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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~ Sunday, January 29 ~
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Catching Fire: Chapter 16

Haymitch grips my wrist as if anticipating my next move, but I am as speechless as the Capitol’s torturers have rendered Darius.

Of course Haymitch knows who this is, too! Of course Haymitch is equally affected by Darius becoming an Avox. I wonder what he’s thinking at this moment. Of course, after many years of returning to the Capitol for Games-related stuff, he might be used to seeing people he knows as Avoxes.

But the only time I really feel present is when I purposely knock a dish of peas to the floor and, before anyone can stop me, crouch down to clean them up. Darius is right by me when I send the dish over, and we two are briefly side by side, obscured from view, as we scoop up the peas. For just one moment our hands meet. I can feel his skin, rough under the buttery sauce from the dish. In the tight, desperate clench of our fingers are all the words we will never be able to say.

Haymitch gives me a scowl, then relents. “All right, never mind. Today, in training, you’ve got two jobs. One, stay in love.”

“Obviously,” I say.

“And two, make some friends,” says Haymitch.

Oh man, this ought to be good. Peeta’s a natural, but Katniss, making friends? Recruiting allies? Either way, I’m excited to see who they come up with. I like teams!

Make your own pack if you’d rather. Choose who you like. I’d suggest Chaff and Seeder. Although Finnick’s not to be ignored,” says Haymitch. “Find someone to team up with who might be of some use to you. Remember, you’re not in a ring full of trembling children anymore. These people are all experienced killers, no matter what shape they appear to be in.”

Am I the only one who rolled his eyes when Haymitch suggested, oh, I don’t know, just two random people off the top of my head, how about Chaff and Seeder, the two with whom I’ve become the closest of friends? I mean maybe they would be their best bet, but for some reason I yawned a bit when Haymitch said it.

Enobaria looks to be about thirty and all I can remember about her is that, in hand-to-hand combat, she killed one tribute by ripping open his throat with her teeth. She became so famous for this act that, after she was a victor, she had her teeth cosmetically altered so each one ends in a sharp point like a fang and is inlaid with gold. She has no shortage of admirers in the Capitol.

I WANNA SEE YA GRILL, YA, YA, YA GRILL.

I’d be content to spend the morning alone with him, but after about an hour and a half, someone puts his arms around me from behind, his fingers easily finishing the complicated knot I’ve been sweating over. Of course it’s Finnick, who seems to have spent his childhood doing nothing but wielding tridents and manipulating ropes into fancy knots for nets, I guess. I watch for a minute while he picks up a length of rope, makes a noose, and then pretends to hang himself for my amusement.

The woman, Wiress, is probably around my mother’s age and speaks in a quiet, intelligent voice. But right away I notice she has a habit of dropping off her words in mid-sentence, as if she’s forgotten you’re there. Beetee, the man, is older and somewhat fidgety. He wears glasses but spends a lot of time looking under them. They’re a little strange, but I’m pretty sure neither of them is going to try to make me uncomfortable by stripping naked. And they’re from District 3. Maybe they can even confirm my suspicions of an uprising there.

Hmmm, suddenly these people seem like potential allies. I think either way, they’re going to have to team up with at least one old person. Might as well be them.

I glance around the Training Center. Peeta is at the center of a ribald circle of knife throwers. The morphlings from District 6 are in the camouflage station, painting each other’s faces with bright pink swirls. The male tribute from District 5 is vomiting wine on the sword-fighting floor. Finnick and the old woman from his district are using the archery station. Johanna Mason is naked again and oiling her skin down for a wrestling lesson. I decide to stay put.

Nice, classic, high school cafeteria-style walkthrough of the tributes in the training center. But seriously what is that girl’s PROBLEM?

“The strength of the thread,” Beetee finishes explaining. “Automatically. It rules out human error.” Then he talks about his recent success creating a musical chip that’s tiny enough to be concealed in a flake of glitter but can hold hours of songs. I remember Octavia talking about this during the wedding shoot, and I see a possible chance to allude to the uprising.

“Oh, yeah. My prep team was all upset a few months ago, I think, because they couldn’t get hold of that,” I say casually. “I guess a lot of orders from District Three were getting backed up.”

Beetee examines me under his glasses. “Yes. Did you have any similar backups in coal production, this year?” he asks.

“No. Well, we lost a couple of weeks when they brought in a new Head Peacekeeper and his crew, but nothing major,” I say. “To production, I mean. Two weeks sitting around your house doing nothing just means two weeks of being hungry for most people.”

I think they understand what I’m trying to say. That we’ve had no uprising.

“Oh. That’s a shame,” says Wiress in a slightly disappointed voice. “I found your district very …” She trails off, distracted by something in her head.

“Interesting,” fills in Beetee. “We both did.”

I feel bad, knowing that their district must have suffered much worse than ours. I feel I have to defend my people. “Well, there aren’t very many of us in Twelve,” I say. “Not that you’d know it nowadays by the size of the Peacekeeping force. But I guess we’re interesting enough.”

See, everyone expects District 12 to be like the leaders of the uprising, and they haven’t been able to do anything! But during these games, or after, something will happen. Something has to happen. Gale will organize a rebellion, definitely. Maybe during the games while everyone’s distracted? I don’t know but the suspense is killing me!

I take a tray and start making my way around the food-laden carts that ring the room. Peeta catches up with me at the stew. “How’s it going?”

“Good. Fine. I like the District Three victors,” I say. “Wiress and Beetee.”

“Really?” he asks. “They’re something of a joke to the others.”

“Why does that not surprise me?” I say. I think of how Peeta was always surrounded at school by a crowd of friends. It’s amazing, really, that he ever took any notice of me except to think I was odd.

“Johanna’s nicknamed them Nuts and Volts,” he says. “I think she’s Nuts and he’s Volts.”

“And so I’m stupid for thinking they might be useful. Because of something Johanna Mason said while she was oiling up her breasts for wrestling,” I retort.

“Actually I think the nickname’s been around for years. And I didn’t mean that as an insult. I’m just sharing information,” he says.

“Well, Wiress and Beetee are smart. They invent things. They could tell by sight that a force field had been put up between us and the Gamemakers. And if we have to have allies, I want them.”

I feel like it’d be just like Katniss to make a team of outcasts. Like, the fact that everyone seems to dislike Wiress and Beetee would probably make her want them even more. But I guess it’s still too early to tell who they’re going to team up with.

Cashmere and Gloss, the sister and brother from District 1, invite me over and we make hammocks for a while. They’re polite but cool, and I spend the whole time thinking about how I killed both the tributes from their district, Glimmer and Marvel, last year, and that they probably knew them and might even have been their mentors.

LOL CASHMERE AND GLOSS, I CAN’T.

Also, I guess they’re not too upset about Glimmer and Marvel (lol) if they invited Katniss over to their station. Unless it’s to draw her in and lull her into a false sense of security so they can avenge Glimmer and Marvel (lol) by killing her in the arena? I don’t know why do I even bother trying to predict this shit?

After a while I tune out the trainer and simply try to copy whatever Mags does. When I make a pretty good hook out of a bent nail and fasten it to some strands of my hair, she gives me a toothless smile and an unintelligible comment I think might be praise. Suddenly I remember how she volunteered to replace the young, hysterical woman in her district. It couldn’t be because she thought she had any chance of winning. She did it to save the girl, just like I volunteered last year to save Prim. And I decide I want her on my team.

Great. Now I have to go back and tell Haymitch I want an eighty-year-old and Nuts and Volts for my allies. He’ll love that.

Dream team right here. I still want to learn more about Mags though.

I forget the rest of the gym and the victors and how miserable I am and lose myself in the shooting. When I manage to take down five birds in one round, I realize it’s so quiet I can hear each one hit the floor. I turn and see the majority of the victors have stopped to watch me. Their faces show everything from envy to hatred to admiration.

That’s how you do it, bitch.

And the more I come to know these people, the worse it is. Because, on the whole, I don’t hate them. And some I like. And a lot of them are so damaged that my natural instinct would be to protect them. But all of them must die if I’m to save Peeta.

And that is what the Hunger Games are all about. I kind of want to see all the tributes just have a big sit-in when the Games begin, like an Occupy The Hunger Games. When the gong sounds or whatever, instead of running around killing each other, they just walk up to the Cornucopia and sit in a circle, sharing the food and burning all the weapons in the middle while singing “Kumbaya.”

There’s a lot of kidding about it at lunch. What we might do. Sing, dance, strip, tell jokes. Mags, who I can understand a little better now, decides she’s just going to take a nap.

Hahaha, old people.

We sit in silence awhile and then I blurt out the thing that’s on both our minds. “How are we going to kill these people, Peeta?”

That is what sucks about alliances. No matter how many people you have, how good they are, how much you like each other, at some point you’re going to have to kill each other. It’s its own form of turture that the Gamemakers didn’t even have to create. The tributes do it to themselves. Not that they have much of a choice.

When I go in, I smell the sharp odor of cleaner and notice that one of the mats has been dragged to the center of the room. The mood is very different from last year’s, when the Gamemakers were half drunk and distractedly picking at tidbits from the banquet table. They whisper among themselves, looking somewhat annoyed. What did Peeta do? Something to upset them?

Peeta need I remind you that we’re all here to try to keep YOU alive? So don’t fuck it up!

Suddenly I know just what I’m going to do. Something that will blow anything Peeta did right out of the water. I go over to the knot-tying station and get a length of rope. I start to manipulate it, but it’s hard because I’ve never made this actual knot myself. I’ve only watched Finnick’s clever fingers, and they moved so fast. After about ten minutes, I’ve come up with a respectable noose. I drag one of the target dummies out into the middle of the room and, using some chinning bars, hang it so it dangles by the neck. Tying its hands behind its back would be a nice touch, but I think I might be running out of time. I hurry over to the camouflage station, where some of the other tributes, undoubtedly the morphlings, have made a colossal mess. But I find a partial container of bloodred berry juice that will serve my needs. The flesh-colored fabric of the dummy’s skin makes a good, absorbent canvas. I carefully finger paint the words on its body, concealing them from view. Then I step away quickly to watch the reaction on the Gamemakers’ faces as they read the name on the dummy.

SENECA CRANE.

Tags: the hunger games jason reads the hunger games catching fire chapter 16 cf16 chapter book trilogy suzanne collins review analysis katniss katniss everdeen peeta peeta mellark gale finnick johanna mason wiress beetee haymitch chaff gloss seeder brutus mags darius hunger games hunger games
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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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~ 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
~ 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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