post, several stockades, and a gallows - set up in the center of the square.

Oh, they’re asking for it now.

Some streets away from the square, I see a blaze flare up. None of us has to say it. That can only be the Hob going up in smoke. I think of Greasy Sae, Ripper, all my friends who make their living there.

Shitttt all these people with nowhere to trade! How are people going to get supplies, food? How’s Haymitch going to get alcohol? It’s a good thing Katniss stocked up, but how long will it last? Are we going to see an angry Haymitch in withdrawal?

An uprising, I think. What an idiot I am. There’s an inherent flaw in the plan that both Gale and I were too blind to see. An uprising requires breaking the law, thwarting authority. We’ve done that our whole lives, or our families have. Poaching, trading on the black market, mocking the Capitol in the woods. But for most people in District 12, a trip to buy something at the Hob would be too risky. And I expect them to assemble in the square with bricks and torches? Even the sight of Peeta and me is enough to make people pull their children away from the windows and draw the curtains tightly.

What they need is hope! You can give it to them!

As the days pass, things go from bad to worse. The mines stay shut for two weeks, and by that time half of District 12 is starving. The number of kids signing up for tesserae soars, but they often don’t receive their grain. Food shortages begin, and even those with money come away from stores empty-handed. When the mines reopen, wages are cut, hours extended, miners sent into blatantly dangerous work sites. The eagerly awaited food promised for Parcel Day arrives spoiled and defiled by rodents. The installations in the square see plenty of action as people are dragged in and punished for offenses so long overlooked we’ve forgotten they are illegal.

These people can only bend so far before they break.

I feel like a pariah when I walk through the streets. Everyone avoids me in public now.

That’s so unfair! Katniss didn’t ask for any of this! She didn’t even want a rebellion when she had those berries! She just wanted to stay alive. And now she comes back home, and all she wants is to live normally again, try to forget the Games ever happened. But things have changed. The Capitol won’t let her forget. They want her dead, they think she’s goin to rise against them, and instead of her “people” embracing her, they almost turn their backs on her. They’re afraid that the cameras will follow them as well, that their families will be tortured or killed by the Peacekeepers. And it’s all Katniss’s fault, yet at the same time it isn’t.

I toss and turn in bed until I can’t stand it anymore. I have to get out of here. At least for a few hours.

Don’t do it, Katniss! Something bad is going to happen, I can feel it!

I am literally a few yards from the door of the cement house when I pull up short. And that’s not because of the smoke or the prints or the smell. That’s because of the unmistakable click of a weapon behind me.

My fingers have all but decided to release the arrow when I see the object in the glove. It’s a small white circle of flat bread. More of a cracker, really. Gray and soggy around the edges. But an image is clearly stamped in the center of it.

It’s my mockingjay.

WHAT! So she’s good? What does the mockingjay mean in this particular case? Has she met people who will help her in her cause?

Tags: the hunger games jason reads the hunger games catching fire chapter 9 cf9 chapter review analysis book books trilogy katniss katniss everdeen peeta peeta mellark haymitch gale gale hawthorne prim primrose primrose everdeen hazelle hunger games hunger games game district 12 capitol the capitol uprising
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~ Saturday, January 14 ~
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Catching Fire: Chapter 8

“No!” I cry, and spring forward. It’s too late to stop the arm from descending, and I instinctively know I won’t have the power to block it. Instead I throw myself directly between the whip and Gale. I’ve flung out my arms to protect as much of his broken body as possible, so there’s nothing to deflect the lash. I take the full force of it across the left side of my face.

The pain is blinding and instantaneous. Jagged flashes of light cross my vision and I fall to my knees. One hand cups my cheek while the other keeps me from tipping over. I can already feel the welt rising up, the swelling closing my eye. The stones beneath me are wet with Gale’s blood, the air heavy with its scent. “Stop it! You’ll kill him!” I shriek.

OH SHIT KATNISS JUST TOOK A WHIP IN THE FACE TO SAVE GALE. That’s got to fucking kill. I never really know how bad whipping was until I saw another show and blood would splatter with every hit. And Gale got forty lashes! Enough to make him pass out from the pain.

“Hold it!” a voice barks. Haymitch appears and trips over a Peacekeeper lying on the ground. It’s Darius. A huge purple lump pushes through the red hair on his forehead. He’s knocked out but still breathing. What happened? Did he try to come to Gale’s aid before I got here?

Haymitch ignores him and pulls me to my feet roughly. “Oh, excellent.” His hand locks under my chin, lifting it. “She’s got a photo shoot next week modeling wedding dresses. What am I supposed to tell her stylist?”

Attaboy, Haymitch! And what’s happened to Darius? Are the District 12 Peacekeepers being replaced by harsher ones, possibly from the Capitol? My only consolation in this is that this one guy seems to be the only one who is enjoying Gale’s punishment.

One, a woman named Purnia who eats regularly at Greasy Sae’s, steps forward stiffly. “I believe, for a first offense, the required number of lashes has been dispensed, sir. Unless your sentence is death, which we would carry out by firing squad.”

“Is that the standard protocol here?” asks the Head Peacekeeper.

Well, I don’t know, is it? Yeesh, you could tell him anything and pass it off as law, apparently.

Gale must’ve gone to Cray’s house, as he’s done a hundred times, knowing Cray always pays well for a wild turkey. Instead he found the new Head Peacekeeper, a man they heard someone call Romulus Thread. No one knows what happened to Cray. He was buying white liquor in the Hob just this morning, apparently still in command of the district, but now he’s nowhere to be found.

Oh this does not sound good at all. It’s already begun! The Capitol is starting to really come down hard on District 12! God knows where Cray is, if he’s even still alive.

I’m filled with awe, as I always am, as I watch her transform from a woman who calls me to kill a spider to a woman immune to fear. When a sick or dying person is brought to her … this is the only time I think my mother knows who she is.

I was really happy to see Katniss’s relationship with her mom begin to mend, and it makes me even more happy and proud to see her mom so determined. I really like her character right now!

As the blood clears, I can see where every stroke of the lash landed and feel it resonate in the single cut on my face. I multiply my own pain once, twice, forty times and can only hope that Gale remains unconscious. Of course, that’s too much to ask for. As the final bandages are being placed, a moan escapes his lips.

I’m shuddering just reading this. It reminds me of an episode of Law and Order: SVU where a girl had gasoline poured all over her and then got lit on fire. That part wasn’t shown, but we saw her in the emergency room covered in really bad burns, and the doctor mentioned that the pain medication would wear off soon. A few minutes later, the scene started to fade out and all you could hear was the girl’s terrible, blood-curdling screams. It was truly horrifying and I still feel sick just thinking about it. Anyway, that’s what this reminded me of.

“Take her out,” says my mother. Haymitch and Peeta literally carry me from the room while I shout obscenities at her. They pin me down on a bed in one of the extra bedrooms until I stop fighting.

This moment This moment resonated with me, I think partly because it showed again the fierce determination of Katniss’s mother to help Gale get better, even if it means removing Katniss, who loves Gale (in whatever sense you will), from the scene.

We all go, though, following her down the hallway to the insistent ring of the bell. When she opens it, there’s not a squad of Peacekeepers but a single, snow-caked figure. Madge. She holds out a small, damp cardboard box to me.

“Use these for your friend,” she says. I take off the lid of the box, revealing half a dozen vials of clear liquid. “They’re my mother’s. She said I could take them. Use them, please.” She runs back into the storm before we can stop her.

Madge, you are a life-saver! I like her presence in this book so far and I hope it stays that way.

“I didn’t even know Madge knew Gale,” says Peeta.

“We used to sell her strawberries,” I say almost angrily. What am I angry about, though? Not that she has brought the medicine, surely.

“She must have quite a taste for them,” says Haymitch.

That’s what nettles me. It’s the implication that there’s something going on between Gale and Madge. And I don’t like it.

“She’s my friend” is all I say.

Oooooh, girl, someone’s jealous! I wonder if there is something between Game and Madge. Or if there was in the past. I feel like Madge would have given the medicine to any of Katniss’s friends if they needed it. I kind of feel like Madge wants this uprising to happen just as much as Gale does, and she wants to keep the people who can orchestrate it alive and healthy.

For the first time, I reverse our positions in my head. I imagine watching Gale volunteering to save Rory in the reaping, having him torn from my life, becoming some strange girl’s lover to stay alive, and then coming home with her. Living next to her. Promising to marry her.

The hatred I feel for him, for the phantom girl, for everything, is so real and immediate that it chokes me. Gale is mine. I am his. Anything else is unthinkable. Why did it take him being whipped within an inch of his life to see it?

Because I’m selfish. I’m a coward. I’m the kind of girl who, when she might actually be of use, would run to stay alive and leave those who couldn’t follow to suffer and die. This is the girl Gale met in the woods today.

I’ve decided right now that I’m going to ship whatever I feel like during this book. I liked Katniss/Peeta in the first book, but now that I’m seeing more of Gale, and there still seems to be something between her and Peeta, I’m not so sure. I’m just going to go with the flow, because I guess either one would be okay with me.

That being said, it’s really nice to see Katniss recognize deep feelings for Gale. For anyone. And I’m glad that she is starting to realize how bad the escape plan was.

Life in District 12 isn’t really so different from life in the arena. At some point, you have to stop running and turn around and face whoever wants you dead. The hard thing is finding the courage to do it. Well, it’s not hard for Gale. He was born a rebel. I’m the one making an escape plan.

My choices are simple. I can die like quarry in the woods or I can die here beside Gale. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to stay right here and cause all kinds of trouble.” “Me, too,” Gale says. He just manages a smile before the drugs pull him back under.

OFY BAMFNISS, LET’S FSU. (I’ve nicknamed Katniss “BAMFniss”, btw.)

Tags: the hunger games jason reads the hunger games catching fire chapter 8 cf8 hunger games hunger games katniss katniss everdeen peeta peeta mellark gale gale hawthorne haymitch prim primrose primrose everdeen madge madge undersee review analysis chapter book trilogy suzanne collins district 12 cray read jason
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~ Thursday, January 12 ~
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Catching Fire: Chapter 7

I have continued on through the cold, misty woods, breaking a path that will be unfamiliar to Gale but is simple for my feet to find. It leads to the lake. I no longer trust that our regular rendezvous spot offers privacy, and I’ll need that and more to spill my guts to Gale today. But will he even come? If he doesn’t, I’ll have no choice but to risk going to his house in the dead of night. There are things he has to know… things I need him to help me figure out…

I wonder how he’ll react to all this? Didn’t he want to fight back? Wasn’t he always rebellious toward the Capitol? It’d be a fine excuse to help give District 12 its very own uprising.

I look in his eyes. His temper can’t quite mask the hurt, the sense of betrayal he feels at my engagement to Peeta. This will be my last chance, this meeting today, to not lose Gale forever. I could take hours trying to explain, and even then have him refuse me.

Well, I mean, he really can’t blame her. She was only doing it to stay alive. I would think Gale would congratulate her on her resourcefulness! Though his jealousy for her and Peeta probably eclipses everything else.

He steps in and I feel myself lifted off the ground. The room spins, and I have to lock my arms around Gale’s neck to brace myself. He’s laughing, happy.

“Hey!” I protest, but I’m laughing, too.

Gale sets me down but doesn’t release his hold on me. “Okay, let’s run away,” he says.

Awww, I just think it’s kind of cute how excited he is about running away with her. Of course, it’s not like they’re eloping. It’s to keep them alive. Not romantic.

His voice drops to a whisper. “I love you.”

“Gale, I can’t think about anyone that way now. All I can think about, every day, every waking minute since they drew Prim’s name at the reaping, is how afraid I am. And there doesn’t seem to be room for anything else. If we could get somewhere safe, maybe I could be different. I don’t know.”

Can’t he see that? Maybe because he wasn’t in the Games, or maybe he’s just so driven by jealousy that he wants to get his Katniss back. I don’t know. It’s sad because it’s not even entirely Katniss not loving him back. It’s also Katniss not really loving anyone. Which should offer some comfort to him. I just feel bad that his only friend has changed so much from the Games and he’s developed feelings for her that might never be returned. And this whole star-crossed lovers engagement thing isn’t helping, either.

“I have to, Gale. I can’t leave him and Peeta because they’d—” His scowl cuts me off. “What?”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize how large our party was,” he snaps at me.

Oooooh, he mad! It’s just sad to see his disappointment. I think he honestly thought it’d be just the two of them, together, forever. But obviously Katniss needs to get all these other people, Peeta included, to safety.

“Stop it! You don’t know what you’re saying. The Peacekeepers outside of Twelve, they’re not like Darius, or even Cray! The lives of district people — they mean less than nothing to them!” I say.

“That’s why we have to join the fight!” he answers harshly.

“No! We have to leave here before they kill us and a lot of other people, too!” I’m yelling again, but I can’t understand why he’s doing this. Why doesn’t he see what’s so undeniable?

Gale pushes me roughly away from him. “You leave, then. I’d never go in a million years.”

“You were happy enough to go before. I don’t see how an uprising in District Eight does anything but make it more important that we leave.

I’m really surprised that Katniss doesn’t want to help in the rebellion. I mean, she had to try to calm it down before, when she had the ability to, but now that she knows that it didn’t work, I would have thought Katniss would be all about it. She doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would just run away.

He throws Cinna’s gloves at my feet.

WOAH, HELL NO, BRAH, NO ONE DISRESPECTS CINNA.

Peeta shakes his head and gives me a rueful smile. “I bet he does. Sure, Katniss, I’ll go.”

I feel a slight twinge of hope. “You will?”

“Yeah. But I don’t think for a minute you will,” he says.

I jerk my arm away. “Then you don’t know me. Be ready. It could be any time.” I take off walking and he follows a pace or two behind.

At first I was like YOU DON’T KNOW KATNISS, SHE’LL TOTALLY DO IT. But then I realized that he really does know Katniss. He probably feels the same way I do. That Katniss would rather stay and fight than run away. And I also think that whatever Katniss decides to do, whether it’s to stay or leave, Peeta will do the same.

I lift my chin. I’ve been so consumed with my own worries, I haven’t noticed the strange noise coming from the square. A whistling, the sound of an impact, the intake of breath from a crowd.

“Come on,” Peeta says, his face suddenly hard. I don’t know why. I can’t place the sound, even guess at the situation. But it means something bad to him.

When we reach the square, it’s clear something’s happening, but the crowd’s too thick to see. Peeta steps up on a crate against the wall of the sweetshop and offers me a hand while he scans the square. I’m halfway up when he suddenly blocks my way. “Get down. Get out of here!” He’s whispering, but his voice is harsh with insistence.

OH GOD WHAT’S GOING ON. Is it Gale? Has he already started some sort of riot?!

“Get out of here, girl.”

“Only make it worse.”

“What do you want to do? Get him killed?”

But at this point, my heart is beating so fast and fierce I hardly hear them. I only know that whatever waits in the middle of the square is meant for me. When I finally break through to the cleared space, I see I am right. And Peeta was right. And those voices were right, too.

Gale’s wrists are bound to a wooden post. The wild turkey he shot earlier hangs above him, the nail driven through its neck. His jacket’s been cast aside on the ground, his shirt torn away. He slumps unconscious on his knees, held up only by the ropes at his wrists. What used to be his back is a raw, bloody slab of meat.

Standing behind him is a man I’ve never seen, but I recognize his uniform. It’s the one designated for our Head Peacekeeper. This isn’t old Cray, though. This is a tall, muscular man with sharp creases in his pants.

The pieces of the picture do not quite come together until I see his arm raise the whip.

Holy shit, he’s being whipped! For hunting? Or for trying to start an uprising? It all just seems weird because the Peacekeepers in District 12 are normally a lot more forgiving. And speaking of which, I’d like to know who this man is.

Tags: the hunger games jason reads the hunger games catching fire chapter 7 cf7 chapter review analysis book trilogy suzanne collins gale gale hawthorne katniss katniss everdeen peeta peeta mellark haymitch district 12 madge the capitol hunger games hunger games jason reads jason reads cinna
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