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?