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.

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?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hunger Games Chapter 18

Hmm, something funky's been going on with the polls.  I've had lots of reports of votes not registering...I'll look into it, because obvs that's the most important part of this blog!

(Still sobbing:) In which Katniss sends an arrow through the neck of BD1 because he speared Rue.  Katniss knows she can't heal Rue, and I cry a little harder.  They hold hands and Katniss doesn't try to comfort Rue with words.  Katniss vows to Rue that she'll win (just like Prim!), and Rue asks her to sing.  Katniss thinks "If this is Prim's, I mean, Rue's last request, I have to at least try."  Sniff.

Katniss sings a song that her music teacher (!?) calls "a mountain air."  I don't know how she can sing, I can barely read it through my tears.  Everything goes quiet, and the mockingjays pick up the song.  Rue's cannon fires.  Katniss kisses her and lays her down.

The hovercrafts are on their way, and so Katniss shoves BD1 onto his face and steals his pack, and retrieves her arrow.  She takes Rue's pack, too, but not as roughly, and leaves the spear in her little body to be taken out of the arena.  But Katniss can't leave her like this, and she hears Gale's voice raging against the Capitol in her head.  How can she take revenge against the Capitol's cruelty here?  She finally understands what Peeta was talking about on the roof (gah, Katniss).

She gathers an armful of wildflowers, and slowly lays them all over Rue's body, weaves them into her hair.  This is Katniss's stand, and she hopes they're showing it on TV.  They'll at least show Rue when they collect the body.  Katniss says goodbye and uses the District 12 gesture:  three middle fingers of the left hand against lips and held uut to Rue.

A mockingjay signals the hovercraft, but another one bursts into Rue's melody, the one that means she's safe.  (SOB!  I am a snotty, red-eyed mess!)  Katniss wanders around for the rest of the day, and just as she's decided to make camp, my favorite thing in the whole book happens:  a silver parachute arrives in front of her, filled with a small, still warm loaf of District 11 bread.  She thinks how much this must have cost, especially to people who can't feed themselves.  This is the first time ever that a gift has been given from one district to another's tribute.  "My thanks to the people of District Eleven."  I can barely type.  Where are my golldurn tissues?  This is the fourth time I've read this, everyone, and I'm STILL a huge mess.

Katniss sleeps in a tree and has pretty dreams of Rue singing, and she wakes, "sadder and lonelier than ever."  After reorganizing packs, she realizes she must hunt because she's nearly out of food.  She takes out some grooslings and brazenly starts a fire, almost willing the other tributes to her.  Do they know her skills yet?  Do they think Thresh was allied with Rue?  Hey, where IS everyone?  Katniss finds that she wishes she could tell Peeta about Rue.  Her Rue-vow seems more important than her Prim-vow.  Is this because she now understands what Peeta was talking about?

Katniss counts BD1 as her first kill, even though she dropped the tracker jackers that killed GD4 and Glimmer.  Do you think those count?  I counted them.  She starts to feel bad, but efficiently puts that emotion aside.  No deaths today.  But what's this?  Trumpets announcing an announcement?

Claudius Templesmith congratulates the six remaining tributes.  Rule change!  If both tributes from the same district are the last to survive, they will both win!  Katniss screams out for Peeta.  Watch out, Foxface and Thresh!

End part two!  A third of the way there, everyone!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hunger Games Chapter 17

Apologies to those of you who were up at 7am raring to read the latest post!  I had a lovely, leisurely morning.  17!  Know what this means, everyone?  We're almost to the end of part two!  Wheee!  That's 9 chapters closer to finding out how the whole series wraps up!

In which Katniss is blown through the air, but keeps the bow attached to herself.  She's concussed, and worse, deafened by the impact.  As she crawls to safety, she has the presence of mind to think "no blood trails."  That's our girl.  Can't tell when a boy has a crush on her, but doesn't want her blood to give away her hiding spot.  She makes it to Rue's copse literally as Cato comes barreling back.  "His rage is so extreme it might be comical," is such a great way to describe Cato and his 'roid rage.  But scary.  Katniss is so scared, she's chewing off her nail polish (remember her flame nail polish?  I'd forgotten it might have lasted).

Cato turns on BD3 and breaks his neck with his bare hands.  I'm starting to panic a little.  BD3xCato.  But to Katniss's advantage, the other three tributes must assume that whoever set off the explosion is dead, and that they didn't hear the canon over the other booms.  They retire to the far side of the lake to wait for the hovercraft.

The seal appears as night falls.  Today, BD3 and BD10 are dead.  Cato and GD2 put on their night vision goggles and BD1 lights a torch.  They go hunting.  Katniss stays where she is and puts on her own night vision goggles.  She cleans her blood and eats some of the berries she gathered with Rue.  And she thinks "Let the SEventy-fourth Hunger Games begin, Cato.  Let them begin for real." which is probably the very cheesiest moment in this entire book.  SO CHEESY.

She's cold but sleeps through the night.  She can hear again,sort of, and hears Foxface laughing as she digs though the remains of the explosion, finding a metal pot and a knife blade.  Ally?  Not really, Katniss finds her untrustworthy.

Time to find Rue.  Katniss follows the stream, eating a hunk of cold groosling.  She finds boot prints in the mud, which makes Katniss paranoid, so she takes off her boots and socks.  She walks in the cool water and shoots some fish, eating one, saving one for Rue.  She's still deaf on the left side.

She reaches the site of their first meeting, and no sign of Rue.  Katniss uses this time to wash the blood out of her jacket and hair.  She eats the second fish because they're easy pickin's.  And she's up in the tree, watiting.  She eats a bit more but is having what she calls a "hollow day," one that she can't eat enough to feel satisfied.  Do you think this is because she's really starving, or because of stress, or because of injuries?  All of the above?  Katniss comes down and scatters some mint leaves around the fire so Rue will know she was there without giving herself up to the idiot Careers.

She reaches the place they agreed to have the third fire, but it was never lit.  Something is wrong, and keeping Rue up a tree (literally).  Katniss hears Rue's four note tune and heads toward it.  More mockingjays are repeating it, and Katniss knows Rue's okay.  EXCEPT SHE'S NOT!

She hears Rue yell her name, and runs toward her.  She sees Rue caught in a net, and gets there just in time to see the spear go through her little birdy body.

Here's where I begin weeping.  It will last for a while.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hunger Games Chapter 16

You guys, I'm super excited.  It's day 16, and we have well over 1600 hits.  That means 100 hits a DAY!  Yahooooooooo!  But what I want to know is where and who are you people?  Just post a hi, or an I hate this site.  Anything!  Okay, rant over, and I promise that will be the very last plea for comments I make.  I know you're out there.  See the new poll, only open today.  And SC, if you're here (as IF!), post a comment under the name of Ernie or something because that would make my year. 

Chapter 16, in which Katniss and Rue have a trusty lovefest!  I so want to camp out with them only not with Careers coming after me.  Yes, they must destroy the Careers' food supply (HUNGER games!)  We hear a bit more about past games:  a pack of hideous reptiles (!) destroyed the food supply, once, the Gamemakers washed it all out in a flood.  I guess those tributes were getting a bit fat and happy.  Do you think the year there was no firewood followed one of these years?

Aw, the warmth of Rue cradled at Katniss's side makes me think of the very opening paragraph when she notices Prim isn't there.  The boom of the cannon reveals another death, and Rue and Katniss count who is left.  Does our list match?  YES IT DOES.  And I didn't have to edit it, either.

Rue produces eggs for breakfast.  "We each suck out the insides of an egg, eat a rabbit leg and some berries. It's a good breakfast anywhere."  I had packaged cereal and milk and real strawberries that I bought at the grocery store, not my back door.  Just reiterating my Capitol-ocity.

Katniss and Rue make a plan.  BD3 stays at the Careers' camp all the time, but they can't figure out why.  No weapons, small guy, hmm.  They gather some edible plants and strategize quietly.  Rue says her favorite thing in the world is music.  Katniss thinks this:  "In our world, I rank music somewhere between hair ribbons and rainbows in terms of usefulness.  At least a rainbow gives you a tip about the weather."  Katniss in a nutshell.

Rue talks about how she's always the highest up and can see the flag signaling the end of the workday first, so she sings a work-day-end four note tune which the mockingjays pick up and repeat.  (How do you think this goes?  Do re mi fa?  Do fa so ti?  Re mi la do?)  That's why she loves Katniss's mockingjay pin.  Rue has her own carved wooden flower/star charm necklace thing hanging from woven grass.  By "lunch" they have a secret plan which involves Rue being stocked with wood and matches.  Rue sings her song to Katniss so she'll know she's okay later because apparently the mockingjays are everywhere.  Katniss can be so clueless.

Yay!  Hugging!  Katniss worries that Rue will be killed, but also that she won't be killed, just like her conflict with Peeta.  She thinks about when she was hallucinating and saw Peeta crashing through the woods, sparkling (is Peeta a VAMPIRE!?) and wonders what is real (Peeta is NOT a vampire, everyone).

Katniss heads back toward Career camp (sounds like a high school exercise) and buries herself in some foliage.  Here's who's at the Cornucopia:  BD1, Cato, GD2, BD3.  Then she says "all four tributes..." but isn't Cato BD1?  Did I screw something up?  Tell me!  Is anyone keeping separate track?  Anyhoo, all four seem to be recovering from tracker jacker attacks, although without leaves and removing stinger, because they're a little unworldly.

All the supplies from the Corn have been piled outside in a big pyramid covered by netting.  Perplexing!  Cato shouts out and points to the woods where Rue has set the first fake campfire.  Cato also says that BD3 is coming with them, and that somehow he's cut "Lover Boy" in a way that he shouldn't recover.  Peeta is out in the woods somewhere, badly wounded.  Cato wants to kill Katniss "in my own way."  EW!  In the words of the Will from The Inbetweeners, "that sounded just a little bit rapey."

Off in the woods somewhere, Rue sets the first of three fake campfires to draw the Careers away from the Corn.  Katniss is mulling her options when who should appear, Foxface!  (Casting ideas, anyone?  Does anyone in young Hollywood still have a long nose?  Hmm.)  She leaps and flips and dances out to the pyramid, confusing Katniss, taking only a handful of this and a bit of that.  Katniss finally figures out that BD3 is useful because the boy from the land of factories that make televisions and automobiles and explosives took the landmines from around the steel circles of their arrival in the arena and reactivated them, making a minefield to the pyramid.  Very clever indeed!

The rest of the tributes still don't know that Katniss is hell-on-wheels with the bow, and she uses three arrows to slice up a bag of apples which rains down on the mines, exploding the supplies, and blowing her into the air.  Durn, she's good.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mockingjay Madness at Books of Wonder

For those of you in New York, Books of Wonder will be having a Midnight Mockingjay release party and Suzanne Collins will be there!  She won't be signing, but she will be stamping books with her special stamp that she had made up especially for Mockingjay.  Word in Brooklyn will also be having a party without SC, but you never know, Laurie Halse Anderson could show up...

Barnes and Noble and Borders so far do not seem to have plans for any events beyond pre-orders.

Hunger Games Chapter 15

Katniss hallucinates through some nightmares:  Prim dies a million ways.  Katniss's father dies again and again.  Tracker jackers are "carefully created to target the place where fear lives in your brain."  I can't think of anything more terrifying.  And it's solid gold.  I'm defecting from the Capitol.

Katniss wakes in pain in a pile of dead leaves.   But she still has water, yay!  She thinks maybe more than a day has passed, even two, which means she missed the anthem/death toll for a bit and doesn't know who's left in the playing field.

She thinks of Gale, wanting to run away.  But thoughts of Gale lead to thoughts of Peeta. (!)  She's as confused about these boys as I am.  But, now she has a bow and arrows!  And creepily, she anticipates shooting a person with them "with pleasure."

Katniss has lost weight, and she's all banged up from the tracker jacker episode.  She finds a stream (okay, this is what, the fourth source of water in the last couple of days, but it took her three days to find the first one?  Hrmph) and shoots a rabbit and finally eats some crackers and jerky.

Mmm, wild turkey!  While she's cooking her latest kill, Rue turns up.  She and Katniss agree to an alliance.  Rue chews up some leaves for the tracker jacker stings, and Katniss shares her burn ointment.  Rue doesn't have any sponsors. (I'll sponsor you, Rue!)  Poor Rue is eating better in the arena than she ever ate at home ("I've never had a whole leg to myself before,") which makes my heart hurt.

Rue reveals that in District 11 they're not allowed to eat the crops, and that if they do, they are whipped and make everyone watch.  Their mayor is very strict.  Katniss reveals (to us, not to Rue) that public whipping is very rare in District 12, although it does happen, and that she and Gale could be whipped daily for poaching in the woods, but the officials buy the meat, and their mayor (Madge's father) "doesn't seem to have much taste for such events."  Rue gets a bit extra food during the harvest so she can work longer, and doesn't have to be in school at that time.  (Do you think this conversation is televised, or do you think it's kept quiet so the districts don't learn too much about each other?)

Katniss and Rue pool food, and Katniss learns a new berry.  Rue has a homemade slingshot, and knows what Katniss's "sunglasses" are:  night vision goggles.  District 11 killed a mentally retarded boy on the spot for trying to keep a pair to play with.  Katniss reflects that 12 seems like a safe haven.

Katniss and Rue share a sleeping bag.  No deaths again today, but Katniss asks about the days she missed.  Just Glimmer and GD4 died (xKatniss, indirectly on purpose).  Rue says Peeta has broken with the Careers.  Rue doesn't think Peeta's love for Katniss is an act.  Katniss can see forever wearing the night glasses, and formulates a plan to make the Careers "hungry."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hunger Games Chapter 14

These action posts are hard, everyone!  Sports announcers have a harder job than I thought (you know, so do bloggers, come to think of it).

Chapter 14, in which Katniss fears not Rue, but looks to see what she's pointing at, which is a nest of supremely vicious tracker jackers!  Another Capitol made muttation which are larger than wasps with a solid gold body (do you think that's literal?  Dang, Capitol.) and "a sting that raises a lump the size of a plum on contact."  They can kill you, or even better, bring about hallucinations that lead to madness.  Oh, and they remember you if you disturb their nest (hence tracker).   The nests still exist around the districts (how do you think Katniss knows this beyond personal experience?).

Ever practical, Katniss says "oh, well," and decides it's now or never.  She wisely waits for the anthem to start sawing (thanks for the knife, indeed!) and the smoke from the fireballs and wall o'fire has sedated the jackers.  (Now I'm thinking about nano-tech and robot bugs.  Are these more cyborgs than 'bots?  Could smoke sedate a robot?)  While sawing, Katniss notices:  no deaths today.

So, job half done, Katniss retires to her tree-fork and surprise!  A sponsor gift!  Hooray!  Mmm, burn ointment.  Why do you think he waited so long?  She says Haymitch has "not abandoned me to fend entirely for myself," but as an impartial observer, I think he was absolutely waiting to reward her for some fight.  Offense=gifts, defense=you're fine without sponsors.  Anyone want to weigh in on that?

Day is dawning, and that medicine is goooooood.  A little snack, and off to finish what she started with the tracker jacker nest.  First things first:  let Rue know.  RUE!  A whisper, and her giant eyes appear, and she's off, flying through the trees.  Up Katniss goes, and she's stung as she saws through the branch!  She flings the nest down, it crashes through branches, and bursts open on the ground.  Katniss is stung several times (knee, cheek, neck), and she hears everyone running toward the lake (how did they get back so close to the lake so fast?)  Glimmer and GD4 are S.O.L. (my best friend taught that term to Mike D of the Beastie Boys, but ask me to tell you that story another time).

Katniss runs away from the lake and begins hallucinating like crazy.  Glimmer has the bow, and Katniss thinks (?) she rips her arm off trying to get it from her.  The canon signals a death.  Even in her mad mad mad mad state, Katniss knows she must keep what she's eaten inside herself (now that's the sign of a true starving person).  Another canon, GD4 is dead.  Katniss fights hallucinations, gets the bow and arrows, and then it's PEETA!

Peeta yells at her to get up and run, which she does.  Cato is right behind him!  And even as the insanity ants eat her eyeballs, Katniss knows one thing:  "Peeta Mellark just saved my life."


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More Movie Bonus Hokum!

Here's a little movie speculation, although clearly written by "movie" people, as opposed to us superior book people.  And here's a bit more.  Basically, no news is, um, not news.  If any of you YouTube fans want to sort through the Suzanne Collins interview videos online and post links, I will pay you (and by pay you, I mean in compliments.  I love your hair!).

Hunger Games Chapter 13

In which we have no time to enjoy the relief of Katniss having found a source of water because she has to get herself out of last night's tree and RUN.  Katniss is certain this has been devised by the Gamemakers because of a boring day, and to flush the players out into the open for some more hand to hand combat (at least face to face).

Katniss's jacket catches fire and takes her jacket off to extinguish, and shoves it in her bag.  Suffocation is happening fast, due to massive smoke inhalation.Katniss gives herself one minute to rest, which she uses to repack her stuff.  Are the Gamemakers driving her back to the lake?  Who knows.  But they ARE most definitely shooting fireballs at her in what might be the worst game of dodgeball ever.  She reflects on a lifetime of watching the Hunger Games, and so understands that if she gets away from this part of the forest, the fireballs will stop.  She's running and puking and dodging menacing fireballs, but one hits her.  Katniss, the girl who was on fire, indeed.

The attack abates, and Katniss reasons that this is because there is at least one other tribute nearby.  Her hands and leg are badly burned, but she carries on.  She finds a pool to soak her sad leg in and she thinks of timid Prim who helped her mother attend to a terrible burn victim while Katniss ran away.  The leg is bad, but Katniss mustn't show her pain, in order to gain the affections of the sponsors who could send her a remedy.

She tends to her wounds, then drinks some water and eats a cracker and some rabbit and some plants.  She decides to stay put, and good thing she's fast because those Careers are coming!  She splashes out of the pool and heads up a tree.  They totally see her.  So she tries some disarming banter, playing to the audience yet again.  BD2 (Cato!) starts climbing, but is too heavy and bulky to get too far.  GD1 (Glimmer!) has the bow and arrows!  Glimmer gives the climbing a whirl.  Then she shoots an arrow at Katniss, making it obvious that she doesn't know what she's doing.  And now Katniss has an arrow.

Katniss ties herself up into the tree with the Careers below.  She looks through the trees and spots an animal looking at her.  That's no animal, that's RUE!  So quiet and stealthy.  And without a noise, she points at something above Katniss's head.

SC, these are the best/worst chapter breaks ever!  No wonder I read this all in one sitting the first time through!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hunger Games Chapter 12

In which Katniss sees Peeta, all bloody and bandaged, go back to kill the girl and is angry and confused over Peeta hunting with the Careers and is convinced his noble speech on the roof was an act.  She hears someone say Peeta is handy with a knife, and thinks he's been withholding information from her.

The Careers are talking about using Peeta to get to Katniss, not realizing she's 20 feet above them, hearing every word.  She sees Peeta helping them find her, although he hasn't told them about her archery skills.  A mockingjay whistles to announce the arrival of the silent hovercraft.

Katniss jumps from the tree, ever mindful to play to the cameras, knowing the audience will love that she was there the whole time.  She checks her snare, finds a rabbit, and cooks it over the idiot girl's fire. As she treks through the woods, she is mindful to check her emotions, since she's sure she's the main event on-screen.

Katniss is dehydrating fast.  She almost eats berries, but then realizes they aren't what she thinks they are, and tosses them.  She is becoming fatigued, but is determined to carry on.  She makes camp in another tree, and hears the anthem.  Only GD8 (x Peeta) was lost today.

Morning is rough.Katniss contemplates going back to the lake, but knows she'll never make it.  Then she remembers she can ask her sponsors!  Hooray for sponsors!  She says "water" but nothing happens.  She curses out Haymitch (and who wouldn't, really) but then thinks he might be sending her a message that she's getting close.  She carries on, so weak that even teensy Rue could take her out.  She tumbles to the ground, unable to get up out of the mud.  Yay!  Mud = water!  She drags her bum over to the pond, and in a show of impressive self-control, purifies it for a half hour before drinking it.  She drinks it all down over the course of a couple of hours, then makes another batch.

A few hours later, she hears a stampede and looks up to see a wall of fire descending on her.  Dang, SC, how are we supposed to stop THERE?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hunger Games Chapter 11

I'm thinking of trying to keep track of who kills whom when I can, and so will cross out or change the color of the dead tributes at right as necessary.  There are so many characters whose names we don't know, and so I'll use this notation:  GD1 for girl from District 1 and BD1 for the boy, etc. unless we know their names, in which case, I'll use those.  (Duh.) And I think x for who killed them.  So in the chart to the right, you'll see xDG2 meaning the girl from District 2 killed this person.  There.  Good?

In which the tributes are in the arena, waiting the required 60 seconds on their metal plates before a gong releases them.  Katniss uses her time to check out the arena:  flat, open, a lake to her right, and sparse, piney woods behind her to the left.  She also decides that Haymitch doesn't know what he's talking about, and that he's never seen her run (which is very, very fast), so maybe she'll go in to the Cornucopia after all because look at all that great stuff!  Especially when she spots the bow and arrows.  Peeta shakes his head at her, and, flustered, she grabs the plastic in front of her and some bread.  When she's going for an orange backpack, a boy (BD9, she thinks) grabs it too, then coughs blood all over her and is dead.  The first casualty!  Killed by the girl from District 2 (xGD2), with a knife.

Katniss grabs the pack and runs,having lost the bread, and GD2 throws a knife at Katniss, which sticks in her bag.  Katniss thinks thanks for the knife and runs.  (Is this an unreliable narrator moment?  Do you think Katniss is really that cool, or did she think:  Aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!!  Holy shiz, they're trying to kill me!!!  RUN!!  Ew, I'm covered in blood!  AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH! ?)  She looks back for a second to see a dozen tributes "hacking away" at each other and several dead people on the ground.  Gruesome.

For the next few hours, Katniss heads deeper into the woods at a steady jog, then alternates walking and jogging.   Let one of the Capitol people (uh, me) try that.  Pshh.  Girl is FIT.  She's on the lookout for water, but hasn't seen any yet.  She knows some of the trees around her, but not many, and she sees a rabbit, which is an auspicious sign (food, water).  She heads into a valley.

Katniss feels good from eating so much for the last week.  She's conscious of the cameras on her, even though she can't see them.  Then she hears eleven canon shots, each representing a dead tribute.  Thirteen left.  She wonders about Peeta, which overwhelms her, and can't remember seeing him past the starting gong.  She thinks maybe it's better if he's gone, so she doesn't have to deal (kind of like what you were saying, Lisa, about Gale taking out Katniss immediately).

She's finally exhausted, so digs through the pack:  sleeping bag, crackers, beef jerky, iodine, matches, coil of wire, sunglasses that don't block the sun, and an empty plastic bottle.  No water.  She wonders if the lake she saw was the only water source, which could be serious trouble.  Instead of busting open the food she has, Katniss the survivalist eats pine bark.

Time to camp!  She sets some snares with the wire she has, and ties herself into a willow tree.  Anthem time!  A screen appears, and shows the faces of the dead.

Katniss is relieved Peeta is alive.  She tells herself that his being alive means that if she's killed, her family will still benefit.  "This is what I tell myself to explain the conflicting emotions that arise when I think of Peeta."
Here's who's alive:  Five Careers, Foxface ,Peeta, Thresh, and Rue and three others Katniss can't think of (BD3, GD4, GD8, right?  What about BD10?  What's wrong with my math?).  She falls asleep.

Footsteps!  Some idiot starts a fire.  Then several pairs of feet are running, a scream, and it's 12 down, 11 to go.  Or is it?  The hunting pack doesn't hear the cannon, and a voice says "I'll go finish her off" and the voice belongs to Peeta, who is hunting with the Careers.  !

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hunger Games Chapter 10

In which Katniss freaks out, blushes madly, and all around adds to the Capitol's love for Peeta and Katniss's love.  (You guys, don't try to combine their names Brangelina style.  Just don't.  It's not pretty.)  Of course, Katniss knows better.  Katniss runs away into an elevator as soon as they're done, and then when Peeta comes out, she shoves him and makes him cut his hands.  Girl is pissed. She yells at Peeta, Haymitch, and basically everyone that she looks like a fool.   They calm her down and show her that it's a definite advantage.  She doesn't look weak, she looks desireable.  Peeta snarks about Gale.

They go eat some cream and rose-petal soup (which sounds amazingly decadent), but Peeta keeps bleeding.  Portia bandages him (why do you think the female stylist works with Peeta, and the male with Katniss?  Not important, just wondering...).  This is their last day before the arena.  They watch the interviews replayed on TV, and Peeta is "utterly winning" in Katniss's eyes.  She says her final goodbyes to Effie and Haymitch (and Effie manages to insult District 12 yet again), and Haymitch gives some decent advice:  stay away from the blood bath at the Cornucopia, and find a source of water first thing.

Katniss can't sleep from thinking about the arena, so she goes up to the roof.  (Do the other districts not have access to the roof?  Hmm, weird.)  Peeta's up there, and they watch the Capitol parade.  Peeta tells Katniss he only wants to die as himself, and she (in a way very telling of her inability to be anything less than totally herself) wonders how he could not do that.  Peeta wants to stick it to the Capitol, if only by not being a total pawn.  He's growing on me, everyone.  If only he looked like Gale.

Katniss goes away angry, again.  She remembers Titus from the games a few years back who went "completely savage" and almost ate his victims.  He was killed by an avalanche which was speculated to have been created by the Gamemakers to take him out.  She dozes, and Cinna wakes her to take her to the arena.  They go to the roof, a silent hovercraft appears from nowhere, and Katniss is paralyzed as she grabs the ladder.  A woman injects a tracker into her arm.

The hovercraft ride is about a half hour (how fast are those?), and Katniss and Cinna are deposited through a tube into the launch room, which will become a historical site after the games for Capitol tourists to come and visit and re-enact the games.  Okay, I'm not that bad of a Capitol type.  Katniss's clothes arrive (I imagine them to be very Prada with their innovative fibers and excellent fit), which she deems fine.  The boots sound awesome.  Cinna pins on her mockingjay, which almost didn't make it past the review board, because of its stabiness.

Katniss gets nervous and for once can't eat.  She and Cinna hold hands while she waits, and he reassures her because he is the best person ever.  Katniss stands tall as she elevates up and out into the arena which has "the hopeful smell of pine trees."

"Ladies and gentlemen, let the Seventy-fourth Hunger Games begin!"

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hunger Games Chapter 9

Last chapter in the first part of book one, everyone!  That means we are one sixth of the way there (one ninth if you count Mockingjay).  Even after all this practice, I still find it hard to stop after one chapter.  Anyone else?

Sooo, chapter 9, in which Katniss feels betrayed by Peeta's request to be coached seperately from Katniss.  Effie makes Katniss learn to walk in heels (I'm impressed that she picked it up so quickly.  It took me years), sit like a lady, and say banal things while smiling.  Haymitch forces Katniss to try on a bunch of (unsuitable) personalities, and his badgering makes her mad, which only makes him badger her more.  It's an interview-prep disaster.I guess in this case (@Sarah) Katniss is letting her emotions get in the way of what needs to be done.

Katniss binge-eats, then smashes all the dishes all over her room (which is going to be a great scene in the movie, I hope) and then yells at the Avox girl, who helps to calm Katniss down.  Katniss finally whispers to her "I should have tried to save you" which instantly makes me weep.  Katniss helps her clean up, and Avox tucks her  in.  It's all very sweet and maternal (and a bit twisted, when you think about it, but I hope it means the Avox has forgiven her).

She wakes to the freaky faces of her prep team who whisk her away to paint her up and get her ready for her interview.  They polish her up, paint stencils on her arms, paint flame designs on her nails.  Venia weaves some red into her hair, which wraps around her head and ends in a braid over her right shoulder.  Dark eyes, red lips, light-throwing lashes, and finally, a coating of gold dust.  Me next!

The dress!  The dress!  Covered in reflective precious gems (!!) in a flame pattern.  You guys, they have to get someone amazing to do this dress for the movie.  Only a handful of couturiers could handle it:  Badgley Mischka, Valentino, maybe John Galliano, maybe even Gaultier or Armani.  Thoughts?  Ideas?  If they screw up this dress, it will be hideous.  Of course, Alexander McQueen could have done it, as he should have done all of the Capitol costumes for this movie, but I'm about to go off on a serious fashion tangent, so I'm reining it in.  PS, Peeta's suit sounds fan-TACK-stic.  Ew.  Maybe we need Armani for this too.

Cinna gives the only good advice to Katniss:  be yourself.  She's so incapable of lying, and that's all Haymitch wanted her to do.  He tells her that the citizens of the Capitol adore her, and admire her spirit, and to think of him as a friend that she can be honest with.  I feel calmer just thinking about Cinna.

And they're off!  Caesar Flickerman, the eternal host, is creepy with powder blue hair, eyeshadow, and lips with his trademark twinkly suit. Interviews are 3 minutes, so last about an hour and a quarter. The girl from District 1 is golden and gorgeous.  The monstrous boy from 2 is scary in a killing way, fox-faced girl is sly, the crippled boy from 10 is quiet. (Katniss has mentioned the same tributes each time she mentions any.  Why do you think SC made this choice?)  Rue is wearing wings and says she's very hard to catch.  Yay, Rue!  Awww.   Thresh, also from 11, is monosyllabic and/or totally silent.  Creepy, but awesome.  Time for Katniss!  She tells Caesar/Cinna that she loves lamb stew, makes the audience laugh, and then twirls like a real girly girl and giggles.  Caesar asks about her training score, and the man who fell in the punch says she can't tell, but it's all very hilarious, haha, Capitol.  Then Katniss talks about her promise to Prim and I choke and start crying again.

Peeta is very charming, he's even charmed me, the big lug.  He's funny and disarming and then says he's in love.  WITH KATNISS.  Sneaky lug!  Who fell out of their chair?  Be honest!

So yesterday's convo sparked some interesting ideas and questions.  I wonder:  how reliable a narrator do you think Katniss is?  We already know her knowledge is limited in terms of politics and history.  But do you think she's totally honest with us as far as her reactions and emotions go?  She's a terrible liar, it seems, but would she lie to us to save face?  Does she care about looking good (meaning strong, infallible, smart)?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hunger Games Chapter 8

In which Katniss flings her bow and arrow and stalks out of the training room, goes to her room, and cries for an hour from fear that she'll be arrested or executed, or worse, that her family will be.  Or that at least the Gamemakers will make the arena hell for her.  We learn about the scoring, which is on a scale of 1-12 (another factor of three), which is used to garner sponsors, and give the tributes a heads up about each other.  Katniss expects a 6 or 7.

Everyone wants to know what happened, especially with Katniss, but Peeta starts.  He says the Gamemakers were drunk and singing, not watching, so he threw some heavy stuff until they told him he could go.  Katniss just comes out with it:  she shot an arrow at the Gamemakers.  Effie almost dies when Katniss says she walked right out.  Haymitch seems to roll with it, and reassures Katniss that nothing will happen to her or her family.  She is cheered, and goes into a bit more detail, and everyone laughs except Effie, who is suppressing it.

After dinner, it's time for the scores.  Peeta gets an 8, which is solidly within the Careers' range.  Little Rue gets a 7.   Katniss gets an 11!  Haymitch puts it in perspective saying "they have a show to put on" which is a creepy reminder that this is a reality show.  Cinna hints at the interview dress.

Flashback to when Katniss met Gale:  she'd been hunting alone for about 6 months, and was checking out Gale's snares (wocka wocka).  He thinks she says her name is Catnip, and they agree to trade knowledge and skeeooz.  Soon, they hunt together all the time, and Katniss doesn't feel that the word "friend" is strong enough for him.  They trust each other, and sometimes, with Gale, Katniss is happy.  She says she doesn't want him in the arena "where he'd be dead in a few days."  Hmm, I wonder why she thinks he wouldn't win it...

She compares the reality of her love situation with Gale to the fake TV show amiability she has with Peeta.  At breakfast, Haymitch and Peeta drop a bomb:  Peeta wants to be coached alone.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hunger Games Chapter 7

In which Katniss has nightmares of her mother and the Avox, and wakes up having bitten her cheek and tasting blood.  How ominous!  She dresses in an outfit that Cinna picked for her, which she likes, and eats about 5 breakfasts including more hot chocolate, which she has Peeta-style (dunking a roll into it).  It has been only two days since she left home.

Peeta arrives wearing the same outfit as Katniss, which pisses her off.  Haymitch asks whether they prefer to be coached together or separately, and they choose together, because they can't think of any secrets they need to keep from each other.   Peeta talks up Katniss's hunting, mentioning he's eaten lots of squirrels.  Turns out Katniss has noticed Peeta flinging 100lb bags of flour around, and also wrestling.  The discussion of who is better gets heated, and Peeta reveals that his mother said District 12 might have a winner this year, meaning Katniss, calling her a survivor.  Katniss finally acknowledges the help Peeta gave her 5 years earlier.  When Peeta compliments Katniss ("She has no idea.  The effect she can have."), she freaks out in her head (something else SC is so talented at), sure he meant to insult her.

Haymitch makes them promise to be side-by-side all the time, and Katniss slams her door.  In a bit, they meet Effie to be escorted underground to the training rooms for the first of three days of training.  A tall, athletic woman named Atala runs the show there.  1, 2, and 4 are known as "Careers" because they train for their entire lives for the games (why not 3?).  Katniss realizes she has a small advantage, being strong and fit from hunting, but that she's smaller than most of the tributes.  When Atala lets them go, the Careers head for the deadliest weapons and "handle them with ease."  Tres intimidating!  But Peeta and Katniss choose knot tying first, so as not to expose their strengths.  Peeta shows a particular talent at camouflage, because he decorates the cakes at the bakery.  They learn some new skills and hide their strongest abilities.  Smarties.

Lunch is like a high school caf.  The Careers stick together, the other tributes sit alone.  Peeta points out how the breadbasket at lunch contains all the local breads from each district.  The bread from 4 has seaweed, and 11 is crescent shaped and has seeds.  Peeta holds the convo together, making them both appear friendly and charming.

The tiny, birdish Prim-alike, Rue, follows them around during training a bit.  She has dark eyes and "satiny brown skin" and talent with a slingshot.

Peeta makes a joke after dinner, and Katniss shuts him down again, saying "Don't let's pretend when there's no one around."  Peeta replies tiredly.

The third day of training, everyone gets pulled out, one by one, boys first, starting with District 1.  Katniss is last, and the Gamemakers are drunk and not paying attention when she goes in.  She shoots some awesome arrows, but they don't notice.  So she shoots the apple out of their roast pig's mouth, pinning it to the wall, and leaves without being dismissed.  Boom.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hunger Games Chapter 6

In which Katniss enjoys riding the crystal elevator to her floor (12th...do you think the tributes from District 1 and 2 are mad that the crappier districts get the better floors?), her third time in an elevator.  Effie trills on about how much everyone loved them at the opening ceremonies, and how she's been working the potential sponsors, and declares that putting enough pressure on coal makes pearls!  J'adore Effie.  PS, how does Katniss know where pearls come from?  And how does she know that graphite can be turned into diamonds?  Also, according to the interwebs, graphite isn't mined in the US, but it IS mined in Canada.  Ergo, District 13 was in Canada.  The same interwebs tell me that there are graphite mines from Vancouver to Toronto, so that's not a big help in locating the district.  Anyhoo, only Haymitch can seal the sponsor deals, even though Effie is working them.

Katnitss's room is amazing, and I totally want a machine that runs a current through me to dry my hair.  Also, a closet to "program an outfit to my tastes."  Call me despicable, but Capitol life sounds okay to me.  (I just whispered "movie popcorn" to see if it would appear.  It didn't.)

Katniss has her first wine, and doesn't like the taste, or the effect.  She's a sharp-minded little gal.  I adore how SC writes about food.  Can we get her a Food Network show?  And THEN a-little-bit-tipsy Katniss exclaims that she knows the avox!  AND SHE DOES.  Peeta covers for her, phew!  While watching TV, Haymitch declares the handholding a "perfect touch of rebellion."

Peeta obvs wants to know how Katniss knows the avox, and so takes her up to the roof, which has a forcefield all around it, so no jumping.  Katniss wishes she could tell Gale.  Sigh. Here's a question:  why did Cinna take Peeta to the roof?  Hmmm. These savvy kids go over to the area filled with windchimes, in case their convo is being monitored.  Smarties.  Katniss starts to tell her story, and Peeta asks if she was hunting with her father.  So he knows she hunted with her father.  I guess that's an open secret.  Also:  hovercrafts are totally silent which is super creepy.  The redhaired girl and the boy were from the Capitol, Katniss is sure.  The girl yelled once, the boy,s name (I'm sure it doesn't matter, but it sounds like his name was one syllable).

Peeta asks about Gale, he thought he might be Katniss's cousin.  Katniss is interested to find out that his father and her mother knew each other growing up (both were Merchant class).  When Katniss gets back to her room, the avox is there, and Katniss can't bring herself to apologize, because it wouldn't feel significant enough.

You know what does feel significant, though?  This entire freaking chapter.  Another one loaded up with information just tossed out, but when you read closely, there are loads of crazy things going on here!  What do you think the importance of the avox girl is?  I hadn't noticed on previous reads that they were from the Capitol, and that feels really, really heavy.  What does Cinna know?  What's he telling Peeta?  Your thoughts?  And don't forget to scroll down for a bonus post!  Huzzah!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Movies! Special Bonus Extra! Happy Fun Time!

Because re-reading this book keeps reminding me that this will be a feature film pretty soon (slated for 2011, which is way too far off), I give to you the IMDbPro (that's right, I signed up for the free trial to bring you this news) plot summary!

Plot Summary
In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss' young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives.
Summary written by Suzanne Collins

Yowza!  Dis to Peeta!  And why not all of North America, like the books? So, who has casting ideas?  I know we haven't really gotten to Caesar Flickerman yet, but I'd LOVE for him to be played by Bill Murray.  And I've heard some interweb rumors of Kristin Chenowith as Effie Trinket.  Who do you see as Katniss?  Peeta?  Rue?  I hope they stick really closely to the physical descriptions.  I'm anal that way, and will in all probability hate the movie, but a girl can hope, right?  Fantasy casting choices are good, too (like a teeny Dakota Fanning as Prim, yes?)  OMG, who will play Haymitch!?  Is it too much to ask to get Gary Oldman?  Or Paul Giamatti?  He'd be perfection.  Oh, and some fangirls seem to want Lucas Till (known for his work kissing Miley Cyrus, and in such film classics as Pee Shy) as Peeta.  I can see it.

As we progress and encounter new characters, I'd love to hear your ideas of who should play them! And since I've abused IMDbPro and have probably lost my privileges after this, I may be asking one of you to join up at the end of August to see if they have any casting updates.  If I don't have volunteers, I'll just draw names...