Jason Reads The Hunger Games

I'm reading The Hunger Games Trilogy for the first time. Laugh at my naivety.
~ Thursday, February 16 ~
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Catching Fire: Chapter 21

I look back at the wall of fog extending in a straight line as far as I can see in either direction. A terrible impulse to flee, to abandon Peeta and save myself, shoots through me. It would be so simple, to run full out, perhaps to even climb a tree above the fog line, which seems to top out at about forty feet. I remember how I did just this when the muttations appeared in the last Games. Took off and only thought of Peeta when I’d reached the Cornucopia. But this time, I trap my terror, push it down, and stay by his side. This time my survival isn’t the goal. Peeta’s is. I think of the eyes glued to the television screens in the districts, seeing if I will run, as the Capitol wishes, or hold my ground.

I’ll admit that I thought it, too. I just don’t know if I’d have it in me to slow myself down to help another person survive, at risk of getting myself killed. So I think it’s totally normal for Katniss to think this, as a natural born fighter. But I love that she keeps her word and stays with Peeta.

The left side of his face has sagged, as if every muscle in it has died. The lid droops, almost concealing his eye. His mouth twists in an odd angle toward the ground. “Peeta—” I begin. And that’s when I feel the spasms run up my arm.

Whatever chemical laces the fog does more than burn — it targets our nerves. A whole new kind of fear shoots through me and I yank Peeta forward, which only causes him to stumble again. By the time I get him to his feet, both of my arms are twitching uncontrollably. The fog has moved in on us, the body of it less than a yard away. Something is wrong with Peeta’s legs; he’s trying to walk but they move in a spastic, puppetlike fashion.

WHAT THE it also paralyzes you?! How the fuck are they going to get out of this? From a Gamemaker’s standpoint, I don’t really see how this is entertaining, because if the fog is meant to debilitate them, then they don’t really get to put up a fight, which is what the Capitol wants to see, right? It’s like they just want to kill them immediately.

“It’s no good. I’ll have to carry him. Can you take Mags?” he asks me.

“Yes,” I say stoutly, although my heart sinks.

I just, I’m sorry, but it’s really not helping, having to carry these people around. They’re having a hard enough time with their own bodies! I can’t see this lasting much longer.

Finnick’s back by my side, Peeta hanging over him. “It’s no use,” I say. “Can you take them both? Go on ahead, I’ll catch up.” A somewhat doubtful proposal, but I say it with as much surety as I can muster.

I can see Finnick’s eyes, green in the moonlight. I can see them as clear as day. Almost like a cat’s, with a strange reflective quality. Maybe because they are shiny with tears. “No,” he says. “I can’t carry them both. My arms aren’t working.” It’s true. His arms jerk uncontrollably at his sides. His hands are empty. Of his three tridents, only one remains, and it’s in Peeta’s hands. “I’m sorry, Mags. I can’t do it.”

What? Finnick what are you saying? I mean I totally get that you can’t carry two people at once when your body is already not working very well, but so what does that mean now? Finnick?!

What happens next is so fast, so senseless, I can’t even move to stop it. Mags hauls herself up, plants a kiss on Finnick’s lips, and then hobbles straight into the fog. Immediately, her body is seized by wild contortions and she falls to the ground in a horrible dance.

I want to scream, but my throat is on fire. I take one futile step in her direction when I hear the cannon blast, know her heart has stopped, that she is dead.

WHAT THE FUCK, NO, I KNEW THAT THEY COULDN’T CARRY MAGS AROUND FOREVER, BUT I DIDN’T WANT THIS!!! I WANTED THE OPPOSITE OF THIS.

And now I really feel for Finnick. For all we know, they had it worked out that if it were between them, Finnick would be the one to live. I just can’t imagine how Finnick must have felt, by basically saying that he couldn’t keep Mags alive. That he had to let the other victor from his district die so that these two District 12 victors could live, at least for a little longer.

And Mags, man. This woman. I have all the feelings for her. Of course things are probably different when you’ve lived as long as she has, but that still can’t be an entirely easy thing to do, at least not for the average human being. But the way she decides, in the split-second, that of course she is dead weight, and these other three victors are much, much younger, and stand a much better chance of winning than she does. I just, I respect her so much more now because of this, and I really am sad about her dying.

Maybe it’s my eyes playing tricks, or the moonlight, but the fog seems to be transforming. Yes, it’s becoming thicker, as if it has pressed up against a glass window and is being forced to condense. I squint harder and realize the fingers no longer protrude from it. In fact, it has stopped moving forward entirely. Like other horrors I have witnessed in the arena, it has reached the end of its territory. Either that or the Gamemakers have decided not to kill us just yet.

Maybe they were satisfied that they had killed another tribute. They met their dead tribute quota! Or they made it into some kind of safe zone?

But there’s another sensation, of drawing out. I experiment by gingerly placing only my hand in the water. Torturous, yes, but then less so. And through the blue layer of water, I see a milky substance leaching out of the wounds on my skin. As the whiteness diminishes, so does the pain.

WHAT so the salt water cures them of their acid rain fog burn strokes?

And then, of course, there’s Mags. I still don’t understand what happened there. Why he essentially abandoned her to carry Peeta. Why she not only didn’t question it, but ran straight to her death without a moment’s hesitation. Was it because she was so old that her days were numbered, anyway? Did they think that Finnick would stand a better chance of winning if he had Peeta and me as allies?

I really, really, hope we hear Finnick talk about this.

I wonder what happened to the awl. Mags must’ve either dropped it or taken it into the fog with her. Anyway, it’s gone.

NO NOT THE AWL TOO!!! :( I’ll miss you, awl.

In just the short time it takes to cross to the edge of the jungle, I become aware of the change. Put it down to years of hunting, or maybe my reconstructed ear does work a little better than anyone intended. But I sense the mass of warm bodies poised above us. They don’t need to chatter or scream. The mere breathing of so many is enough.

What?

I touch Finnick’s arm and he follows my gaze upward. I don’t know how they arrived so silently. Perhaps they didn’t. We’ve all been absorbed in restoring our bodies.

WHAT?

During that time they’ve assembled. Not five or ten but scores of monkeys weigh down the limbs of the jungle trees. The pair we spotted when we first escaped the fog felt like a welcoming committee. This crew feels ominous.

[x]

He’s just five yards from the beach when he senses them. His eyes only dart up for a second, but it’s as if he’s triggered a bomb. The monkeys explode into a shrieking mass of orange fur and converge on him.

OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE PEETA DO YOU HONESTLY ENJOY MAKING THINGS DIFFICULT FOR YOURSELF

I throw my knife at the oncoming mutt but the creature somersaults, evading the blade, and stays on its trajectory. Weaponless, defenseless, I do the only thing I can think of. I run for Peeta, to knock him to the ground, to protect his body with mine, even though I know I won’t make it in time.

PEETA, KATNISS, NO, OH MY GOD SWBFVIE

She does, though. Materializing, it seems, from thin air. One moment nowhere, the next reeling in front of Peeta. Already bloody, mouth open in a high-pitched scream, pupils enlarged so her eyes seem like black holes.

The insane morphling from District 6 throws up her skeletal arms as if to embrace the monkey, and it sinks its fangs into her chest.

WTF PEETA’S FRIEND FROM THE CAMOFLAUGE TRAINING?!

Tags: the hunger games jason reads the hunger games catching fire chapter 21 cf21 katniss katniss everdeen peeta peeta mellark finnick mags hunger games hunger games district 4 district 12 morphling district 6 cornucopia suzanne collins monkey
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~ Saturday, February 11 ~
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Catching Fire: Chapter 20

Finnick’s hand comes up and hits me so hard, so squarely in the chest that I go flying back into a nearby tree trunk. I’m stunned for a moment, by the pain, by trying to regain my wind, as I see Finnick close off Peeta’s nose again. From where I sit, I pull an arrow, whip the notch into place, and am about to let it fly when I’m stopped by the sight of Finnick kissing Peeta.

Hmm…Finna? Peetick? I could live with that. Also I kind of laughed when Finnick hit Katniss, is that bad?

No, he’s not kissing him. He’s got Peeta’s nose blocked off but his mouth tilted open, and he’s blowing air into his lungs. I can see this, I can actually see Peeta’s chest rising and falling. Then Finnick unzips the top of Peeta’s jumpsuit and begins to pump the spot over his heart with the heels of his hands. Now that I’ve gotten through my shock, I understand what he’s trying to do.

He learned it while filming Baywatch!

His lashes flutter open and his eyes meet mine. “Careful,” he says weakly. “There’s a force field up ahead.”

OH YOU

He meets my eyes and I glare at him through my tears. It’s stupid, I know, that his efforts make me so vexed. All I wanted was to keep Peeta alive, and I couldn’t and Finnick could, and I should be nothing but grateful. And I am. But I am also furious because it means that I will never stop owing Finnick Odair. Ever. So how can I kill him in his sleep?

YOU HAD ONE JOB, KATNISS! And of course she feels worthless and guilty that this one incident 20 minutes into the Games would have been the death of Peeta if no one else were around. Plus she just keeps racking up her debt to people!

“Maybe they did a better job than they thought. You know, sometimes I do hear funny things on that side. Things you wouldn’t ordinarily think have a sound. Like insect wings. Or snow hitting the ground.” Perfect. Now all the attention will turn to the surgeons who fixed my deaf ear after the Games last year, and they’ll have to explain why I can hear like a bat.

Haha, great cover. And definitely a good idea to conceal her knowledge of the forcefield’s weakness. For now.

There’s a reason we can’t turn to the left, will never be
able to. From this precarious vantage point, I can see the shape of the whole arena for the first time. A perfect circle. With a perfect wheel in the middle. The sky above the circumference of the jungle is tinged a uniform pink. And I think I can make out one or two of those wavy squares, chinks in the armor, Wiress and Beetee called them, because they reveal what was meant to be hidden and are therefore a weakness. Just to make absolutely sure, I shoot an arrow into the empty space above the tree line. There’s a spurt of light, a flash of real blue sky, and the arrow’s thrown back into the jungle.

What the HEH. So the arena is just a big circle? Actually, now it doesn’t seem so big, if it only took them part of a day to reach the edge. And I didn’t realize that the island that is the Cornucopia is in the center, completely closed off. Holy shit. How are they going to get the tributes closer to each other? Make the forcefield gradually shrink? And what the hell is on the other side of it?

The sound of the cannon brings me to a halt. The initial bloodbath at the Cornucopia must be over. The death toll of the tributes is now available. I count the shots, each representing one dead victor. Eight. Not as many as last year. But it seems like more since I know most of their names.

Yeesh, I wonder how fast this is going to go by? Maybe, like Katniss thought, the Gamemakers want to just get it over with quickly.

It’s ugly, all right, a big rodent with a fuzz of mottled gray fur and two wicked-looking gnawing teeth protruding over its lower lip.

ROUSs! They do exist!

Peeta has another idea. He takes a cube of rodent meat, skewers it on the tip of a pointed stick, and lets it fall into the force field. There’s a sharp sizzle and the stick flies back. The chunk of meat is blackened on the outside but well cooked inside. We give him a round of applause, then quickly stop, remembering where we are.

The man from District 5, the one Finnick took out with his trident, is the first to appear. That means that all the tributes in 1 through 4 are alive — the four Careers, Beetee and Wiress, and, of course, Mags and Finnick. The man from District 5 is followed by the male morphling from 6, Cecelia and Woof from 8, both from 9, the woman from 10, and Seeder from 11. The Capitol seal is back with a final bit of music and then the sky goes dark except for the moon.

And here I thought that old bag Mags would be the first to die.But for some reason I’m saddened by Seeder’s death! Just because she was from District 11 and was Haymitch’s friend.

Peeta unties the cord and flattens out the circle of silk. On the parachute sits a small metal object that I can’t place. “What is it?” I ask. No one knows. We pass it from hand to hand, taking turns examining it. It’s a hollow metal tube, tapered slightly at one end. On the other end a small lip curves downward. It’s vaguely familiar. A part that could have fallen off a bicycle, a curtain rod, anything, really.

Great, more metal instruments that have no apparent use!

“It’s a spile. Sort of like a faucet. You put it in a tree and sap comes out.” I look at the sinewy green trunks around me. “Well, the right sort of tree.”

BOOM BABY! So they’re going to drink sap? I’m not sure that will work as well as water.

There’s nothing to drill with, so Mags offers her awl and Peeta drives it straight into the bark, burying the spike two inches deep.

Yay, the awl isn’t entirely useless!

At first nothing happens. Then a drop of water rolls down the lip and lands in Mags’s palm. She licks it off and holds out her hand for more.

By wiggling and adjusting the spile, we get a thin stream running out. We take turns holding our mouths under the tap, wetting our parched tongues. Mags brings over a basket, and the grass is so tightly woven it holds water. We fill the basket and pass it around, taking deep gulps and, later, luxuriously, splashing our faces clean. Like everything here, the water’s on the warm side, but this is no time to be picky.

Water! So wet, so good! I wonder how the other tributes are doing for water. Are the trees their only source of drinking water?

Instead I find myself jarred from sleep a few hours later by what seems to be the tolling of a bell. Bong! Bong! It’s not exactly like the one they ring in the Justice Building on New Year’s but close enough for me to recognize it. Peeta and Mags sleep through it, but Finnick has the same look of attentiveness I feel. The tolling stops.

“I counted twelve,” he says.

I nod. Twelve. What does that signify? One ring for each district? Maybe. But why? “Mean anything, do you think?”

“No idea,” he says.

Maybe the number of districts that still have at least one living tribute? Nope, 8 and 9 are both out. I got nothing.

The sound of the cannon startles me, although it makes little impression on my sleeping companions. There’s no point in awakening them for this. Another victor dead. I don’t even allow myself to wonder who it is.

I bet someone got struck by lightning (only kind of kidding)! Can the Gamemakers control the lightning so it hits people?!

Moments after it stops, I see the fog sliding softly in from the direction of the recent downpour. Just a reaction. Cool rain on the steaming ground, I think. It continues to approach at a steady pace. Tendrils reach forward and then curl like fingers, as if they are pulling the rest behind them. As I watch, I feel the hairs on my neck begin to rise. Something’s wrong with this fog. The progression of the front line is too uniform to be natural. And if it’s not natural …

A sickeningly sweet odor begins to invade my nostrils and I reach for the others, shouting for them to wake up.

In the few seconds it takes to rouse them, I begin to blister.

WHAT THE FUCK it’s like acid rain! Or acid fog! Or something, just get the hell out of there wtaffyasnefvd

Tags: the hunger games jason reads the hunger games catching fire chapter 20 cf20 book chapter review analysis trilogy suzanne collins katniss katniss everdeen peeta peeta mellark finnick mags hunger games hunger games seeder cecelia haymitch prim gale beetee wiress SPILE AWL woof
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~ Tuesday, February 7 ~
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Catching Fire: Chapter 19

Part III: The Enemy

All right, there’s the Cornucopia, the shining gold metal horn, about forty yards away. At first, it appears to be sitting on a circular island. But on closer examination, I see the thin strips of land radiating from the circle like the spokes on a wheel. I think there are ten to twelve, and they seem equidistant from one another. Between the spokes, all is water. Water and a pair of tributes.

That’s it, then. There are twelve spokes, each with two tributes balanced on metal plates between them. The other tribute in my watery wedge is old Woof from District 8. He’s about as far to my right as the land strip on my left. Beyond the water, wherever you look, a narrow beach and then dense greenery. I scan the circle of tributes, looking for Peeta, but he must be blocked from my view by the Cornucopia.

Wait, okay, WHAT? The Cornucopia is on an island, and there are these strips of land, like sand bars, that shoot out between all of them, and the tributes are balancing on metal discs in the middle of the OCEAN?

I’m still not so sure I’m grasping this whole setup, so maybe that’s why I was so confused during the whole first half of this chapter. I feel like I’m reading the Department of Mysteries chapter of OotP, like they’re in WHAT room which is connected to WHAT and WHERE is this person and WHERE are they going now and I need a fucking DIAGRAM of this place.

But anyway, moving on!

Last year, the supplies were spread out quite a distance around the Cornucopia, with the most valuable closest to the horn. But this year, the booty seems to be piled at the twenty-foot-high mouth. My eyes instantly home in on a golden bow just in arm’s reach and I yank it free.

Haha, booty, get it because they’re on an island? Whatever, POINT IS, Katniss got her filthy hands on a fucking golden bow and is now ready to fuck shit up!

For a moment we’re frozen, sizing each other up, our weapons, our skill. Then Finnick suddenly grins. “Lucky thing we’re allies. Right?”

Sensing a trap, I’m about to let my arrow fly, hoping it finds his heart before the trident impales me, when he shifts his hand and something on his wrist catches the sunlight. A solid-gold bangle patterned with flames. The same one I remember on Haymitch’s wrist the morning I began training. I briefly consider that Finnick could have stolen it to trick me, but somehow I know this isn’t the case. Haymitch gave it to him. As a signal to me. An order, really. To trust Finnick.

FINNICK IS ON THEIR SIDE WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN WHY WASN’T I TOLD?

Seriously though, Haymitch, why didn’t you just say something, Katniss almost killed him!

“Duck!” Finnick commands in such a powerful voice, so different from his usual seductive purr, that I do. His trident goes whizzing over my head and there’s a sickening sound of impact as it finds its target. The man from District 5, the drunk who threw up on the sword-fighting floor, sinks to his knees as Finnick frees the trident from his chest. “Don’t trust One and Two,” Finnick says.

WITH AUTHORITY.

I quickly scan the pile on my side and find maces, swords, bows and arrows, tridents, knives, spears, axes, metallic objects I have no name for…and nothing else.

“Weapons!” I call back. “Nothing but weapons!”

“Same here,” he confirms. “Grab what you want and let’s go!”

Why only weapons? Do they want the tributes to just kill each other and get it over with? Doesn’t sound like something they would do. Also, like with those night-vision goggles from last time, I’m going to predict that they’ll find a use for those metallic objects. Or we’ll at least find out what they are.

I sling an extra bow and a second sheath of arrows over my body, slide two long knives and an awl into my belt, and meet up with Finnick at the front of the pile.

I admit I had to look up what an awl was. What a weird thing to have as a weapon!

If I had only my own safety to consider, I might be willing to take them on with Finnick by my side. But it’s Peeta I’m thinking about. I spot him now, still stranded on his metal plate.

OMG WTF I COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT PEETA. What has he been doing this whole time? Just standing on that metal plate? Does he not know how to swim? It’s just amazing to me how many of them don’t know how to swim, maybe because I learned when I was like 8 so it’s second nature, and maybe I take it for granted that everyone knows how to swim. Which is weird considering the location of the Cornucopia and the lack of swim training back at the Capitol.

I take off and Finnick follows without question, as if knowing this will be my next move. When I’m as close as I can get, I start removing knives from my belt, preparing to swim out to reach him and somehow bring him in.

Finnick drops a hand on my shoulder. “I’ll get him.”

Suspicion flickers up inside me. Could this all just be a ruse? For Finnick to win my trust and then swim out and drown Peeta? “I can,” I insist.

Yeah, why is Finnick all eager to get Peeta? Something sure seems….fishy.

YYEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH.

But Finnick has dropped all his weapons to the ground. “Better not exert yourself. Not in your condition,” he says, and reaches down and pats my abdomen.

Oh, right. I’m supposed to be pregnant, I think. While I’m trying to think what that means and how I should act—maybe throw up or something—Finnick has positioned himself at the edge of the water.

“Cover me,” he says. He disappears with a flawless dive.

I’ll allow it, but watch yourself, Odair! (wow I am on a fucking roll) And what is Katniss’s “pregnancy” going to mean for the other tributes and the Games in general? How will it come into play? Because it obv will.

A quick survey of the rest of the arena shows that most of the tributes are still trapped on their plates. Wait, no, there’s someone standing on the spoke to my left, the one opposite Peeta. It’s Mags. But she neither heads for the Cornucopia nor tries to flee. Instead she splashes into the water and starts paddling toward me, her gray head bobbing above the waves. Well, she’s old, but I guess after eighty years of living in District 4 she can keep afloat.

Mags! Get on over here, you old bag! And I’m still just in awe at how many of those tributes just can’t swim. Like right off the bat, they’re incapacitated by the water surrounding them.

“Hello, again,” he says, and gives me a kiss. “We’ve got allies.”

“Yes. Just as Haymitch intended,” I answer. “Remind me, did we make deals with anyone else?” Peeta asks.

“Only Mags, I think,” I say. I nod toward the old woman doggedly making her way toward us.

“Well, I can’t leave Mags behind,” says Finnick. “She’s one of the few people who actually likes me.”

“I’ve got no problem with Mags,” I say. “Especially now that I see the arena. Het fishhooks are probably our best chance of getting a meal.”

“Katniss wanted her on the first day,” says Peeta.

“Katniss has remarkably good judgment,” says Finnick.

Oooh, yay, the fearsome foursome!

Also, the belts float. Good to know.

I hand Peeta a bow, a sheath of arrows, and a knife, keeping the rest for myself. But Mags tugs on my sleeve and babbles on until I’ve given the awl to her. Pleased, she clamps the handle between her gums and reaches her arms up to Finnick. He tosses his net over his shoulder, hoists Mags on top of it, grips his tridents in his free hand, and we run away from the Cornucopia.

What does mags plan on doing with that godforsaken thing? And I had to reread that part, but yes, Finnick is carrying Mags. Suddenly she seems like dead weight.I mean, at least Finnick is here to support her.

Around the Cornucopia, the ground appears to be bleeding; the water has purple stains. Bodies lie on the ground and float in the sea, but at this distance, with everyone dressed exactly the same, I can’t tell who lives or dies. All I can tell is that some of the tiny blue figures still battle. Well, what did I think? That the victors’ chain of locked hands last night would result in some sort of universal truce in the arena? No, I never believed that. But I guess I had hoped people might show some…what? Restraint? Reluctance, at least. Before they jumped right into massacre mode. And you all knew each other, I think. You acted like friends.

No!!! We were supposed to have a big sit-in!!! I hate this.

I let the slight, soupy breeze cool my cheeks while I come to a decision. Despite the bangle, I should just get it over with and shoot Finnick.

That was quick. But it just seems like a bad idea right now.

But when I land, I find Finnick’s kept pace with my thoughts. As if he knows what I have seen and how it will have affected me. He has one of his tridents raised in a casually defensive position.

“What’s going on down there, Katniss? Have they all joined hands? Taken a vow of nonviolence? Tossed the weapons in the sea in defiance of the Capitol?” Finnick asks.

“No,” I say.

“No,” Finnick repeats. “Because whatever happened in the past is in the past. And no one in this arena was a victor by chance.” He eyes Peeta for a moment. “Except maybe Peeta.”

Yeah, I’m sold. He’s got to be good. At least mostly good. Maybe it was too perfect of a response to what Katniss was thinking, but I really think Finnick is going to be usefull, if not a “good guy”, whatever that is.

But there is no other side. I know this before anyone else, even though I am farthest from the top. My eyes catch on a funny, rippling square hanging like a warped pane of glass in the air. At first I think it’s the glare from the sun or the heat shimmering up off the ground. But it’s fixed in space, not shifting when I move. And that’s when I connect the square with Wiress and Beetee in the Training Center and realize what lies before us. My warning cry is just reaching my lips when Peeta’s knife swings out to slash away some vines.

What the fuck? Is there a forcefield surrounding the island? Is it even an island? Why is there a forcefield there? Why not the bounce-back kind of thing that Haymitch utilized in his Games? OH AND PEETA’S ABOUT TO FUCKING HIT IT.

There’s a sharp zapping sound. For an instant, the trees are gone and I see open space over a short stretch of bare earth. Then Peeta’s flung back from the force field, bringing Finnick and Mags to the ground.

WHAT WAS THAT? The trees disappeared! Right? Is it all an illusion? What is behind that forcefield?

I rush over to where he lies, motionless in a web of vines. “Peeta?” There’s a faint smell of singed hair. I call his name again, giving him a little shake, but he’s unresponsive. My fingers fumble across his lips, where there’s no warm breath although moments ago he was panting. I press my ear against his chest, to the spot where I always rest my head, where I know I will hear the strong and steady beat of his heart.

Instead, I find silence.

NO NO NO NO NO

Tags: the hunger games jason reads the hunger games catching fire chapter 19 cf19 chapter book review analysis trilogy suzanne collins katniss katniss everdeen peeta peeta mellark finnick mags cornucopia hunger games hunger games brutus gloss enobaria wiress beetee district 12 the capitol
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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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~ 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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~ Monday, January 16 ~
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Catching Fire: Chapter 10

Part II: The Quell

Okay wait, not I’m wondering, are we going to see another Hunger Games? Like, the Quarter Quell? I would think that we will.

“What is it? What does that mean?” I ask harshly, still prepared to kill.

“It means we’re on your side,” says a tremulous voice behind me.

OH HOLLER, they’re on her side! They’re good guys!

“My name’s Twill,” says the woman. She’s older. Maybe thirty-five or so. “And this is Bonnie. We’ve run away from District Eight.”

District 8! Then they must know about the uprising!

Yeah obviously. What’s more, they’re escapees! Fugitives! I just can’t help thinking that they’ll eventually go the same way as the Avox girl.

“We’re headed for District Thirteen,” Twill replies.

“Thirteen?” I say. “There’s no Thirteen. It got blown off the map.”

“Seventy-five years ago,” says Twill.

WAIT ARE THEY GOING TO HOLD THE QUARTER QUELL IN DISTRICT THIRTEEN? I don’t know what they’d do with it but I feel like it’d be really cool.

“Out of food?” I ask.

Bonnie nods. “We took what we could, but food’s been so scarce. That’s been gone for a while.” The quaver in her voice melts my remaining defenses. She is just a malnourished, injured girl fleeing the Capitol.

“Well, then this is your lucky day,” I say, dropping my game bag on the floor.

You see, Katniss, you’re a decent person!

“Oh,” says Bonnie. “Oh, is this all for me?”

Something inside me twists as I remember another voice. Rue. In the arena. When I gave her the leg of groosling. “Oh, I’ve never had a whole leg to myself before.” The disbelief of the chronically hungry.

It took months for Bonnie, who worked in the chilly inspection dock, to secure the two uniforms, a boot here, a pair of pants there. They were intended for Twill and her husband because it was understood that, once the uprising began, it would be crucial to get word of it out beyond District 8 if it were to spread and be successful.

Good thinking, District 8! This was essential, since the Capitol keeps all the districts divided and keeps information from crossing over about different districts. Katniss and Gale (I believe) are still the only ones in District 12 that know about the uprising in District 8, and all because Katniss accidentally saw it on television. If she hadn’t met Bonnie and Twill, she’d be entirely oblivious.

Then one night, as the whole district was on the brink of starvation, came the order to return to business as usual.

That meant school for Twill and Bonnie. A street made impassable by the bombs caused them to be late for their factory shift, so they were still a hundred yards away when it exploded, killing everyone inside - including Twill’s husband and Bonnie’s entire family.

It’s like the people who were late to work on 9/11! Well, it’s a good thing they survived. And the Capitol seems to think they’re dead, too, so no one’s probably searching for them.

“It’s nothing but rubble,” I say. “We’ve all seen the footage.”

“That’s just it. They’ve been using the same footage for as long as anyone in District Eight can remember,” says Twill.

“Really?” I try to think back, to call up the images of 13 I’ve seen on television.

“You know how they always show the Justice Building?” Twill continues. I nod. I’ve seen it a thousand times. “If you look very carefully, you’ll see it. Up in the far right-hand corner.”

“See what?” I ask.

Twill holds out her cracker with the bird again. “A mockingjay. Just a glimpse of it as it flies by. The same one every time.”

“Back home, we think they keep reusing the old footage because the Capitol can’t show what’s really there now,” says Bonnie.

JESUSCHRISTSUIBWECDCWHOLYSHITFUCKING the Capitol is covering something up! There’s something going on in District 13 that the Capitol doesn’t want anyone knowing about! WTF IS ITTT?!

“We think the people moved underground when everything on the surface was destroyed. We think they’ve managed to survive. And we think the Capitol leaves them alone because, before the Dark Days, District Thirteen’s principal industry was nuclear development.”

So they might have weapons? I guess now I’m wondering whether the Capitol is covering it up because they plan to use the weapons or because they just don’t want the other districts to try to use them.

“We don’t know,” Bonnie whispers. “Right now, we’re just holding on to the hope that they exist.”

That snaps me to my senses. These are delusions. District 13 doesn’t exist because the Capitol would never let it exist.

No, Katniss, I believe them, it must be true! It all makes sense! Isn’t the Capitol all about facades? It’d be just like them to hide the true District 13 from the other districts’ eyes. And they’d let it exist if it benefitted them!

In the fading light, the chain links look as innocuous as usual. But what makes me jerk back my hand is the sound, like the buzz of a tree full of tracker jacker nests, indicating the fence is alive with electricity.

Oh, for God’s sake, this girl can’t catch a fucking break!

Tags: the hunger games jason reads the hunger games catching fire chapter 10 cf10 chapter review analysis book books trilogy suzanne collins hunger games hunger games katniss katniss everdeen twill bonnie district 12 district 8 district 13 the capitol capitol gale gale hawthorne peeta peeta mellark rue quell
~ 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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