Foe by Iain Reid

Foe comes across as an instant departure from Iain Reid’s debut novel, I’m Thinking of Ending Things. The idea of venturing out into space is a far cry from the call of death. But perhaps they’re not as unrelated as you would think. 

Clues start to emerge that Junior isn’t necessarily who I thought he was from the beginning. His life seems unimportant in comparison to how he feels about Henrietta. The general tone of this book reminds me of an episode of ‘Black Mirror.’ There is something deeply unsettling about it. What does Hen know that Junior does not? Is Junior real? Is this another series that distorts reality? What is fiction and what is tangible? How does anyone know the difference?

However, the foundation of Foe is more philosophical than plot based. For a sci-fi story with plenty of dystopic elements, nothing really happened. Time passed slowly. Thankfully, the slowness felt intentional instead of boring. The basis of the book was more grounded in the impossible scientific feats and the development of Junior and Henrietta’s relationship than anything else. Even the plot twists were too predictable, especially considering they were given away in the back of the book. 

To be honest, it took me a couple of reads in order to formulate a cohesive train of thought about this book. Did I even like it? While it didn’t blow me away like I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Foe was still a powerful book. The dialogue was great, the storyline was interesting enough, and I really wanted the best for each and every character. I liked the fact that Reid kept many of the specifics slightly vague. It felt like this could happen to anyone, not just Henrietta and Junior. Perhaps it’s unfair of me to compare the two, but when I do I’m still left a little disappointed by Foe. It could’ve been more exciting. 

So all in all,  is it read-worth? It’s hard to tell. It’s predictable. It doesn’t explore new concepts or break new ground. The ideas feel familiar to me and are slightly reminiscent of other body-snatcher books. But the writing style is utterly unique. Each progression in the storyline starts off subtly and I like that. I personally enjoyed Foe both times I read it, but it could’ve been more than what it was. I wanted Reid to expand on it a little bit more. 

BACK OF THE BOOK (AMAZON.COM)

‘Reads like a house on fire’ – the extraordinary new novel by Iain Reid, the acclaimed author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things

You think you know everything about your life.

Long-married couple Junior and Henrietta live a quiet, solitary life on their farm, where they work at the local feed mill and raise chickens. Their lives are simple, straightforward, uncomplicated.

Until everything you think you know collapses.

Until the day a stranger arrives at their door with alarming news: Junior has been chosen to take an extraordinary journey, a journey across both time and distance, while Hen remains at home. Junior will be gone for years. But Hen won’t be left alone.

Who can you trust if you can’t even trust yourself?

As the time for his departure draws nearer, Junior finds himself questioning everything about his life – even whether it’s really his life at all.

 An eerily entrancing page-turner, Foe churns with unease and suspense from the first words to its shocking finale. Perfect for fans of Humans, Westworld and Black Mirror, Foe is a book you will never forget.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid: Endless Questions

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit it: I can’t seem to get I’m Thinking of Ending Things out of my mind. The depth of Jake the janitor’s loneliness is really getting to me. I can’t imagine living my life so isolated from everyone else. It sounds impossible. And now I’m thinking about it every time I look at another person. Are they all alone? What can I do to help them?

I also can’t stop thinking about the nonstop creation of illusion and fantasy throughout the book. Iain Reid really warps your perception of reality. It makes you wonder what is real. Is anything in life real? During one part of the book, I remember him discussing that memories are just stories. The only thing that is ever real is what you’re currently living. Each second is the only real thing you have. Everything else is a fantasy. 

Unsurprisingly, a book like this made me ask myself a lot of questions both about it and about my own life. I don’t have the answers to all of them, but I can *maybe* answer some of them… at least for myself. Of course this book is open to so many interpretations that each scene can be taken a million different ways. 

Back of the Book Description

Jake and his girlfriend are on a drive to visit his parents at their remote farm. After dinner at the family home, things begin to get worryingly strange. And when he leaves her stranded in a snowstorm at an abandoned high school later that night, what follows is a chilling exploration of psychological frailty and the limitations of reality.

Iain Reid’s intense, suspenseful debut novel will have readers’ nerves jangling. A series of tiny clues sprinkled through the relentlessly paced narrative culminate in a haunting twist on the final page.

Reminiscent of Michael Faber’s Under the Skin, Stephen King’s Misery and the novels of José Saramago, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is an astonishing and highly original literary thriller that grabs you from the start—and never lets go.

Questions I Had While Reading I’m Thinking of Ending Things  (SPOILER ALERT)

  • What is the young woman thinking of ending? The title makes it sound like she wants to end her life. Her description makes it seem like she only wants to end her relationship with Jake. The in-between sections discuss suicide. Is the book covering multiple types of endings?
  • Why does the swing set look new? Why is it in the middle of nowhere? Why was this detail included?
  • Why does the caller keep calling the young woman? Why does the caller never speak when she answers? Why does the caller only leave cryptic voicemails?
  • Is it better to be alone or with someone?
  • Who is Jake’s brother? Is he real? Why does Jake feel the need to make up a brother? Does he blame his ‘brother’ for his failures in life?
  • Why do the farmers just leave the lambs where they are? Why did they not use the lambs for food?
  • Why does Reid include the maggot-filled pigs in his story? Why do they seem to have such a large impact on Jake?
  • Why are there scratches on the basement door?
  • Why does the girl in Dairy Queen feel scared for the young woman?
  • Who is Steph? Why does Jake say her name in the car while kissing the young woman? Why does she get a name and the young woman doesn’t?
  • Who is Ms. Veal? Why was she included in the story? Did she really poison the young woman’s mother?
  • Why does the janitor keep listening to ‘Hey, Good Lookin?,
  • Why is the young woman so scared of the janitor? Why does she feel like she has to fight him? Why does she think he is holding her captive?
  • Why did Jake choose such a brutal way to die? In the movie, he went outside and died of hypothermia. Why did he stab himself to death in the book?

What is the young woman thinking of ending? The title makes it sound like she wants to end her life. Her description makes it seem like she only wants to end her relationship with Jake. The in-between sections discuss suicide. Is the book covering multiple types of endings?

As we all find out in the end of the book, the young woman is just a figment of Jake the janitor’s imagination. She isn’t real in the same way that the rest of us are. But, in my opinion, she is real in a different, still important way. She is real to Jake. 

In his fantasy world, the young woman is simply thinking about ending her relationship with Jake. She doesn’t feel like they have good chemistry and, based on the book’s descriptions of their interactions, I would have to agree with her. Their relationship is awkward. It is almost always at odds with both of their personalities. 

I blame most of that awkwardness on Jake the janitor. He has a hard time imagining reasons why anyone would want to be with him. He cannot imagine a universe where someone would have loved him and remained in love with him. His fantasy world is a thought exercise meant to determine if he was always meant to spend his life alone and always meant to end his life by suicide. In the end, he and all of his fictitious characters agree that he should kill himself. 

Yet, I still think that I’m Thinking of Ending Things wasn’t just tackling the problem of suicide. I think in a lot of ways it covered the end of life in general. The first clue to this was in the extensive and horrible description of the end of the pigs life. It was dismal and gory and disgusting. They suffered for days before dying. The second clue was that Reid made it very apparent that Jake’s parents were getting closer to the end of their own lives. They were also both suffering from the ailments of old age. The conclusion the book seems to draw is that you will suffer until your life ends. It’s a somewhat horrible conclusion, but it seems extremely concrete when you look back at the book as a whole. It is bleak, but profound.

Why does the swing set look new? Why is it in the middle of nowhere? Why was this detail included?

When young Jake and the young woman are travelling to his parents’ farm, the young woman notices a brand new swing set next to a decrepit barn. She notices it in both the book and the movie. It is startlingly out of place and she comments on how it confuses her. What is the point in having a new swingset next to an old, abandoned building?

I’ll be honest with you, this detail still confuses me. It is such a small detail and yet it has enough meaning that it was included in both versions of this story. I also have differing takes on what it could *possibly* represent. 

On one hand, I think it might be the first clue that the young woman and Jake aren’t tangible. Their world isn’t real. They live in the fantasy world of a lonely old man’s decaying mind. The swing set is included as a sign that the real world and Jake’s fantasy are blurring together. Perhaps the barn had burned down ten years ago and since been replaced with a new building. Jake the janitor knows there is a new swing set there and includes it in his fictitious world without replacing the burnt down building. It adds an element of surrealism to the story, blurring the lines between the real and the unreal.

On the other hand, I think it might just be meant to add to the ever present dread of the story. The young woman is meant to come across as unsettled and confused. She is quite literally trapped inside the janitor’s mind. Everything is constantly changing and unusual. The first clue to this neverending anxiety and confusion is the oddly placed swing set. It is there just to add to her initial and ongoing sense of confusion. 

It’s really hard to say that either of those are the right interpretation in regards to the swingset. A nihilistic part of me always wants to insist that symbolism isn’t even real to begin with and everything in every book is meant to be taken literally. Of course, this book is absolutely littered with symbolism so that can’t be it. What do you think the swing represents? 

Why does the caller keep calling the young woman? Why does the caller never speak when she answers? Why does the caller only leave cryptic voicemails?

The caller scares the heck out of me, to be honest. Every time they call the young woman, I get a little bit nervous. It is deeply unsettling and terrifying to be constantly contacted by a person you can’t identify. Their cryptic messages come across as intimidating. It is obvious that whoever is calling is not mentally stable. Their message is as follows:

There’s only one question to resolve. I’m scared. I feel a little crazy. I’m not lucid. The assumptions are right. I can feel my fear growing. Now is the time for the answer. Just one question. One question to answer.

In the end, it ends up that the entire story was a figment of Jake’s imagination. The caller was his subconscious. What was the question he was struggling to answer? It was his endless debate as to whether he should commit suicide or not. 

However, I don’t really understand why the caller never said this to the young woman herself. The caller only left voicemails with this message and hung up whenever she actually answered. Perhaps part of Jake the janitor’s goal was to protect this specific persona (his fictitious girlfriend) from the more harmful sides of himself. He didn’t want to worry her. He felt some sort of tenderness for the section of the mind where she lived. I’m unsure. What do you think?

Is it better to be alone or with someone?

I’m Thinking of Ending Things very clearly presented the dangers of long term loneliness. Jake the janitor was plagued with mental instability. Many of the scenes depicted the damage being alone had done to his fragile mind. He is unable to socialize, hates himself, and cannot form healthy relationships. At the end of his life, he can barely communicate and spends more time in his fantasy world than in the real world. He’s unstable. 

But I think it also subtly presents the risks of being with someone else as well. The instability of relationships seem to be what Jake the janitor felt such a deep fear of. He was anxious in regards to how other people perceived him. Not knowing what was in their minds bothered him. And that’s a very real danger in relationships. You can never know the truth of another person. There will always be doubt. It’s hard to say it’s truly better to be with people than alone when you never know if they’re going to leave you. For people like Jake, the comfort of solitude, and the mental dangers presented with that, may be better than the risk of loving someone and losing them. 

Of course, for myself, I don’t necessarily want to be alone all the time. I would rather risk losing someone than never have them to begin with. Mankind is meant to be social. It’s written into us. Imagining going years without a real conversation sounds like a fate worse than death to me. I’m Thinking of Ending Things has a particular depth to it where it’s capable of making both fates sound scary. 

Who is Jake’s brother? Is he real? Why does Jake feel the need to make up a brother? Does he blame his ‘brother’ for his failures in life?

At the end of I’m Thinking of Ending Things, it’s disclosed that the young woman’s story is just a figment of Jake the janitor’s imagination. He is imagining the perspective of a possible romantic interest that he hadn’t taken the risk with when he was younger. He imagines her growing bored with him and breaking up with him. Similarly, he imagines a better version of himself (young Jake) and a fictitious brother that possesses all of his negative traits. 

When the young woman asks young Jake about his brother, his brother possesses all of the same problems that Jake the janitor has. He is deeply antisocial, had a failed academic career, and followed young Jake around. At times, he even pretended to be young Jake, stealing and wearing his clothes. It is revealed that all of these characters are in the mind of Jake the janitor. The young woman is what Jake the janitor wishes he could have had, young Jake is a more ideal version of the janitor, and the brother represents all of the negative parts of Jake the janitor’s life. He blames his fictitious brother for his own shortcomings. 

In my opinion, Jake the janitor creates all of these various personas because of the trauma of loneliness. Being separated from everyone else in the world has had a horrible impact on his mental state. Jake the janitor is deeply depressed and suffers from mental illness. He may even have multiple personality disorders. He has split himself into these three characters (the young woman, young Jake, and the brother) in order to protect his own fragile mind. 

Why do the farmers just leave the lambs where they are? Why did they not use the lambs for food?

Coming from a farming community, it came across as really odd to me that the mother and father didn’t eat the lambs. It didn’t seem like they died because of disease or anything during the movie and the book didn’t go into a lot of detail. Jake just said they would probably burn the bodies. Maybe the lambs were just supposed to add to the creepiness of the story, but that feels reductive for a book where all of the wheels in my mind seem to be turning all at once. Is there some deeper meaning? If so, I can’t really figure it out.

Why does Reid include the maggot-filled pigs in his story? Why do they seem to have such a large impact on Jake?

The death of the pigs seemed to have a huge impact on young Jake and Jake the janitor. They both seemed extremely perturbed by it. From what I can tell, I would assume that the horror of the pigs’ deaths is a memory from childhood. The fear of dying in such a sickening way seems deeply ingrained in Jake. He is disgusted by it. 

And, of course, they become more than a horrible memory and instead seem to be the biggest symbol for Jake’s take on life. He seems to think that everyone lives and dies the same way as the pigs do: they suffer, full of maggots and pain, until they die. He believes he is quite literally a pig infested with maggots. He is constantly asking himself when his maggots will leave him. When will he finally get to die?

Why are there scratches on the basement door?

The movie and the book both feature oddly placed scratches on the basement door. In the book, they come across as less intimidating. Jake explains them away as scratches from when his family had a dog. In the movie, they’re placed too high up to be from a dog. This makes me believe that they’re meant to be something else even in the written version of the story. So why are they there?

Once again, I think they might just be to add to the overall ominous vibe of the story. Reid wanted to avoid everything coming across as simply awkward instead of scary so he added creepy details to the farm house. It might be nothing more than that.

But it could be more. I have a couple of theories. One of them is that I think that spending too long in the basement would have clued the young woman in to the fact that her very existence is fictional. She isn’t real. The scratches on the door and young Jake trying to dissuade her from entering the basement could be Jake the janitor trying to prevent that part of himself from learning the truth. None of this is real. He has never had a romantic relationship. He doesn’t want this persona to know these things and, instead, wants to watch the scene unfolding in his mind without reality interfering. 

I also think that the truth behind the basement door could be far darker than that. As I’ve mentioned previously, Jake has a bleak outlook on life. He believes that everyone is a maggot-filled pig waiting to die, particularly himself. What I haven’t really gotten into yet is how stunted and fractured his relationship with his parents came across. In both adaptations, his conversations with them are awkward and stunted. He cares for them deeply, but they come across as judgemental and dismissive. Considering how his life played out, spending their last years with them, it can be inferred that their relationship may broach codependency.

If you combine that with the fact that I believe Jake suffers from mental illness and has problems forming healthy relationships or even interacting with people, I think he may have been abused on behalf of his parents. Trauma at a young age can have drastic consequences for the future of a child. Dissociative Identity Disorder fractures, such as the one he seems to be suffering from, often only happen at a young age. It can be assumed that the initial trauma he endured was in the basement. Perhaps that it is also why he fears the boiler room at the school. He could be warning the young woman to avoid the basement because he has a deeply rooted fear of what happens in that room. 

Why does the girl in Dairy Queen feel scared for the young woman?

When young Jake and the young woman are travelling back home from visiting his parents, they stop at a Dairy Queen to get some lemonade. In the movie, they stop as well for ice cream. In both adaptations, they encounter three young girls.  I believe all of the girls are meant to resemble young women the janitor sees while working at the school; that’s why they seem familiar to the young woman.  Two of them are giggling and pointing at Jake. They seem cruel and beautiful, but harmless. One girl, however, has darker hair and comes across as scared for the young woman. In both adaptations, she gives the young woman a cryptic warning to be careful.

In my opinion, the girl isn’t really nervous on behalf of the young woman. She’s scared for Jake. The real Jake. She’s warning him of the dangers of exploring his mind in this way. Perhaps she’s a part of his subconscious, trying to prevent him from commiting suicide. 

Who is Steph? Why does Jake say her name in the car while kissing the young woman? Why does she get a name and the young woman doesn’t?

Jake mentioning Steph in passing particularly confuses me. I can’t imagine him ever having experienced a romantic relationship with a woman so it’s hard for me to assume that she was a previous girlfriend in Jake’s real world. Perhaps she was, but it doesn’t sit right with me. He doesn’t come across as someone with any romantic experience. 

However, I do firmly believe that Steph is someone real from Jake’s life. Most of this feeling is due to the fact that, unlike the young woman, Steph is given a name. It could just be that he had a crush on someone named Steph and never did anything about it. 

Who is Ms. Veal? Why was she included in the story? Did she really poison the young woman’s mother?

The inclusion of Ms. Veal confuses me. Is she real or is she something Jake the janitor added to the young woman’s story to spice up his fantasy world? He was, after all, writing all of this down in a notebook. She could have just been an element to the story.

Or vice versa she was a real person that Jake the janitor interacted with during his lifetime. As I mentioned before, one of my theories I developed while reading this book is that Jake was abused at a young age. Perhaps instead of his parents being the abuser, Ms. Veal was. She had an ominous air about her. 

However, I don’t think she really poisoned anyone. That seems too far even for this book. In either theory, the perception of Ms. Veal was through the eyes of a child. Whether it was the young woman or the real Jake, they probably just thought that she poisoned their mother because of the coincidence of their mother getting sick after Ms. Veal’s visit. 

All in all, I think this is one of the more confusing details in the book. Ms. Veal is only mentioned for such a short period of time and only has negative traits. I don’t really understand her. I might read I’m Thinking of Ending Things again just to see if I can comprehend all of these small details. It seems like she is important. I just don’t understand how important. What do you think?

Why does the janitor keep listening to ‘Hey, Good Lookin?’

I don’t think that the song choice means anything in particular. I think listening to the same song on repeat was just another attempt on Jake’s part to drown out reality. I sometimes listen to the same song over and over again when I’m upset. It may just be one of his coping mechanisms. Of course, it may be something more than that. Maybe the lyrics have some deep meaning that I’m missing.

Why is the young woman so scared of the janitor? Why does she feel like she has to fight him? Why does she think he is holding her captive?

There is a very frantic energy to the end of I’m Thinking of Ending Things. Part of that is probably due to the fact that all of Jake the janitor’s various personas are colliding. He is forcing them into agreement that he should commit suicide. However, because of how real these various personas are, I think that the young woman’s fear is a very real thing. She is legitimately frightened and confused by everything going on. Jake has kept her mostly in the shadows about the reality of her situation. She feels like she has to fight him because she doesn’t understand that he is her. She feels like he is holding her captive because she is quite literally trapped in his mind. 

Why did Jake choose such a brutal way to die? In the movie, he went outside and died of hypothermia. Why did he stab himself to death in the book?

I really don’t know. The manner in which Jake committed suicide is horrible, even for suicide. However, there is some poetry that he left himself somewhere where he would be easy to find. Everyone would know that he killed himself. Perhaps his choice of location, at least, was due to the fact that he wanted people to interact with him in death if they could never do so during his life. It’s hard to understand why Jake the janitor did this in such a brutal way.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 1 – 2)

Getting back into a Hunger Games mood after reading I’m Thinking of Ending Things was a little bit hard. I was stuck in reminiscing about human life and whether we are all really alone, not thinking too much about corrupt governments, the impact celebrities have on regular people, and huge violent clashes between characters. I’m Thinking of Ending Things is definitely more philosophical and subtle than The Hunger Games. I mean, they’re obviously completely different books. You definitely shouldn’t relate the two.

It wasn’t too hard though. There was only a couple days in between me reading The Hunger Games and starting Catching Fire. It was just a completely different mindset than the one I spent hours analyzing. Iain Reid’s debut novel is a work of art – I definitely recommend it. 

But, of course, I’m not writing this post about his book. I’m writing about Catching Fire. And I’m excited to do so! Catching Fire is perhaps my favorite in the overall Hunger Games series. I’ve always loved the horror and excitement of watching victors being sent back into the arena. It’s morbid. It’s the ultimate betrayal on behalf of Panem. But all of the characters have such strong reactions, it’s hard not to love the book! 

Back of the Book (Amazon.com)

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

Disclaimer: My Chapter Thoughts DO INCLUDE SPOILERS. They assume that you have read ALL of The Hunger Games series (books 1-3). They will mostly contain spoilers, however, in the chapter that they are covering.

Chapter One Thoughts

The fact that the government of Panem puts so much effort into rubbing the annual Hungers into the faces of the districts kind of blows me away every time I read this book. Can you imagine someone killing your child and then sending you letters about it every year from jail? Panem flaunts their victors in front of the districts where the dead tributes were from. They say ‘look at this person, admire them, they killed your children and hurt your district.’ Their behavior is kind of reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter’s sick and twisted mind in Silence of the Lambs now that I think about it. Every death inflates their overgrown ego. They delight in torturing children. 

It’s horrible. It’s sadistic. It’s disgusting. It’s what they do every year. It’s normalized.

The Victory Tour is possibly the worst part of the games for that reason. It might even be more traumatic for the families than actually watching the Hunger Games take place. They spend the entire time imagining how different their lives would have been had their child or brother or sister been the one to survive. The hatred they must feel towards the victor is unreal.

But, of course, that’s exactly the point. If people from the districts spend so much of their energy hating the winner of the games, they’ll spend less time hating their government. It’s a distraction from who their real oppressor is. It’s not the victors fault. It’s the fault of Panem. Realizing that is the hard part. 

It’s hard to believe that the best part of the games, the money, is such a hardship for Katniss during the first chapter of this book. She doesn’t know what to do with it. Gale won’t take any of it, even to keep himself out of the mines. Hunting feels almost like a waste of time. 

It’s curious how deeply her relationship with Gale has degraded since her involvement in the Hunger Games. I’ve always thought his reaction to her coming home was a bit awful. Would he rather her have died? Does he not understand that, at least on her behalf, most of her interactions with Peeta were tainted by the knowledge that the audience is always watching? The depth of his ingratitude and his discomfort always made me annoyed. She survived the Hunger Games and was the only victor to ever save the life of another. She deserves better than his discomfort. 

Reading this section of the first chapter regarding the winner’s money does make me wonder if Katniss receives the full benefits of being a victor. Does she receive the same financial incentive as any other victor? Or does her prize have to be split with Peeta? They obviously each received their own home, but that was easy enough considering the abundance of available homes in District 12’s Victor’s Village. However, I doubt they would even notice if their prize had been split. People in the twelve districts seem to avoid discussing their finances. Anything would be an improvement over poverty. 

Perhaps Gale disagrees though. Maybe he views Katniss’s prize money as blood money. He might think of it as immoral. It was only earned because other people died. He’d rather work twelve hours a day, six days a week in dangerous conditions than accept some of her abundant money. It comes across to me that he doesn’t want to accept it because he’s mad at her for her relationship with Peeta though. It’s a petty thing not to accept the money, not an honorable thing. What do you think?

Plus, he probably shouldn’t care if Katniss dates Peeta. After all, he’s only Katniss’s cousin. At least, according to most of Panem. I always thought it was funny that he was too handsome and male to be Katniss’s best friend so the reporters turned him into a family member. The first mention of that takes place during chapter one of Catching Fire and it’s a great source of comedic relief from the dread of the Victor’s Tour. Again, small details are what make this series really shine. Suzanne Collins tried to cover it all.

Not only has Katniss’s relationship with Gale suffered, her relationship with Peeta has as well. Their interactions during this first chapter are awkward and stunted. They act like polite strangers, not lovers or even friends. The fact that they’re going to have to present themselves to Panem as in love seems impossible during their first conversation. How can they be in love when they barely look at them?

However, I do personally think it’s unfair that they have to pretend to be happy and in love. President Snow’s later demands come across as odd to me. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have them be in recovery from the results of the games? They wouldn’t have to pretend to be in love if they presented themselves as hurt or overwhelmed by the memories of the games. It doesn’t seem like trauma is something victors haven’t had to overcome in prior years. Panem seems to be fine presenting other victors as addicts or alcoholics. Why not have them show, to some degree, that they are shell-shocked and recovering? 

Chapter Two Thoughts

Seeing President Snow in Katniss’s home renewed my excitement for Suzanne Collin’s new book, A Ballad of Songbirds and Snake. I’ve avoided reading anything about it, but I’m pretty sure it has to do something with President Snow. He’s the biggest snake in the series! 

Plus, it’s hard to admit, but I’m dying to know more about him. He seems so sadistic and awful that it’s hard not to want to find the good in him. There has to be a reason for the way he acts. Maybe he thinks he’s even a good guy. I don’t know, but I want to find out. 

And I want to find out more about life in the Capitol in general. It seems so different from the rest of the districts. Everything there is about flashy colors, celebrities, and awesome parties. It almost feels like asking normal people today how the one percent lives. We have an idea of it being amazing and wonderful, but what is it really like?

Without a doubt it must be better than starving to death.

The death of Seneca Crane was never shocking to me, but it did always come across as unnecessary. The government of Panem wouldn’t have looked weak if they hadn’t taken back their rule change. If they had just kept it, they probably would’ve presented any opportunity for rebellion. Giving small amounts of hope back to the districts isn’t necessarily a bad idea. Hope kills people alive. I don’t think it would have been a bad idea to give them some type of affection for their capital. 

It also seems unnecessary for President Snow to clue Katniss into rebellion throughout the districts. Why give her any information about the other districts? Based on her own actions, I would think it too risky to mention. What if she decided to give in to her own rebellious sentiments? For such a smart man, President Snow makes a lot of mistakes.

But of course I still wouldn’t want to play chess with him.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: Final Thoughts

After my most recent re-read of The Hunger Games, I wanted to spend a few days turning the book around in my head before compiling my final thoughts. I honestly hadn’t remembered that the first book had so much depth to it. It’s a lot to take in. 

I had forgotten, during all my years of rereading, how powerful this series is. No wonder it is so acclaimed. The characters, the storyline, the government… Every small detail is dynamic and resounding. Suzanne Collins wrote a book that reflects real world problems in a totally unique new world, Panem. You could write about the amount of effort she put into highlighting class divides on their own for weeks

It’s just a really good book.

But it’s also kind of more than that. After thinking about it for a while, I feel like The Hunger Games is almost a dramatized version of very real problems in society, particularly related to popular culture. It tackles a really complicated problem. What are our limits? What will do for entertainment? What type of leeway will we give celebrities? What will we allow our governments to get away with?

And, more than that, what can we do to stop them? 

The chance of rebellion against a world power in today’s age seems impossible. The technology alone that governments have access to far surpass what the common man could get a hold of. In a manner of speaking, it feels like it would be impossible to overthrow a corrupted and sadistic government. What chance would we stand against an organization like the government of Panem?

Going into the next book, Suzanne Collins has a lot of complicated questions and problems to tackle. There’s no way a country that allows children to be brutally murdered can exist. She has to solve the problem, particularly if she is going to stick to her more modern approach to dystopic fiction. There is more hope now in dystopias than ever before. Of course, knowing the end of the series as I do, I have high hopes for my perception of the next few books.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

I’m Thinking of Ending Things does not want to be classified as a simple horror story. It is one. But it also isn’t. I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a horror story, a romance novel, a psychological thriller, and a memoir all at the same time. It is an old man’s suicide note. Iain Reid’s debut novel is a powerful story about the trauma of loneliness, captivating readers from the first page on. 

And, yet, it isn’t perfect. Most scenes come across as dismal and depressing. The storyline is predominantly upsetting. I’m Thinking of Ending Things will not resonate with all readers for that reason. You have to be willing to be sad, and confused, and curious alongside the rest of the characters. You have to want to ask yourself hard questions about yourself, your family, and the world around you. 

Plus, some of the concepts are too specific to Jake’s situation to perfectly capture the situation of all people. Others are too broad and feel like they’re assigning personal blame to the reader. Why did we not help him? Why do we fail to see the pain in others? Have we ever isolated someone to the point that they end up like him? 

The main character’s verbose way of communicating can also come across as pretentious to some readers. Other readers may also find the author’s constant creation of illusions to be a bore. They occur nonstop and can make the book confusing to read. 

Personally, I believe that I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a work of art. It isn’t meant to be enjoyed simply for what it is. Instead, you have to analyze and question everything you read. It isn’t a story so much as a puzzle. It will never make you feel safe or comfortable in your own life, but will instead force you to confront possibilities and problems that never occurred to you. Do we really care so little about each other? Are we all really alone? 

BACK OF THE BOOK (Amazon.com)

Jake and his girlfriend are on a drive to visit his parents at their remote farm. After dinner at the family home, things begin to get worryingly strange. And when he leaves her stranded in a snowstorm at an abandoned high school later that night, what follows is a chilling exploration of psychological frailty and the limitations of reality.

Iain Reid’s intense, suspenseful debut novel will have readers’ nerves jangling. A series of tiny clues sprinkled through the relentlessly paced narrative culminate in a haunting twist on the final page.

Reminiscent of Michael Faber’s Under the Skin, Stephen King’s Misery and the novels of José Saramago, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is an astonishing and highly original literary thriller that grabs you from the start—and never lets go.

MY THOUGHTS (SPOILERS INCLUDED)

Let’s start from the very beginning of this book: the movie. It’s sad to say that I watched the movie first, but I did. I honestly didn’t even realize that the new Netflix original was based off of a book until after I had already watched it. I didn’t look into I’m Thinking of Ending Things at all until after I watched the movie.

But in a manner of speaking, I’m kind of glad I watched the movie first. I don’t know if I would have enjoyed the book to the same degree if I hadn’t understood what was really going on prior. I found myself constantly looking for clues that could help me better comprehend the ending. Without that endless search, I’m not sure if I could have gotten over the depressing nature of this story and dug deeper into the value of the content. 

Would I have been able to enjoy the endless melodrama? Or would I have found it boring? I just don’t know. The book is so beautifully written it’s hard to imagine that I wouldn’t have been captivated by the end of the first page.

Similarly enough, the reviews I’ve read since then seem to be mixed. Some readers absolutely hate this book. They think it’s pretentious. It is slow. It is boring.  It is trying too hard to seem deep and it misses the entire point it’s trying to make. Others believe it is worth endless acclaim. I had the chance to fall into either category and, instead, sit somewhere in between.

I love the concept behind I’m Thinking of Ending Things. I love the writing style. I love the characters, and the creepiness, and the never ending hard to answer questions. I love the vagueness. But it’s all so overwhelmingly sad. How can I love despair? How can I love loneliness? How can I find Jake’s sad, horrible story to be utterly enchanting?

And how can I not fear the fact that I strongly relate to Jake? The janitor’s story has a piece of everyone in it. It is just a dramatized version of our own loneliness. He is completely unable to connect or relate to others, but we have all experienced that in our lives to some degree. Jake just experiences it to the highest possible degree. Loneliness defines everything about him, but calls attention to something real in everyone. Sometimes it feels impossible to connect to the people around you. Sometimes you will feel entirely alone. That is a natural part of life. Jake giving into it is what makes I’m Thinking of Ending Things so scary to me. The idea of giving into your worst moments terrifies me. 

However, that is probably one of the reasons why I don’t really mind the way that Jake communicates with the readers. Others think his big words and big ideas mean he is pretentious. I don’t think he is. I view Jake as empty. He has nothing. He has no one. He cannot find a reason to be alive. Jake uses big words to reinforce the fact that he is, at the very least, intelligent. His intelligence is the only real thing he has left. He may be all alone, but at least he is smart. He must be worth something because of his intelligence. He can’t be worth nothing at all. He tries to find meaning in his life throughout the entire book. Jake constantly asks himself if his life could have ever been worth living.

Plus, Jake’s intelligence is also meant to reinforce one of Reid’s main questions for the reader. Is it worth being smart if it makes you feel more alone? Intelligent individuals have a hard time making the same connections as less intelligent people. They aren’t usually as emotionally intelligent. Their skills lie elsewhere. Jake’s life may be so lonely and empty because he spent too long relying on his intelligence and avoided learning valuable social skills. He is awkward and stunted and anxious. He uses his intelligence to hide from the sad reality of his own life. It is a masquerade and a distraction.

And is it his intelligence that allows him to live in a dream world? I wonder how lake Jake has been imagining a different life for himself. While his imaginary world throughout I’m Thinking of Ending Things is riddled with sadness and despair, maybe he had once been able to imagine better lives for himself with healthy relationships, family, and a happy farm. Perhaps his imaginary relationships helped to prevent him from creating real ones. 

Assuredly, his fantasies do prevent him from interacting with the world around him now that he is older. Jake wasn’t fully present in the final years of his life. He barely spoke. He didn’t seem to take good care of himself. The side notes between chapters all seemed to be conversations about Jake following his suicide. Every single one mentioned how disconnected and lonely Jake seemed. The people around him thought he was creepy and weird. He paid more attention to what was in his head than what was in front of him. He was unable to converse even to small degrees. 

However, part of me did wonder if those side sections were real depictions of how Jake the janitor acted. It was disclosed at the very end of the book that much of the story was a departure from reality. Jake was imagining his life as it would have been if he had actually talked to a girl in a bar one night. Then, it was disclosed that this story was one he had written down in a notebook before killing himself. It was more than a dreamworld and had entered into the formal stage of being a story. What if those conversations were also imagined? It is hard to believe that people would be as cruel and dismissive towards Jake’s death as the people conversing were. What if their interactions were just how Jake imagined people reacting to his death? 

I wouldn’t be surprised, especially considering that most of his fictitious universe was tainted with hints towards his loneliness, his anxiety, and his overall lack of self esteem. Jake doesn’t value himself very much so it’s understandable that he doesn’t think others would value him either. Even his own imaginary girlfriend, a figure who developed into a separate persona for himself, doesn’t value him. She doesn’t love him. She wants to end their relationship. I could see his self hatred bleeding into his perception of how others perceive him. 

What’s interesting about his relationship with the young woman, however, is that she views Jake as an amazing conversationalist. Young Jake is wonderful to talk to and can discuss a wide variety of topics with ease. In reality, Jake the janitor is mute. He refuses to speak to the people around him. Perhaps this was just meant to indicate the depth of his internal dialogue, but it may just be that Jake was trying to develop the person he wishes he could have been. In his dream world, he was capable of talking to others. He has a separate persona as someone interesting and dynamic, someone worth speaking to. 

Rolling that idea around in my head, it seemed to seep into other sections of I’m Thinking of Ending Things. Jake seems to have developed a wide variety of separate personas. He views himself as both himself, the janitor, as well as his own imaginary girlfriend, young Jake, and a fictitious brother that he blames for his own short-comings in life. They all have unique characteristics that Jake the janitor assigns to them. They are all pieces of himself that have developed into something separate. 

In reality, Jake, the janitor, is unsociable. As mentioned prior, he doesn’t speak to others and spends far too much time alone. He seems to have an element of mystery to his life because few people know his background story. All they know is that he lives alone. He has no family. He makes people feel uncomfortable because they can’t figure out how to interact with him. Jake the janitor has few to no connections with the real world. He drowns out reality with loud music, books, and the creation of an imaginary world where life might be better. 

Jake’s persona as his own fictitious girlfriend is quite different from that. The young woman is slightly reserved, but is capable of navigating complicated social scenarios. Even when Jake’s parents make her feel uncomfortable, she can hold a conversation with them. She doesn’t have a very deep connection to Jake and, instead, views him as an outside figure. cial scenarios. She doesn’t have any deep connection to Jake and instead views him as an outsider. I’m Thinking of Ending Things often implies that she doesn’t completely understand Jake. Much of his behaviorism and attitudes are foreign to her. She may be somewhat intelligent, but not the extent that Jake is and not in a way that prevents her from connecting to the world around her. In a manner of speaking, she might be more of an ideal version of what Jake would like to be like than even young Jake is. She is what the janitor can’t imagine having in real life. 

However, her lack of understanding in regards to young Jake was surprising to me, particularly after watching the movie. The Netflix version of I’m Thinking of Ending Things often implies that she perfectly understands young Jake, and he perfectly understands her. They are unsettingly similar, even as her identity changes again and again. The connection isn’t made that they’re the same person until the very end. The book calls attention to their differences. They come across as completely separate identities with a strained connection to one another. Similarly to the movie, she has little chemistry with young Jake. 

In regards to young Jake, his personality is more erratic than the other two. In the beginning of the book, he comes across as calm and collected. The young woman often complains that their relationship is missing something. Later in the book, he acts out of anger and frustration more often than not. He is childlike and distances himself during dinner with his parents. He complains and acts out because of his dislike for the lemonade at Dairy Queen. When he sees the janitor watching the two of them, he is enraged. 

Young Jake’s personality seems to fluctuate with each page. He is all over the place and hard to pin down. Where the young woman sees one trait, I see dozens. It’s almost as if the janitor couldn’t fully picture himself as a fully realized, healthy adult with normal relationships. He didn’t know what he would look like as that type of person. So, instead, he creates young Jake who is

constantly changing. 

And that might make you think that it would be possible for young Jake to connect with the young woman at some point in the story, but it never does. They both change to varying degrees as the story progresses, but never in ways that compliment each other. The young woman and young Jake are always at odds with each other, possibly for the same reason of Jake the janitor being unable to imagine a healthy relationship between himself and someone else. 

This tension of young Jake versus the young woman only built as the story went on. An overall sense of anxiety built up with each page. In the movie I thought that all of this drama was nonsensical. It was just the young woman’s anxiety over meeting her boyfriend’s parents that caused everything to feel eerie and unsettling. It was a figment of her imagination, nothing more. There had been nothing to worry about. This story was a non-story. Of course, that’s not what the movie was about. The book never made me feel like that would be the ending.  

Throughout the book, the feeling of anxiety came across as more insidious. The anxiety was inside of her, a part of her. But it wasn’t only hers. It felt too foreign for that. It also belonged to the farm and the road trip and Jake and his parents. It bled into everyone. It defined everything. Of course, having watched the movie first, I knew that all of this was because it wasn’t just her anxiety. It was Jake the janitor’s anxiety spilling over into his narrative of a better life. He struggled to find traits that anyone would connect to in himself. He couldn’t find any reasons for another person to love him. He knew any attempt at a relationship would have ended in failure. He knew he would never be able to survive alone if he truly knew what being with another person was like. Jake the janitor’s debilitating social anxiety made everything seem anxious and nerve wracking. 

I’m Thinking of Ending Things comes across as a thought experiment in loneliness for that reason. It is similar to the oroborus, the snake that eats itself. It will cycle on forever, feeding on itself. The more lonely you are, the more daunting relationships will seem to you. You don’t want to give someone too much power over yourself if you’ve spent so much time alone. If you give someone importance or sway over your heart, what will happen to you if they leave? Instead of risking losing someone, you just spend your entire life alone.

In a way, it comes across that loneliness is its own type of trauma. Jake the janitor seemed to have few to no traumatic experiences in his life. The event with the maggot-filled pigs seems to be his only traumatic memory he has and it has a large impact on his perception of self. He believes his life is filled with maggots, metaphorically obviously. It does not seem horrible enough to impede his ability to interact.

So why did he spend his entire life alone? Because the anxiety and nervousness regarding his social interactions caused him to separate himself from society. That in turn, led to loneliness and more apprehension about interacting with others. As the years went by, he became less and less likely to branch out. Similarly to the scene where he describes the candle he never burned for want of a better reason to burn it, Jake the janitor never had a reason to risk the dread of socializing. There was never a good enough reason. He could take care of himself just fine all alone. He didn’t need anyone else and didn’t want to risk caring about anyone else lest they leave him.

I feel like that concept played a role in many of the scenes throughout the book. Young Jake mentions previous relationships that held little importance with him. He was able to meet with ex-girlfriends because they didn’t matter to him. He assigned little value to other people so it wouldn’t bother him when he inevitably lost them. He didn’t want to even imagine the pain of losing someone let alone run the risk of actually having someone to lose. He didn’t want to risk loving someone.

Another scene that stands out is Jake’s refusal to have vaginal intercourse with the young woman. He uses his fingers instead. Is part of that due to janitor Jake’s inexperience with love? Did he never have a chance to be sexually intimate with a woman? Is that why he can’t even imagine it? After living for so long in a fantasy world, perhaps Jake the janitor thinks he won’t mind his lack of experience if he just ignores it. Similar to his refusal to imagine past loves, he may be unwilling to imagine a life where he had the chance to enjoy his own sexuality. Or perhaps he feels it would be invasive and cruel to imagine something he will never experience.

Curiously enough were the characters that felt more realistic. Young Jake and the young woman had an element of fiction to them. They were constantly changing illusions. Their character traits fluctuated. The young woman wasn’t even given a name. But other characters were more concrete. The mother and father, in particular, were well fleshed out. Jake the janitor seemed to be remembering exactly as they were. Many of his memories of them were negative. 

What made me curious about this entire book is that only one young woman was given a name and it was Steph. Who is she? Was she the only woman that Jake the janitor had ever allowed himself to care for? Did he eventually lose track of the fiction and let his reality blur the lines? I’ve been very curious to learn more about that slip up. It came across as a crack in his facade. Was that the reason why Jake lost it and felt like the janitor was watching him?

There is a remarkableness to the fact that scenes like that make little logical sense, but have such a powerful impact on the reader. Even as scenes make less and less sense, they become more emotionally powerful. Jake’s reaction and the name Steph hold little meaning to the reader, but have a strong impact on the story. They bring out real human emotion: anger, loss, pain. I find that to be particularly well done and well received. 

In part, I feel like the success of the emotions during I’m Thinking of Ending Things are due to its poetic nature. I’ve always thought of prose as telling a story and perhaps relaying some emotion throughout the story and poetry as describing an emotion and perhaps sometimes telling a story. For that reason, I almost believe that this book is more poem than prose. It goes beyond the plot to explore the heart of memory, loneliness, and Jake’s emotions.

Shockingly enough, Jake’s exploration of self ends with the realization that he should follow through with killing himself. He should go beyond thinking of ending things and actually do it. He has nothing to live for. All of his different personas agree that suicide is the best option for him. Jake the janitor will always be alone and was always destined to be alone. He was destined to commit suicide. His life was never going to be worth living – even if he had spoken to the woman in the bar that night. All of his personas agree that, no matter what, he would end up alone. 

How depressing is that? To feel that your life was predestined to be spent alone? To feel like living is meaningless? I’m Thinking of Ending Things presents the trauma of loneliness as something without hope. There is no means to recover from the suffering that is Jake’s life. It’s a very real and upsetting issue that real-world people face, not just people in works of fiction. Reid’s take on it is incredibly dismal and perhaps unrealistic. I don’t believe that people who have spent the majority of their life alone should be without hope. While socializing may be scary, it can save you. 

Of course, finding your reason to live sometimes feels impossible. Connecting with others can seem like a mountain you just can’t climb. People live lives as lonely and stagnant and tiring as Jake’s every day and we all just ignore it. At what point do we help others? Are we all really just passing judgement on them? I don’t personally think so. 

For this reason, many of the scenes throughout I’m Thinking of Ending Things really made my stomach turn. They were so desolate. Many of the characters were without any hope. Jake the janitor was obviously suffering from his overwhelming loneliness and suicidal ideation, but other characters were also suffering. The pigs and their maggots. The mother and her inability to hear. The father and his fear for the mother. The young woman and her apprehension towards ending things. The entire book is based on being creepy, suspenseful, and vague. 

That sense of creepiness and vagueness is furthered by the creation of Jake the janitor’s fourth persona, his brother. In I’m Thinking of Ending Things, young Jake describes his brother to the young woman. He is exactly like Jake the janitor. He refuses to socialize, had difficulty developing relationships which caused him to step away from his academic career, and even wore Jake’s clothes at times. He followed young Jake around for years, constantly watching him from the shadows. 

But, the entire time, Jake the janitor and the brother were the same person just as Jake the janitor is also the young woman and young Jake. Jake the janitor imagined a brother that he could pin all of his worldly problems on. It wasn’t him that suffered from debilitating social anxiety; it was his brother. It wasn’t him that ruined his academic career; it was his brother. Jake wasn’t troubled. He could pin any of his problems on his fictitious brother. 

I almost enjoyed the movie more for having left out the brother. It came across as superfluous to me. I already understood the extent of Jake’s insanity and depression. I didn’t need him to imagine a fictitious brother to explain away his personal issues. However, I do respect what the author was going for in separating the traits he would like to have (young Jake) from the traits he hates in himself (the brother.) It felt unnecessary and made Jake come across as more insane than depressed. 

All in all, I particularly enjoyed this book. It was beautifully written and I felt a strong sense of connection to all of Jake’s personas. However, I wouldn’t recommend I’m Thinking of Ending Things to all readers. It was hard to read at times and challenged my perception of other people. How many people suffer from debilitating loneliness? It was difficult to accept the fact that many of us feel alone most of the time. I’m still asking myself if we’re all really alone at the end of the day. While I would like to say no, this book made me doubt that. 

Fae’s Destruction (Queens of the Fae Book 3) by M. Lynn and Melissa Craven

Is it read-worth? I’d love to one day be able to say yes. Sadly, today’s not that day. I really wanted to like the series overall, but it just felt short to me. My honest opinion is that M. Lynn and Melissa Craven should use these three books as a rough draft for a future series. With a little bit of tweaking, they could have something amazing. They just need to spice it up, improve the interactions between characters, and put some more space in between events. The Queens of the Fae series has the potential to be great. It’s just not actually great. 

However, I would also like to say that Fae’s Destruction did stand out compared to the rest of the series. There was finally a plot twist! I loved seeing something unexpected happen. By the third book, I was expecting more of the same every other Faerie book does. It felt like everything was going to be a knock-off.

I never would have foreseen that Brea and Griff would actually go through with their marriage. I expected that it would be cancelled last minute, similarly to other books. I am so glad that it wasn’t! This series has reminded me far too much of other popular fantasy series and I really wanted something about it to stand out. A forced marriage that the characters actually follow through on? It’s at least something new to me. 

Plus, I find the concept of marriage magic really intriguing. I wanted to learn more about how it works. However, the ending of the book really let me down. Spoiler alert: marriage magic felt like something permanent and it ended up having an easy fix. It was disappointing to get such a bare-bones happy ending. I was just hoping for more. An unhappy ending might have been enough for me to feel like this book was finished. 

Of course, maybe they’re planning on writing future books. It came across like they were at least considering it. I’m hoping if they do they can revisit the descriptions of how fae magic works. I wanted more details during the entire series. The descriptions and explanations we got seemed half-hearted. For example, Brea was barely trained and yet could fight off the strongest Fae Queen. It seemed unrealistic even for a fantasy book.

And, if she is really that strong, I’d really like for them to tackle the dangers of that. There must be a reason that the different magics don’t mix. Brea was utterly unique in having blood from multiple magical countries. Why is that? Is there something dangerous about mixing magics? What will that mean for her future children? Will their magic overpower them? I want to know more.

All in all, this series has a lot of potential. It just needs more work, more details, and better writing. I hope M. Lynn and Melissa Craven continue growing as writers (Fae’s Destruction was much better than the beginning of the series) and release new books. Heck, I kind of want them to rewrite this one! Give me more! 

Back of the Book (Amazon.com)

Brea Robinson is a prisoner.

Granted, her prison has gilded halls, servants, and an aunt intent on throwing a lavish wedding. A wedding for Brea. Fae marriages are unbreakable, everlasting. 

As Brea barrels toward her forever prison in a marriage to a man she doesn’t love, the three Fae kingdoms are thrown into turmoil. But no matter how close Queen Regan’s enemies get, it won’t be enough to save Brea from the fate she chose. 

Some sacrifices result in death. Others only make you wish for death. 

Brea didn’t surrender herself to the powerful Fargelsi Queen for nothing. She saved her best friend and found the missing princess. She said goodbye to the man she loved so he could reclaim his throne. 

Everything has a purpose, everyone has a role to play and if marrying the wrong brother is hers, at least she’ll help bring an end to this war. 

Because Queen Regan O’Rourke might be family, but her rule is over. 

It’s time for a new generation to unite the Fae.

Book three in the Queens of the Fae Series, click now to be transported into a world where some love is nothing more than magic, some love is an unbreakable bond, and some love is nothing at all.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 26 – 27)

Are books like The Hunger Games problematic or problem solving? I think it’s a hard call to make. On one hand, they tackle heavily violent scenarios. They describe scenes in which children are brutally killing other children. On the other hand, they go on to condemn that violence. Nothing about those scenes are good or wholesome. They are deeply problematic and one of the best parts of The Hunger Games is the fact that it is completely honest about that reality. In no way are they saying that violence is a good thing. 

It’s a hard call to make and it was one I was thinking about in between chapters. The second time I read this book was at school. I believe I was in the eighth grade so I was fairly young at the time. And, of course, I had read it before already on my own. I know other schools ban books similar to this one and I’ve got to be honest… In my personal opinion, that’s really stupid. Teenagers have access to violence in all other popular media forms. They sing about it, hear about it from their friends, play games involving it, and watch movies where it’s nonstop. But they can’t read about it? I’m sorry. That doesn’t make much sense to me. 

Back of the Book (Amazon.com)

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Still, if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Chapter Twenty-Six

I feel like any classic dystopic fiction would have killed off Katniss and Peeta with the berries. There would have been no victor for the 74th annual Hunger Games. There just would’ve been an overall feeling of emptiness. It’s strange the departure modern dystopias have taken from endings that were normally bleak and desolate. They inspire hope, not despair. 

Katniss never would have lived and, if she had, it definitely wouldn’t have been in an environment where an attendant is trying to give her orange juice. She would have been a shell of herself. There would be nothing left except for what Panem wanted to make her into it. 

I think part of that departure is due to the existence of Peeta. He is too pure for the games. He refused to allow them to change who he is as a person. A lot of that bled into Katniss as the games went on. Her burial of Rue, for example, was partially inspired by Peeta’s desire to show the Capitol that he isn’t their plaything. He’s a human being. He’s worth more than the death they wanted to give him. 

That’s a powerful thing. 

But it is strange to meet that the Capitol puts so much effort into saving Peeta’s life. It was obvious that they didn’t want two victors. Why not just let him die? They would have had Katniss. They only really needed one. I don’t think anyone could have blamed them for Peeta dying considering his condition at the close of the games. His heart stopped twice while they tried to heal him. Why bother at all?

After Katniss and Peeta are restored to their former selves, it’s strange that the Capitol wanted to reunite them on air. President Snow doesn’t believe in their love. Why bother with a tear-jerking reunion? He could have ended up disappointing the entire nation. What if Katniss let on that it was all for show?

Thankfully, Cinna’s careful design of Katniss’s girlish dress for after the games partially clues her into how much danger she is in for her maneuver during the games. Saving Peeta doesn’t come without a cost. She must convince the world she did it out of foolishness, not out of rebelliousness. Also thankfully, Haymitch is there to warn her, verbatim, of the danger she’s in. 

It’s almost as if the games aren’t over for them. Katniss is in more danger than ever. 

Although part of me always wondered why they didn’t play into allowing Katniss and Peeta to live. Why did no one ever say that they only were allowed to survive through the mercy of the Capitol? Why not use this as a moment to make the districts love Panem instead of hating and distrusting it? President Snow played this all wrong.

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Caesar Flickerman is the most understated character in the world considering how ridiculous he is. I wonder if he really enjoys the game or is actually capable of understanding how horrible they are. He tries his best to make every tribute, and every victor, look good for the audience. Does he do that out of kindness for them or to save his own skin? I’d love to learn more about him. 

How can you tell who has morals in this book? It’s next to impossible.

And how could you possibly condense everything Katniss and Peeta lived through into three hours of screen time? That sounds impossible, especially considering that there were so many more tributes to follow during the same time period. They were in the arena for weeks. 

Although, I’ve got to say, I kind of want to see that version of the Hunger Games. It sounds like one untainted by the reality of the games. It’s all the drama and intrigue without any of the toil and struggle. The Capitol gets to focus on only the best parts of the games instead of just the grim reality. What if the director of the Hunger Games film had just released that version of the games? Would we all feel such hatred towards the leaders of Panem? Or would we want more?

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 23 – 25)

The end of the 74th annual Hunger Games is near. Can you imagine the excitement brewing in the Capitol? This season of doom, death, and destruction have been revolutionary. Never before seen love affairs and drama! The parties they must have been throwing… I can’t even imagine.

And what a strange world they live in to revel in these games to the degree in which they do. They love the Hunger Games. They adore their victors. They want more blood, more drama, more death. It seems like pleasing them is impossible.

What I’ve always wondered is why pleasing them is the only priority in Panem. Taking care of the districts is meaningless. Providing worthwhile advancements is boring. Instead, the government focuses on keeping people entertained. Wild parties and dramatic television shows. It’s obscene.

However, is it similar to how we live today? I’m a US citizen and our politics are starting to feel more like reality tv shows every day. A lot of people are satiated by the drama and ridiculousness of our current system. They live for dramatic clashes and bold statements more than they do real policy reform. Most people know more about celebrities than they do their own laws. It’s the same type of problem as the ones people face in the Hunger Games, just on a different scale. I’m not sure which system is worse.

Back of the Book (Amazon.com)

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Still, if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Chapter Twenty-Three

I wish Suzanne Collins would talk more about the class distinctions in the districts, particularly in District 12. I don’t one hundred percent understand the difference between the people of the Seam and people who live in the town square. It seems almost silly that the citizens of District 12 perceive each other as different when both groups of people are suffering under Panem’s rule.

Both struggle to take care of themselves. Both have limited access to food. Both are subjugated by the wants and desires of the Capitol. Both groups are at risk of being selected as tributes.

Why would Peeta’s parents really care if he fell for Katniss? She’s in a very similar boat to him.

Part of that makes me wonder if the mayor’s job is to reinforce divides in District 12. It is readily apparent that the Gamemakers are supposed to reinforce divides between districts. It would make sense to continue that trend on a more local scale. Does the mayor try to plant seeds of distrust between people of the same district? I bet he does. If you’re more worried about the extra food your neighbor has, you’ll be less worried about what your government officials are doing.

I also bet that Panem purposefully provides too little food to feed everyone. There may be enough to go around. They just might not want everyone to have access to it. This would help build small scale resentments between people who have enough to eat and those who are starving.

That sense of disconnect is probably furthered by the construction of the Victor’s Village. Only victors of the Hunger Games get to live in those homes. No one else can purchase one to live in. Victors live lives that are rich and luxurious compared to the lives of nearly everyone else in the districts.

In District 12, only one of the dozen homes in the Victor’s Village is occupied and it’s Haymitch’s. Do others treat him poorly because he is provided for for the rest of his life? Or are they proud of him for being the only person from District 12 to ever win the Hunger Games? I don’t know if people in the districts embrace their victors in the same way people of the Capitol do.

I also don’t know what districts do if they have more than a dozen victors. In District 12, there is only twelve homes. Do other districts construct more if they have more victors? Or do they usually have less than twelve? It seems like some of the career districts would have many victors.

However, it does seem like people do have some sense of endearment towards Haymitch. That could only be the people of the Capitol though. They seem to find his odd traits almost cute. Even his alcoholism is a source of amusement for them. They don’t ever bother to think of the implications it has. They don’t comprehend his suffering.

Part of that could be due to the fact that Panem never airs the game he won. He outsmarted the Gamemakers. Maybe if Panem knew how intelligent Haymitch is they would read more into his dependence on alcohol. It wouldn’t seem as endearing if they knew that the mind the alcohol is damaging is so valuable. Or maybe it would be anyways. The people of Panem seem to love destruction. They love it even more when it doesn’t really impact themselves.

And some of them may remember a time when Haymitch was different. He’s been a mentor for a long time. Katniss even wondered if he tried in the beginning. Did he ever attempt to help his tributes? Years of watching child after child die as he tried to help them could have been what drove him to drink. The actual memories of his games could have just been a side note.

I can’t really imagine that level of personal responsibility. How he must have blamed himself every time one of his tributes died. I wonder if victors from other districts take turns mentoring. Maybe only the most recent victors have to act like a mentor. The strain of being a mentor year after year sounds unbearable. The games are real to mentors in a way that they are not to stylists. They have lived through it before and the tributes that the Capitol disregards are actual people to them. 

I don’t know how other mentors bear the pain. When Thresh dies, what does his mentor do? Are they interviewed? Is their sorrow broadcast for the nation to witness? I wonder if the Capitol makes light of his death or if they manage to summon at least a drop of respect for the fallen child. I wonder if they even show Katniss’s reaction to his death. Would they want Panem to understand that there is sadness in Thresh’s death?

Probably not. 

They probably also wouldn’t broadcast Peeta’s description of his life. They love to widen the divide between the various citizens of Panem. Letting poorer people know that even the shopkeepers struggle with food at times won’t help them with that. But how quickly can they prevent these conversations from being shared? Do they have the games on a delayed release?

Personally, I don’t think that they do. I think part of the appeal of the games is watching everything as it happens. For example, everyone would want to see Foxface die as it occurs. Speaking of that, the way she dies is so counterintuitive to her character traits that it’s almost ironic. She dies stealing berries from Peeta. Neither of them knew that the berries were poisonous. How do you think her sponsors reacted?

The clever girl dies because she wasn’t clever enough. 

Chapter Twenty-Four

It kind of blows me away, however, that Peeta thought it was alright to pick any old berry out in the woods. I grew up in a rural community kind of similar to the environment of District 12. We were always taught never to pick any type of fruit that we didn’t recognize. Berries could be poisonous. Some types of nuts can burn your skin. Certain fruits are sticky and covered in sap during different times of the year. Our parents never wanted us to touch anything we didn’t recognize for fear of the clean up process.

I get that Peeta grew up in the marketplace, but still. You’d think his parents would have taught him what berries to steer clear of. I don’t doubt that there’s some nightlock growing somewhere within the district that children should be wary of. 

Sometimes it’s crazy to think that even small decisions like what berries to eat can be life or death decisions.

It’s also crazy that these are children being forced to make life or death decisions. Later in the chapter, when they have to decide how to interact with Cato now that they’re the last remaining tributes, I’m blown away by their decision making process. How can you be so calm in the face of death? I would be panicking. 

But perhaps they’ve adjusted to the insanity of the games. I read somewhere once that humankind can adjust to anything if you give them enough time. The minds of children and teenagers are particularly malleable. Maybe they are at an age where they are better equipped to handle the Hunger Games than their elders would be. 

Chapter Twenty-Five

Human wolf hybrid muttations. In any other universe, the monsters of The Hunger Games would be ridiculous. In this series, they’re terrifying. The idea of looking into the eyes of fallen tributes in the form of murderous wolves is scary. It’s the stuff of horror movies.

It’s also an excellent form of mental torture. These are the eyes of the victims of the Hunger Games. Some of them are inspired by individuals that the surviving tributes have killed themselves. Can you imagine having a pack of them hunt you down? It would feel like the dead were having their revenge. No wonder Katniss and Peeta would have nightmares for the rest of their lives.

Plus, how do the Gamemakers even think of this material? Does it never occur to them that their actions will have lasting repercussions in the tributes lives? These mutts are a sick and twisted invention. They are designed purposefully to mentally scar the surviving tributes. How can they justify doing this to children?

I suppose that the only answer is that the Gamemakers refuse to view tributes as children. They’re not people to them. They would never compare Katniss or Peeta to their own children. Tributes are just entertainment, meant to be killed off for kicks. 

Yet, it’s more than a bit unfair that the Capitol gave Cato body armor. Katniss notices it when all three tributes are escaping the mutts. What a ridiculous advantage. It seems like they were rooting for a career tribute to win, possibly to blot out the impossible situation of love between Katniss and Peeta. It probably harkens back to the Capitol wanting to crush any sense of hope in the districts.

Thankfully, they don’t get what they want. Cato is killed by the Capitol’s own creation, the mutts. Not-so-thankfully, the process is horribly slow. They allow the mutts to torture Cato endlessly. Hours pass by without him dying. His torture is the ultimate form of entertainment for viewers. It’s disgusting. 

But perhaps there was another purpose to it as well. Maybe Seneca Crane was hoping that if he made Cato die slow enough, Peeta would die in the meantime. He wouldn’t be forced into a position where he would have to deal with the two victor issue he created. Who could have expected that Katniss would be capable of keeping Peeta alive throughout the entire game? 

No one. Not Seneca Crane for sure.

And yet I still think it’s the wrong move to revoke the rule change. It makes the Gamemakers look like fools more than anything else. How can they go back on their word so blatantly? It isn’t the ultimate form of entertainment to reverse their original decision; it’s just stupidity. 

Fae’s Defiance (Queens of the Fae Book 2) by M. Lynn and Melissa Craven

To be perfectly honest, I don’t understand why Fae’s Defiance has such positive reviews. Similarly to the first book, it isn’t a bad book, but it isn’t anything special. It doesn’t stand out. Nothing in it is a new concept. If anything, it kind of bored me. I’m disappointed by it. 

And I was really, really, really trying to love it.

I mean, who doesn’t want to love these characters? They’re funny. Brea is very likeable. Their relationships and interactions are cute. They’re just not unique in any way and the predictability of this series is wearing on me a little bit. I didn’t mind it so much the first book, but two books in a row is a bit much for me. I want some surprises. 

I’d also like more build up. Brea’s and Lochlan’s relationship doesn’t have any sense of realism to it. He seems like a rip-off of every other male love interest in the fantasy genre. In a manner of speaking, so does she. Their personalities reflect the personalities of a thousand other fantasy genre characters. Their relationship is much of the same, minus the passion many other books include. And they don’t do anything half as well as characters in other books do.  There is just no build up or explanation for their successes.

For example, Brea is supposed to have extremely powerful magic. She is a force to be reckoned with. Half of the first book, however, talks about how she will need to learn to control it… So she starts training and somehow can hold her own in a battle within a day? Yawn. Please give me a little bit more than that. I’m really not trying to be too critical, but it’s too lackluster for me. I need more as a reader. I want more. I deserve more if you expect me to spend hours reading your books. 

Thankfully, this series stopped trying to compare itself to A Court of Thorns and Roses. It just doesn’t measure up and I didn’t enjoy the constant reminders of that. I’m going to read the last book, but only because I’m a very quick reader. I don’t really know if it’s going to be worth the time all the same. Fae’s Defiance wasn’t. 

Back of the Book (Amazon.com)

Brea Robinson is a princess. 

Ridiculous, right? 

She’s left her small Ohio town behind for an exotic palace beyond her imagination, trading old jeans for ballgowns and a drunken father for two Fae mothers. 

Safe behind the power of Eldur, it’s easy to forget everything that brought her here. 

Like the two men who saved her that are now missing. 

The abducted princess who should be roaming the palace halls instead of her. 

The war coming for them all. 

As Brea comes to terms with this new world and the web of secrets surrounding her, she realizes she stands on the brink of losing everything she never knew she wanted. 

The mothers who would die for her. 

The Fae who loves her. 

And the people of her kingdom who trust her to save them. 

Only, Brea can barely save herself. With uncontrollable magic warring within her, it’s only a matter of time before she lets everyone down. 

When the worst happens and the person she loves most falls into the enemy’s hands, she has a choice to make. And if she bows to the enemy queen’s demands, will she remain a princess or become a sacrifice instead?

Book two in the Queens of the Fae Series, click now to be transported into a world where magic can’t always be controlled, kings fall, and betrayal is sometimes the biggest sacrifice of all. 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 19 – 22)

Have you guys ever watched the movie Shrek? Sometimes when I’m reading certain scenes in complicated books, I remember the conversation Donkey and Shrek have about onions. Onions have layers. Cakes have layers. Books have layers. It’s ridiculous, but as I kept reading chapter nineteen through twenty-two, I kept saying that over and over again. 

Because dang… The Hunger Games has layers. 

The amount of detail Suzanne Collins put into this book just continuously blows me away. All of the relationships are so complex and realistic that it shocks me. Katniss comes across as one hundred percent real to me. I find myself nervous during this series as if everything were actually happening. I’m continuously transported into this vibrant and dangerous world. It’s some of the best writing I’ve ever read and, even though it’s been critically acclaimed, I think it might deserve even more acclaim. 

Back of the Book (Amazon.com)

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Still, if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Chapter Nineteen Thoughts

My first question after the Gamemakers announce the rule change is always how long the people of the Capitol will be satisfied with the drama. How long will the idea of an ill-timed love affair placate them? Will it provide enough entertainment to hold off more deaths? Or will they go back to screaming for blood immediately? I’ve read the book before so I partially know the answer, but it’s still interesting to think about how viewers will react to budding love in a normally bloody, violent television show. 

It’s also strange to think about the fact that all these events are really just a show for them. They’re entertainment. The deaths of children are prime time entertainment. 

But I’m starting to understand the point of all that. 

Lives in the districts are gruesome. People spend their entire existence grueling away in horrible conditions with very, very little food. They need a distraction from how horrible everything is and hoping that children from their districts survive is a powerful one. They won’t think about rebellion if their focus is constantly drawn back to the lives of their children. If the Capitol is okay with killing children normally, what would they do to all of the children in all of the districts if they were to rebel again? 

And, of course, the games serve a purpose in the Capitol as well. Their lives may be more stable than the ones outside of the district, but it seems as if their every need is provided for. Very few people in the Capitol have to work very hard to take care of themselves. Their lives have very little meaning. But every year they can distract themselves with the games. The tributes are celebrities to them. They’re interesting. They provide something different than the monotony of their lives. Plus, it gives them insight into how much worse their lives could be. They can’t complain to the government of Panem about their problems because, in comparison to the districts, it could always be worse. 

But, spoiler alert for future chapters, why would they reverse this rule change after putting it into place? I get that President Snow probably wasn’t happy with the Gamemakers, but it still would make more sense to keep the game change in effect. Changing it after all the other tributes die comes across more as stupid and short-sighted than it does a well placed plot twist. They are a government organization running a show, not just an ordinary reality tv show. They shouldn’t make mistakes like that.  

Announcing a rule change after allowing the audience to fall in love with Peeta and Katniss would never inspire viewers, it would hurt them. No wonder the districts began to rebel so soon afterwards. The Gamemakers made it obvious that the government of Panem is dishonest and manipulative. People in the districts have nothing to hope for. Even love could not survive the Capitol’s cruelty. More blame should be put on their actions than Katniss’s for inciting the rebellion. If they had just allowed love to go on the subsequent rebellion may never have occurred. 

However, that’s almost besides the point at this stage in the series. Finding Peeta during this specific chapter is awesome. It’s just great. The fact that he could so thoroughly disguise himself in the mud is endlessly impressive to me. He’s probably one of my favorite characters. Of course, the fact that he’s so completely in love with Katniss does improve my opinion of him as well. It’s close to insane that she hasn’t realized the true depth of his emotions yet. Peeta isn’t faking his adoration of her for the audience’s behalf. He genuinely cares for her. 

But maybe she just doesn’t want to realize it. Falling in love is complicated at the best of times. Can you imagine doing so at a time when your life is being threatened regularly? Can you imagine trying to figure out your feelings for the only person you don’t have to kill on sight? Peeta is the only person Katniss has left to her in the games. 

And of course if you add in the fact that Gale can see everything she does… It’s just too complicated to figure out. They may not have a real romantic relationship (Gale and Katniss), but their relationship is deep enough to muddle the waters between her and Peeta. How can she tell how Gale feels about all of this? 

It’s all just very confusing. I can’t imagine dealing with such intricate relationships during the biggest fight for my life at twenty two. Katniss is six years younger than me. It sounds impossible.

What else is interesting in this chapter, though, is her relationship with Haymitch. I personally adore Haymitch. He is so insightful that it stuns me at times. It’s mind boggling that he completely understands Katniss’s perspective on things and that Katniss perfectly understands what he’s saying when he sends her items from her sponsors. They know how to motivate each other. I don’t personally have any relationship with that level of ease of communication. Do you?

Chapter Twenty Thoughts

Can you imagine having to take care of a sick individual while in the middle of fighting for your own life? I can’t even begin to comprehend how hard it must be. Peeta is essentially defenseless. He has blood poisoning. He might die before either of them encounter another tribute.

Meanwhile, Katniss has a million things to worry about. How will she take care of herself? How will she find food? How will she protect Peeta? How will she avoid other tributes? Should she find them? How will she keep the sponsors happy? What does Haymitch want from her? It must be so confusing to try to navigate all of the different problems facing her. My only real question is: How is Katniss not panicking 24/7? I would be. Sometimes even one problem is too much for me, let alone the dozens she has. 

Thankfully, Katniss is more well educated in regards to survival skills than I am. And by a little, I do mean a lot. She is more than capable of providing for herself in the first. Beyond her obvious talent with a bow and her knowledge of the woods, she also has a limited understanding of medical care. Prim and her mother’s job really help her care for Peeta this chapter. I wouldn’t have even known what blood poisoning is. 

In a manner of speaking, Katniss is made for the hunger games, more so than even the career tributes. She is capable of tackling attacks on behalf of other contestants, starvation, and wounds. Her areas of expertise are far reaching. Career tributes only really seem to focus on killing. As I’ve said before, that narrow-minded lesson plan is to their detriment. Why not teach them more survival skills than just skills at war?

While Katniss and Peeta struggle to survive this chapter, I’ve always wondered what the career tributes and other tributes are up to. The high heat during the day and low temperatures at night must create grueling conditions for them. I don’t know how they’re equipped to handle that, let alone everything else. I’ve always particularly wondered about what Foxface does. How is she staying alive? How does she keep warm? Where does she sleep? I’ve really wanted to know more about her all along. She is so insanely smart that it’s strange to think she’s living in the same conditions, but could be living a completely different life. Has she killed anyone? Or just avoided everyone? And what does she need so badly from the Cornucopia feast? Foxface seems to have the least needs out of all the contestants. Every time Katniss interacts with her she seems to be one step ahead of everyone else.

Chapter Twenty-One Thoughts

When the Gamemakers announce the feast available at the Cornucopia, it’s always implied to me that Katniss and Peeta’s love isn’t enough for the audience. They want blood. But now that I’m rereading it for the hundredth time, I know that’s not the case. They love Peeta and Katniss. They want to give them a fighting chance to survive. Without that medicine, Peeta would never have survived the games. 

Of course, it could be a mix of the two. I know if I was a viewer (and this was just a normal television show and not a real life event), I would be absolutely hooked. It’d feel like the ultimate cliffhanger to promise epic confrontations the next day. Who could possibly survive the inevitable clashes? Would my favorite tributes live or die? Would everyone in the games go or would some people refuse to budge from their locations? Could the Gamemakers force everyone to go? It would be so exciting. Considering the fact that if Katniss doesn’t make it back from the feast both tributes from District 12 will likely die, it’s a pretty high stakes event. Needless to say, all viewers would be tuning in even if it wasn’t mandatory to watch.

If it was real, I doubt I’d feel the same way. I’d probably be more nauseous than anything else. Imagine watching your children fight through such a horrible situation. How does Katniss’s mother and Prim feel? Are they capable of watching?

I’m also wondering if feasts and the like are a common occurrence for the Hunger Games. Do they always throw in plot devices to force interactions between tributes? Or do they usually stick to attacks to motivate tributes to come closer together, such as Katniss and the fire earlier on in the book? Is offering additional aid unique to the 74th annual Hunger Games? ‘

I’m unsure. Part of me thinks that it is. I can’t remember what Katniss learned from previous games now that I’m rereading it. Had Haymitch received help from the Gamemakers during his game? 

I always thought that the scenes leading up to the inevitable fight at dawn were horribly daunting. How can Katniss bear the wait? It’s so bitterly cold and miserable in the arena. She can’t risk falling asleep. Thinking about how Gale is reacting to it all just seems like it would make the night worse, not better. There is little to no comfort in thinking about someone who might be furious with you. The unknown of how Gale feels plus the terrifying hand she’s been dealt must make her more nervous than anything else. 

And then the next morning is just as gruesome. I remember being extremely worried for Katniss during her trek to the Cornucopia my first time reading The Hunger Games. A lot of classic dystopic fiction ends with the main character dying horribly or losing their entire identity. I didn’t know if a more modern version of dystopia would end the same way. Could Katniss die before the end of the book? Would the rest of the book be about Peeta, or worse one of the Career tributes? I had no idea how this would go. 

Plus, Katniss’s interaction with Clove is just all around disgusting. Clove is a heartless, vicious killer. She was raised to be absolutely lethal, and she is, but she takes such a sick and twisted pleasure out of it that it disgusts me. Clove genuinely looked forward to slowly killing Katniss. She wanted to provide a show for the audience. It is horrible to see such a young woman make light of a horrible death. The fact that she would wish such pain and suffering onto Katniss is sadistic. Clove is a sadistic, horrible child. She is exactly what Panem made her into. 

It’s surprising to me that the audience enjoys tributes like that. What is the benefit of having a cold-hearted victor? Why love a person who has no soul left to her? Without a doubt, Clove has sponsors that love her for her cruelty. A world that wants that is not a world I’d want to live in. 

However, the moment where Thresh spares Katniss’s life always gives me chills, especially in comparison to Clove’s heartlessness. the fact that he spared her life in exchange for how she took care of Rue is both tragic and powerful. The Hunger Games is not an event made for the merciful. It is meant for horrible, sadistic people like Clove. How do you think the audience reacted to Thresh’s sense of honor? Did they think he was a powerful and noble human being? Or did they think he was weak?

Chapter Twenty-Two Thoughts

Poor, poor Peeta. Can you imagine being knocked out by the girl you love and then waking up to her beside you covered in blood? The poor guy probably almost had a heart attack. Katniss really puts him through it with her dangerous endeavor. But, of course, the medicine did help him so it was probably worth it. 

However, this chapter really accentuates the differences between Katniss and Peeta. Peeta doesn’t understand Katniss. He doesn’t understand what drove Thresh to spare Katniss’s life. Katniss does. People who grow up without anything respond very strongly to anything they are given. Thresh didn’t want to owe Katniss for helping Rue so he spared her life in return. His debt to her is paid and he won’t have to live with it on his conscience.

But Thresh sparing Katniss isn’t necessarily a one hundred percent good thing. A life debt means a lot. It would be very hard for Katniss to kill Thresh after he spared her. Even a moment’s hesitation in the future could cost her her life. What if they were the last two standing? 

I also don’t understand how Katniss still doesn’t understand that Peeta’s feelings for her are real. His story about why he cares about her is so genuine. Is she purposefully being obstinate? Even when she starts to feel doubt about her insistence that Peeta’s feelings are for the sake of the audience, she pushes that thought away.

At the same time,  though, it must be next to impossible to think about love while participating in the Hunger Games. How do you know if your feelings are real in such a high-stress, falsified environment? Almost everything they do is to either stay alive or benefit the audience. How can you fall in love while fighting for your life?