Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 5 – 6)

I’m going to be perfectly honest: I did not feel like reading today. I’ve been feeling super groggy and bloated lately. I think it’s my allergies acting up, but allergy pills make me sleepy so that’s a no go from me. 

Thankfully, though, I was super content once I started reading again. I absolutely love the universe of The Hunger Games. It’s just so well thought out. Plus, I’ve been reading a lot of psychological thrillers and horror stories lately and, while the content of Catching Fire isn’t necessarily light reading material, it’s definitely a nice break from all of that. I spend less time looking for hints and clues at what this book is trying to say and more time appreciating it for what it is. It’s a different writing style and a different reading style.

Similarly, after watching that fiasco of a debate (Biden v. Trump), it’s been interesting to think about The Hunger Games versus real life. The debate felt more like an argument from a reality television show than a debate between two well educated world leaders. In fact, it didn’t really feel like two politicians talking to each other at all. There was no sense of decorum or mutual respect. They didn’t even answer half of the questions. 

It also makes me kind of feel like we’re headed more toward Panem-style policies where governments release more distractions from the real problems than actual information about the real problems. They’d rather make us all hate each other than have us turn our attention on them. They don’t want the people to be educated about what’s really happening in our world. Feeding us misinformation (or lies) is easier. That’s scary. 

Of course, I don’t think we’re exactly going to be feeding children to the frenzy like they do in The Hunger Games. That’s a whole new level of sick and twisted. But it sure doesn’t feel like our world leaders, even our president and ex vice president, really care about anyone. Even kids. They only care about themselves and their own interests. They only care about making the other person look bad.

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 Five Thoughts

How does President Snow explain away what just happened in District 11? The recently crowned victors of the Hunger Games, giving speeches and giving away parts of their prize money, saluted by a crowd of rebellious citizens who are then shot and killed… At least the first sections were caught on camera. The whole country saw it happen. How did President Snow spin that to his advantage? Is it possible? 

Personally, I don’t believe that it is. How could the President of Panem use rebellions against Panem to his advantage? Maybe I’m not politically savvy enough to consider all of the various options, though. Of course, I do think he made a mistake right from the beginning. His anger at Katniss and Peeta both surviving the games blinded him from the opportunities they presented to him. He could’ve made himself out as a merciful, kind president. He could have been universally loved instead of despised. 

At the very least, President Snow could have quelled the rebellions in a way that didn’t rely on the performance of a teenage girl in order to succeed. Expecting a grand display of love to placate very real frustrations was just him being willfully blind. How can telling people that Katniss wasn’t acting out of rebelliousness solve their actual problems? They’re not rebelling because Katniss and Peeta survived. They’re rebelling because their people are being maimed and killed, controlled, and starved. President Snow should have shown the people of Panem that he was willing to help them – even to a small degree. Punishing them obviously wasn’t working. 

And it isn’t working for him now either. More than ever I’m noticing how things are spiralling out of control for the leaders of Panem during the beginning of Catching Fire. Katniss is humiliating them without even trying. She is inspiring loyalty from the loyalless, and bravery from the formerly fearful. 

Again, if president Snow was smart, he would have capitalized on this degree of devotion. He would have tried to extend the same sentiments towards himself. Instead, he just treats it like a slight and punishes the entire nation for it. From a marketing standpoint, his treatment of Katniss and the other victors in future chapters is just plain old stupid. He should have bought into a growing trend instead of trying to crush it. 

It’s especially odd considering the fact that President Snow is probably well-read and educated. He likely knows the history of Panem as well as the history of the countries that came before it. Quelling rebellions has never completely worked. Even if they are temporarily delayed, change will eventually happen. Fire is catching.

Of course, I am worried, in real life, that the nature of rebellions and their degree of success may be changing. Like I’ve said in previous posts about this series, advancements in military technology make me worried about how the average citizen can protect their rights. How can we protect our rights if we can’t even protect ourselves? You can’t fight fire with nothing. 

There are real world implications for the offset in power between the people of Panem and the government. Compared to our own society, we have very little we can defend ourselves with. The comparison is not flattering for us. Considering that I tend to read dystopic fiction more than any other genre, that makes me a little bit anxious for how our government treats us and how they will treat us in the future. 

But that’s besides the point. Kind of.

Back to the book! I also find it strange, during this chapter of Catching Fire, how blind Effie is to everything. She is absolutely shocked at the sound of gunfire. She assumed that the guns being fired outside belonged to lunatics, not Peacekeepers. It made me wonder if they allowed citizens of the Capitol to buy guns or if she was just being silly. 

Of course, even if the people of the Capitol could buy guns, what would make her think that someone from the districts could? The people of District 11 can’t even feed themselves. Obviously they don’t have guns. Her thought process is absolutely ridiculous almost to the degree of being offensive. 

However, Effie was also surprised by the level of involvement the Peacekeepers had in daily life. Any interactions between her and them were met with offense and shock. Katniss and Peeta weren’t surprised because Peacekeepers were a normal part of their life. At first, I thought her surprise was due to the fact that there aren’t Peacekeepers in the Capitol, but that didn’t seem right. I remember Peacekeepers being in the Capitol during the first book. 

After thinking about it for a while, I think that this difference in understanding is more due to the fact that interactions between Peacekeepers and citizens of the Capitol have a different vibe than their interactions with people in the districts. There’s a different power exchange. People in the Capitol have rights; people in the districts don’t. 

Even then, it seemed outrageous that Effie was so shocked. She was a trainer for the Hunger Games. This isn’t a peaceful, loving event that rewards compliance. It’s a punishment that kills children to reinforce the power of the Capitol. Did she really think that the people of the twelve districts willingly sent their children to be publicly killed off? There has to be some level of a police force and violence in order to get the general public to comply with such a horrible mandate.

It’s crazy how naive the people of the Capitol are encouraged to be. They don’t understand anything about how hard life is in the districts. Effie’s reactions to these things are almost shameful if you compare her to Katniss. Effie is supposed to be the adult out of the two of them. Katniss is a child. And, yet, Katniss better understands the world around her and how it treats people.

Katniss also better understands the actual people themselves. That could be part of the reason why Panem loves her. She understands their struggles. I’ve never completely forgiven Effie for how she reacted to Katniss and Peeta’s table manners in the first book. She was extremely impressed that they knew how to eat without their hands. She described her previous tributes as savages and looked down on them, even after their brutal deaths. Katniss knew that both of the previous tributes hadn’t had enough food a day in their life. Can you imagine judging a starving child for how they eat?

Honestly, Effie’s behavior really disgusts me. I know she doesn’t get it because she never lived it, but you have to give other people some degree of respect. The fact that she can look on an obviously starved child and pass negative judgements on them is disgusting.

But it isn’t without its realism. The same thing happens all the time in the real world. I was watching a Tik Tok video the other day about a challenge rich kids do. In these videos, they have ten fingers up and they put them down every time they have a privilege someone else does. It’s almost like “never have I ever,” but with things like “put a finger down if you vacation in Aspen every wing” or “put a finger down if your dad bought you a million dollar car at sixteen.” 

For someone who grew up struggling, trends like this really bother me. How can you brag about how much better you have it than everyone else? Do you know that other people, people your age, are really struggling right now? Do you know that millions of people don’t go to bed with enough food in their stomach while you brag about having an expensive car and a paid for life? It’s insane. It’s disrespectful. It’s out of touch. 

Plus, it’s particularly annoying that these same kids probably read The Hunger Games and agreed that Effie was annoying. How can she judge a starving child? But then they turn around and brag about their possessions. How hypocritical can you get?

Anyways, a couple of pages into this chapter, Katniss starts to explain to Peeta the severity of their problems. He had no idea that President Snow had met with her. She explains that the President had threatened her and her family if she didn’t make the entire country, including himself, believe that she loves Peeta. Him giving the tributes of District 11’s families money was a mistake. They need to be trying to quell rebellions, not hand them a torch. 

Her explanation to him and his reaction always, always, always makes me cringe. Can you imagine having to spell it out for someone, word for word, that your affection for them is an act? Or, worse, that you’re being forced into it? Yikes. Considering that Peeta’s feelings for Katniss are real, it must hurt him a lot to hear that. 

Emotional pain, in my opinion, is a very physical thing. It burns straight up the center of my chest. I get dizzy. My wrists and ankles get very, very sore. It’s really weird and really painful. I feel so bad for Peeta that he has to feel that type of pain. I can’t really imagine being in his mind. 

Speaking of, does anyone else wish that Suzanne Collins would rewrite The Hunger Games from Peeta’s perspective? That book would be amazing! Why did we get Midnight Sun from Stephanie Meyer and not a remake of The Hunger Games

I would love it. 

I would also love to hear more about Haymitch’s perspective on things. I adore Haymitch. But everything in his life is always kind of bad. He had to compete in the games during a year where double the normal amount of tributes were involved. He had to spend years training tributes just for them all to die. He had his entire family killed off. Can you imagine being so alone for so long? Haymitch has no one.

No wonder he’s an alcoholic. We’re lucky he’s survived this long.

Chapter Six Thoughts

After Peeta proposes to Katniss during one of their many attempts to convince the nation that they’re genuinely in love, President Snow pays them a visit to congratulate them. During this visit, he communicates to Katniss that she didn’t do enough. The nation isn’t convinced. He isn’t convinced.

But to be honest that’s such BS. What did he expect them to do? The idea of placating an entire nation with a love story is lunacy. The districts are rebelling because of what Panem is doing to them. Katniss may have helped inspire them to rebel, but how did President Snow expect a story to calm them down? They’re angry because they have real problems that haven’t been addressed. Love just isn’t enough. The entire idea was ridiculous. 

I also kind of think that the idea of Katniss and Peeta getting married is ridiculous too. Aren’t they a little bit young to get married? Or do people in the districts really get married at sixteen/seventeen? I thought most citizens were in school until eighteen and then joined the workforce, or sometimes went to school while working until they turned eighteen. I didn’t notice any mentions of young marriages so far. 

It could be normal, though. From what I can tell, the life expectancy in the districts is short. People live in dangerous, horrible conditions and don’t get enough food. I’m sure many people die young. They’d have to marry young as a result.

It’s hard to figure out for sure though.

And this chapter didn’t help me figure it out. A lot of it went into detail about the crazy party President Snow threw in honor of Katniss and Peeta. While he may be a sadistic freak, his parties sound like a great time. I want to try all of the different foods they have. They sound delicious.

However, how the Capitol acts during these parties do really turn me off to them. I don’t think I could handle the idea of throwing up just to keep eating. It is partying to excess and kind of reminds me of the crazy parties from True Blood when the Maenad was around. Children in District 12 starve to death while the people of the Capitol eat too much food and vomit it back up. They force themselves to throw up just so they can eat more.

And if that isn’t a commentary on the excesses of our own society… I don’t know what is. Our own excesses really disgust me at times too. I won’t go into that too much right now though. 

Learning about Katniss’s friendship with Madge always helps to distract me from being fully disgusted with Panem in general. It always made me sad earlier in the series that her only friendship was with Gale. Everyone needs friends. Only having one must be lonely. 

That distraction does get pushed aside by the end of the chapter, however. Katniss hearing about the ongoing uprising always makes my stomach turn. What will President Snow do to her for failing? 

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 3 – 4)

Going back and forth between Iain Reid’s deeply philosophical novels (Foe and I’m Thinking of Ending Things) and Catching Fire sounds more difficult than it probably is. These books seem so completely different. But I’m starting to notice a trend in the books I enjoy the most. They all make me question things about my society and myself.

Having just read Foe (twice!) it’s more fresh in my mind during this section of reading Catching Fire. It’s hard to imagine that such distinctly different dystopic worlds both exist in the minds of authors. The things they come up with can be unbelievable! I know they’re written by different authors (duh), but Iain Reid’s got me caught up in pondering the human mind and honestly… the things we can think up are out of this world.

To be honest, I’m constantly blown away by Suzanne Collin’s world. The universe of The Hunger Games series is just so well thought out. Every small detail feels important and realistic. No wonder it’s such a bestseller!

But, of course, I’ve talked about that before. Why don’t we talk about something new?

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 Three Thoughts

It’s hard to believe that Katniss thinks it’s going to be difficult to convince people she’s in love with Peeta. Peeta is a very lovable guy. If anything, she should be more worried about not actually falling in love with him. (Ha ha.)

But of course Katniss is more private with her emotions than President Snow would like her to be. Even if she were completely in love with Peeta, it could be hard for her to publicly express that emotion. Katniss is more worried about survival than her feelings. She can come across as combative.

And it must be extra hard to know how to present yourself as in love when no one in your universe focuses on love. It’s not like there’s any stories of great romance in Panem. Katniss and Peeta are utterly unique. All of their popular media focuses more on violence than love. Even familial love or love of your country is deprioritized in comparison to fear, blood, and death. 

I wonder if Katniss has even read about a great romance. Do children in Panem schools learn about love? Do they read Shakespeare? Or do they just learn what they need to know to perform their district’s work? It’s hard to say it’d be worthwhile to teach a miner about classic literature, not if you don’t prioritize them as people and only see them as production quotas.

I find it somewhat strange that President Snow doesn’t see that he could’ve used Katniss and Peeta to his benefit, however. Panem constantly wants to boast the strengths of the Capitol in comparison to the districts. Why do they never boast the mercy of the Capitol? Or the generosity? Fear is a great tool to unite a country. Love is far better. Love prevents rebellions. If he had used this moment properly, the moment where Katniss and Peeta were spared a horrible death, he could have been the most beloved president in Panem history. Instead, he’s the one who ruled during the beginning of the uprisings. A huge mistake on his behalf. 

The timing of the Quarter Quell is perhaps unfortunate for his political career as well. Following Katniss and Peeta’s games, there must be a lot of pressure to make the Quarter Quell exciting. You would almost wish that their games had occurred during a Quarter Quell originally. He could have made the survival of dual victors into something that sounded intentional, not accidental. 

Of course, the way he handles the Quarter Quells is also a mistake. But we’ll get into that later.

When Katniss is getting made over by her stylist team this chapter, I’ve always admired the fact that she understood she may have been more like them had she been raised in the Capitol as well. Compared to people in the districts, people in the Capitol live a life of ease and constant luxury. They’re spoiled. They act in a shallow manner and enjoy the deaths they see take place during the annual Hunger Games. They delight in them, actually. But it’s hard to say you wouldn’t be just like them if you were raised to be exactly like them. 

Thankfully, all these dark thoughts are interrupted by a good amount of comedic relief: Katniss’s talent. The idea of her designing clothes is laughable. Can you imagine her even trying to do so? I think it’d make her downright furious to spend her time doing so.

However, her anger at designing clothes would never compare to how she must have felt being told that she would love Peeta for the rest of her life. She would always be watched. Forever. Can you imagine being forced to love someone? I can’t. I know it happens in the real world, but it sounds next to impossible. Love just can’t be forced. It has to come naturally. Perhaps it can emerge in an arranged relationship, but it doesn’t sound easy.

Chapter Four Thoughts

The idea of Katniss being forced to marry Peeta is one thing. It’s horrible, but not completely awful. Peeta is a super nice genuine person. He loves her. She could do worse.

But the idea that Panem could force her to have children is disgusting to me. Her body should belong to herself. The government shouldn’t be able to take that right from her. It’s disgusting to think about, particularly because women have been reduced to bearing children they don’t want for centuries. Having it happen to Katniss would be dreadful. 

And it would be particularly bad because the Capitol rigs the drawings for the annual Hunger Games so that the children of victors compete more often than not. Katniss and Peeta’s children would be practically guaranteed to have to compete. The child of two victors? Imagine the drama. 

It’s horrible.

Everything about The Hunger Games universe though is awful. I have a particular distaste for the Victory Tour. The idea of flaunting the victor in front of the families of the dead children is so horrible. It must be absolutely traumatizing. It’s even worse that the Capitol forces the family to celebrate the victor’s win. 

Arriving at District 11 is daunting for Katniss and for the reader. Rue was from District 11. How will they react to seeing Katniss, her biggest ally in the games? Will anyone comment on the fact that Thresh spared Katniss’s life? Do they love her? Or do they hate her? The first time I read Catching Fire I was more caught up in being nervous over this event than spending my time looking at any of the small details. 

But now that I’ve read this book so many times it’s the small details that blow me away. District 11 is HUGE compared to District 12. There are thousands of people. Katniss and Peeta had no idea the sheer size of the district. In part, this feels unfair. How can a small district, like 12, be expected to provide the same number of tributes (1) as such a large district? Their children have a far higher chance of being forced into the Hunger Games than a child from another district. But it is also unfair that a larger district requires more direct control from Peacekeepers. They have fewer freedoms than people in a smaller district. Is it worth dying to live with some level of freedom?

Viewing Rue’s family makes me feel like it is. If anything, these are people who deserved to fly free. They don’t deserve to spend their lives in tightly controlled cages, subject to the whims of selfish and cruel people, used as a plot device to control a nation. They are humans. They are a family. They deserve so much better. How can anyone in the Capitol look at them and not think of the injustices they have done?

At least Peeta can. His gift to the families of Rue and Thresh has never been done before. No previous victor has given away part of their earnings. The fact that he wants to give away prize money to anyone, especially anyone outside of his district, is utterly remarkable. 

It’s also exactly what the Capitol discourages. They do not want any signs of unity between the districts. In my opinion, this lack of nationalism is partially to their detriment, but I understand it is meant to dissuade the districts from seeing each other as allies. If everyone is the enemy of everyone else, no one can stand up to the power of Panem. 

Similarly enough, I don’t believe any victor has ever addressed another district like how Katniss did. Has anyone ever shown that they are remorseful over the deaths of other tributes? Has anyone ever thanked another district for their own sacrifices? I don’t think so. The Capitol wants victors to be boastful. They want their victors to rub it in the faces of others that they have won. They don’t want them to show that they’re sad that these deaths occured. 

Probably because it makes them look bad. Definitely because it makes them look bad. Who am I kidding? The Capitol wants to look powerful and strong, not like a bunch of power-crazy jerks who kill kids for the heck of it. 

District 11 giving Katniss the three finger salute gives me chills every single time I read this book. It’s a powerful moment. The idea of giving a victor a very public salute is treasonous, but they all do it anyways. They show her a huge sign of respect and love without fear for the consequences. Considering how harsh their district is, they had to have known the risks. They had to have known what the Peacekeepers would do to them.

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.

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 (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. 

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? 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 16 – 18)

The Hunger Games makes me think about how desentized we are to violence due to the sheer amount of it in popular media. Seeing violence on television is nothing. It is almost never surprising. Half the time it doesn’t even come across as gruesome. How similar are we to the people of The Capitol? Would we still watch shows with violence in them, fully knowing that the violence is real? 

Of course, right now, sporting events display violence. But what would our limits be? If it was legal, would we be alright with watching deaths occur? Could we ever return to enjoy gladiator style fights? Would we only be okay with it if it were willing adults or would that still be too far? It’s difficult to think about, but what is the future of a world where violent behaviors are normalized? Does it look like this one? 

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.

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 Sixteen Thoughts

It is strange to think that the career tributes biggest weakness is their ability to feed themselves. You’d think that during their years of training they would have spent more time learning survival skills, not just fighting skills, especially if in years past it is one of the few things that have caused a career tribute not to win. Why not focus on any hunting or trapping skills? Why not learn which berries to pick? If your entire life is meant to be spent as a tribute or a victor, you’d think you’d want to hone as many skills as possible.

When Katniss goes to rid the career tributes of their food, it is pure luck that Foxface is there, raiding their supplies. I don’t know if she would have fully figured out how they protect their food if she had not seen the other tribute weaving between the mines. However, given how clever Foxface is, I wonder why she didn’t poison the career tributes’ food supplies. It would have been the easiest way to take them out of the games. Maybe she didn’t want to risk her own access to food or maybe, considering future events, she doesn’t know anything about poison.

Katniss’s idea to destroy the career tributes supplies works just as well, but kills no one. However, it also presents the least amount of risk for herself. She doesn’t know what pattern to follow when evading the mines. And of course starvation could very well kill all players in the game. 

Chapter Seventeen Thoughts

Watching the death of the boy from District 3 is horrible. Cato kills him in seconds, not minutes. His is the first real death we’ve seen start to finish and it’s just awful to think about. How does Katniss feel, watching the death of another child? How will this play a role in her nightmares to come? The things The Capitol justifies being done to kids is retched. 

But it also brings Katniss one step closer to victory. Every death besides her own brings her closer to life outside of the games. Do the people watching the games on her behalf feel the same way? Is there some sick positivity they feel at seeing these children be killed, knowing that they’re not Katniss?

The Capitol plays the worst types of mind games with its people in this regard. Having them watch for and root for the deaths of children from other districts every year is disgusting. They are one nation, but encouraged to be separate people. There is no sense of nationalism. There is no pride to be a part of Panem. There is only oppression and death and violence. 

To follow it up with the death of Rue is particularly harsh. Her death feels like the end of innocence for Katniss. There is nothing childlike left in her, no sense of purity. It has all been lost to the games. 

Chapter Eighteen Thoughts

Katniss’s first kill in the Hunger Games pales in comparison to the importance of Rue’s death. Watching Rue die comes across as slow and incredibly painful, even though it is not a very long process. Katniss singing her to death adds a melancholy element to the scene where it seems as if all hope has been lost. Panem is without a heart if it enjoys this horrible death. Rue deserved better.

However, reading this scene now that I’ve reread the Hunger Games series multiple times is what made me realize that Katniss is not the only Mockingjay of Panem. She may not even be the most important one. Her situations may be unique and inspiring, but without a spark they would have just been kindling for the rebellion. Even Peeta’s love for Katniss might not have taken root without the death of Katniss’s most valuable ally, Rue. I don’t think The Capitol would ever have “changed the rules” if Rue hadn’t died, leaving Katniss alone.

The revolution didn’t start with Katniss. It started with Rue, right down to the very first moment when Katniss decided to ally with the small girl. They formed the first real relationship of all the Hunger Games where it would have been next to impossible for one to kill the other. They would never betray each other or leave each other. Their bond was sisterly and protective. Even the audience in The Capitol would hate to see them turn on each other. 

Rue was the first Mockingjay. She was a symbol of the death of purity and of hope for the nation. A small child, killed by another child as entertainment for adults, buried in flowers by a girl who loved her. The death of Rue is the real spark for the rebellion that follows. It is the spark that gives Katniss a true understanding of what she is fighting for and against. Panem is cruel. Rue deserved better.

It’s a powerful moment and it’s the reason why Katniss went on to help change the world. It also had lasting implications for the rest of the book. First off, Katniss clearly calls out The Capitol for finding pleasure in the death of children by burying Rue. Tributes don’t bury other tributes in the Hunger Games. They leave their bodies behind. They don’t show the dead respect, or love, or kindness. Katniss made it prevalent that that was wrong. It is immoral. 

And then, Rue’s district sends Katniss bread out of respect for her having a funeral for Rue. No district has ever sent a tribute from another district supplies. They don’t sponsor other districts. It is the first sign of mutual respect between districts. Katniss cared about a young girl from another district and they returned the favor by caring for her. 

It culminates when Thresh spares Katniss’s life later on in the series. He wants to return the favor of her helping Rue survive. That has either never happened in the games or it is extremely rare. Why would a tribute want to spare the life of another? Sparing her life is directly against everything the games stand for. 

I wonder how the people of The Capitol reacted to all of this. Did they see an issue with their behavior? Did it call attention to the unnecessary violence? Or did they react positively, thinking that this season of the Hunger Games was the height of all drama? Nothing could compare to the theater of these intense bonds. They probably viewed the burial as a general kindness, the bread as unimportant, and Thresh’s actions in sparring Katniss as a moment of weakness. 

Maybe the people of The Capitol did realize how shallow their reasons were for this death because of the next event that occurs in The Hunger Games. A rule change meant, surely, to distract them from the death of Rue and Katniss’s kindness. Two victors can win this round of the games as long as they come from the same district. Perhaps this was also meant to be a reminder to all twelve districts that you should remain loyal only to your district. The reasons why the government of Panem do anything are almost always complex.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 12 – 15)

The world of The Hunger Games is so complex that sometimes it’s hard to think about. The advanced technology to the complicated social system to the dynamic relationships between characters… everything is just absolutely littered with small details. Even something small, like tracker jackers, have a complete background story. It’s a small wonder that Suzanne Collins managed to create such a complete world on her own. Can you imagine creating a universe like the one Katniss lives in?

And can you imagine living in it? Life in the twelve districts sounds unbelievably hard. You spend your entire life working extremely hard for very little reward. Starvation, disease, and danger surround you. Of course, life in The Capitol sounds great. But even that doesn’t come without its own costs. People of The Capitol are shallow, and even they are not without their own dangers. Treason seems to be punished the same way no matter what district you’re in.

Yet, they’re never subjected to the Hunger Games like the people of the district were. I found myself wondering, between chapters, what determined who got to live in The Capitol when Panem was first created. Were famous celebrities moved there? Or just important government figures? Who decided who got to live a life of luxury and who had to toil in the fields? Was it random? Somehow I doubt it.

Of course, none of this is entirely related to the next few chapters I’m rereading. It’s just what I’ve been thinking about in between chapters. It’s crazy to think about the amount of ideas and questions you can have relating to this one story. Collins really outdid herself.

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.

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 Twelve Thoughts

Why did Peeta involve himself in the bloodbath at the Cornucopia? I don’t remember the full story of why he got involved with the career tributes. I know they wanted to use him to get to Katniss, but I don’t remember how they got to the point of using him. Was he too slow to escape them? Did they specifically target him after Katniss left? I don’t recall. 

Either way, it doesn’t seem like it benefitted him in any way. When Katniss views him for the first time in the arena, he is bruised and bloody. He limps. Did they maim him to keep him from escaping? And what secrets has he told them? Obviously they don’t yet know what skill Katniss is hiding. Her talent with a bow is still secret to everyone but Peeta. Even the audience doesn’t know.

I imagine watching this on tv sometimes and, even though it’s horrible, I would be absolutely hooked. I would have to watch it even if my family members were involved. How else would I know if they survived each day? It would be horrible and traumatizing, but addicting. 

Having to think about sponsors while competing in the game adds an extra level of stress to competing, I’m sure. Can you imagine having every move you make analyzed by an audience? While trying to fight for your life? The process comes across as daunting. Even as Katniss tries to provide herself with food and water, she’s thinking about how the audience will perceive her actions. She wants sponsors. She wants to show people she can take care of herself. 

Of course, in the process of doing so it becomes very obvious that she has hunting experience. It is obvious that Katniss breaks The Capitol’s laws. Why is their punishment for her doing so? How do they think she learned her hunting skills? And how are tributes from other regions allowed to hone their skills with weapons when those from District 12 are not? It is all very unfair.

The way Haymitch and Katniss communicate almost makes up for how unfair it is. While her district may have failed her in training for the games, it did provide her with a mentor that she perfectly understands. Their level of communication is close to perfect. They always understand each other. But then that advantage is almost immediately lost when the Gamemakers send a wall of fire to attack Katniss. It never ends! 

Chapter Thirteen Thoughts

The way Gamemakers sent tributes up to fail is unbelievable. They plunge children into an arena with the intent of having them kill each other. They give them weapons and tools. They force them to survive in extreme conditions. And, then, they add extra attacks just for the fun of it. Wild dogs and machine made fires being just a few. How do the Gamemakers live with themselves for making those conditions worse? They are killing children and it does not matter at all to them. 

And that makes me wonder how many Gamemakers have children of their own. Do they recognize the fact that what they are doing is truly evil? That they are killing human children just to prove a point and provide their nation with entertainment? It’s horrible. They would never do what they’re doing to the children of The Capitol. 

But maybe they should have. (Spoiler Alert for Catching Fire coming up) Maybe the 75th Hunger Game should have only used children from The Capitol instead of using previous victors. It would have shown people in the twelve districts that the citizens of the The Capitol were their equals instead of their masters. It probably would have helped quell future rebellions. I wonder if anyone considered that to be an option. Probably not considering their deeply rooted superiority complex. 

Chapter Fourteen Thoughts

Finding the tracker jackers is what is really the game changer for Katniss in the games. It’s the first moment where she goes from running from threats to actually attacking them head-on. It’s also the moment that allows her to get her hands on a bow and arrow.

And, of course, the actual tracker jackers themselves just reiterate the intensity of her world. They are unbelievable scientific creations. Their current existence is only meant to reinforce the strength of the Capitol in comparison to the weaknesses of the districts. Only people in the twelve districts have to worry about tracker jackers finding them and killing them. 

Chapter Fifteen Thoughts

Okay, there wasn’t a lot for me to talk about during the last chapter. I think that was my shortest entry ever. But how much can you really talk about tracker jackers? They’re interesting, but not entirely the point of the chapter. The point of the chapter was the bow. 

How exciting everything is now that Katniss has a bow in her hands! It’s the biggest game changer of the book so far. But how lucky she was that no one found her while she was knocked out. It would have been the easiest kill of the games. 

The beginning of her alliance with Rue is also a game changer. Rue impresses me more than almost everyone else in the series. She is so young and so small, but has been a capable survivor to date. Her talent for soaring through the trees is insane. Plus, her knowledge on medical treatments helped save Katniss or, at least, prevent her from future pain. I wonder how Katniss’s sponsors reacted to her allying herself with Rue. Did they think it was a moment of weakness or were they impressed that she cared about Rue? Did they support Katniss because they liked the more selfless parts of her, or just because she scored an eleven? It’s hard to tell.

 I wonder if it ever really occurred to Katniss that, if her alliance with Rue caused them to be the last two survivors, she may have to be the one to kill Rue. I personally don’t think she’d be able to do it. Rue reminds her too much of Prim. But what if they had been the last two standing? What do you think would have happened? I think it would come down to the Gamemakers to kill someone. They probably would have sent attack after attack against both of them until someone died. 

Learning about other districts this chapter was also thought-provoking. The district where Rue is from is responsible for growing food for all twelve districts. However, they’re not allowed to eat the crops. Anyone who is caught doing so is whipped. Can you imagine feeling hungry all the time, surrounded on all sides by plenty of food? Their role in the districts sounds almost unbearable. At least in District 12 people won’t have to stare at food they can’t eat while they slowly starve to death. That sounds like agony.

Of course, this is all information The Capitol prevents the districts from learning about each other. Do you think that even citizens of The Capitol know about conditions throughout the districts? I feel like everyone is prevented from learning about each other. They don’t want people to feel sympathetic for each other. They want them to feel resentment towards each other. 

Maybe that’s the reason why Effie is so dismayed by the lack of table manners from previous tributes. She might not even know that the people of District 12 are starved. Effie probably just assumes it’s fashionable for them to be so skinny, not something forced upon them. I’m not sure how reasonable that is to assume though. It is very apparent that District 12 is impoverished. But it is possible.

Watching Rue and Katniss interact for the rest of the chapter almost made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. If they weren’t in the games, their bond would be wholesome. Of course, they’re in the games though and it’s more of alliance than anything else. Yet, it’s nice to see that they care about and trust each other from early on. When Katniss starts planning to attack the career tributes, my warm and fuzzy feelings immediately dissipate. I’ve always thought she was insane to attack the careers head on. Does she want to die?

But it’s also genius. You can’t have the Hunger Games without hunger. 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 9 – 11)

I’ve been comparing The Hunger Games to the new Netflix original Cuties a lot these past few days. Possibly because I’ve been reading about both of them a lot. They’re on my mind. A lot of people are having very, very strong reactions to Cuties because it comes across as oversexualizing young girls and the images it displays are quite disturbing. However, that’s kind of the point of the movie. It’s trying to make a statement about how the sexualization of women in society can bleed into young girls’ sense of self worth and their actions to their detriment. It’s trying to call attention to what the director believes is a problem in society. The current role models for girls are overly sexual and teach girls to act in the same way. They don’t benefit these girls. Real harm can be done when children try to act like adults. It’s just taking that concept way too far. I haven’t watched the movie because of how gross and degrading many of the clips I’ve seen from it are.

I’m currently rereading The Hunger Games right now and I feel like there’s some ties between what I know about Cuties and The Hunger Games. Both are basically entertainment gone too far. There seems to be no limit for the directors of the games or the movie. Even children are subject to their advances. It’s gross and it’s degrading. But is this kind of a real-world example of what happens in The Hunger Games. People are so starved for entertainment that almost anything seems reasonable for release. Thankfully, as a society, we aren’t embracing Cuties like The Capitol embraces the Hunger Games. 

I also wonder if Panem slowly built up to releasing The Hunger Games by releasing similarly violent clips earlier on. I understand the games were meant to quell future rebellions, but what did the media look prior to the rebellions that made the television of the deaths of children seem like a reasonable option? Was it a slow build-up like in the case of rampant oversexualization of women and children? Or was it a sudden, jarring moment in popular media? And how did other countries react to it? There’s so much that we just don’t know about The Hunger Games universe that I’m absolutely dying to learn more about. Maybe some of my questions will be answered in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. 

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.

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 Nine Thoughts

Watching Katniss interact with Effie and Haymitch is always a welcome source of humor in this chapter. Waiting for the games to begin is always frightening. You wait with trepidation to see what the arena will be like, whether or not Katniss will have access to a bow and arrow, how everything will go. Some comedic relief is always welcome when the suspense gets to be too much. Plus, I adore Haymitch. I can’t help it. He’s so grumpy and I love it. 

And of course I always wonder what he would have done if he had gotten Gale to work with instead of Katniss. Katniss is unable to cultivate any fake personality. She cannot be defined as witty, funny, sexy, or really anything else. She is just herself. I wonder if he would have played up on her hatred for The Capitol and what the games stand for if she had been male. I think Gale’s hatred would have been what makes him stand out, but people don’t enjoy those traits on behalf of a girl. It’s not sexy for a woman to be angry and hateful. Only men can play into that role, even in our media.

Thankfully, however, Cinna has a better view of Katniss than Haymitch does. She doesn’t need to be any of those things; she just needs to be herself. Dressed in her radiant gown and giving the audience honest answers should be enough. Her “role” in the games could just be her honest self. And I love that. He believes in her so much that it reminds the reader over and over again about how impressive Katniss is. She is the girl who sacrificed herself to save her sister. She is genuine. She is the girl on fire. 

At the beginning of her interviews, I also found her description of the difference in appearance between members of The Capitol and people in her district interesting. They prioritize different things physically. In District 12, it is an achievement to look old. So many people die young that the elderly are appreciated and respected. They are survivors. Weighing more is a sign that they can afford to eat well and is therefore better. Members of The Capitol try their best to look younger and thinner. 

It is very comparable to the society I live in where many people try to stay young and thin forever. We have constant access to food and healthcare. Looking old or plump isn’t a good thing. I wonder if people in the past appreciated heavier set bodies and elderly people more than we do now. Obviously we had closer familial ties in the past, but I bet that feeling of respect extended into what we prioritized in physical appearances.

When Rue comes out, looking so completely innocent, it makes me think about what would have happened had she and Katniss been the last remaining tributes. I don’t think Katniss would ever be able to bring herself to kill someone who reminds her so much of her sister. I don’t know if Rue would be capable of killing Katniss. I wonder if they would have separated and allowed the Gamemakers to eventually decide who wins. Maybe the Gamemakers would have had to bombard them with constant attacks in order to end one of their lives. Had something similar ever happened in previous games? Had anyone ever refused to kill another person before?

Chapter Ten Thoughts

Peeta gives me chills when he tells the audience that he has feelings for Katniss every single time I read the end of chapter nine. There is something about his confession that just blows me away. It’s definitely similar to how the audience felt about it. It just comes across as so brave to confess to something that can be used against you. It also benefits Katniss more than himself. Does he plan on her winning? Has he already accepted his own demise? I think so. Peeta doesn’t believe he can win. 

Of course, it is also admirable that Peeta would rather lose as himself than win acting as someone else. He doesn’t want the games to change him as a person. Do you think people in The Capitol ever think about the mental consequences of the games? Does it occur to them that such intense violence changes a person, usually for the worse? They sometimes see the results – such as with Haymitch’s drinking – but it seems like they usually blame something else for those harmful behaviors. They ignore the more dire consequences. It’s despicable. 

But we kind of do the same with real world celebrities. Fame of any form can have real negative consequences and yet most of those negative consequences are brushed under the rug. I wish we could all be more open and honest about the problems that plague us. It would help us all get the help we need. Thankfully we are seeing positive changes in our overall society regarding these mental issues and addiction issues. It seems like people are starting to get help for them. They’re being more honest with their fans. I wonder if books like The Hunger Games play a role in that. They make it so obvious that everyone has issues, particularly if they’re being watched 24/7. 

Chapter Eleven thoughts

The beginning of the 17th annual Hunger Game. It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The excitement, the drama, the intrigue, the suspense. It always makes me feel nervous, even when I know the ending of this book. How can Katniss possibly survive this? She is being pitted against dozens of other competitors. She is in unfamiliar territory. She is terrified. 

And I’m always terrified right alongside her. 

But, unlike myself, Katniss is equipped to handle the stress. During the sixty seconds when the tributes wait for the games to truly begin, she is already making plans to escape the Cornucopia. Her excitement at the sight of the bow always brings me a sense of foolish relief. She has to survive if there’s a bow there ready for her. 

At the same time, you know that she won’t be able to get it. Suzanne Collins likes to build suspense too much for that. Plus, it would be stupid to head straight for the heart of the Cornucopia. Katniss would likely die in the process. We can’t have the book end too soon! It would also be a much, much darker story if the main character died. It would be more reminiscent of classic dystopic fiction where the main character either dies or loses themselves to the overbearing, corrupt governmental system.

When another tribute lights a fire nearby to where Katniss is strapped to a tree, it always made me wonder about what other mentors were like. Did no one warn the girl? Fire is an easy way to give away your precise location. Did no one care to explain that to her? Or was she just so scared and cold that she forgot? I’ve always wanted to learn more about the other tributes. It is so horrible that The Capitol is so willing to throw away their lives. Some are even trained all their life just to die. They all had background stories and lives. How could their government just condemn them to death? 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 7 – 8)

I found myself wondering these past few chapters what a different version of The Hunger Games would look like. What if Gale and Katniss were the ones competing instead of Gale and Peeta? What if Prim had actually gone to the games? What would the reactions of other characters if they had been plunged into The Capitol?

Plus, it’s interesting to imagine what type of persona they would have cultivated throughout the games. Would Gale play off on his distrust for others? Would the stylists use Prim’s purity to gain her fans? How would the people of The Capitol react to them? Would anyone feel any sense of compassion for these children being sent off to what is essentially war?

It doesn’t seem like they would care at all. It’s just a television show to them.

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.


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 Seven Thoughts

Learning about how adept Katniss is with a bow and arrow never really shocks me, but sometimes I feel like it should. It is utterly remarkable that she is so gifted. I get that it’s mostly due to her attempts to stay alive, but it’s still a natural gift. Sometimes I wish I was gifted in the same manner. Her abilities come across as almost supernatural. However, I’m not sure I would like to be so gifted in archery. I prefer things like reading and writing, or drawing. Of course, practice makes perfect. Maybe one day I’ll be so gifted at writing that it will seem superhuman. What do you wish you were extremely talented at doing?

Yet, I don’t think I ever remembered Katniss as particularly petite. Maybe the movie is blurring my memory. A lot of the scenes describe her as much smaller than most of her competition. It puts her at a disadvantage to a degree. But she is better fed than many of the others are and that gives her more strength. 

Seeing the sheer amount of underfed tributes did make me wonder during this chapter what the point was in providing these people with an education. If you aren’t going to care for your citizens, why bother to teach them? The priorities of Panem sometimes confuse me. They seem to have no regard for human life throughout the twelve districts, but they will provide an education for their children. Weird.

Anyways, it always did seem to me that Haymitch was super talented as well. As readers we don’t tend to dismiss him as the same blubbering drunk almost everyone in the book does. We know better than that. But how many of us really acknowledge how intelligent he is? Haymitch is extremely smart and understands The Hunger Games better than almost every one. Even past victors seem to lack the complete understanding he has of how to gain an edge. He is very sly and cunning. I wonder what he would have been like if he had never been entered into the games. Would he be so smart? Perhaps he would be even more sly and intelligent. After all, he wouldn’t rely on alcohol to numb his mind quite so often.

Most of this chapter is interesting but not necessarily worth remarking on. I’d say it comes across as a filler chapter if the things you learn weren’t so interesting. However, like most chapters, chapter seven ends with a bang. Katniss’s private session with the Gamemakers is always thrilling to read about. I remember the first time I read this book I was shocked. What would they do to her for challenging them? I was frightened for her. It seemed like such a bold and fearless move. 

Chapter Eight Thoughts

Katniss’s initial sense of fear after challenging the Gamemakers is always right in line with how I feel. That scene is terrifying. The things that the leaders of Panem do to their citizens are abhorrent. They’re real monsters. Can you imagine trying to challenge such an evil organization? They’re okay with putting children to death. What are they willing to do to people who disrespect them?

I probably would have had a heart attack if I was Katniss. I can’t imagine something worse than having to fight in the games, but I’m sure the Gamemakers can. They’re absolute sadists.

But this scene also makes me wonder what they do if something happens to a tribute prior to the games. In all 74 games it had to have happened at least once, especially considering the extra care The Capitol puts towards keeping the tributes alive prior to the games. Do they draw another person from the district? Or do they simply pretend that the dead tribute entered the games and died on the first day? While the first option seems to make more sense, I think the latter would be what they actually do. The Capitol doesn’t want to look weak or foolish. Having a tribute die before the games would make it obvious that even they make mistakes. It might cause rebellion.

For some reason I remember Haymitch being furious with Katniss for shooting at the Gamemakers. He seemed more amused than anything else. Did he react poorly in the movie or something? I did recently rewatch it and I feel like it’s muddling some of my memory of the book. Of course, I’m almost happy about not remembering everything perfectly because it brings a sense of newness to this read. I always feel like I’m learning new things about the characters even if I’ve read the books dozens of times.

I also remember thinking Katniss’s score of eleven was a good thing. Everyone reacted like it was. Even Haymitch seemed excited. But looking back now it doesn’t seem like an advantage to receive such a significantly high score. Like Katniss mentioned earlier, those with high scores tend to turn into targets early on. Everyone seemed to act like the Gamemakers gave her an extremely high score because of how impressed they were with her tenacity and talent. But maybe they were more annoyed than anything else and wanted to practically guarantee Katniss wouldn’t survive the games. They don’t really want a victor with too much pluck. They want one they can manipulate. It’s how they quell future rebellions.

I think Gale would understand that, watching the games from so far away. Since he and Katniss are perfect hunting partners, they are used to noticing things that the other does not. Maybe he would notice that Katniss’s score was too high and that she should be more wary of the Gamemakers. He always had a deep, deep distrust of The Capitol. That would definitely extend into everything about the games, even the scores. I almost wish we could see what he would be like as a competitor in the games. Can you imagine a version of The Hunger Games where Katniss and Gale are the ones competing? Who would survive? Would either of them be able to live on after that?