Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (End of the Book)

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This morning I woke up thinking about how different The Hunger Games series would be if it was written by a different author. Really, how any book would be so different. For example, can you imagine a version of The Hunger Games written by an author like Stephen King? It would segway into a horrifying psychological thriller with a strong focus on fantasy elements. Perhaps a somewhat long-winded one. 

And any changes to a book like Catching Fire probably wouldn’t be to its benefit. The Hunger Games series is a modern classic. You don’t want to mess with it too much. Plus, the series tackles some pretty gruesome ideas. It’s essentially a series of war stories targeted at a relatively young audience. Without the absolutely brilliant writing style of Suzanne Collins, it may not have been welcomed into the popular literary scene with open arms. Not everyone would know about and enjoy these books. Instead, it would probably fill some type of niche section of literature. There definitely wouldn’t be an entire successful movie franchise based on them. 

However, it would definitely be interesting to see these same stories, or really any story, written by multiple different authors. The same story at its core, but with different takes on essentially the same characters. Maybe with different scenes and different takes on dialogue. Personally, I’d love to see a series like that – all of my favorite authors showing me their own take on the same story. 

I mean, can you imagine getting to know all of the different versions of Katniss? Can you imagine getting to know a selfless and brave Katniss inspiring rebellion in Panem alongside a version of Katniss that is perhaps more likely to give into President Snow’s desires? Or even one that is more involved with inciting rebellion? Katniss, as a character, could be very open to interpretation in the eyes of different authors. 

If they only determined that certain aspects of the original tale have to be included – the games, the set-up of the districts, the survival of both tributes from District 12, and the subsequent rebellion – they could end up with a million different versions of the same story. Some could be popular dystopian fiction books targeted towards young adults, some could be dynamic works of science fiction, and some could be grisly horror stories. Can you imagine meeting the ghosts of games past? 

Not that any of these would necessarily be better than the original. It’s just something I was thinking about as I was getting ready to wind down with the end of the book. The Hunger Games is, afterall, a work of art by itself. 

Back of the Book ( Amazon | Goodreads )

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 Twenty-Seven

At the beginning of chapter twenty seven, we are reunited with Katniss after she targets the arena’s forcefield with her electrified arrow. The world seems to be falling apart around her. Trees are aflame and fireworks are going off above the arena. It seems almost as if the world is ending to a biblical proportion.

When she dazedly ponders the chance that the Gamemakers never actually intended for there to be a winner to the seventy-fifth Hunger Games, I’m almost shocked by how much I agree with her. Somehow I had never before noticed this statement, but it makes complete sense. Why would they allow one of the victors to live? The goal of this Quarter Quell was to express to the districts that none of them, not even the strongest of them, could evade the Capitol’s control. Even the most powerful people in the districts, the victors, live only at the will of the leaders of Panem. 

Considering the deadly extremes of the arena for this game, I wouldn’t be surprised if the original intent of the founders was to have every victor in this game die. I had been shocked in previous chapters by how much more deadly this arena was than any before it. Perhaps Snow had only altered the games to make the tributes who were all supposed to perish previous victors – an obvious punishment for Katniss and Peeta’s crime of surviving the previous games. 

It would even make sense that President Snow wouldn’t announce that there would be no victor. What tribute would bother killing others if their own demise was promised? There’s no point in compromising your values for nothing. Plus, I could envision President Snow allowing whatever victor to live up until the time of their after-game interviews and then executing them to prove a point. There’s seemingly no rules or reasons behind many of the executions or punishments that take place and President Snow seems to take a particularly large amount of pleasure in causing pain and suffering in others. 

Of course, the fact that this possible scenario makes sense is particularly sick and twisted, and I’m not entirely sure how effective it would be to implement. Even the founders of the games have to have known that the victors give the people hope. Without any degree of hope, what would prevent rebellion? There has to be a threat that things can always be worse. Killing off everyone and leaving no victor would obliterate any hope in the districts. But perhaps that loss of hope could be pushed aside. It’s a Quarter Quell, not a normal game. It might even make the districts grateful that anyone survives in a normal year. 

And it’s obvious that this being a horrible, immoral idea wouldn’t stop the founders from coming up with it. The leaders of Panem love pushing moral boundaries. They prove to us time and time again that they have absolutely no limits. Creating the games in general was a horrible, morose idea. Who can justify killing dozens of children, every year nonetheless?

When Katniss is brought up to the hovercraft, I’ve never been able to get past the immediate hatred I feel for Plutarch Heavensbee. Seeing him always makes me unreasonably angry. Even knowing that he is a key part of the rebellion, this has always been the moment where my feelings for him turn from disinterest to dislike. Somehow, he came across as less slimy and less needlessly cruel when he was just a cog in the machine. Knowing that he despised the idea of the games and was fervently working against them from the inside, but allowed the deaths of dozens to occur before stepping in, really bothers me. 

However, I do understand that his ability to prevent deaths from occurring was limited. There would be something very, very wrong with a Quarter Quell that has no deaths occur for the first few days. Someone had to die to keep attention away from the plans to rescue the tributes. And, yet, there could have been a better way to do it.

This feeling is furthered by the fact that Plutarch’s actions don’t seem to come out of a genuine desire to save people’s lives or a need to help people in the districts. Instead, they come across as a power grab. It’s obvious that Plutarch runs in the same circles as President Snow. The fact that Snow has been so adept at maintaining power in Panem has probably helped to prevent Plutarch from moving up to the position he so obviously desires: President. 

And I know I’ve never been alone in that feeling. When the books first came out, this scene in Catching Fire where Katniss encounters Plutarch made almost all of my friends stop and question Plutarch’s involvement in the rebellion. When our suspicions are later confirmed that he wants the presidency for himself, no one was surprised. He’s almost as snakelike as the President and, like the President, used deaths and torture to his advantage. It’s disgusting.

But when Katniss encounters Haymitch in the hovercraft? I’m sorry, but that will always break my heart. I never fail to get an overwhelming feeling of betrayal.  Knowing the end of the book as I do, it’s surprising that I feel the same hurt every single time I read Catching Fire. While it’s obvious in that moment that Katniss has not been captured by the Capitol, and instead was saved by the uprising, it’s a horrible scene to have to realize that Haymitch has been involved in things without informing Katniss or Peeta. The depth of his distrust in her abilities to fool the Capitol hurt me. It’s painful to think that our strong and noble main character was kept so completely out of the loop. 

It’s worse that they chose to share this information with people from other districts. d to tell her that there was a plan to break the victors out of the arena during the Quarter Quell. People from 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 11 had some degree of knowledge each, but Peeta and Katniss from District 12 were told nothing. They went into the games feeling as if they were about to die at any moment, not realizing that plans were in place to save them. While I understand the reasoning why, it’s still terrible that Haymitch put them through that. Plus, their insistence on saving Katniss before anyone else is a direct violation of the promise Haymitch made to Katniss that he would protect Peeta instead of her. 

I think that the assumption that as long as Katniss lives, the rebellion lives is a bit… naive, perhaps? I’ve always thought that was a silly concept. The rebellion might even be better served by Katniss’s death. She would be turned into a martyr, a battle call. Her death could inspire people to fight, having realized that there is no way life in the districts could get worse. 

As a result of that, I’ve always felt like the rebellion made a bad call in choosing Katniss over Peeta – logically speaking. Peeta is a powerful public speaker and, according to the masses, he’s the love of Katniss’s life. He might have been more vital to their movement than they could have realized, especially if Katniss had died during the games or been taken by the President. The death of the Mockingjay wouldn’t have meant the end of the movement.

Not that I want Katniss to die. I’m just saying… 

When Haymitch discloses that Peeta was picked up by the Capitol alongside Johanna and Enobaria, my heart always drops. How can they separate Peeta and Katniss? Throughout it all, they have been near each other, supporting and fighting for each other. Katniss in District 13 and Peeta in the possession of the Capitol is hard to make sense of, even after a dozen reads of this series. Her subsequent physical attack on Haymitch is the only thing that makes sense during this scene. How dare he give her such horrible news? How dare he protect her instead of Katniss? He had promised to take care of Peeta. 

I’m still mad about it years later. Peeta deserved better. Katniss deserved better. I deserved better because I desperately wanted Haymitch to be honest.

And to be honest I’m also still mad at the ending of Catching Fire, no matter how much I loved it. It was just so tragic. The loss of Katniss’s sanity is a horrifying way to end this book. The loss of Peeta has caused her to lose touch. She refused to eat, to speak. Everything blended together. Gale was the only thing that managed to drag her out of her stupor, but even that was tainted with bad news. The Capitol destroyed District 12. 

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 24-26)

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After a long weekend, I was very excited to get back into Catching Fire today. It’s strange how some weekends can feel more like work than the work week does. I had so much to do! Yesterday, I did six loads of laundry – not to mention all of the cooking and cleaning I had to do.

Adulting is a lot of work.

Thankfully, I had some free time today to crack open this book. And, by crack open, I mean turning on my phone, of course. While I have a huge soft spot for hard copies of books, particularly books I love, they feel almost impossible to keep on hand at all times. I’m notorious for refusing to carry a purse so there’s just nowhere for me to hide my books. Maybe I should get a backpack?

I do really miss the smell of a new book. It’s unlike anything other.

Even though I was super busy cleaning all weekend, my tasks gave me plenty of time to think about The Hunger Games series. My brain kept coming back to these books over and over again. While I’ve mentioned in previous posts how strongly I feel about this series, I don’t know if I’ve ever taken the time to make direct comparisons between President Snow and the actions of our own politicians. Listening to the news as I cleaned made me realize that many politicians come across just as deceitful and cunning as Snow does. They have the same kind of falsified charm and wit. They spout horrifyingly similar lies about prosperity and caring about the common man.

It’s just crazy the stories you hear on the news and I’ve never really thought about American politicians in the context of The Hunger Games before. At least, not as far as I can recall. This is perhaps due to the fact that I avoid watching the news as much as possible. So much of it comes across as biased propaganda that it’s hard to stomach. Of course, that, too, directly ties into what is put on screen in Panem. Their propaganda is just a little more straight forward about what it is.

However, beyond just hearing things on the news as I cleaned, I also heard a story from a friend of mine that somewhat relates to this concept. They told me about a relatively local aspiring politician who had to step aside from politics and pursue a different career route. They had had big dreams of making wonderful changes for this country, but, when it came down to it, they couldn’t aspire for more than the success they had already obtained. Why? Because, in order to move forward, he would have to compromise on his own values and act in manners that he considered corrupt, or deceitful. He wouldn’t be able to move up in the political world without acting in a manner he considered dishonest.

How horrible is that? The fact that an up and coming politician felt blocked in by refusing to act in a corrupt manner? Considering the upcoming election, things like this scare me. This is how you end up with a dystopian world. This was the first real moment in my life where I could imagine a universe like the one in The Hunger Games emerging. Panem isn’t so far off when our politicians already act like President Snow.

And that’s part of the reason why dystopian fiction matters, at least to me. These things may seem scary and far off, but, as I’ve gotten older and learned more about the world, they feel strangely realistic. It’s gotten progressively easier to imagine a world where the corruption and lies of Panem are commonplace in the real world. The fiction we are fed could be uncannily similar. It’s hard to tell what is actually happening in the world when you can’t trust your leaders. While we may never go to the extremes that a book goes to, it’s scary to think what our limits actually are. Do we have any?

Back of the Book ( Amazon | Goodreads )

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, for the chapter that they are covering.

Chapter Twenty Four

Once again I find myself asking how Suzanne Collins comes up with this stuff. Using Prim’s screams as a form of torture against Katniss is just sick and twisted. To be blunt, it’s the work of an absolute sadist. Is there something dangerous to be found in the dark recesses of Collin’s mind? She essentially writes war stories for children. There must be something to say about that. 

Personally, however, I think her work is brilliant. It may be sick and twisted at times, but so is life. The Hunger Games is genius and it calls attention to real world problems in an utterly unique way. Somehow it manages to bring up things like the consequences of pollution, the impact of popular media, and the dangers of unchecked technological innovation without sounding boring. And, of course, it manages to do all of this while also deeply analyzing the human mind and human society at large. 

What would you do to survive in a world that looks like this? What could you justify if your government told you it was the right thing to do? Is it more moral to rebel and potentially cause thousands of deaths, or to slowly watch the people around you suffer and die? Who decides what the right thing to do is? A teenage girl, marked for death by a corrupted, sadistic president? 

However, these questions can be deep and dark. They’re hard to ask and the scenes that surround them can be even harder to process. Some of them are so gory that it almost surprised me that I first started this series at such a young age. I almost understand the groups of people who claim that The Hunger Games takes it too far. While I don’t necessarily agree with book bans, I can see why some schools have banned these books. They’re harsh. They can even be traumatizing for some people. 

Yet, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire in no way, shape, or form romanticize the more violent disturbing aspects of the series. They call attention to violence, yes. But they never make it sound like a good idea. Instead, they explain, in explicit details, that violence is terrifying and hard to contain. It has consequences that ripple outwards in ways that no one can accurately foresee. 

In my opinion, that is what makes reading books like these so vital. They’re a great way to teach students about larger social concepts. The content of the books will grab their attention and the subtext can be used to educate teenage students on subjects like social psychology, the side effects of trauma, memory, prejudice, governmental bodies, and even our own history. Plus, the writing is excellent and makes for a wonderful addition to any English curriculum. Provided these books are being taught in the right context, with plenty of discussion, they’re really beneficial in helping young people better understand the real world. 

However, back to the book itself, the idea of a group of adults coming up with the plan of using the voices of loved ones against the tributes is absolutely brutal. It was completely devastating to imagine the pain Katniss felt at hearing Prim and her other loved ones scream for help. They were in agony. Katniss had no idea what was happening and no way to help them. Was Prim being tortured? Was she even alive? Finnick also had to listen to the screams of his loved one, Annie. 

The fact that Beetee later explained that the jabberjays could be programmed to replicate the sound of screams they have never heard themselves has little effect on how horrifying this is. Prim was never tortured. Annie was fine. The mental consequences of spending an hour, trapped, listening to the sounds of their screams? Katniss and Finnick will never be the same, particularly because of how fiercely protective they are of their loved ones.

Considering their involvement in the games, I found myself wondering if both of them are so intensely protective because of the traumas they themselves have faced. They definitely don’t want others to experience what they have experienced, and they both have an understandably deep seeded distrust of Panem. The psychological toll of the games have probably intensified their desire to keep their loved ones safe. They know the dangers of the games.

It is also somewhat interesting that both Katniss and Finnick love people who, arguably, won the game because of sheer luck, not necessarily skill or aptitude. They don’t love vicious killers, but, instead, love people who come across as more innocent and pure than the other victors do. It would have been interesting to see how Finnick interacted with Annie on a regular basis. Did he try to shelter and protect her like Katniss does with Peeta? Did he make a deal with Mags for Mags to volunteer in Annie’s place? How alike are Katniss and Finnick truly?

And yet, even with all of this room for thought, I could never forget out why the Gamemakers felt like this sadistic form of mental torture was necessary to include in the Quarter Quell. Most games, even the previous Quarter Quell, seemed to focus more on physical forms of terror. You’re at risk of dying due to poison or fireballs or floods. Not necessarily so much as risk of going insane because the Gamemakers want to toy with your emotions. Even for them, the inclusion of the jabberjays seems overly sadistics.

For that reason, part of me thinks that the inclusion of the jabberjays and the screams of Katniss’s loved ones was a result of President Snow’s involvement in the games. He hates Katniss more than anybody. He wants her to suffer for the national chaos she “caused.” He also seems to have some understanding with Katniss, similar to the one she has with Haymitch. They don’t necessarily require words in order to understand each other. Perhaps President Snow knew that the sound of her family’s screams would make her weak and vulnerable. It would hurt her and maybe reduce the chance that she would win the games. 

Following that horrifying scene, Peeta’s discussion with Katniss was positively heartbreaking. Listening to him try to convince her to live just shatters me. Promising her a life with her loved ones? It’s obviously something she wants very, very badly and it’s something he very much so wants her to have. Peeta would rather die in the games than have Katniss die, even if it means she’ll grow old and have a happy life with Gale instead of himself. The heroics of this are unimaginable. The romance of it all affects even me. 

Chapter Twenty-Five

During the beginning of this chapter, it was almost strange to me that Katniss had never even considered the possibility of winning. Not even a little bit. Not even when Peeta was practically trying to force her to consider a life with Gale. No matter what, she couldn’t imagine living in a world without Peeta in it. 

It might be romance at its finest, but usually I found thought processes like this more foolhardy than anything else. I’m not necessarily the self sacrificing type. I very much so want to live and have a hard time relating to characters who are willing to die for others. ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ for example, just felt silly. Why would you die for someone you barely know? It was made worse by the fact that both Romeo and Juliet were so young. 

However, unlike my sentiments during most books, I don’t find Katniss’s desire to sacrifice herself for Peeta to be foolish. It isn’t silly for her to sacrifice herself for Peeta. Their love isn’t based off of misplaced teenage illusions of love, but, instead, is based off of mutual suffering, overcoming challenges together, and genuinely getting to know and love each other. Katniss doesn’t want to die because of some fairytale love affair she’s told herself. She doesn’t even want to die. She just wants to save Peeta. 

And that’s romantic in a way that many other series have failed to capture for me. Sacrifice isn’t beautiful if you romanticize death. Instead, it’s disturbing. It’s the emotions behind self sacrifice that make it powerful. The explanation for the sacrifice is almost more important than the sacrifice itself, particularly in works of fiction.

Of course, many people consider ‘Romeo and Juliet’ to be a comedy, or satire, so I’m not necessarily alone in that sentiment. My teachers just never seemed to agree that Shakespeare was likely mocking the concept of true and immediate love. Anyways, before I go off onto a tangent about ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ let’s get back to Catching Fire

When Katniss begins discussing how to kill Brutus and Enobaria with the rest of her alliance, Beetee brings up the Gamemakers’ intervention in their last clash. They had interrupted the epic battle scene in order to move the Cornucopia and reset the arena. From Beetee’s perspective, this may have clued Enobaria and Brutus into the fact that the arena is a clock, particularly when the timing of the regularly scheduled attacks changed. 

What Beetee failed to mention, however, was the fact that the Gamemakers could be playing favorites. Interrupting the battle scene could have saved Brutus and Enobaria’s lives. They were severely outmatched. The Gamemakers might have just wanted a way to keep them alive and in the competition. Knowing that Katniss is so despised by the leaders of Panem, keeping her enemies in the games only makes sense. The more people in the games, the more likely Katniss is to die. In my opinion, that makes more sense than wanting to throw the games off kilter by changing the time table. 

Considering that Beetee’s plans to possibly kill Enobaria and Brutus would disadvantage everyone, I’m not surprised that the Gamemakers didn’t try to foil it. Maybe they assumed a less easy food source would distract Katniss from protecting herself. However, considering their reaction to how Haymitch won his own game by using their devices against his competitors, I wonder if they saw Beetee’s move with the wire coming or if they were similarly enraged by it. 

At the end of the chapter, we get back to the romance of Katniss and Peeta interacting. Unlike the first book, these moments are rare and in between. When she receives the pearl from Peeta, it gets my heart beating. Their relationship would make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, if not for the horrible conditions that they’re always in. 

However, Peeta’s understanding of Katniss is almost uncanny at times. Somehow he knows that his conversation with her about her being the one to return to District 12, and letting him die in the games, had the opposite impact on her. More than ever, she wants him to live. 

Chapter Twenty-Six

Collins really built up the romance these past few chapters just to horrify us by having them leave each other behind. Starting off this chapter by separating Katniss and Peeta was absolutely brutal. Why give me so much love just to turn around and drive me crazy with worry? 

All complaints aside, it’s very good writing and I’m absolutely hooked – even considering the fact that I’ve read this series dozens of times. I’ve just never been able to fully get past the feeling of being absolutely terrified for Katniss and Peeta. How can they stay safe if they split up? The first time I read Catching Fire, I was on the edge of my seat, trying to read as quickly as humanly possible. 

And that feeling is worsened by the fact that Johanna almost immediately turns around and attacks Katniss. Coming at her with a knife, digging it into Katniss’s flesh… It’s brutal. I remember being enraged by this the first time I read the series. How dare Johanna, the girl I admired for being so blunt and honest, be a traitor? 

It was even worse that I could completely understand why Johanna would attack Katniss. It was the best possible time for her to do so. Katniss received a perfect twelve in the interviews, was possibly the youngest and healthiest out of all of the other competitors, and is positively deadly. Killing her almost guarantees there won’t be a winner from District 12, particularly if Finnick was in on it and took out Peeta and Beetee while Katniss was away. It would be a smart move. 

That’s what makes it so confusing when Johanna doesn’t just kill Katniss outright. At least, of course, until you keep reading the book. If you’re reading along with these chapter-by-chapter analyses, keep reading!

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 21)

I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I cannot recommend this series enough. The Hunger Games series in general is resoundingly powerful writing. The characters, no matter how insignificant, are all dynamic and impactful. The scenarios they are put in come across as real, no matter how far-fetched they can be. Their interactions with each other are just stunning. It is amazing writing and, while I can’t imagine not having read this series yet, I definitely recommend it if you haven’t.

I really wanted to focus on chapter twenty one during this blog post. I think it’s one of the strongest chapters in the entire series. There’s so much going on, but even the smallest details matter. It’s one of those chapters that bring up a lot of things that I think about vaguely in other chapters. It helps make sense of everything that’s going on, but without feeling boring at all. If anything, it’s almost too exciting! There’s something being thrown at Katniss and Peeta every five seconds during this chapter and all of it is, of course, extremely dangerous.

Back of the Book (

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 Twenty One Thoughts

I don’t really know how Suzanne Collins came up with everything she came up with. The Hunger Games universe is so detail oriented and creative that it’s hard to imagine coming up with half of it, let alone all of it. When I looked up what inspired her, it seems like it was a weird mix of reality television and war films. Can you imagine coming up with such an intense world with such a simple inspiration? There are so many levels to Panem that it’s just incredible. 

And why am I thinking about this, you may ask? At the end of chapter twenty, an ominous fog starts to roll in. It’s honestly the stuff horror movies are made of with its slow creep towards Katniss’s group of tributes. The horror is furthered when it immediately blisters Katniss’s skin upon contact. 

The fog itself may be a small tiny little detail, but it really adds to the growing fear of the Quarter Quell. Even the fog can kill you. And, while the fog itself is not the most creative invention (again, every horror movie ever seems to capitalize on our nonsensical fear of fog/the unknown), it’s the fog in conjunction with everything else that made me stop and think wow, she really did this. Catching Fire just blows my mind sometimes. 

Regardless, the fog was a really great plot device in general. It brought back to mind the danger of the games themselves while getting rid of the weakest link in Katniss’s alliance with Finnick – without having someone kill off one of the best characters in the entire Hunger Games series. The death of Mags was resoundingly powerful and utterly heroic. She once again sacrificed herself to save the lives of others, others far younger than herself to note. 

It may not have been the most painless death, but it was a huge moment for the series. Katniss has inspired people to sacrifice themselves for others, to stand up for others. While Mags may have sacrificed herself either way had the situation presented itself without Katniss’s involvement, she might not have done so in front of the entire nation. It was another example of someone from the districts sacrificing themselves for someone from another district. 

Because it was such a powerful moment, I wonder how the Gamemakers spun it. Even considering the fact that Mags was so aged compared to the rest of the tributes and no one genuinely expected her to emerge victorious, it must not help their case to have one tribute sacrifice themselves for the lives of others. Self sacrifice is not really the aim of the games. Turning districts into enemies of each other is. Promoting distrust is. Keeping people separate and weak is. Mags’ death didn’t really play into making people hate each other. Instead, everyone in Panem would probably go on to remember her fondly. If anything, her death could be used to bring people together.

And that’s kind of huge by itself, but from a political perspective… It once again draws my attention to the fact that President Snow’s decision to involve victors in the Quarter Quell was a gigantic mistake. If Snow was trying to show how he could still force the strongest of the strong to fight each other, even as life in the districts was falling apart due to the ongoing uprisings, he failed at that task in a lot of small ways. The fights were just not as vicious as previous games and the sacrifices being made by many tributes to protect the lives of others proves my point. The hand-holding at the interviews, the love of Panem for their victors, Mags volunteering for the games to begin with and then sacrificing herself to help save people who hail from outside of her own district… It all adds up and none of it looks good for Snow. Instead of crushing rebellion, he’s giving the uprising hope that they can find aid in other districts. He’s giving the victors a chance to show the first signs of unity and respect between districts since the original uprising. 

However, maybe President Snow had hoped something else would happen. When the fog first began to gravely impact Katniss, she did have a terrible impulse to run from it, abandoning her alliance in an attempt to save herself. She didn’t, but she very well could have. If that had been what took place instead of Mags’ valiant self sacrifice, the national perspective of this scene would probably have been a bit different. It would have shown the world that everyone, even the Mockingjay, is only out to save themselves. There is no point in fighting for someone who will never fight for you.

I don’t know how realistic Snow’s expectations were, though. President Snow gave people who are essentially celebrities, who all know each other, the chance to show that things could be different, not expecting them to actually show that. He didn’t really consider the fact that all of these people have gotten the chance to get to know each other. They have established connections with each other, even friendships. How did President Snow expect the previous victors to kill each other without any heartfelt interactions? Or sacrifices? The victors are connected by the trauma of the games. In a manner of speaking, they understand each other in ways that no one will ever understand them. They’ve lived through the same horrible things. Even if they wanted to kill each other, there would have to be some moments of hesitation or even just some human interactions between them. They’re not props; they’re people. To not foresee any type of detectable connection between them was naive. Considering the fact that President Snow was relying on the victors being heartless killers in order to squash the uprisings, it’s just a stupid move on Snow’s behalf. 

Personally, I wouldn’t hedge my bets on such a narrow chance that all of these people are mindless murderers. It’s perhaps my greatest problem with The Hunger Games as a series that Snow does. Time and time again, President Snow is described as one of the greatest minds in Panem. He is insanely intelligent. He is cunning and quick. More often than not, he is described as a literal snake. And more than that, President Snow obtained power from a very young age and kept it for longer than any other president in Panem’s history. You can’t underestimate your opponents and hold onto power. It just doesn’t work. President Snow would not be so incredibly naive or short sighted. He is too smart for that. The fact that the entire series makes it sound like the Quarter Quell was his last attempt to restore order to his nation is laughable. I just don’t buy it. 

Thankfully, I can blame most of that perception on the fact that we are hearing this story from Katniss’s perspective, not President Snow’s. We don’t know what is actually going on in the Capitol. We actually don’t even know how involved Snow actually is with the games themselves. We don’t even know what the rebellion is up to. All we know is what is directly impacting Katniss as the previous victor of the Hunger Games, as a symbol of rebellion, and as a tribute in the current Quarter Quell. Her perception that so much relies on the success and failures of the games could just be her perception. She is living it. Considering the fact that she’s a teenage girl from the poorest, most ignored district in the entire nation, she’s probably incorrect with that assumption. 

And that’s fine.

I just want to know more about what’s happening outside of the games and outside of Katniss’s limited perception. In particular, I want to know more about what is happening in the Capitol. What is President Snow focusing on instead of the games? How does he really plan to prevent rebellion? How does he make his decisions on how to move forward? Who does he trust? What underground forces is he dealing with? How involved is he in designing the games themselves? 

While I definitely have a lot to look forward to in A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, I don’t really think they’ll cover enough about what Snow is thinking during these events. The book seems to focus on President Snow’s rise to power which is, of course, extremely interesting and I’m dying to know more about it. I’d just also like to learn more about what is actually happening outside of what is happening to Katniss.

And that does include learning more about the rebellion itself. I’m dying for a history lesson about it. Who started the ongoing rebellion? How have they maintained themselves following the events of the original uprising? Did the idea of rebellion completely die out after the nation was punished or did it continue in silence? How large is the rebellion organization? What does their power structure look like? While we do get some answers to these questions later on in the series, we don’t get nearly enough to placate my curiosity. Suzanne Collins did manage to answer all of the “big” questions, but her universe is so vast and realistic that it’d be hard not to come up with a million more.

However, getting back to the actual fog itself, it is absolutely terrifying what it can do to people. It not only blisters the skin on contact, but it somehow manages to partially paralyze people as well. Technologies like this make me think that the Hunger Games are just an excuse to show off to the districts how truly powerful the Capitol is. Even their fog kills. I know I’m one hundred percent right that this is one of the reasons that the game exists, but it’s still remarkable that they kill children as a televised fear tactic for preventing national rebellion. Designing deadly technologies just for the sake of torturing people is sadistic and horrifying, but imagining these same technologies being used against thousands upon thousands of people is even worse.

It’s intelligent design, but horrible nonetheless. 

It would be even more horrible if the fog had been what had killed off their entire alliance. Would any of the Gamemakers have stepped in? One death from fog may be “entertaining” enough for Panem, but killing off four tributes in one violent strike seems a bit much… even for them. It would bring the games to a close too early. Plus, I can’t imagine that the fog would be a brutal enough death for two tributes that have caused the Capitol so much trouble. President Snow would want their deaths to be gory and violent, possibly even slow. A relatively quick death by fog wouldn’t placate his desire to punish Katniss for inspiring rebellion. He’d want more of a show.

Not that I think that killing off Katniss is the correct political move. Like I’ve said before, I actually think that involving her in the games to begin with is too risky. It gives the nation someone to stand up for. There’s not much he can do considering she’s already in the games, but having her die is definitely the incorrect move. It would be the smartest move to have Katniss survive the Quarter Quell. It doesn’t make sense to kill her off and risk turning her into a martyr for the rebellion. Even though I’ve repeated myself a million times with this sentiment, I’ve just never been able to understand what Snow was thinking. Her death has the potential to do more for the uprising than her life would. 

Curiously enough, though, I’m surprised that none of the Gamemakers used Katniss, Peeta, and Finnick’s weakness to draw other tributes towards them. Death at the hands of other tributes would probably be right up their alley. However, it probably wouldn’t be “appealing” to watch a group of defenseless tributes get attacked by other tributes. Even the most sadistic individuals can only do so much to make a death like that entertaining.

Plus, watching these tributes heal each other was probably enough for a bored audience. While everyone enjoys an action scene, just watching Finnick swim sounds entertaining enough for me. Many of their interactions with each other also add an element of humor that would help the audience destress. I’m assuming many members of the audience are rooting for Katniss in particular to win the games because of her alleged pregnancy alone, not to mention the events of the previous game and her dynamic relationship with Peeta. 

And it’s not like they had a long time to be bored by that either. As soon as the three were feeling better, they were attacked by monkeys. Once again: it’s crazy how even the most ridiculous sounding sentence can feel entirely realistic in this series. Attacked by murderous monkeys? Not super surprised. It’s the Quarter Quell! 

Of course, when the morphling from District 6 throws herself in the way of one of the monkeys trying to kill Peeta, it does throw me for a loop. I’m sure most of Panem is shocked. Why would she sacrifice herself for a tribute she barely knows? Another sacrifice was made to save the tributes from District 12. And why? Personally I’ve never been able to one hundred percent know what the morphling was thinking. Part of me thinks that she just wanted to be a part of something greater than herself. She knew about the rebellion, hated the Capitol, and wanted to protect the people who inspired the nation to fight back. But another part of me thinks she did it without thinking about it. Someone was in danger. She saved them. Both options are powerful and are definitely not what President Snow wanted from this game.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 19 – 20)

To be perfectly honest, I had to force myself to stop reading yesterday. I really wanted to read chapter after chapter of this book. But something about the end of chapter eighteen made me say “take a break, make one post about that, read more tomorrow.” It was just a complete overload of information and events. It felt like everything that could happen was happening. The announcement Peeta made, the subsequent reaction of the Capitol, and ending with the attack on Cinna? It was a lot to process and I didn’t want to overdo it in a single post.

Plus, I felt like the beginning of the 75th annual Hunger Game deserved it’s own nook on my blog. It’s the moment we’ve been waiting for this entire time. Katniss is back in the arena, ready to fight for her (and Peeta’s) life. Can you imagine going into something like completely expecting to die? And then having to do it again the next year? It’s horrifying. 

Of course, that’s the point, but still. I’m always blown away by how impossible this situation feels without coming across as unrealistic. The characters and scenarios they are put in are absolutely unbelievable, but I still believe them. It’s the mark of a good writer to make me feel like the unrealistic is approachable, believable, and even worthy of acclaim. Even though The Hunger Games series in general has received accolades for it’s writing, all of the books could use a little bit more. They’re just that good. 

And the movies really aren’t bad either now that I think about it.. Although, again, to be honest, I haven’t actually finished all of them. I still need to see the last movie! I rewatched the others while rereading the first book, but felt like I should say ‘Mockingjay Part 2’ for after I reread the last book. Maybe I’ll make a party of it! What could I do for themed foods? Poison berries? Lamb stew? Heck, I could even serve katniss herself. 

Back of the Book (

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 Nineteen Thoughts

At the beginning of chapter nineteen, Katniss is left reeling after the attack on Cinna. She has just entered into the arena for the Quarter Quell after watching a group of Peacekeepers brutally attack the poor man. Having seen them drag Cinna away, of course she’s frantically trying to figure out what President Snow plans on doing to him. Undermining the President’s desire to have Katniss displayed as a disheartened bride, and turning her dress into a symbol of rebellion instead, was masterful work, but it also put Cinna in grave danger. 

Will he become an avox? Will he be tortured? Or will he just be killed outright? And how will they use whatever they do to Cinna against Katniss going into the future? Having read the series many, many times, I know that Cinna is (spoiler alert) dead or soon to be dead.

What I never found out, through all of my rereads, is whether or not he truly expected that to be the punishment for what he did. I know he planned for his death to happen, at least in part, at least theoretically. He made too many plans for after his death to not expect it to some degree. But did he truly believe he would die? Or was he hoping for another outcome?

And if he did truly expect to die soon then why did he do it? I am dying to know more about Cinna’s background. I understand that he probably wanted to punish the Capitol for their horrible behaviors and nonchalant attitude towards torture and death, but most citizens in his shoes don’t even notice how cruel Panem is. Even if they do, they fear President Snow too much to do anything about it. How did Cinna get the guts to stand up to President Snow? How was he brave enough to make a show of rebellion, fully knowing he could die for it? Cinna is possibly the bravest out of everyone. I wish he had survived this series. 

In a way, the terror of Cinna’s death does detract from the terror of the beginning of the Quarter Quell in my opinion. My fear at him being attacked overshadows my fear for Katniss instead of adding to it. However, I could see it amplifying the fear and excitement for other readers. Katniss has barely a minute to process the attack on Cinna before being plunged head-first into the games. Personally, I would never be able to pull myself away from the anguish of watching Cinna be attacked in time to make a headstart to the Cornucopia before the other tributes do. 

Thankfully, Katniss has stronger survival instincts than I do. Before the gong has been struck, she has analyzed the situation to the best of her ability. She knows she will have to swim, she knows that she will be swimming in salt water, she knows where the other tributes are, and she knows she absolutely needs to get her hands on a weapon as soon as possible. There is no room for mistakes. When every tribute is a victor of a previous game, everyone needs to act like a career tribute. 

So when the gong is struck, she swims. 

Having arrived at the Cornucopia at the same time as Finnick Odair, the tribute from District 4, Katniss is put in a tough position. She can either fight it out with Finnick in an arena that seems to cater to his strengths… or she can make an alliance with him. At first, it seems like they’re going to fight, but when Katniss sees a flash of gold on Finnick’s wrist, she realizes that Haymitch wanted her to ally herself with him. 

Even though I’ve read Catching Fire many times before, I’ve never fully understood why Haymitch chose Finnick to be Katniss’s ally. Perhaps it’s that he knows Finnick’s affection for Mags will wear down Katniss’s walls. Or perhaps it’s Finnick’s easy access to Capitol secrets that appeals to Haymitch. I’ve never been able to imagine that Haymitch and Finnick were close friends in the same way that Haymitch befriended other tributes like Brutus. It’s also been slightly confusing to me that he wouldn’t choose a friend to ally with Katniss, even knowing how brutal his friends are. Considering the events that take place later in the book, why couldn’t he trust his friends? I don’t remember any clear explanation for that. 

Another part of me thinks that the arena plays to Finnick’s strengths on purpose and that Haymitch knew it would. Finnick is the darling for many people in the Capitol. They love him. Perhaps forcing the tributes to swim was meant to give him an advantage. Many people must be rooting for him to survive. Who knows?

Not me.

I’m also not crystal clear on why the Gamemakers made the decision to only include weapons at the Cornucopia. Most years they provide food and some tools for survival. On one hand, I think the failure to provide those things was a smart movie from an entertainment perspective. It would add some diversity to the games. Instead of everyone focusing on killing each other all the time, everyone would at some point have to focus on finding food and water. It wouldn’t just be a constant bloodbath. 

But on the other hand… The Gamemakers have made their distaste for Katniss readily apparent. They made her a target by giving her an impossibly high score. President Snow, also very obviously, wants her dead. Every person in Panem knows that Katniss can take care of herself. Finding food would never be a problem for her. Why not provide other tributes with food and tools that they could use to their advantage? They probably aren’t as adept at hunting as she is and even slight advantages can mean the difference between life or death in the arena. At least four of them, coming from districts where they trained as career tributes, could probably use the help getting food. They were trained for battle, not to hunt. 

The battle scenes somewhat distracted me from this train of thought, but to be honest I mostly glaze over battle scenes in general. They don’t hold the same appeal to me as they do to others. I find them interesting, but not necessarily comment worthy. I always spend the majority of my time reading them looking for clues about a book’s storyline. In Catching Fire, I’m always looking for clues about what President Snow is trying to do, or looking for interesting plot devices, not necessarily for blood. 

When Katniss and Finnick begin fighting with the other tributes, I’m mostly disinterested. At least until Finnick offers to save Peeta from the dangerous water and uses Katniss’s “condition” as an excuse. Finnick is extremely intelligent. He is cunning. In a manner of speaking, he almost reminds me of Foxface from the first book in the series. He must know that Katniss’s pregnancy is a ruse Peeta told Panem to get them upset about the Quarter Quell. Playing that up is smart of him. It may get them more support from sponsors. 

And then, when Katniss and her newly made alliance (Mags, Finnick, Peeta) enter the jungle, she starts thinking about how little the interviews the night before impacted the actual events of the game. Even though the tributes had made a grand display of unity by interlocking hands, they were still killing each other in the arena today. From her perspective, their moment of unity meant very little. They didn’t show any reluctance to kill each other when they came down to it. They didn’t throw down their weapons or curse the Capitol. They killed. Violently. 

While I completely understand where she’s coming from with this thought process, it’s impossible to say I wouldn’t do the same as victors. When it comes down to life or death, a lot of people will choose life. Even if it means killing someone else. I also wouldn’t say that their display of unity was meaningless just because they fought in the arena. It wasn’t meaningless at all. It was one of the first steps in showing a connection between the citizens of Panem, especially between people from separate districts. The Hunger Games were specifically designed to make people from different districts hate and distrust each other. The moment where every victor locks hands is one of the first moments of unity between districts since the uprising that caused the games to be invented. It shows that the games are not a perfect way to inspire hate and distrust between people. Even if they turned around and attacked each other the next day, it’s a moment of progress. 

However positive that is, it’s not what Katniss realized. Instead, she realized she should probably kill Finnick while he’s defenseless. Getting attached to him could cost her her life in the future. Thankfully, Finnick knows where her mind went during their trek. He understands what she’s thinking and puts himself in a defensive position. His mind probably went to a similar place considering he follows it up with an explanation that no one in the Quarter Quell, except for possibly Peeta, was a victor by mistake. Their moment of unity the night before meant something, but would never prevent people like the victors from doing what they have to do to survive. What they do in the arena may not necessarily reflect what would happen in the real world. 

While they’re seemingly calculating the amount of risk involved in killing the other person, Peeta steps in between them. Katniss seems to believe that he did it on accident, not knowing what the two of them were thinking about, but it was definitely on purpose. Peeta may be kinder and more compassionate than the other victors, but he isn’t stupid. He’s amazing at reading body language and probably wanted to prevent violence between their alliance. 

Chapter Twenty Thoughts

When Peeta collides with the forcefield at the end of chapter nineteen, his heart stops and mine does too. When I first read Catching Fire, I really thought he was going to die. I was shocked that Collins would kill him off, especially so quickly, but it kind of tied right into classic dystopic fictions. In the classics, a corrupt world will take everything from you so I wasn’t necessarily surprised that a modern dystopic fiction would go the same route. It didn’t feel unrealistic or without precedent. 

However, it didn’t feel right. Catching Fire and The Hunger Games series in general is far more upbeat than most classic dystopian fiction. Their universe goes extremely far in the pursuit of creating a perfect world for people of the Capitol to live in, but it doesn’t go as far as other universes do. For example, there’s little in the way of completing altering and changing everyone’s mind through direct mind controlling technologies or through extensive drugging. The idea that Collins would fail to include those facets of a dystopian world, but would take Peeta from Katniss felt somewhat far-fetched. She couldn’t kill him. It was just a little too dark for the world she had created.

That’s part of why it’s so relieving when Peeta survives. Finnick saves his life, thus creating a newfound trust with Katniss that will likely prevent future violent clashes. 

When Katniss begins to sob after Peeta is restored to life, it’s the first moment where the whole world gets to see how she genuinely feels for Peeta. While a lot of their romance had been a show for the sake of the audience, Katniss genuinely loves Peeta. It isn’t all an act. She cares for him deeply. The idea of losing him terrifies her. Even Finnick, who questioned their love affair from the get-go, seems confused by her display of love and fear for Peeta’s life. He wasn’t expecting it to be anything but an act.

A large part of me wants to see what President Snow was thinking during all of this. Did any part of him feel regret for putting Peeta and Katniss in such a terrible position? Did he pity them at all? Or did he feel encouraged by a sign that Katniss loved Peeta? He wanted her to show Panem that her act of defiance was one of love, not rebellion. He finally got that. Was it enough to satisfy him or did he still want more out of them?

And how did he react to Finnick’s involvement in saving Peeta’s love? It’s difficult to justify saving the life of another tribute in the games. President Snow had to have known that there was something more to Finnick’s heroic deed. Did he ever expect the rebellion to involve themselves in the Quarter Quell? And if he didn’t… Why didn’t he? For someone so intelligent, President Snow always comes across as one step behind. He underestimates his opponents to his own detriment. He focuses more on killing Katniss and ruining her image than on solving the readily apparent problems in his country.

Not a very good move for a president if you ask me. 

When Katniss realizes that Peeta’s token is a mockingjay necklace meant to emulate her own pin, I’d love to see Snow’s face then as well. It takes any amount of progress their moment of love might have made with the rebellion and very likely turns it into encouragement of the rebellion. Was he enraged? Did he throw things? 

Of course, I’d also like to know why Katniss is even bothered by the idea of death any more. Both her and Peeta seem to be taunting President Snow at times. At this point even Peeta has to realize that Katniss has turned into a symbol of rebellion. Everything she touches is tainted by her affiliation with the uprising, the mockingjay symbol in particular. So why did he wear it?

For the most part, I think that Peeta wore the symbol because he wanted to be a part of the rebellion, even in a small way. More than any other tribute described in the series, Peeta didn’t want the games to change who he was. He also wanted to hold the Gamemakers accountable for the terrible acts performed in their game. Of course he’d want to be a part of a rebellion against all of these horrible things, even a little bit. 

And of course it made him feel more connected with Katniss and isn’t that just the cutest thing ever? 

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 18)

My allergies have hit me in full force this year and, to be honest, it’s just not a great year for having allergies. I’m constantly coughing or sneezing, my head hurts, and I sound like death. Every time I go out into public, I’m uncomfortable and worried about what everyone else thinks of me. Is she sick? Will I catch it? How dare she be out in public? It’s hard to explain that I’m just incredibly allergic to trees and it feels like I’m either explaining or avoiding explaining that fact every five seconds. 

So, all in all, I’ve spent the last week in bed avoiding all forms of social contact. Hence the lack of posts. I haven’t felt like reading at all. Between the anxiety of having a cough to begin with and the headache that comes naturally with allergies, I just haven’t wanted to do anything except sleep. Thankfully, my allergy medicine is FINALLY starting to do its job and I can exist again! 

And the fact that my head has finally stopped hurting means I’m finally willing to pick up a book! We don’t give allergy medicine nearly enough credit for the good work it does. I’d be useless for the next two months without it. 

Back of the Book (

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 Eighteen Thoughts

Sometimes when Katniss is interacting with minor characters, I wonder about what their lives look like outside of their conversations. Caesar in particular really interests me. What does he look like when he’s not on screen? What is he involved with outside of the games? Does he have a family? How deep does his influence go in Panem? What access does he have to new information? After Katniss’s transition from bridal to bird during their interview, Caesar’s eyes flash in a way that makes it clear he understands all of the implications of her transformation. The Mockingjay isn’t just Katniss’s token; it’s a symbol of rebellion. How does Caesar know that?

And who tells him? 

A large part of me likes to assume that Caesar is very, very well-informed. You don’t get to where he is and stay there without some level of inside knowledge. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had some type of relationship with President Snow himself. Perhaps the protection of Snow is what keeps Caesar safe. 

Plus, I’m almost positive Caesar must have some degree of importance outside of being the interviewer for the games. The games are such a small part of the show and Caesar is so well-known and well-liked throughout the districts. I can’t imagine just anyone getting the right to have everyone in Panem know their name considering how closed off and hostile the world is. I’d love to know more about Caesar and what he does to try to figure out how he ended up in the position he is in. 

Caesar’s interactions with Peeta did nothing to dissuade me from wanting to know more, of course. Caesar comes across as so intensely kind and generous. He’s intuitive. He tries to bring out the best in each tribute. Plus, his banter with Peeta is appealing even when you know most of it has to be for show.

Speaking of Peeta, he always blows me away in this chapter. He is normally such a quiet and calm character. His presence in Catching Fire almost always relaxes me – even when he’s being Katniss and Haymitch’s drill sergeant. The fact that he was capable of dropping such a huge bomb on the entire nation in less than three minutes is just astounding. He’s shocking. 

And starting off slow with the announcement that Katniss and him were already married was pure genius. We were all rooting for them! We all loved them! How could anyone genuinely want to doom such beautiful young love to death in the Quarter Quells? How could anyone stomach it?

And then… Peeta makes it worse. It’s the announcement that Katniss is pregnant that genuinely blows me away every single time I read this book. It is such a calculated move on Peeta’s behalf. Even knowing it’s going to happen, I never really feel prepared. 

Why? Because the concept is just so horrifying. The idea of The Hunger Games in general is horrible. Having children fight each other to the death as a form of entertainment is degrading to the sanctity of human life. But having a pregnant woman involved in these games? That’s a new level of cruelty. Even Panem, a nation that cheers when watching children as young as twelve prepare for their death, cannot possibly allow a pregnant woman to compete and die in their brutal yearly ritual. 

Unsurprisingly, the audience watching this is blown away and horrified. Part of me understands the horror obviously. It’s a horrendous thing. But another part of me does find their reaction a bit hypocritical. Even when I was younger, reading these books, I was shocked at how strongly they felt over Katniss’s alleged pregnancy. I understood why, but it still felt hypocritical. They had no problem killing people off, adults and children, but an unborn child is a completely separate thing. They want to protect that, not kill it.

Of course, in my opinion, that makes Catching Fire feel far more realistic. The complexities of the human mind are insane to think about. Wanting to see a strong, healthy, young tribute fight with other tributes to the death is one thing. Watching a pregnant woman struggle to survive in a violent atmosphere is another. Yes, yes, both are bad, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of saying one is far worse. 

Especially if you consider that the worst part of the games, the youngness of the tributes, can be somewhat ignored during the Quarter Quells. All of the tributes for the Quarter Quells are adults. They are victors. They have fought and lived before. In normal games, the average tribute is barely more than a child. None of them have had the chance to live their lives. Children as young as twelve years old die. Morality wise, that’s an even grayer area between having a pregnant woman fight for her life and a twelve year old child fight for theirs. Most of Panem had probably never even really considered their tributes to be what they are: children. 

So in a way that makes me hope that Peeta made them think about it more. I’m sure he did. You don’t hear an announcement like his and forget about it. It was a smart move to force Panem into questioning the legality and morality of the Quarter Quell. I swear if Peeta weren’t doomed to be a tribute in the games, he’d make an excellent politician. 

At the end of the chapter, Snow does retaliate against Katniss for all of this. He has Cinna killed right before her eyes just as she is descending into the games. Once again, I fail to be impressed by the idea of a grown man mentally torturing a teenage girl, but I suppose that’s not the point of this scene. It’s to horrify me. And it does.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 15)

Again, not a lot to say during this opener. I only had time to read one measly chapter today – I’m hoping for more time this weekend. Let’s get into it! 

Back of the Book (

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 Fifteen Thoughts

I feel like too few people really understand the amount of work emotional labor is. Feeling things is hard. Dealing with other people’s emotions can sometimes be even harder. When Katniss is discussing how difficult it is for her to get through her prep time with Flavius, Venia, and Octavia, all I’m thinking about is how exhausting that must be. Can you imagine having to painstakingly prepare for your own death, let alone having to listen to everyone else cry about it? The closest picture I have in my head to how horrible that sounds is having to work in a retail job and obviously that’s not even close.

Retail does suck though.

Speaking of, fanfic idea: Katniss works in retail. Will she help the customers or argue with them? Find out on the next episode of The Hunger Games Grocer Edition!

Anyways, all jokes aside, it is so flabbergastingly immature of Katniss’s prep team to make her potential death all about them. People from the Capitol never fail to surprise me with how selfish they are. They make other people’s death all about themselves. Considering the fact that I’m pretty sure all of Katniss’s prep team is five to ten years older than her and it kind of makes me angry on behalf. 

In a manner of speaking, all of the people of the Capitol are children compared to her. At least mentally. Even the individuals who come across as decades older than her (how old is Effie?) are emotionally stunted. They’re grown children, not adults. But somehow they are the same people who are expected to lead the entire country. 

Personally, I don’t understand how that works. How can these be Panem’s leaders? Or raise Panem’s future leaders? On one hand, I think we must be misinformed on how the Capitol works. The majority of the population is far too childlike to lead a country. There must be some type of divide between the class of people who wear pretty clothes and party all the time versus the people who spend their lives making tough calls. Perhaps they drug anyone who isn’t in the ruling class. I don’t know how it works, but I’d love to. There has to be something going on. Maybe A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will tell us. 

Even as much as I don’t appreciate how the people of the Capitol act, it does make for some interesting ponderings. Plus, I do appreciate the obvious clue towards how people of the Capitol feel about the Quarter Quell. I never thought the majority of people would be excited to see their previous victors fight to the death. Even now, dozens of times after the first time I’ve read this series, I appreciate the confirmation. It’s like they’re losing friends, not strangers. The fact that President Snow didn’t think that would be a problem confounds me.

And I also appreciate the little bit of foreshadowing on behalf of Cinna’s comment to Katniss: “…I always channel my emotions in my work. That way I don’t hurt anyone but myself.” I’ve never really recognized that for the foreshadowing that it so obviously is. How have I never noticed? 

Knowing what I know now, however, I wish we had gotten more time with Cinna. He is such an exceptional individual considering that he comes from the most conceited, selfish, horrible society on earth. How is he so different from everyone else from the Capitol? How did he grow a conscience? I want to know more about him. 

Plus, I’m dying to know how he comes up with his outfits for Katniss. The description of her outfit for the opening ceremonies of the games always gives me chills. I don’t think that the Catching Fire movie did it justice because in the book Katniss sounds absolutely godlike. She is unforgiving and wrathful. She is powerful. 

I wonder why more stylists didn’t take an angrier approach with their own designs. Maybe it was too close to treason. Katniss’s outfit is obviously a statement about her hatred towards the games. However, considering how obvious most of the victor’s anger over this decision is… it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to play that up. The Capitol has wronged them.

I’d also have loved to learn more about Finnick somewhere in the series. We had far too little time to explore the recesses of his mind. He is perhaps one of the most dynamic characters in the series and I loved him from the moment Collins introduced him. But I don’t feel quite as upset about the lack of information as I do with Cinna. We got way more information about Finnick than him. Cinna is somewhat of a mystery.

When the ceremony starts, Katniss and Peeta obviously decide to hold hands on the chariot. Why wouldn’t they? Once more, they are going into the games as a team. Even though I had just gotten chills over Katniss’s outfit, I got them again over this moment where they lock hands. It’s amazing, but also slightly annoying because it is way too cold out today to be getting chills every five seconds. Does Suzanne want me to freeze to death? I’m shaking!

But really it’s just very good writing and I cannot seem to emphasize enough how impressed I am with The Hunger Games series. Even after reading it so many times, I love it. Moments like these never fail to captivate me. Do you have any books or series like that? I can think of a few more. Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore are definitely another. I also love books like The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa. 

Back to Catching Fire though. When Katniss starts to describe the outfits of other victors, I am once again surprised that their stylists couldn’t come up with anything better. These people are supposed to be the best of the best and, yet, their designs are utterly lacking. How can they even compare to stylists like Portia and Cinna? Are stylists in limited supply or something? They could do better.

Thankfully Collins quickly makes up for the let-down when Katniss begins speaking to Seeder, a woman from District 11. The families of Thresh and Rue survived the riot that took place during Katniss and Peeta’s Victory Tour. They weren’t killed by the Capitol. I wonder if that was supposed to be one of Panem’s great mercies or just meant to be kept as a tool to use against Katniss. 

Considering the involvement of Darius as one of Katniss’s avoxes, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were the latter. President Snow loves to use mind games against her. It’s kind of sickening when you consider the fact that he is a grown man and she is barely more than a child. And once again that really ties into how much maturity the people of the Capitol lack. How have we all failed to acknowledge that the biggest thorn in the President of Panem’s side is a sixteen or seventeen year old girl? It’s honestly unbelievable. 

President Snow is a grown man fighting with a child. Ugh. 

Shift by Hugh Howey

Shift was an alright prequel for Hugh Howey’s first book in the Wool series, but was possibly a bit too muddled to be a genuinely good book. I found myself spending more time being confused about the overly complicated storyline or being anxious on behalf of the somewhat bland characters Howey developed instead of actually enjoying the book. While I was hoping that the series would improve from the first book to the second, it may have actually gotten worse.

And part of that is due to an unwelcome surprise at the beginning of the book. A large part of the blame for the end of the world was placed on the shoulders of Muslims. Scary Muslim terrorists in the Middle East were busy developing weapons of war that would go on to threaten humanity. They used our amazing life-saving medical advances against us. How evil! The irony that white American senators were the ones to actually push the button was somewhat lost in the process. 

To be honest, it just felt unnecessary to me. A few of the science fiction books I’ve read the last few years include too many references to Muslims being the bad guys. The assumption that Islamic terrorists will end the world feels overdone and racist. I’d like a little bit better than that. I would have enjoyed an unnamed threat more and this left a bad taste in my mouth for the rest of the series.

A question I also found myself asking a lot was how they maintained the silos in general, particularly maintaining communications between silos. How would they upkeep communication satellites when they can’t leave their underground bunkers? Were there physical lines between each silo and, if so, how would those be maintained? I feel like Howey missed a lot of chances to discuss the logistics of the silos. Focusing too much on plot and not enough on logistics was to the detriment of the overall story. I wanted to feel as if these massive underground bunkers were real instead of implausible. Donald’s involvement in their overall build was a great chance to go into detail about how the silos worked and Howey completely missed the chance. 

More than that, I also didn’t understand how Silo 1 specifically operated. In other silos, people are sent out yearly to perform cleanings. It’s a punishment for rebellious ideas, but it cleans the very important sensors outside of the silo. But Silo 1 doesn’t seem to have the same type of breeding program (“lottery system”) as other silos do. Each death has significance. People can’t easily be replaced by new life. How do they send someone out to clean the sensors?

Part of me feels like cleaning the sensors must be an illusion. It must not be necessary. Cleaning them might just be a way for the mayors of other silos to get rid of unwanted ideas. It’s a punishment and an exercise in power all at once. However, another part of me just thinks that Silo 1 has suits that actually work and people whose actual job is to go out and clean the sensors. Who knows? 

It’s hard to be sure about anything during this series especially when the things we do learn are somewhat confusing. The juxtaposition between the various storylines was particularly confusing for me. Normally I like books that switch back and forth from different perspectives, and even different timelines, but it was a bit confusing during Shift. The transitions weren’t as clean as I would like them to be. The storylines seemed to blend together too much and the characters weren’t as different as I’d like them to be.

Not to say they were completely the same. Perhaps it was the overly anxious and claustrophobic tones of Shift that caused each character to blend together too much. I found myself feeling depressed for Donald, Tony, and Jimmy even as I grew to care less and less about them individually. Learning about Jimmy’s endless loneliness was particularly painful. I can’t imagine a year alone. Can you imagine decades?

Other important philosophical questions were also lost in the overly complicated storyline. While usually I love asking myself big questions, all of the questions Shift made me ask started to feel redundant. For example, the book beats into the ground this whole concept of what is worth giving up in order to save humanity. Is it worth losing onto our morals to keep humanity alive? Is it worth killing off half of the world? Is it worth having to survive on a molotov cocktail of pills? Is it worth spending decades in a bunker? Is it worth losing our collective memory? Is it worth faking our entire history? Normally, I’d be all about questions like these, but after reading this book I just want to yawn. How often can we beat a dead horse? As often as we’d like, but it doesn’t sound great. 

I almost think that the series would be improved if everything had been faked. The world had never ended. The only toxic thing that kept everyone locked inside was the nuclear waste that had been poured overtop of the silos. Countries outside of the silos still existed and operated. They left the silos alone – a safeguard for if the world were ever in danger again. The silos would be something similar to a seed vault, a place to store seeds for the end of the world, except for the fact that they’re storing human lives just in case. 

The biggest plot twist could be that all these other plot twists were utterly unnecessary. I’d like that. Shift has too much going on for me to grasp. It’s the type of book that I think you have to read multiple times in order to truly understand. Maybe at the end of the series, I’ll take a break for a while and then go back and read it all again. I don’t know if it would be worth it, but I do feel like I’m missing something important. I will read the third book, Dust, because why not, but I don’t know if I’m optimistic enough to hope for better. I didn’t enjoy Shift as much as I would like to and this is really disappointing to me. It had good bones, but, once again, I need more flesh. 

Back of the Book Description (

In 2007, the Center for Automation in Nanobiotech (CAN) outlined the hardware and software platforms that would one day allow robots smaller than human cells to make medical diagnoses, conduct repairs, and even self-propagate. In the same year, the CBS network re-aired a program about the effects of propranolol on sufferers of extreme trauma. A simple pill, it had been discovered, could wipe out the memory of any traumatic event. At almost the same moment in humanity’s broad history, mankind discovered the means for bringing about its utter downfall. And the ability to forget it ever happened. This is the second volume in the New York Times best-selling Wool series.

Wool by Hugh Howey

The Daily Express described Wool as “one of dystopian fiction’s masterpieces alongside the likes of 1984 and Brave New World.” Personally, I wouldn’t go that far. 1984 and Brave New World both pushed the boundaries of dystopic fiction. They expressed new ideas, had amazing writing, and felt believable. I was completely immersed in their storylines from the very first page to the very last. Plus, their ideas were more concise. The authors knew exactly what they wanted to say and they said it with style, finesse. 

And, while I’m not saying Wool wasn’t a good book with some insanely thought provoking scenes and interesting background story… it just wasn’t enough to compare. Dystopic fictions are meant to push our boundaries. They’re meant to make us question our society and even ourselves. How bad will the world get if we let it? The world of Wool just wasn’t bad enough for me. The limits the characters pushed didn’t come across as shocking or awful. Comparing Wool to the classics just doesn’t work for me. 

It especially doesn’t work because Wool is just too upbeat to be one of the classics. Classic dystopic literature doesn’t come across as overwhelmingly positive. There aren’t happy endings. There aren’t even endings that are remotely close to happy. More often than not, whoever the corrupt villain is in the story wins. And I love that. I would classify anything outside of that as too disjointed and different to be classic dystopia. At most, I would say it’s modern dystopic fiction. 

Beyond that, Wool wasn’t as believable as other fics. It required a strong dispension of belief in order for you to really enjoy it. For example, I couldn’t believe that the long-lived mayor of the silo knew so little about how the actual silo ran. There are 144 floors and they really only knew the bare basics about most of them. How could they run a society that they know nothing about? It didn’t feel well thought out. 

It also felt like it was missing an element of mind control or propaganda. I understood a lot of the system on how the silo worked and ran was based on keeping people separated, but that, again, wasn’t enough for me. Most dystopic fiction requires some way to manage citizens. How do you keep them under your control? Keeping them separated will never have the same effect as forcing endless propaganda down their throat or establishing some style of firm control over them. Considering the resources IT was given, I was surprised that they hadn’t established a way to listen in to all of their citizens. Monitoring their emails and private communications obviously wasn’t enough. 

Not to say, again, that I didn’t enjoy the book. I enjoyed the characters and the storyline, again, was interesting enough. I just couldn’t believe the story. I wanted more from it than what I got. There are thankfully other books in the series. I started the second book today and I am sincerely hoping for more development. The bones of this book are good. I need more flesh. 

Back of the Book (

The first book in the acclaimed, New York Times best-selling trilogy, Wool is the story of mankind clawing for survival. The world outside has grown toxic, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. The remnants of humanity live underground in a single silo. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they want: They are allowed to go outside. 

After the previous sheriff leaves the silo in a terrifying ritual, Juliette, a mechanic from the down deep, is suddenly and inexplicably promoted to the head of law enforcement. With newfound power and with little regard for the customs she is supposed to abide, Juliette uncovers hints of a sinister conspiracy. Tugging this thread may uncover the truth … or it could kill every last human alive.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 5 – 6)

After trying (and failing) to finish Evil Love: A Bully Romance by Ella Fields, I was excited to get back to The Hunger Games today. It’s always nice to reread a book that you know you love. No guesswork involved and no disappointments, just a good book. Plus, after that catastrophe of a book. I was excited to return a strong female heroine instead of the lackluster one I had left behind. I don’t know if I’ll ever revisit the world of bully romances. If you have any recommendations in that genre that are actually good books, let me know.

And, of course, rereading The Hunger Games and going more in-depth during this read than I ever have before is making me notice plenty of new things about the series. During the last couple of chapters, I found myself drawing parallels between my life and Katniss’s life. I was surprised by the depth of her relationship with Prim. Her mother reminded me of my own. Her strength endlessly impressed me. Have you ever had the same reaction when you’ve sat down to revisit your favorite books? It felt like visiting an old friend and remembering all the reasons why we were friends in the first place. Katniss’s story fit itself neatly back into my heart.

Back of the Book (

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 in the chapter that they are covering. 

Chapter Five Thoughts

During our first introduction with Cinna, I always found myself wondering if somewhere deep in The Capitol there was a group of social justice warriors trying to give a better life to people in The District. Sure, some people cared about the people who lived outside of The Capitol. But was anyone trying to do anything for them? I’m not so sure. It seems too close to rebellion for anyone to really put an effort in. It is too much of a risk.

And that seems strange to me. I believe Panem is supposed to be America gone wrong. Wouldn’t some semblance of American free speech remain? Even if the movements were mostly hush-hush, I want to know if anyone was working behind the scenes to improve conditions in the district. Or if anyone wrote articles or books about life in the districts. I know later in the series we find out that there was a whole rebellion organization, but was there anyone trying for small scale reform? I wonder.

Cinna himself is very admirable. Unlike most citizens of The Capitol, he understands that the citizens of District 12 are starving to death while the people around him gorge themselves on food. He sees their behavior for what it is: despicable. Throughout this entire series, I’ve always wanted to learn more about Cinna. What made him realize the extent of The Capitols betrayal of the people? What made him notice the waste? What’s his background story? Cinna is more self aware than most other characters in this book. What made him that way?

Of course, it is interesting to note that, somewhere in Katniss’s interactions with Cinna, she discusses the fact that one year District 12’s tributes were sent to the opening ceremonies naked and covered in black powder. It is quite a casual comment, but one with lasting implications. These are children being sent out naked in front of thousands of viewers. Beyond just the brutality of the Hunger Games, these children are being treated as meat for the viewing pleasure of others. They are simultaneously sexualized and degraded. It’s horrifying and, once again, denotes the fact that the little details are what makes this book so powerful. Collins doesn’t ignore anything, even the fact that the world that would kill children would be alright with displaying their bodies in any way they choose. These children have no value to their government except as a perverted form of entertainment. 

And I’m surprised that I’ve never really thought much of that before. These were naked children sent out to be viewed by thousands. Perhaps it’s talking about Netflix’s release of Cuties that made me notice it today. Everyone seems to be calling attention to the oversexualization of children in our society and it’s interesting to see that sexualization reflected negatively in The Hunger Games

Slowly getting to know Peeta is another element to The Hunger Games that I always enjoy. He is so kind and pure compared to many of the characters. In a manner of speaking, his positivity reminds me vaguely of Prim. They have a lot in common if you think about it. They’re both slightly innocent and almost gentle. Of course, Peeta has been placed in an environment where his gentleness is unwelcome. Prim’s has been protected by Katniss. His will be altered by his involvement in the games.

Chapter 6 Thoughts

Did you know that six is my favorite number? It absolutely is. Just in case you were wondering. And this chapter is a good one so it fits. 

And of course, Effie Trinket is her normal self throughout this one. The fact that people of The Capitol refer to the citizens of District 12 as barbaric is just another insult to injury. Katniss’s understanding of the irony of that statement is a great detail. How can Effie refer to District 12 as barbaric when her own sacrifices children to a manic game of life or death? It’s ridiculous. 

Although, I’ve got to admit… Not everything about The Capitol is ridiculous. I would kill for half of their gadgets. Can you imagine touching an object and having perfect hair immediately? I think I spend more time combing out knots and tackling frizziness than anything else. Having something else do that for me sounds like a dream. 

However my delight at their gadgets, going back to the reality of how cruel The Capitol is is always shocking. What they do to Avoxes is particularly harsh. Cutting out their tongues and reducing them to speechless servants is horrible. Can you imagine spending the rest of your life forbidden to communicate with anyone? The only time someone speaks to you is to give orders? It sounds terribly lonely and I can’t think of a true real-world comparison. Even though we take away the rights of convicted criminals in America to a degree, they aren’t truly cut away from any form of communication. They’re allowed to speak. Avoxes have even that taken away from them. They have very few options for finding comfort in their situation. I wonder how many lose their minds after years of silence. 

I did always want to learn more about the female Avox though. I can’t remember finding out the answers to all of my questions. I think some are answered later on, but I can’t really remember. Why was she rebelling? I’m unsure. Maybe we find out in the third book? If you remember anything, let me know! 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 3 – 4)

Sometimes it surprises me all over again how good books stay good even as you get older. Some concepts just have a huge impact on us all. The idea behind The Hunger Games is definitely one of those concepts. As a child, the idea of competing in the games was terrifying. I couldn’t imagine having to fight for my life. I live in a world of comfort. As an adult, the idea of the games is absolutely horrifying. These are children being sent off to kill each other. Babies. It is horrible to think about. Imagine a world where you make an entertainment platform off of the deaths of children. It’s disgusting.

But that’s why I can still enjoy this book and it’s why millions of people have enjoyed this book. The distaste for this event is universal. Yet, it’s also universal to enjoy the drama and intrigue. This idea is so out there that you just have to read more. What is the world like in which this could happen? How do the citizens of the Capitol justify this? How can they enjoy watching kids die?

Back of the Book (

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, from the chapter that they are covering.

Chapter Three Thoughts 

I never fully appreciated the differences between Prim and Katniss. Katniss is so strong and bold. Everything she does is geared towards survival. She is an adept hunter and woodsman. Prim is much, much softer than her. It is a testimony to Katniss’s strength that she has enabled Prim to, more or less, remain unchanged. Prim has been able to have a childhood. She is able to be soft and kind. It is admirable that Katniss has been strong enough to protect her from the harsher sides of their life.

Relationships like that between siblings are always really touching in my opinion. I know most of the time it’s due to lackluster parenting, but it’s still a powerful bond. Being protective of your siblings is nothing to shake a finger at. It’s wonderful that Katniss has been her sister’s protector in life. I also feel like her relationship with Prim gives a lot of children who have the same type of parental relationship with their siblings a role model. It’s hard to feel like you’re the only one who has to take care of your siblings. It’s too easy to feel alone when you’re in that type of situation.

I also love Madge as a character. She is so completely understated, yet ends up having a huge impact on the storyline. Katniss would never be the same without her mockingjay pin. It completes her persona throughout each novel in the series. Another thing I never fully realized is how casually Suzanne Collins threw in Madge giving Katniss her pin. It seems so unimportant for something that ends up vital to the series.

Good writing at its finest. 

Katniss’s conversation with Gale during this chapter has always interested me. His take on her involvement in the games is so blunt and to the point. He believes she can win because she hunts and, at the heart of it all, The Hunger Games is just a hunt. You just have to think of your competitors as prey instead of people. It is an absolutely brutal thought process, but it isn’t incorrect. A normal human will have a hard time killing someone they view as a person. If she refuses to view her competition as people, it will be easier for Katniss to win. It makes sense, but it’s still horrifying. 

Once Katniss is on the train, the descriptions of wealth begin. The Capitol is so exceedingly better off than people in the twelve districts that even their train cars are decked out beyond the amenities that Katniss has in her home. There’s a shower with hot water! Katniss had never showered before. The difference in wealth and lifestyle between the various districts as well as between the Capitol and the districts catches my attention every time I read this book. They have so little in common. The Capitol takes their wealth for granted; people in District 12 starve to death. And, of course, there’s parallels to that in the real world. While I make a four course dinner for eight people one night, people around the world starve to death. It’s horrible, but it’s real, and a lot of it is based on the decisions of worldwide governments. I think I read somewhere once that we have more than enough food to feed every person on the planet; we just don’t. 

Plus, I love the extra attention Collins pays to details when describing the better parts of life – the luxuriousness of the shower, the taste of the food, everything. I could read about the food for hours on its own. It all just sounds so wonderful. Even just the description of taking a shower makes me want to take a shower of my own.

However, Effie Trinket does really bother me, but, of course, she’s meant to. Her derision towards people of District 12 is so obvious that it hurts. She has no real understanding of their experiences. When she looks down on the previous tributes for how they ate with their hands, it’s disturbing. Those two children had never had enough to eat. The sheer amount of food they were given as their first meal in the train would be overwhelming to them. Table manners would be the last things on their mind. It “upset her digestion” to watch two kids that had been slowly starving to death eat. How ridiculous is that. 

And yet, again, realistic. As a society, we judge people everyday on traits they can’t help. We judge them for being dirty if they don’t have access to a shower. We judge them as poor if they don’t have a good job. We judge them as stupid if they can’t get a good education. It’s unfair. But it’s real. It is to be expected that a spoiled rich girl from The Capitol would judge a poor child from District 12 and find them wanting. They have had none of the benefits growing up that she has had. Even regular access to food is out of reach. 

Chapter Four Thoughts

Learning more about Katniss’s mother’s mental illness always hurts a little bit. The distance that can emerge between people because of mental illness can be all consuming. Losing your mother to it is hard. I lost my own to her bipolar disorder. She became someone I couldn’t recognize. She became someone dangerous.

Of course, Katniss’s mother isn’t necessarily dangerous in a physically life-threatening way. But she is dangerous in the fact that she loses herself to her depression. She becomes unable to care for her children. Treating people who suffer from these conditions needs to become a priority for our society. They deserve better. Their children deserve better. You can’t raise a child if you can’t care for yourself in any regard. 

The same is true in The Hunger Games: they all deserved better. Katniss’s mom should have had access to proper healthcare. Katniss should have had access to food for her family. They should all have gotten better from their government and their society. But they didn’t. 

And, worse, The Capitol makes a game of their deaths. When Katniss and Peeta depart the train, Katniss is “…sicked by their excitement, knowing that they can’t wait to watch us die.” They are excited to see the tributes, even fully aware of the fact that they will be forced to fight for their lives as a form of brutal entertainment. They don’t see children, they see deaths. And they love it. 

But it’s hard to blame them. Do you think you would believe any different if you had grown up in The Capitol? They have no real understanding of what life is like in the district. The concept of starvation is unfamiliar and nonthreatening. They don’t view the tributes as people, just entertainment. How would you feel, living life in paradise, if you had no entertainment? The Hunger Games are their best and most interesting entertainment all year. It prevents boredom from setting in. Their lives are actually meaningless, they just don’t know it yet.