Welcome to the Hunger Games read-along! Beginning July 1st, 2010, we will be reading and chatting about one chapter a day of both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins in anticipation of the release of Mockingjay on August 24th.

In the unlikely event that this is your first read of these amazing books, welcome! And more importantly, beware of spoilers! There will be spoilers.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


GO!  And don't read any comments if you don't want spoilers!

Monday, August 23, 2010


Guys, here is where we get to have the fun!  Let's make some predictions of what will happen in Mockingjay.  I'll go first:

Peeta will be an Avox.  As the voice of the rebellion, the Capitol will silence him.  The Capitol will use him to wait on future tributes as a symbol of their ridiculous control.

Cinna will be an Avox.  He's been an underground leader of the resistance all along, and he knows a lot of people.  What the Capitol doesn't understand is that his voice is in his art.  (Also, he just can't be dead!)

Gale will die sacrificing himself to save Peeta.  That will kill me.  But Katniss will marry her Avox love and I'll pine.

Bloodbreath Snow will be revealed to be a muttation.

Cesar Flickerman will choose black for his new hair, eye and lip colors and archery will be all the rage in the new Capitol/Districts hybrid that will be known as District Freedom.  I'll gag.

Will there be chapters from Peeta's POV?  He's in the Capitol with Enobaria and Johanna.  I hope not!

Katniss will feel used, and flee into the woods with Gale after all.  But then she'll see that they need her (but how, really?) and she'll go back and take out the muttation Snow herself.  Faces on banners and all that.

District 4 will be the first to thrive when districters can vacation.


Catching Fire Chapter 27!!!

In which an arrow through one chink in the armor does a LOT of damage.  Didn't Katniss see several of these?  That wire must really be something.  And even now, Katniss is missing the point.

Much like at the end of the previous games, Katniss is in a hovercraft, being treated medically, and she's resisting it.  And again, she's thinking of killing Peeta out of mercy.  Beetee, too.  Would anyone still be alive if Katniss saved them all by putting them out of her misery?

"Communications are down in Seven, Ten, and Twelve.  But Eleven has control of transportation now, so there's at least a hope of them getting some food out."

Did you infer that Finnick threatens to kill himself to save Annie?  He's sweet.  I wonder what that story is.

Haymitch lays it all out for us. Or, rather, we hear what Haymitch had to say in an abbreviated Katniss version.  The first time I read this I was annoyed.  I wish we could have seen some of this play out.  And to have it all crammed in at the very end.  Pshh.

Plutarch!  Heavensbee indeed.  Yay!   Full scale rebellion!  But Katniss feels that she was "just a piece" which she totally was.  A pawn.  How do you think this might affect how she behaves in Mockingjay?

Why would Plutarch tip Katniss off about the arena if he didn't know she was going in?  She'd be a mentor, obviously.  Do you think his idea went beyond that?

Peeta never mattered!  How will Katniss feel about him later because of this?  Will Gale be all "I knew he was nothing.  I'm the REAL rebel!"  *swoon*

Johanna is alive (YAY!), meaning Chaff and Brutus didn't make it.

How long are they in this gol-danged hovercraft?  I mean, it took them a half hour to get from the Capitol to the first arena.  Madam Secretary, how long did it take them to get to the second one?  Katniss has been drugged, awake, and drugged again for what must be three days.  And they're going to like, Ohio from Padre Island.  Are they DRIVING the hovercraft?

BUT YAY GALE!  Prim and Mom have survived, but District 12 has not. How did Gale get aboard the 'craft?  Did they stop and pick him up?  Were they keeping him under wraps for a while? 

I'm busting out the gold eyeliner for tomorrow's midnight release party, and here come some predictions!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 26

Dang, y'all!  We are SO close!  Two more chapters and then we'll know all. Tomorrow will have two posts, one for questions, and one for predictions.  So gear up!

Eep!  No dead tributes on day three!  How can this be?  Madam Secretary, I need you.  Who was chopped up into bits?

Beetee's plan is put to work:  but the golden wire snaps up, snaring the girls!  Worse!  Johanna whacks Katniss in the head with the spool, then knifes her in the arm!  WTF!?  Brutus declares her "as good as dead" but he don't know our girl too good.  (The Capitol crowd must be beside themselves when her eyes flick open!)  Katniss hurls again (Madam Secretary, are you keeping track?  It seems like she barfs a LOT).

Peeta is Katniss's dying wish.  Sigh.  I give up.  I love Gale, so I guess this  means he's MINE.  Someone dies, Finnick's net Beetee's wire catches Katniss, Beetee is cut!  And has a knife wrapped in wire!  Here's where I hate the Capitol for their edumacational disparities, and Katniss's un-excitedness to excel at electronics.

Finnick and Enobaria of the Razor Teeth reach the tree at the same time.  Why isn't she trying to kill him?  So, with two people dead, Beetee on his way out, lightning about to strike, Katniss FINALLY thinks about Haymitch and his advice to remember who the enemy is.  At last, she thinks to shoot the wavery part in the FF.  Then she (almost) dies.  Atta girl.

What was Beetee attempting?  Did he accomplish it?

WHY IS KATNISS SO THICK?  Why do you think Katniss's default is to play by the rules, even now?  Why suspect everyone to be an enemy?  Why not think of Haymitch's advice earlier?  Will the next chapter be Katniss from beyond the grave?

Who are the two dead people?  Where's Chaff?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 25

Oy to the vey, everyone.  Have I had some computer nonsense today!  Anyway, I'm in, under the wire, but here we go!  Thanks for not complaining.  

SO!  Katniss wakes up thinking "delicious" thoughts of Peeta.  (GaleGaleGale.) She agrees to remain allied until the Careers are dead.  Beetee's awesome plan is laid out, and everyone agrees to it.  (I never thought of that tree being hit by lightning again and again not being burned...I should have after all the lightning struck trees I saw on my tour of District 12.  Do you think it can be tapped for water?)  So it's Beetee, Finnick, Johanna, Peets and Katniss against the world.  Er, Enobaria and Brutus.

Beetee is the teacher/leader, and everyone else naps and goofs off.  Peeta finds a pearl and had a good joke at Effie's expense (imagine how well her scarlet blush would go with her gold wig!)  Katniss is still sure she'll die in the arena.

So, at this point, what did you make of the factory rolls arriving again and again?  I just thought that the electronics district wasn't very creative, especially since they had so much food already. 

Does Beetee's plan make sense?  Do you think it's a lot of work just to take out the careers?  PK9, how far to the force field from the water is it?  They make it seem like miles, but in my head, it's max 1 mile.  Still, a mile of wire is a LOT of wire.

How do you feel about the locket?  Where do you think Peeta got it/the pics?  I guess this should have been yesterday's question.  What does he mean by "I guess the locket didn't work"?

So two chapters left.  How will the gang get out of it this time?  Zoinks!

Guys, many apologies for being so super late today.  Forgives!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 24

Mmmkay.  Katniss and Finnick ride out the jabberjays through some sort of field-that-isn't-force.  Avid blog-reader Sarah was right way back when she says that Annie Cresta is the one Mags volunteered for.  Great work, Madam Secretary.  Beetee gets bread, 24 rolls.  Odd?  We'll see.  Johanna makes a joke, Katniss laughs, and now they are friends whether Katniss likes it or not (she doesn't).

Peeta and Katniss get all wocka wocka, and he tries to convince her that she should live and not him.  Does that mean Peeta will die?  That he's trying to build her up just to let her down?  Gale and Prim and everyone are worth more than Peeta's mean ol' mom.  (True.)

To D, if you're reading this:  moreGalemoreGalemoreGaleGaleGaleGale.  And if Cinna's dead, watch your back.  You have 4 days to make it right.

Katniss is learning to understand Peeta's signals (ie, baby=fakey), but she still thinks about making Gale babies.  Those babies are hot.  Not stocky and ashy with frosting fingers.

Extra special bonus! This one goes out to Katniss and Peeta.  Also, just stop the vid after the song...it goes on for like 4 more minutes.  NO, WAIT, DON'T!   Skip to 5:33!!!  DO IT!  Then stop.

The Real Hunger Games Experience

Special Extra Bonus!  This article from Popular Mechanics made me think...how long could I survive in District 12 or the arena after attending Wilderness School?  Not long, surely.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 23

In which Wiress gets it, and so do Gloss and Cashmere.  Finally!  The first time I read this, I wondered how on earth we could still have 13 living tributes at this point.

What I do wonder is why the hovercrafts wait until the arena spins around before they recover the bodies.  And why they wait so long after to collect Wiress that Finnick has time to swim out and save Beetee, and Katniss has time to swim out to Wiress to retrieve the wire she clings to.  Something smells like Heavensbee.

You know what else smells Plutarchy?  That Johanna won't shut up about the wire.  I think there's a plan, and she knows what it is, and she's not too subtle, is she?  She's so unsubtle, she's making KATNISS think there's something up.

So Katniss figures out that everyone's trying to save Peeta.  Let's think back...are they trying to save her too?  She's allowed to go hunt in the forest herself, but they know she can handle her weapon.  In fact, it seems like they really just let her do her lethal thing, she needs no protecting.  She can run, she can shoot, she can swim.  I guess if they didn't see her in the training center taking out five flying plates at once, they might be a bit more protective of her.  Yes?  But now, Johanna won't let her go with Peeta.  Divide them up so at least one can live, right?

Okay, guys.  Now's the time to ring in.  The poll says one thing, but please tell me what you want from this blog after Tuesday.  I gotta be honest, the day to day thing isn't going to happen (unless I have help).  One open post?  A post every day with mostly "guest" posters?  Let's brainstorm a bit, because I'm sure there will be TONS to talk about.  It's just a matter of how long we want to talk about it, and in what format.

Catching Fire Chapter 22

In which (this is a HUGE chapter!) Peeta talks of painting with Ms. Morphling, kind of like Bob Ross does.  Happy little clouds.  I wonder where Peeta might have seen sunlight on white fur.  When he talks about figuring out a rainbow, I think of Monet, and his struggles (and successes) in figuring out how to capture the absolutely momentariness of light.  Where do you think Peeta learned to be so sensitive to colors?  His awesome mom?

Haymitch wins again by answering Katniss's call for unguent immediately, but he's not the only funny one.  She thinks, "be friends with Finnick.  You'll get food."  (Guys, if you ever find anyone you communicate as easily as Katniss does with Haymitch, put them in your inner circle immediately or marry them.  I'm serious.)  But it's Finnick's food.  Do you think it's actually a message from his sponsors meaning be friends with Katniss, you'll get food

Directly across is a tidal wave and now everyone is jumpsuit free.  Woot!  Naked Finnick and presumably naked Johanna are reunited.  Johanna reveals that the rain is sticky, hot, thick, horrible blood.  SUPER EW.

Okay, questions:  How do you think the other morphling from 6 died?  Obvs someone killed him, but do you think it was someone (a victor/tribute) against the rebellion who recognized something fishy?  Pure speculation, but whatevs.

So, Johanna found Betee and Wiress on purpose as per Haymitch's instructions for allying with Katniss.  What does she know?  How does she know it?  Does she reveal too much/what the hell does she mean when she says, "Who do you think got them out of that bleeding jungle [Jesus, God.  How disgusting can the Capitol go?] for you?" Why does she want these allies? 

How do you feel about Katniss the Healer?  Please give your thoughts about how this ties her to her own family, and the things she might be overlooking herself about herself.

Tick tock, y'all.  Anyone else annoyed by Wiress?

Where were Finnick and Johanna?  Remember in Chapter 18 when they try to get in the elevator with them?  How do you think this relates?  Or do you think Johanna wants to be a star-crossed lover in the arena, too?

How do you feel about Haymitch going against Katniss's wishes to make allies with Johanna?  Because I effing LOVE IT.  I want to be frank about all of this:  the first two times I read this, I hated Johanna.  Now, I adore  her.  She's frank, and bold, and fearless.  She's trying to befriend Katniss by being all "insider"-y, which isn't necessarily the right way to Katniss's heart.  Still, she's doing everything she can!

Guys, Katniss is the second one to get it!  It's a huge relief to me when figures out the clock.  Are you as excited as I am?  Yay, hooray!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


You guys, click on the link to Hunger Games Wiki <--there or below on the right.  Please.  And super please pick the page of your choice and edit it according to the truth.  I started to go through, but I was overwhelmed with things like "Rue earned a (whatever score, sorry for not remembering, 7?) because she showed the judges she could jump from tree to tree."  But that's only Katniss's speculation, so I grumpily added a "probably"  Don't make me fix this nonsense alone!  Please help me keep the districts beautiful, won't you?

Catching Fire Chapter 21

OH MY GOD, RUN!  Wait, why would the Capitol blow things up when they have this nerve gas?  Jeebus!  The only place it wouldn't work is District 12, unless you can make a saline solution to soak it out.  Holy hell!

My favorite line in this chapter:  "It's not Mags's fault when I begin falling.  She's doing everything she can to be an easy passenger."  But when she goes running off, see guys?  Self-sacrifice!  No questions, no nothing, just turns and runs into the gas so Katniss can run faster.  Sniff.  Wonderful lady.  I wonder how she won in the what, 7th Annual Hunger Games...

Katniss and Peeta work hard to save Finnick.  What does it mean?  Does it mean Katniss trusts Finnick?  Does it mean she trusts Haymitch?  <---yes.

And as if Satan's nerve gas wasn't bad enough, now we have a million scary ass golden monkeys!  Eep!  Spoiler alert!  Can you imagine an hour of that?  And just when Peeta's about to get it, here comes Ms. Morphling.  SC, you have a knack for a page turn! 

So, in the midst of all this action, lives are inexplicably being sacrificed and saved in the name of, what, exactly?  You tell me, my little morphlings.  Is Katniss remembering who the enemy is, like Haymitch told her?

Guys, also:  In a week, I'll be waking up (early!) to stay home from work and read MOCKINGJAY.  I'm going to load up the couch with extra pillows, get my earplugs out (my apartment is v. loud), run outside for coffee, put on a pot of lamb stew (the one with dried plums?  <---yes.) and read all day.  Well, for 5 hours or so.  And then I'll read it again.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 20

In which Katniss witnesses CPR for the first time and Finnick saves a lot of arses (Peeta's life, Katniss's baby rep).

Katniss convincingly lets on that she can hear the force field, and tosses her nuts (really, SC?) to keep it at a safe distance.  Mags eats them, Katniss shoots a "tree rat" and they fry it on the force field too.  (You know force field cooking is going to be all the rage in the Capitol, people are going to have colored ones installed in their kitchens and have force field parties, like fondue parties.  Whole theme restaurants might open up...)

Yaymitch sends a spile.  Hooray for water!  And dads who collect sap!  Katniss surmises that Haymitch only had "a hand in" selecting this gift, that the other district sponsors would have pooled resources.  Do you think anyone knew what on earth that thing was?  Might Katniss get in trouble for knowing?

The glance Finnick gives Katniss appears to reveal that Finnick didn't believe they were in love, but that he thinks they are now.  I'd love to speculate on the talk amongst the victors, but obvi, we can only work with what we have.  Or can we?  Finnick, overall, becomes more interesting in this chapter, revealing his smarts (CPR, asking questions about the tree rat, setting up camp near the force field).  Thoughts, anyone?

It begins at Midnight, but no one knows what that means yet.  Maddening.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 19

In which the Seventy-fifth Hunger Games begin!  Katniss finds herself in saltwater, allies with Finnick who is wearing Haymitch's bracelet.  She can swim, probably much to the dismay of President Snow.  Katniss struggles mightily with trusting Finnick and almost kills him a couple of times.  Peeta dies, but it doesn't count.

How do you think Katniss goes from Finnick saying "no one in this arena was a victor by chance.  Except maybe Peeta." to thinking "Finnick knows then...About Peeta.  Being truly, deep-down better than the rest of us."  Do you think that's what Finnick meant?

How come Peeta can die, and it doesn't count?  His heart stopped, but there was no cannon for him.  Does the tracker in their arm know that, too?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 18

Sorry for the late post, all!  I had brunch to attend to.  Then I had the best strawberry ice cream of all time.  But I digress...

End of Part II!  In which Cinna takes a bow, Peeta tells the world that he and Katniss are married, and that she's pregnant.  Instead of freaking out and being angry, Katniss understands his motivations and rolls with it.  She's growing and learning, everyone!   Finally!  The victors stand, united.  The Capitol is in an uproar!  They can't stand it!  Katniss says "We'll never see Effie again."  And guys, I hope it's not true.  I've become rather attached to Effie.

Katniss gets into her sheer blue jumpsuit with purple belt and nylon shoes.  Hmm, not as bad as it sounds!  Although Chaff might look a little sillier...but then Cinna!  Noooooooo!  CINNA!  Can you  hear me?  I'm coming to save you!

So, when he's being creepy and showing off his watch, Plutarch Heavensbee mentions that they build the arenas very early (as they must).  But how appropriate for the girl on fire to come up into an arena filled with water.  Is this a coincidence?  Hmm, PK9, no landmines here.  How do you think they keep the tributes/victors on their plates?

Someone asked why Cinna isn't dead yet.  True, he's up to no good.  But I'm sure the Capitol knows he has ties everywhere, and if he's in on any sort of rebellion, then he must know a lot.  Worth more alive than dead?  Anyone want to weigh in?

How do you think the Capitol's reaction to the interviews will aid (or not) the resistance?  Can those silly people, who clearly never thought about how the world works, be of any use in a rebellion?  What will they really be fighting for if they get involved?

Get ready with predictions, everyone!  We'll have a special post for them a week from Monday.

Also, what about Joseph Gordon-Levitt for Cinna?  He looks hot in a suit, and has a quiet mischief about him that could be good...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 17

In which gamemakers faint and drop things in reaction to the punk-ness!  Peeta was a punk, too, and now everyone is worried.  But they get perfect scores, as Haymitch says, "so the others will have no choice but to target you."  Eep!  Not a reward for awesomeness?  But Plutarch loves Katniss!  Right?

Katniss is now actively and publicly defying the Capitol, and plans to continue to do so up until her death.  "The Capitol will have killed me...but not my spirit.  What better way to give hope to the rebels?"  Anyone?  Any better ways leaping to mind?  Do you think she's going overboard by imagining her face painted on banners?

The victors go on stage, each giving speeches about the bond between the victors and the Capitol, so now, even the Capitol audience is calling out for change.  Katniss twirls and Cinna's the most wonderful rebel stylist in the world and I want to marry him forever.  Paul Bettany, maybe?

Some questions:
Katniss warms up to Peeta on the roof.  Do you think she would be so open with him if she thought there was a possibility of going home to Gale?

Remind me, how would Peeta know what Rue looked like all covered in flowers?  Didn't the film cut away at that point?  Was he using his imagee-nation?

How organized do you think these speeches were?  Is this something that everyone decided ahead of time, or was it spontaneous?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 16

Darius!  Katniss drops peas on the floor, and they share a hand squeeze.  Katniss dreams of mutilated tongues. 

Haymitch advised them to make friends, so she does, and so does Peeta.  In training, Katniss uses her new code to explain to Beetee and Wiress that 12 has not rebelled, and they are disappointed, telling Katniss they both found her district "interesting."  Wiress points out a literal chink in the gamemakers armor. Again, we have a high school cafeteria scene, but this time, Katniss and Peeta are among the cool kids.  And THEN Katniss shoots stuff.  They all ask her to prom.

Katniss says "I don't want to go to prom" and then holds her hand up in an eff you to the gamemakers as she walks away in her black nails, NIN tee, torn fishnets, and combat boots.

If you haven't read ahead, and I'm assuming everyone has, don't read answers to this question.  That said, SPOILER ALERT ALERT. Katniss thinks about how Mags volunteered to "save the girl."  How do you read Mag's actions? 

What do you think was the last straw for Katniss, the one that drove her to hang Seneca Crane?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 15

Holy Sloop John B!  We find out a LOT about other districts in this chapter.  Check out the updates over there --->

Our windows into the Capitol, the prep team, are soggy messes because they love them some victors.  Cinna and Portia "spent a lot of ours watching fires."  What do you suppose they discussed besides making costumes?  Finnick is gross, but kind of compelling in a naked Golden Boy sort of way, and intriguing when he reveals that he "trades in secrets."  He also knows more than Katniss, which is when he makes his exit.  Bloodbreath is fixated on Katniss. (aren't we all?)   Katniss misreads Johanna Mason's attempts at friendliness because she's naked and abrasive.  Why are naked abrasive girls always so misunderstood?  Maybe it's the spiky hair.

Peeta tells Katniss she's clueless and fun to make fun of pure, and the redheaded Avox is back, now with her counterpart, Darius!

So, what I want to know is this:  who controls the hiring and placing of Avoxes?  Is it the Capitol, sending a threat?  Or is it someone who wants Katniss and Peeta to use them to their rebellious advantage?  Does President Snow really have time for that shizz?

And B:  Why is Katniss so good at reading some people, like Gale and Haymitch, and so lousy at reading other people, like Johanna and Peets?

Sorry for the late post today!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 14

Two more weeks, everyone!  TWO WEEEEEEKS!  Eep!

In which Katniss decides that it's all about keeping Peeta alive this time.  Haymitch isn't drinking, the mood is dark.  They watch the reapings.  There are 59 living tributes out of 75.  I'm so good at math:  that means only 16 victors have died.  (I wonder what the Capitol does for them, if anything.)  More math fun!  If the first tribute was 12 when he or she won, he or she would be 87 now (and could be as old as 93).  Allowing that the first 16 tributes have died, except for the volunteer from 4, the oldest living tribute could be anywhere between 71 and 77.  Isn't that interesting? So, there are new tributes to keep track of.  I'll put them in orange, and bring all the districts back from the gray.  The blue ones are the known rebels.

Katniss and Peeta settle in to watch tapes (yes, we're back to tapes.  SC, won't you please uh-splain that in Mockingjay?) of prior games, including Haymitch's, which also features Maysilee, Madge's aunt and her mother's twin.  The original owner of the Mockingjay pin.  Haymitch finds the end of the arena, using the Capitol against itself while he holds his intestines in, and wins.

Why do you think the Capitol allowed an attendant who wasn't an Avox to wait on Peeta and Katniss?

Katniss says she finally knows who Haymitch is, and it gives her confidence.  What do you think she means by that?

Katniss is sure she's teaming up with Haymitch to keep Peeta alive.  Does this seem shortsighted, or prudent at this stage of her thinking?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 13

In which Katniss runs, curls up inside an empty Victor Village house which has a painting cloth (why'd they bother repainting in a Quell year?  Can anyone squat the empties?) and Haymitch gets her drunk (finally!  A drinking buddy for Yaymitch!) after telling her she's selfish.  He breaks my heart when he says "Oh, I think we can count on it being unbearable no matter where I am."  That's the nicest thing he's ever said.  Is Mickey Rourke too old to play him?

Katniss hurls and has a wowzer of a hangover, and breaks down in front of her family.  That's the nicest thing she's ever done, too.  What's up with these people when they think they're going to die again?  Sheesh.  She goes to Haymitch's where Peeta dumped all of his (super)illegal hooch.  Peeta's gone all drill sergeant, thankfully.  No drunkards on this team!

Effie is sending recordings (not tapes!) of the victors so they can all study. Katniss realizes "some of our opponents may be elderly, which is both sad and reassuring."  Katniss is so good about revealing herself completely in statments like this.  I mean, SC is.

Gale tries to make Katniss go all gooey over him (I volunteer!) and she doesn't, which totally means she does.  She plans to tell him later.  Good plan.  Effie wears a gold wig to the reaping because she's classy like that.  Haymitch and Katniss are picked, Peeta volunteers, and Thread ushers them out the back door of the Justice Building, and Gale never gets to hear how essential he is to Katniss.  I cry a little.

What questions do you feel like answering?  Go.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 12

In which Katniss sits around very queenly, stuffing herself with cheese buns and waiting for Haymitch to bring her news of people dying of starvation.  Venia, Octavia, and Flavius arrive for Katniss's bridal photo shoot, and Octavia reveals that District Four has been having "bad weather" and so she couldn't get shrimp.  Katniss, always one to pick up on subtle cues, figures this means they've rebelled.  She finds out that 3 and 8 have also rebelled.  This is all followed by an exhausting photo shoot.

Katniss goes in search of "a confidante" and seeks out Haymitch.  This is the chapter in which I start to believe that Haymitch may exaggerate his drunkenness for effect.  Because of their size, 12 needs to have a 100% compliance rate for rebellion, and Haymitch thinks the Captiol would need little provocation to kill off an entire district.  Could the Capitol be researching more energy efficient fuel than coal?

Katniss's photo shoot airs, and they announce the third Quarter Quell.  It's the "reading of the card."  Katniss's mother reveals that she had a friend who went to the games during the 50th anniversary (the second Quell).  Maysilee Donner:  her family owned the sweetshop, and Maysilee had a canary that her family gave to Katniss's mother (do we know her name?  This is driving me nuts) after the games.  (So, if Haymitch was 16 or 17, that makes him in his very early 40s now.  Huh.  I always imagined him older than that.  In this Quell, "as a reminder to the rebels that even the strongest among them cannot overcome the power of the Capitol" they will pick tributes from the victors.  Katniss, Haymitch, Peeta, nooooooooooooooooo!

Howdja feel when you first read this?  I was pretty pissed.  Then I got over it.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 11

In which Katniss reveals she's getting better at lying and thinking on her feet!  But first, she has to get over the newly electrified fence.  Her family doesn't know where she is (good thing!), and she goes up a tree, leaps Rue style into the next one, and drops to the ground, injuring her foot and tailbone.

Somehow, she manages to play it cool with the peacekeepers, and Peeta and Haymitch have got her back, yo.  And Prim, too.  She's growing up wily.  Katniss pushes it with the peacekeepers, which makes me like her, that sassafrass.

Peeta paints pictures of plants in Katniss's family book and Katniss writes in it, which seems totally like married couple stuff.  Katniss watches TV, and confirms the mockingjay is the same in all the District 13 footage.

What does the Capitol show on the news?  Katniss sees a story about the Dark Days, and another about the mines of District 13:  there is a graphite shortage, but the mines are too toxic to approach.

Also, in this chapter, I started thinking about peacekeeper names, which made me wonder how they are recruited.  Does it make sense that Thread would be from District 8, like Twill?  And maybe Cray is from District 11, you know, crayfish?  Does the Capitol force people into that role?  Do they ask for volunteers?  And if either a or b, how many weak links in the peacekeeper system are there?  Hmmmmmm.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 10

And so begins Part II, The Quell in which Katniss spends the day with Twill and Bonnie, runaways from District 8, the textile district, who are on their way to District 13.  (It seems that my previous assertion that there were no graphite mines in the US was shortsighted.  Further research indicates that much of the East and Southeast United States have some graphite mining, and Cleveland and Georgia both have some nuclear development, but uranium mines don't seem to line up.  Where do we think District 13 is, and 8, for that matter?  Are Twill and Bonnie going through 12 on their way to 13, or are they going out of their way to stop by Katniss's place?)  I think that we may need to start adding in where districts are located in our comprehensive list to the right.  And I'm adding Bonnie and Twill to the tributes list, even though they aren't tributes.

Katniss teaches the gals how to hunt ("She's got a weapon that if necessary can convert solar energy into deadly rays of power" and yet, they still use TAPES for video), skin things, make fires.  She gives them food and extra socks and makes Bonnie a new crutch to hobble through the snow for (presumably) hundreds of miles.  They tell her about the resistance in 8, which seemed very well planned.  No cowards, those textilers. 

Katniss understands that President "Blood-Breath" Snow has been playing her for the fool, and that "the wedding is just a necessary extension of that."  Does she feel free to call it off, now?  I know what's coming, but I choose to pretend I don't.

Katniss cuts Twill off at one point after Bonnie says, "She doesn't know.  Maybe not about any of it."  Katniss feels the need to appear on top of things, and she says "I know you had an uprising in Eight."  What do you think makes Katniss feel like she has to know what's going on?   How do you think this affects how much she can find out from other people?  Meaning, would Bonnie and Twill have told Katniss more if she'd played dumb?

Twill's theory is that everyone moved underground after District 13 was blown up, and that the Capitol leaves them alone because before the Dark Days their primary industry was nuclear development.  What do you think this means, and why do you think District 13 has not reared its nuclear head in 75 years?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Extra Bonus!

Suzanne Collins has given a very intelligent and thought provoking interview to SLJ, which made me both contemplative and freaky-outy. See below!

First, how did I miss that jabberjays are all male? Is it important? SC's comparison of Katniss to a mockingjay is most enlightening and makes me want to dig a little deeper all around.

BUT the most important exchange in the whole interview is THIS!:
R.M: Why does President Snow’s breath smell like blood?
S.C.: [Laughter] Well, I absolutely cannot tell you. No, I really can’t. But you’re right. That will be answered in book three. I’ll tell you that, OK? That can be your header.

OMG, President Snow is a MUTTATION! It says so right here!

And also, THIS!:
I actually would say that the historical figure of Spartacus really becomes more of a model for the arc of the three books, for Katniss...He caused the Romans quite a bit of trouble. And, ultimately, he died.

Katniss is going to DIE! And then we'll never know anything! Or else Gale is, because he said he was going to cause trouble. And Peeta said that, too. OMG, they're ALL going to die!

(Regaining composure) Stay tuned for a new poll tomorrow, and maybe another bonus!

Catching Fire Chapter 9

In which Peety wakes Katniss who has been holding Gale's hand all night.  Ouch.  She also wakes ready to "face this new life" of not running, but facing.  "I have chosen Gale and the rebellion."  Yay!  Also she realizes that "deciding not to run away is a crucial first step."

She gathers Peety and Haymitch to try to figure out how to organize District 12 into a proper uprising, and Haymitch starts talking about how he has to organize their wedding, sounding very mom-like.  The square has transformed into a medieval torture chamber, and they see what they're up against.  The Hob's been burned down.  "Thread's a quick worker."

Katniss heads out into the woods in her awesome Capitol gear.  A few yards from the house, she's confronted by...a CRACKER!  With a MOCKINGJAY ON IT.

Is it possible for Katniss to choose a life with Peeta in a way that isn't the Capitol's design?

Do you think Katniss's new hope for a rebellion is just youthful dreaming, or do you think the older people in District 12--who've clearly lived through something before, maybe the last Quarter Quell?--will get behind her with some good advice?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 8

First, lookit this book, which looks an awful lot like the HG style, non?  J'adore that YA cover style (no matter how icky) is influencing adult books.  As I'm reading CF on the train, I notice a lot of eyes turned my way (and I know it's not because of what I'm wearing).

So-sies.  See-eff-ate.  Gale is horribly wounded!  Katniss catches one across the face!  Haymitch steps in and sounds rather effeminate when he throws a hissy fit about a photo shoot!  BUT he and this Purnia shut Thread down with a few words.  Clothing-Stall-Woman sells her countertop after extracting a promise that they not tell on her, and the Stars and Gale's mining buddies are off to Katniss's mother.  We find out that Purnia was more official than our pal Darius, who has a Looney Toons style lump growing out of his head.  Mrs. Everdeen fixes up Gale as best she can while Katniss gets ill and angry that he's not feeling better.  Mrs. E and Haymitch talk about the good ol'days.

Madge shows up with vials of opiate goodies, morphling (at which point I have to say, really?  Why not morfish or morpleez?  Morph-or-mee?).  Katniss really looks at her sitch, putting Gale and an unknown gal in her place.  She's pissed.  Gale's hers, and she's Gale's (yay!) and Katniss finally understand she's selfish and a coward (only sort of, Love.  Don't be too hard on yourself).  Gale promises to make all kinds of trouble with Catnip, and I'm about ready to set predictions for Book Threeeeee (but not yet).

Firestarters!  (Kindling?  A future popular name within the Districts?)
Katniss wonders what her actions mean, and whether what she was thinking at the time of the action means more than a. how her actions were perceived and b. what her actions mean to her now.  What do you think?

What do you think Haymitch meant when he said Madge was a "Crazy girl" for ringing the doorbell?  (And two-bee:  WHO DO YOU WANT TO CAST AS HAYMITCH?  I'll be a little heartbroken if it's not Paul Giamatti.)  Why do you think Haymitch thinks Madge is crazy?  Do YOU think she is? 

Katniss gets jealous and angry thinking people think there might be something between Gale and Madge.  Why do you think Madge made the risk you said she did in the last question?

Catching Fire Chapter 7

Sorry for the lateness!  Let's get on with it then.

In which Katniss waits for Gale to come to the (totally not-believable) secret lake house, which he does.  She asks him to run away with her, which makes him giddy and he tells Katniss "I love you."  I faint dead away, the scent of oranges lingering all around me.  When I come to, Katniss has blown it and the couple are in the middle of a fight, because Romantic Gale thought Katniss meant run away with him, but what she meant was run away with all of District 12 in tow, including Gale's favorite friend, PEETY!  Katniss tells him about the uprising, and suddenly, everything's different for Gale.  He wants to stay and fight (because he's a foxy rebel), and he's all bitter at Catnip, who is, as usual, all confusled about her emotions.

Gale takes off with his turkey in tow, but not Cinna's gloves (can I have them?) and Katniss heads back after a time where she runs into Peeta in the Victor's Village.  She asks him to run away, and he says, "Sure, Katniss" but he knows she'll never do it.  They get to the square and there's Gale, all meaty-backed, getting whipped by Not-Cray.  Eep!  Hang on Gale, I'll save you!

Explain to me again why you like Peeta better than Gale?  I'm still not getting it. 

Seriously, though, this chapter is an emotional roller coaster (to state it as a cliche).  We're in love, we're angry and jealous, we're confused, we're rebellious, and after all of that, there is major pity and fear.  What do you think SC had in mind for us in this chapter?  Are we meant to be this confused?  Is she trying to hide something from us in all this turmoil?

Madge says "But mockingjays were never a weapon.  They're just songbirds.  Right?"  Do you agree or disagree?  Are mockingjays the perfect symbol they're set up to be?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 6

In which Katniss sees the end of hope, and figures out that desperate times call for desperate measures, meaning she can act as desperately as she wants.  I can't wait to see this!  Katniss and Peeta are at the next-to-final party, the big one in the Capitol where the people eat themselves sick again and again and it makes Katniss and Peeta sick again and again.  It's also where Katniss meets man-in-the-punchbowl, new Gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensbee (what do you think we can read into the connection to the Oracle at Delphi?).  "It starts at midnight."  Who wants to punch Katniss for chalking this up to knockoff watches?  I do/did/will.

Katniss and Peeta head back to District 12 with their entourage, and Katniss finds herself wandering around the mayor's house unescorted, looking for her bestie Madge.  She feels free enough to poke her head into Mayor Undersee's office, where she sees an announcement by a "woman with graying hair and a hoarse, authoritative voice" (she doesn't sound like Capitol material, does she?) giving an UPDATE ON DISTRICT 8 (which we find out makes textiles).  It's an uprising, for realsies.  Hooray!

Peeta's offhandedly sweet about his nightmares being about Katniss.  Katniss wonders if she's been using Peeta, and feels immoral about having him in her bed.  What do you think, given Katniss's unreliable narrator status?  Is she using him, or perhaps being dishonest with us?

Katniss at the feast is having an unimaginably good time tasting innumerable dishes prepared in her honor.  She finds out that there are tiny glasses of ipecac or somesuch to make people vomit in order to let them eat more.  Peeta starts wearing his rebellion on his sleeve when he realizes what is going on, and Katniss feels nothing but cold anger.  Imagine yourself as a Capitol resident and back up their partying ways.

Plutarch Heavensbee goes out of his way to show Katniss the mockingjay symbol on his watch.  What did this make you think (especially first-readers!) and how did you react to Katniss's reaction?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 5

HooooowwwwDIE!  I'm just so proud to be back!  Holy schpilkes, Narwhal!  Everyone, let's give Andrew a long and loud round of applause because he kicked my arse as blogger.  Too bad for y'all (I learned things in the South!), I'm back to stay (crazy laugh).  Sursly, thanks a jillion.  AND thanks for the new format!  I'm a big fan, and I think it will save me days in typing!  Hoorah!

So!  Here we are in the middle of the first section of Catching Fire already!  Smokies!  We were still in the arena when I left.  How did the time pass so fast?  Oh, I remember, I was in Appalachia, in the Smoky Mountains, trying to buy legal moonshine without an ID (it didn't work.  Does Haymitch have this problem in the Hob?)  I'll jot down separately a few of the thoughts I had, and if I feel up to it, share with you a "District 12/Arena vs. Great Smoky Mountains National Park as Visited by a Capitol Resident" post.

Anyhooooo, let's get on with it, shall we?  Chapter 5, in which Katniss watches the old farmer man crumple to the ground.  Haymitch, Portia, Cinna, and Effie don't know what happens, although the latter seems the only truly clueless one.  Two more shots.

Haymitch hustles the kids through the D11 Justice Building (justice, ha!) to the dome, which he may remember from when he was there what, 30 years ago?  Katniss finally tells them about blood/roses Snow, and Peeta sees his role clearly, as the speaker of the rebellion whether he wants it or not.  Katniss and Haymitch promise not to keep anything from him anymore, and Peety promises the same.

They rush through the other districts, dinner, ceremony, train.  Districts 8, 4, and 3 seem to roil with anger (see sidebar...known rebel districts will appear in blue).  Katniss suggests a public marriage proposal, then goes to her room to think about Gale.  P. Snow says "not good enough" with the slightest of head shakes.

Firestarters!  (I hope I can carry this off, y'all.  The Narwhal is just sooo smarter.)
Haymitch says that Katniss will see "the choices you have to make...If we survive this, you'll learn."  What do you think Haymitch means by this?  Do you think Katniss (and therefore, we) should have been paying a lot closer attention during history class?  Haymitch lives a really sad, solitary life.  What choices do you think he had to make?

Katniss and Peeta start sleeping together (not like that, you guys).  It seems that Katniss is agreeable because it's comfortable and good, and Peeta, seemingly, came to her room out of his desire to make her feel better.  But do you think Peeta (specifically) continues it because he likes it, or because he sees that they're feeding the gossip mill for the better?

Peety wanted the proposal to be real, according to Yaymitch (awwww, Peeta's a little pathetic, non?), but it was Katniss's suggestion.  She readily accepts it, as she says, of course.  Do you think a. that she would have agreed so readily if it had been sprung on her?  And b. that she thinks of this as protection and a real proposal, or false and merely an out with Snow?  She's a terrible liar, yet both options are lies, in different sorts of ways.  Thoughts?

Effie got poked with a gun.  Teehee.
Katniss acknowledges killing Glimmer!
Also, I wanted to bring this up, but the chapter belonged to Andrew.  At one point at the end of The Hunger Games, Katniss is looking for Peeta (banging on the window?  Later?  I'll have to go find the reference) and SPOILER ALERT BUT JUST THE NEXT EIGHT WORDS it comes up later in this book, too:  Katniss says something about the Games being on TAPE.  She can whisper movie popcorn (okay, maybe that's just me) and have it arrive within seconds, and Octavia can dye her skin blue, and Katniss can be rendered entirely perfect, and the muttations and all, yet she's worried about being captured on TAPE, a long-obsolete 20th century device.  As an older-ish person (meaning I know how to make high-speed dubs of mix-tapes), I often find myself saying "let's tape that!" when what I really mean is "let's record that digitally!"  Do you think the tapes were an oversight by the author and editor, who, undoubtedly, are a bit older than (gasp!) even me?  Or do you think this was a conscious decision by the team and will come up as something important in Mockingjay?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 4

Back on the train it's hijinks as usual. Katniss continues her introspective musings on Life and Love (which in Panem -- and especially in K's condition -- apparently means marriage and babies). In a subtle bit of foreshadowing, Katniss reflects that the Capitol likely rigs the drawings to make sure Games legacies (victors' children) are selected for added drama.

The train breaks down, sending Effie into another tizzy; this time, Katniss snaps at her and storms off. Peeta follows her outside, then invites her back to his room to "look at his paintings" (nice one, Peeta! Oh wait -- there really are paintings). And surprise surprise, Katniss hates them. Turns out they're of the Games because that's what Peeta nightmares (I verb'ed it) about.

Finally, they arrive in District 11, since the tour is in descending order, and K&P head to the Justice Building to make their speech, amazed by how vast, populous, and guarded this district is.

Always the eloquent one, Peeta delivers a perfectly admirable scripted speech, but then shocks everyone by announcing that 1 month per year of K&P's winnings will go to Thresh and Rue's families. Katniss wasn't planning to speak, but then she catches sight of Rue's look-alike little sister and reads reproach in her gaze. So she speaks, giving heartfelt memories of Thresh and Rue, and then thanking all of D11 for the bread.

An old man whistles Rue's mockingjay song, then everyone gives her a synchronized D12 salute (*tear*). K&P turn to leave, but when Katniss realizes she left her flowers and goes back, she sees the aforementioned old man being shot in the head in front of everyone.

- No one filled Peeta in on PSnow's visit and the whole rebellion thing, and yet Peeta's share-bear announcement seems to me the most overtly rebellious thing yet, as it has nothing to do with their survival. Do you think Peeta is conscientiously rebelling here or just being super nice as usual?

- Peeta admits that his paintings haven't rid him of his nightmares, but that's it still better to wake up with a paintbrush than a knife. On the other hand, isn't it also arguable that immortalizing these moments in paintings will prevent him from ever forgetting them? What's the comment here on the cathartic powers of art/the role of art in this totalitarian society?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 3

BEING the chapter that contains practically no action.

Snow leaves Katniss to her thoughts, and boy does she have a lot of them. How is she ever going to carry out such a grand deception? Who should she tell first? Who will take her to the prom?!? One thing's for sure, she will NOT tell her mom, whom she still has to protect with lies. Katniss takes a steamy, flower-scented bath and reflects on the time she spent swimming with her dad in the lake. The lake, which she never showed to anyone else, even Gale.

Then her prep team arrives in high gossipy spirits. Cinna dresses her in billowy black pants, a white shirt, and a blue-green knit sweater -- he will later add an ermine coat, red scarf, and earmuffs. Each Games winner is supposed to have a talent that represents what they're doing with their time (Peeta's is painting), so Cinna provides some designs that are his the product of Katniss's newfound fashion interest. As the crew films said designs, Katniss gazes lovingly at Prim, who looks like a bird and - BAM! Katniss pictures Rue and feels like crap.

Effie arrives and it's time to go! For their first on-screen moment, Katniss throws herself at Peeta, knocking them down into the snow, where they kiss passionately, full of "fur and snowflakes and lipstick." Yum.

Then, on the train, Katniss tells Haymitch what's up, and he's like, look honey, you're gonna have to keep this act up forever for all the reunion specials. She's like, DAMN, I didn't think of that in the past six months -- I'll have to MARRY PEETA!!! I'm like, Katniss, want to switch?

- Does everyone here really buy the idea that all of Panem's opinion rides on believing that K&P are in love? That if they're all thinking about insurrection, K&P's romance will suddenly change their minds? I tend to think Snow isn't so foolish as that, given what comes later...

- I realized for the first time in this chapter that Peeta's "winning personality" has become a bit blurry to me: is he so convincing because he's a natural charmer, because he's really in love with Katniss, or both? That is, it occurred to me during the snow-plow kiss, when Katniss is glad that Peeta fakes enthusiasm for her (or is he?), I started thinking back and reevaluating other moments when he was probably "turning it on," too. Is there a paradox or discrepancy in his character here?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 2

WHEREIN Katniss chats with President Snow and remembers that time Gale kissed her.

What's that? More detail? fine...

In a refreshing spin on the traditional "super villain threatens hero" conversation, Katniss and Snow lay all their cards on the table like rational adults. Katniss effusively maintains that those Poison Berries were all for survival, and that she'll continue to do whatever Snow wants her to do to save everyone she loves. Snow knows this, but says it's not good enough -- some district viewers were not convinced by her romance a la Peeta, and thus view it as an act of rebellion. They might use it to spark their own uprisings.

Prompted by a snide comment from Snow about "her cousin," Katniss wonders what he knows about Gale and how. Could he possibly be aware of their romantic connection? He might, if he saw their kiss. But how? Cameras? Spies? Kisswatchingbirds, a rare muttation that I'm sure will appear in book three? Anyway, it was only one kiss, and then things went more or less back to status quo.

And so, telling Katniss that she'd better set the bar high and convince him that she's in love with Peeta, he goes to leave. Oh, and p.s., he knows about the kiss. (Sorry, this ending cracks me up)


- When President Snow rubs a spot above his left eyebrow, Katniss reflects that this is the same place where she has headaches. And throughout their conversation, they feel startlingly like equals. What sort of comparison do you think SC is trying to draw here? To what end?

- I rather love how acquiescent Katniss is in her conversation with Snow. As I said above, I find it refreshingly honest, but that might be because it's what I'd do in her place. What did you think?

- After her kiss with Gale, Katniss can't remember if she liked it or resented it; all she can remember is the pressure of his lips and the scent of oranges on his skin. My question is: really?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 1

Roughly six months after the events of The Hunger Games, we once again open on District 12. And the times, they are a'changing.

Katniss has moved in to her lavish new house in the victors' village, but still prefers to do her living in her cozy old ramshackle home. Gale (whom the Capitol has turned into her cousin for the K&P fans) is working in the coal mines, so Katniss only gets to see him on Sundays when they hunt. And the relationship between Katniss and Peeta has hardened into an icy formality that will have to warm up fast if they hope to survive the upcoming tour of the districts -- essentially a cruel farce of a victory lap.

We start to see the indelible effects of the games on its survivors, as K&P and Haymitch all struggle to keep their minds off the horrors they've seen: "I hunt. He bakes. Haymith drinks." In a particularly harrowing moment, Haymitch pulls a knife on Katniss when she wakes him.

And at the end of the chapter, as Katniss comes home from running the errands that keep her sane, who should be waiting in her house but snake-eyes President Snow.

Two quick "fire starter" (har har) questions for this chapter:

- How do you read Gale's refusal to accept Katniss's financial aid? An unwillingness to accept dirty Capitol money? Resentment towards Katniss and her romance with Peeta? Or just plain old stubbornness?

- What is SC getting at with the detail about people who've known Katniss and Gale for years forgetting that they're not actually cousins? Is this a critique of the "truth-lazy" district viewers and the tired complicity we've forgiven them because of the big scary Capitol?

New Book, New Format

Phew! Deep breaths, everyone -- one book (and 22 tributes) down, two books to go (yes Heather, I'm hereby challenging you to maintain this blog through Mockingjay).

Based on reader feedback and my own proclivities, I've decided that for this new book we will try a new "readalong" format. I'll be trusting that you all did your homework, and instead of offering you such thorough and memorably brilliant summaries, I'll be hitting the key points and issues as I see them.

We'll see how it works -- if it's not, let us know! Unlike the Capitol, this blog is for the masses.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hunger Games Chapter 27

The Final Chapter

From below the stage, Katniss imagines the greeting her team is receiving. She imagines that Caesar must be aware of the danger they are in, and that he will want to help them (translation: after everything, she still trusts a part of the Capitol machine). She is able to laud the achievements of Effie and Haymitch.

Then she is lifted, and there's Peeta next to her looking clean and healthy and beautiful. He walks with a metal cane. He kisses her.

This is the part of the games where victors normally watch their highlights reel. K&P are in for the same, except they are on a love seat instead of a throne. Katniss snuggles into Peeta all cute-like and they prepare to watch the past few weeks condensed into three hours of what is mandatory viewing for Panem (that is, the film adaptation of Battle Royale).

It's the K&P love story interspersed with all the deaths. Katniss finally gets to see Peeta's side -- whispering her name in his sleep -- and also how she really seemed all those times she thought she was playing to the cameras. In fact, she decides she came off quite heartless, except for the song she sang for Rue, shown in its entirety (not the part where she covered her in flowers, though -- that's too rebellious).

President Snow takes the stage accompanied by a little girl carrying the crown (what was I saying about fetishism?). Snow snaps it in half and places one half on Peeta, then one half on Katniss. His eyes are like snake's. The crowd applauds. Katniss realizes that she is in more trouble than Peeta for being the instigator of the berry idea. I'm not sure I come to the same conclusion based on what we've seen, but she ends up being right...

They breeze through the sponsor banquet taking pictures; Katniss survives everything by holding Peeta's hand as tightly as she can.

The next day, Cinna puts Katniss in a white, gauzy dress and pink shoes for her interview down the hall. Katniss shivers when Peeta references their time at home, though she can't imagine why (hint: he's tall, dark, and handsome).

In their interview, K&P talk about the moments they first knew their love for each other. Peeta is sincere in saying age five, Katniss is cued by Caesar to mention shouting Peeta's name from the tree. After a surprisingly coquettish line from Katniss about "putting Peeta somewhere he can't get hurt," she learns he has a fake leg. Then she nails the question about the berries, saying all she could think was that she didn't want to be without Peeta.

Mission accomplished.

Katniss goes back to her room for the mockingjay pin, which someone returned to her room after the games...

On the train home, Katniss doesn't know what to say to Peeta. He picks wildflowers for her that are actually the tops of wild onions, which remind her of Gale. (I'd take flowers over onions any day, honey!)

Haymitch lets it slip that they've done a good job but need to keep it up. In one of his clever moments, Peeta puts one and one together and realizes he's still the third wheel, sort of -- Katniss's affection was all for show. Katniss is like, nuh-uh! I'm confused! And thinks: why would he want me anyway, it's not like I want to get married and have babies. Too true, Katniss. He's way too good for you.

Peeta goes into his cabin until they return to District 12, when he comes out and asks Katniss to take his hand one more time "for the audience." His voice is hollow, which to conflict-happy Katniss is worse than anger.

She takes his hand, dreading the moment when she will have to let go END OF BOOK ONE WHAT DO YOU THINK?!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hunger Games Chapter 26

Just in time, K&P spit out those Poison Berries. In a chilling reminder of how viewers and some competitors thrive on the sport of the games, the roaring Capitol crowd is broadcast over the loudspeakers. The hovercraft appears and picks K&P up using those bizarre freeze ladders. Peeta falls unconscious from blood loss as soon as he's inside.

Katniss watches the doctors work on Peeta, seeing them first as one more threat to his life and then as mirrors of the bystanders who made her so uneasy during operations at home. Katniss sees her own reflection for this first time since the games and realizes she looks wild, hollow, feral. She goes berserk when the doctors take Peeta away, and so she is jabbed from behind with a sedative.

She awakes in your standard convalescence ward - tubes, beeps, etc. She has been scrubbed clean and her hearing has been restored, though her scars are still present. She struggles against her restraints until the red-headed Avox enters and calms her, nodding in response to Katniss's one question: "Did Peeta make it?"

Katniss is sour that her first meal is a clear broth and not something more extravagent (!), but it turns out she's been out for a while and her stomach has shrunk. She finally lets herself think about going home to Prim, her mother, and Gale -- she just has to survive sponsor banquets and interviews first (I wish we got to see more of the sponsor banquet -- I would have liked to meet the rich people who bought into the love story).

For a while, Katniss slips in and out of consciousness - we infer that Haymitch is there watching over her. Finally, she awakens to find all signs of imperfection gone and the restraints removed. She searches for Peeta but instead finds Effie, Haymitch, and Cinna -- she jumps into Haymitch's arms first. She learns that her reunion with Peeta will be live at the ceremony, and says that she guesses she'd want to see that herself (this line gives me shivers -- even Katniss can't resist the tug of well-planned "reality" television).

Katniss and Cinna go off to reconvene with Venia, Flavius, and Octavia, who babble congratulations and marvel at her polished skin. They recount their favorite moments as Cinna fits his latest creation on her; the breasts in the dress have been augmented, but Cinna tells her it was either that or surgery (Yaymitch to the rescue). It's a dress with sheer, glowing fabric, making her previous outfits seem garish and contrived. She looks like candlelight.

She also looks girlish and innocent, and she can't figure out Cinna's reasons for this although she knows he must have them. He says he thought Peeta would like this better, and we learn later that it's to sell the innocent lovers angle, but with all the other Capitol shenanigans going on I can't help projecting at least a little sexual fetishism at work here.

Katniss moves to the newly completed area under the arena, where Haymitch catches her off guard and scares the bejeezus out of her. She'll be jumpy for a while, perhaps the rest of her life, it seems.

Haymitch gives her a hug and a quick warning. Apparently the Capitol is now "the joke of Panem," and that's bad news. They've been outsmarted, and now Katniss will have to keep selling the love angle or it will draw attention to the fact that the Capitol's been played. Peeta doesn't need coaching -- "he's already there." (Peeta = love)

Realizing she felt safer in the games where the danger was more clearly defined, Katniss determines that she will sort out her complicated feelings back home, away from the cameras. For now, the most dangerous part of the Hunger Games is about to begin.

Hunger Games Chapter 25

The creatures are...*drum roll please*...MUTTATIONS! Like wolves, but with back leg balance and bendable wrists. Wolverinas? I always wonder here why *all* the wolves went after Cato -- was their main purpose to drive him to the Cornucopia when the drought didn't work fast enough? But I digress.

Katniss remembers she's part of a team and turns back to help Needy McPeeta, but Peeta tells her to keep climbing. The ridged Cornucopia is blisteringly hot from the sun. Katniss gets to the top and loads an arrow to fire at the exhausted Cato, but at the last second Peeta's cry distracts her (and prevents her from having to make a single proactive kill in the whole book...).

Peeta makes it up, and together with Cato P&K focus on the Mutts, who upon closer inspection are sporting a variety of hairstyles. When a blond wolf leaps up, Katniss realizes why its green eyes look so familiar -- they are Glimmer's eyes (man, those lower districts have such strange names. Nothing like plain old "Katniss.")

Katniss shoots Glimmer-wolf in the throat, then K&P recognize Foxface.2, backpackboy.2, and -- the smallest mutt with huge brown eyes and a district 11 dog tag woven out of straw -- Rue.2. K&P wonder how much of each real person is in these creations (and I wonder if we really needed this kind of curveball at the climax of the book...), when Cato regains his breath and grabs Peeta in "some sort of headlock."

Katniss is afraid to shoot lest both Cato and Peeta fall over, but then Peeta X's Cato's hand and she takes the hint and fires an arrow into it. She grabs Peeta just in time, and Cato tumbles into the wolf pack, where a strangely melancholy, existential brawl ensues. K&P are just waiting to hear the cannon, but come nightfall, it still hasn't come.

The thing is, Peeta's bleeding, and even after Katniss wraps the wound with her sleeve and inserts an arrow into the knot, it's still bad enough that K&P need to win soon if he wants to survive. As the temperature drops, Katniss wonders why the Mutts won't just kill Cato, and Peeta reminds her that it's the viewers at home -- this is "the final word" in entertainment (something of a pet phrase for Katniss). She reflects that these are the worst hours of her life, and yes, she knows that's saying something.

Katniss yells to keep Peeta awake, knowing she'll go INSANE if he dies. They track time by watching the moon, which gives way to another day -- another day in which Cato is still kicking. Barely. Katniss takes her last arrow back from Peeta's tourniquet, leans over the edge of the Cornucopia, and locates the "hunk of meat" (grossest food imagery in the book?) that used to be Cato. He seems to be whispering "please." Katniss shoots him in the face "out of pity" (thus absolved?) and the canon goes boom.

But when they're still not declared the winners, K&P decide they must need to give the hovercraft room to claw the body. So after the Mutts go back into the ground (in what I consider a missed opportunity to say more about their drives/desires), K&P risk the trek to the lake, opening Peeta's wound again. Once there, Katniss retrieves the arrow that bounced off Cato's body armor.

Alas! Even after the body is taken, K&P are greeted not with a victory announcement, but with a reversal of the previous teammate rule. *Wanh wanh*

Peeta says it's not surprising and pulls out a knife, prompting Katniss to cock that last arrow and aim. But Peeta was just going to throw his knife in the lake (duh! what else?), and Katniss is ashamed for doubting him. Peeta wants her to shoot him so he doesn't die like Cato, but Katniss wants him to shoot her so he has to go home and live with it ("no you hang up!"). Katniss clearly thinks survivor's guilt would be worse than death.

Finally, Peeta gives Katniss an idea when he says "We both know they have to have a victor." Katniss pulls out those Poison Berries and tells Peeta to trust her. He makes sure they hold the berries out for everyone at home to see, then they stick them in their mouths in slow-mo. Just as the berries pass their lips, a frantic Claudius Templesmith declares them both winners of the 74th annual Putnam County, er, Hunger Games.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hunger Games Chapter 24

Greetings, viewers. As Heather Templesmith (!?) mentioned, I will be taking control of the discussions this week.

*cue diabolical laughter*

My instinct is to stray because I like disorder, but Heather's been doing such a fabulous job, so I will try to stay true to her vision and summarize each chapter in a snarky, readable fashion. However! I might be just a touch more...inflammatory. For you see, dear readers, as much as I love the riveting pace and emotional knife-twists that define The Hunger Games, I do take issue with a lot of the small stuff. With that in mind, let's begin:

Chapter 24

Katniss explains again what just happened with those Poison Berries, because for all his cleverness Peeta still doesn't quite follow. He's all, "But she -- with the -- and then I -- but how could it -- oh."

He goes to throw out what's left of the "nightlock" (remnants of a Capitol experiment? Who else could craft such witty portmanteaus?), but Katniss cries "Wait!" Maybe Cato will be fooled by the same trick! Of course, we know that identical deaths would make a boring book/hunger games, but it is lucky for everyone Katniss covers all her bases, as we will soon see...

With only one adversary left, Katniss and Peeta cook with abandon. It's not like Cato's going to come near what's likely an obvious trap (note: am I the only person who is never not ever scared of Cato? Now Clove -- there was an enemy!)

Katniss wants to sleep in a tree, but Peeta wants to go back to the cave. Lover's quarrel! Katniss realizes she hasn't been convincingly nice to Peeta today, so with a kiss for the viewers at home she agrees to go to the cave.

Peeta is exhausted from hunting, and as he goes to sleep, Katniss kisses him, not for the audience this time but for her. She's just so grateful he isn't dead and she won't have to face Cato alone...Be still my heart!

While sitting watch, Katniss tries to get inside Cato's head. She realizes he might not be entirely sane, but on the other hand decides that he's no more temperamental than she is. She lets Peeta sleep until day, when they share pillow talk and switch roles. Knowing the gamemakers will drive them towards Cato today after a whole day of inactivity, K&P gather their food and leave the cave. Katniss even pats the rocks goodbye. (Wait, WHAT?)

They reach the dust bed formerly known as the stream, and Peeta remembers his intelligence long enough to guess: "The lake. That's where they want us to go." After they confirm with one more dried up pond, Katniss says, "You're right." They decide to B-E aggressive and head to the lake now while they're stil fit and full.

Katniss muses that even though 21 tributes are dead, it now comes down to the battle that was always meant to be: Katniss vs. Cato. + Peeta (which I proffer here as a leitmotif: Katniss kicks some ass...+ Peeta; the careers tromp the domains...+ Peeta. Poor guy is destined to be Mr. Katniss Everdeen AT BEST). K&P share one final embrace before heading to the lake.

They stop briefly by the scene of the tracker jacker episode; Katniss flashes back. She's like, Let's Go. When they reach the golden Cornucopia, it is almost evening, and K&P don't want to fight Cato in the dark. As they give him 30 more minutes to show, Katniss breaks character to sing Rue's four-note run to the Mockingjays in the area (#rebel!). The birds start singing the song back to each other, and Katniss closes her eyes in a rather touching zen jedi moment.

Then, the song is disrupted.

Dissonance! Imperfection! Alarm!

Cato comes crashing out of the trees and heads straight for K&P. Katniss shoots him with an arrow, but it is deflected by his kick-ass body armor. No matter -- he is unarmed and not attacking anyway. No, Red Rover champion of the world Cato bounds right between them and keeps going. Katniss looks back and sees a mysterious unnamed creature jump out of the woods, then sees another half dozen join it as she's turning away (nice eyesight!).

She runs after Cato with the singular thought of saving herself. You go girl!

Friday, July 23, 2010

I'm Going to District 12!

So tomorrow morning, I'll be leaving for District 12, Appalachia, for vacation (which has been in the works for a very long time.  Even I'm not that obsessed) and I've been doing a bit of reading up.  One interesting note from my guidebook says that 75% of all known medicinal plants grow within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  How handy for Katniss's mother!  And another book told me that hunting, foraging, and gathering has fed the people of the region for as long as there have been people in the region.  The same book noted, also, that squirrels are good eating in stews, and so are opossum.  Greasy Sae and Peeta's dad seem to be on to something!  I'm going to try to find some "local delicacies" while I'm there.  Maybe we'll find who makes Haymitch's moonshine, since we'll be so nearby (hmm, is this a branding opportunity?  Haymitch's Hooch!).  Great research, SC!

And so, while I'm away you will have a substitute blogger.  Please welcome the Narwhal,  er, the Narwhal who promises to "have a pretty different style" than I have.  He's gonna shake things up a bit, no doubt.  And if he's not careful, he's gonna "different" himself right into a job.

See you all on the 1st!  Or the 2nd, pending computer access.

Hunger Games Chapter 23!

Good morning!  23, in which Peeta decides they must eat the stew very slowly because remember the train?  One tiny serving is all they allow.

Katniss thinks about living in the Victor's Village (they built these houses 74 years ago.  Do you think the Capitol comes in and updates them as necessary?  Do you think the Victor's Village in District 1 is nicer, or identical?) and being Haymitch's neighbor.  Peeta has a good sense of humor, doesn't he?  Making fun of Katniss, Haymitch, even Cinna gets a little ribbing.  Is he playing the cameras?  But Katniss thinks about how she can read the messages from Haymitch and Peeta can't.  Can he?  How much is he acting?  These are the questions that may plague us forever.  They wonder how Haymitch could have won, and decide he outsmarted the others.

Thresh shows up on screen after the anthem.  Must've been Cato.  As Peeta's trying to tell Katniss, she bustles about the cave, ignoring him.  When she faces it, it's like she's lost another friend.  Here comes Cato...

Peeta lets Katniss sleep, and when she wakes, he talks about the food at the bakery, and how what they eat is stale.  Depressing a bit, yes?  It is for Katniss.  She never considered it.  Her meals are way fresher than his ever were.

The rain is shut off, and Katniss wonders how long it's been (so do I.  Sarah?) since they left home.  Katniss allows herself to think about winning, and thinks "but you won't be alone."  She's not thinking of Peeta, though, she's thinking of Prim and her mother.  But they won't always be there for her.  For as detached as she seems, Katniss loves her family and makes fierce friends.  I wonder if she's a Scorpio.  Hm.  Probably.  And what will Peeta be like if they make it home?  "This perplexing, good-natured boy who can spin out lies so convincingly the whole of Panem believes him to be hopelessly in love with me, and I'll admit it, there are moments when he makes me believe it myself?"  SC just won't let us believe anything, will she?  It's marvelous.

Hunting time!  There is nothing in Katniss's snares, so they move on to Katniss's "old hunting grounds."  I love that she calls them that.  She laid claim to them during the few days she was there.  But Peeta is a heavy-footed fellow, driving all the game away.  They both think of splitting up at the same time, and it's Peeta who suggests it.  He'll gather roots while Katniss goes a bit further on.  But don't forget the two-note signal to say "I'm okay!"  Peeta confirms that he fought Cato off once before.

Katniss kills some rabbits and a squirrel and is headed back.  She signals Peeta but doesn't hear anything. She runs to the meeting spot, but he's not there with the pile of roots and berries!  Something comes crashing out of the woods, and Katniss takes aim, but it's Peeta.  She shoots the tree right next to him.

Katniss notices someone has been nibbling the cheese and adds it to the reasons she's mad at Peeta.  She also notices that the berries are toxic nightlock.  Cannon for our favorite scavenger, Foxface!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hunger Games Chapter 22

In which Katniss wakes, thinking she's at home with the flu.  Aww, Katniss!  Then she opens her eyes and smells blood.  Eww, Katniss!  She totally passed out last night next to the person she drugged to stay asleep.  It's kind of a miracle she's alive, but she's a fighter!  Except that she can't sit up.

Peeta's well, though.  Whatever the Capitol sent him was some kind of freaky cure, because he's fully functional, and eating, and all the swelling is gone.  The tables have turned and he's taking care of Katniss now.  But they're out of food, and Katniss can't hunt.

It's storming out, and Peeta wonders what, meaning who, brought this on.  Katniss tells him Thresh got Cato's bag, and the storm is certainly for them (although since the Gamemakers can certainly control where the rain falls, it seems like they're just being malicious having it fall on Katniss and Peeta, too).  Katniss tells him what went down, and that Thresh let her go.  Also that they might have been friends if he lived in 12.

Katniss finally, after what, 5 years? confronts Peeta about the bread he gave her.  She was never sure if he knew it was her, and he's like "What?  From when we were kids?  I think we can let that go."  But Katniss is persistent and he says "Haymitch said you would take a lot of convincing."  Then he goes all evasive.

Katniss doesn't want anyone else to die.  But she know she can't say that, so she cries and says she wants to go home (which isn't untrue).  She sleeps.  Peeta wakes her, and has been waiting until she's awake to eat (aww, Peeta).  Katniss votes tomorrow as a hunting day.  "I'll kill and you cook," she tells Peeta. He wishes for a "bread bush" (and that's totes adorable).

They talk about Thresh and the far side of the Corn, which is all Amber Waves of Grain.  Peeta's scared of it, and Katniss understands that Thresh knows it well enough to use it as a food source, a "bread bush" if you will.  Katniss thinks about the easy way Peeta's had it since he grew up in a house that smells like fresh bread (don't you wish you did?).  She wonders how he'd feel about her and Gale's convos about the Capitol.  She thinks about what they have to do to get another gift from Haymitch.

Peeta gets all emotional telling Katniss not to be a hero and Katniss "pretends" to be all worried and defensive.  But she sucks at words (I know the feeling) and "fumbles."  But also, she does "not want to lose the boy with the bread." She wishes they were truly private because that's what her feelings are.

First kiss where both are totally sober/healthy/withit!  Katniss likes it, but she's bleeding again and Peeta makes her lie down.  Bedtime.  She takes first watch but gets in the bag, too.  He holds her so sweetly.  She wears the night goggles and drifts off several times, and it's Peeta's turn to watch. The weather still sucks and Katniss knows the only way to get food is from Haymitch.

So she asks the big question, "When did forever start?"  Peeta tells a story of Katniss and his father pointing her out as the daughter of his love.  She sings in a plaid dress and he remembers every beautiful, romantic detail (and I'm thinking of my 4th grade crush).  Peeta is very romantic and believable, and even I crush on him a bit.  Katniss takes the bait and is "honest" and they end up with a giant basket of rolls and cheese and apples and Katniss's favorite lamb stew.

So, if Haymitch knew he could afford this feast, let's go back to Allison's question:  why didn't he just send the medicine Peeta needed?  Because he's manipulative, that's why!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hunger Games Chapter 21

Aren't these titles enthralling?  Good thing you've got a relief blogger warming up in the bullpen. Just out of curiosity, Madam Secretary, has it been about 21 days since the reaping? 

21!  In which Katniss spends hours camouflaging the cave opening inside which, Peeta (haha, okay.  Just kidding.  Sort of.) lays dying.  Katniss eats some small, bony fish (perhaps the Gizzard Shad, aka the "herring with a difference!"), and thinks about leaving the knife for poor, drugged Peeta while she heads to "the feast."  Because of the important event, school in the districts will be canceled.  Yay Capitol.

She spends the night thinking about her family.  And GALE.  She can imagine the people of District 12 shouting for her, cheering and rooting for her.  When Greasy Sae yells, how many teeth do you think you can see?  Gale won't be cheering.  He'll be cursing the Capitol like a foxy rebel, and getting mad at Peeta for all the smooch-action he's seeing on the TEEvee.

Katniss takes Peeta's jacket and Rue's socks for her hands.  And like she's just remembering something, goes in for a v. long love kiss and pretends to brush away a tear as she imagines the Capitol people (me!) crying (I am!).  "It's as cold as a November night back home," and the stress is making Katniss think of solid, strong, there-for-her-Gale.  "If only you had my back now..."

Best line of the chapter:  "If I get home, I'll be so stinking rich, I'll be able to pay someone to do my hearing."  She doesn't even think of the possibility of repair. And super kudos to the book's designer Phil Falco for keeping that line all on one page.  Katniss sees nothing along the way, and arrives early.  So early that she wonders if she's in the wrong place.  But here comes a table!  With packs, as promised!  AND FOXFACE!  Zoom, before anyone knows what to do, she's got her pack (what's in it, do you think?) and is out of there.  Katniss deems her clever.  Pshh.  Okay, maybe.

Katniss knows she has to be next, and so she goes for it.  As she's running, she gets a knife in the forehead!  But not before she gets an arrow (I guess they finally know Katniss's superpower) in Clove's arm and the teeny orange pack with a 12 on it.  But Clove is fast, accurate, and suuuper-mean.  "I promised Cato if he let me have you, I'd give the audience a good show."  Eep!

Clove calls Katniss "District 12" and Peeta "Lover Boy" which means Katniss isn't the only one not willing/trying to learn names.  A wholly gruesome scene of knives and faces follows, along with typical Bond-villain "I'm-going-to-get-you-but-before-I-do-let-me-talk-a-lot"ese from Clove, (cloves are extremely strong) where she talks about Rue as Katniss's ally.

Clove is hoisted into the air in the nick of time by Thresh who pounds her in the head with a rock, and seems to have gotten bigger since the games started.  He's about to get Katniss, but asks about her alliance with Rue.  He lets Katniss go, saying "No more owed.  You understand?" and of course she does. Thresh calls her "Fire Girl" because he's awesome. Cato (heehee, moral compass) is calling out for Clove (could it be another love connection?) and Katniss is on the lam.   Thresh got the District 11 backpack AND the one from District 2 containing the thing that Cato/Clove (Clovo? Cave?) need desperately, ha!

Cannon for Clove, but no tears from me.  Katniss reasons that Cato will go after Thresh, since he has the thing Cato needs.  She makes it back to the cave, opens her pack and the box inside it which contains one hypodermic needle.  She jams the needle into Peeta's arm, and remembers "a beautiful green-and-silver moth landing on the curve" of her wrist.  Hmm, could it be a parachute landing as she passes out?  Could she be near enough to the cave door?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hunger Games Chapter 20

Sarah, thank you for counting the days!  I officially name you Hungergamesreadalongblog Secretary!  That means I may will have more questions for you later.  Guys, there were some formatting issues today, forgive me if this looks weird, and tell me if you can't see something.

In which it seems that Katniss may be beginning to enjoy the kissing parts.  She snuggles into the sleeping bag with Peeta, but he's burning up.  Katniss stays up all night nursing him, and feeds him "Rue's berries."

Peeta was worried that Cato and Clove (finally, a name!) might have gotten Katniss in the night, since that's when they like to hunt.  He watches her sleep (and he's sparkly?  Hmmm...).  She likes the way he strokes her hair. When she wakes, he's feverish again.  She checks his wounds and they're much worse.  He's got blood poisoning, and she doesn't know if Haymitch has the money or sponsors to send something as expensive as the meds they need.  (See how I said they need it, not he?)

The Gamemakers are screwing with the temperatures to try to drive people out, but the heat gives Katniss an idea:

Katniss's No-Fire Groosling  Soup:
Equipment:  One broth pot
Several egg sized stones, hot

Stream water, purified
One groosling, roasted and minced
Rue's roots, roasted and mashed
One tuft of chives, finely chopped (substitute other greens if preferred/necessary)

Directions:  Fill pot halfway with stream water, purify with iodine at least one half hour.  Add some hot rocks until water is warm. Add remaining ingredients to the pot with hot stones, wait.  Switch out hot rocks as needed.  Tell a story, serve.

The story Katniss tells is of how she got a goat for Prim, and she tells it very carefully, always conscious of who is listening (meaning the whole country).  She made some money by selling her mother's silver locket hunting illegally with Gale and bringing a small buck to the butcher, Rooba, who seems like another super-cool wizened old District 12 lady.  Katniss spies the goat laying in the back of "the Goat Man's" cart, and wants it immediately because owning a goat in District 12 is like a little money and food factory and "it's not even illegal."  Rooba decides she doesn't want the goat (wink) and Katniss buys it, Gale slings it over his shoulder, Lady gets a pink ribbon, and they take it to Prim who is laughing and crying at once.  They cuddle by the fire and have goodnight kisses (Prim and Lady, not Katniss and Gale).

Unreliable Katniss comes back, saying this is the happiest story because the goat has paid for itself and Peeta calls her on it (does this mean Peeta is emotionally honest?  Does that mean we can believe him when he acts all in love with Katniss?)  drily saying, "Yes, of course I was referring to that."  He intends to pay for himself after the games, which cost Katniss what?  "A lot of trouble.  Don't worry.  You'll get it all back."  Ah, banter.

Trumpets!  Claudius Templesmith invites everyone to a feast to get the thing they desperately need.  Tempting, very tempting.  Katniss promises Peeta she won't go, and he calls her a bad liar.  He threatens to go with her, essentially getting himself killed since he isn't mobile.  Stalemate.  She says she won't go if Peeta promises to do everything she says, and feeds him groosling soup, which "actually doesn't taste too bad."  I'm sure it will be all the rage in the Capitol next week.

Katniss goes outside to wash up in the stream and almost misses the parachute (Madam Secretary, is this four now?  Three from Haymitch and one from District 11?) which has sleep syrup in it.  For being a bad liar, Katniss is very good at understanding messages hidden in the gifts from sponsors.  She drugs Peeta, ("I can see in his eyes what I've done is unforgiveable") and she's off to the feast!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hunger Games Chapter 19

In which...ack, Katniss!  Stop yelling!  Don't you know people are trying to find you and kill you?  In which Katniss realizes Peeta must have been playing the "star-crossed lovers" routine (do you think they still learn about Shakespeare in school?) the whole time, working hard to save her, while she's been doing nothing except not actively trying to kill him.

Katniss goes up a tree to sleep, and assesses her competition:  she's only really scared of Thresh, and she has no idea where he is.  Foxface is evasive, not aggressive.  Cato and GD2 will team up, but she hates them, sooo...

In the morning, Katniss is extra careful as she reasons out where Peeta might be hiding, in a very wounded state.  Sarah, are you still keeping track of days?  I've lost track.  How long ago was Peeta wounded?  Katniss eats up, and gets her weapons ready.  Hmm, where could Peeta be?  Probably by the water.  But she starts a smoky fire first, just in case the Careers are really on her trail.  She only really wants them after her when she has the most control.

She finds a bloody boulder and knows she's on the right track.  Soon, she hears Peeta, but can't find him.  He's so camo-clever!  Frost them to death, indeed!  I love that the first thing Katniss tells him is to close his eyes again so she can admire his handiwork.  And he's still trying to get smoochy with her.  She's not the only one constantly aware of the cameras.  Katniss laughs it off.

She tries to get Peeta in the stream, and gags over his leg wound once she gets him cleaned off and naked.  It's worse than she thought, but thankfully she seems to have some of that healer instinct she thinks she doesn't have from her mother.  Some tracker jacker leaves, fever pills, burn ointment, dried fruit, and a bandage later, and he's coherent, at least.  Peeta reveals he hasn't gotten anything from Haymitch.  I guess hiding isn't good enough in Haymitch's opinion, nor, apparently, is defending Katniss against all the other players.  Hrmph.  What does that man want?

Peeta can't really go anywhere, so they make do in a cave-ish type rock formation.  Katniss tucks Peeta in, and gives him the first kiss she's ever given to a boy.  It equals one pot of hot broth from Haymitch.  How do you think the gifts work?  Did someone buy a pot of hot broth to send in a long time ago, just hoping they'd need it?  Do they call Haymitch and say "send them broth in an hour" or is it all up to Haymitch how to spend the money?  Hmmmm...

Katniss "never having been in love," isn't sure how to play this.  She thinks of her parents and how lovely they were together, and Katniss uses them as an example.  So she kisses Peeta awake.  "Then he smiles as if he'd be happy to lie there gazing at me forever.  He's great at this stuff."  Is he?  Or isn't he?  And will we ever find out for sure?