What Jenny's Reading

{February 15, 2015}   Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Pt. 1

Happy Sunday!  Finally I have part one of the second book of The Hunger Games!  And I will never apologize for disliking Gale!

We pick up right before the Victors’ Tour starts. Katniss is in the woods, hunting. Then she goes to the Hob and chats with her friends about the tour. Specifically she talks to Darius, a Peacekeeper who will be a little important later on.

At home, she finds out that President Snow has come to pay her a visit. Is this a friendly good luck chat? No, of course not! Snow basically tells her that he’ll kill everyone, in the whole world I think, if she can’t pull off convincing him that she’s in love with Peeta. He tells her that her stunt with the berries has incited some uprisings, and it’s her responsibility to quell them. Hey there, if you can’t handle your citizens, maybe you’re running a crap government here, Mr. President. Ever think of that?

Pop quiz time! Your best friend who you have a crush on but never bothered to tell her about it has arrived home safely from almost certain death. While she was away, she participated in a sort of but not totally fake romance contrived to save both her life and her fellow tribute’s life, which was also not her idea. When she comes home do you: 1) be happy that she’s alive and mostly well; 2) be happy she’s alive and sulk a little about the perceived romance, but accept that you never told her how you felt and also she did what she had to do to stay alive, and get over it; or 3) sulk a ton and turn into a total asshole who rejects her attempts to help you out and act like she totally cheated on you?

Hint: if you even think 3 is acceptable, you are a dick. GUESS WHAT GALE DOES.

Ugh. Okay. Katniss heads over to wake up Haymitch, and has an overly polite conversation with Peeta. Haymitch points out that they’re supposed to be in love, and they need to use the next hour to work on that.

Effie, Cinna, and Katniss’s prep team come to the house to get her ready. She’s supposed to have developed a talent, something to do since she has so much money she doesn’t need to work. Katniss has no talents, except hunting and singing, and she won’t do either of those for the Capitol. So Cinna makes believe that she’s designing clothes, and does all the work for her. Ha!

But seriously, Katniss – there’s nothing else you like? You’re supposed to be a well-rounded book heroine. Peeta at least has the baking thing, and also he’s taken up painting. Gale works almost constantly in the coal mines, so he’s excused from hobbies and interests. Prim excels at all the options that Effie suggests. It would’ve been nice to have Katniss mention things she liked. I mean, how does she fill her days? Does she just sit out in the woods? I’m actually curious about this, and they never go into it.

Anyway. The prep team gets her all ready and they head off from the train station. She and Peeta share an embrace, and she’s so grateful and guilty that he’s not half-assing the whole romance thing to spite her.

Once they’re on the train, Katniss chats with Haymitch about her conversation with Snow. Haymitch reminds her that she has no out, because they’ll be going to the Capitol for the Games every year and she and Peeta will have to get married and live happily ever after. Haymitch is apparently #teampeeta because he’s all, you could do way worse, you know.

Katniss is unhappy about having her personal freedoms and choices taken away from her. She’s also downright horrified that she’ll likely be forced to have children, and it seems like a guarantee that her kids will end up in the Games.

The next day she’s pretty sulky, and I can’t say I blame her. The train breaks down and Katniss is rude to Effie about the scheduling mess this causes. She stalks off and leaves the train to take a walk. Peeta follows her.

Pop quiz, part the second. Your crush saves your life by pretending-but-sort-of-not that she’s in love with you, based on a deception that was your idea. When you find out it’s not all real, do you: 1) Feel sad for awhile, but realize it’s not fair to her and get over it; 2) sulk and act wounded, but realize it’s not fair to her, apologize, and attempt to become friends; or 3) sulk a ton and turn into a total asshole who rejects her attempts at friendship because you’ve totally been betrayed?

The correct, enlightened answer is 1. Peeta chooses 2, which is not as good as 1 but way, way better than 3. Then, even better, he follows it up with an actual gesture of real friendship.

Even if you don’t care for/believe the Katniss/Peeta romance, I think we can all agree it’s nice that these kids patched things up. I mean, they really only have each other, as far as someone to talk to who really understands what they’ve been through.

Well, there is Haymitch. But would you want to have a therapy session with him?

Things are bad in District 11. Peeta gifts both Thresh’s and Rue’s families with a month of their winnings. Katniss gives a speech about how sorry she is that they’re both gone, and a riot practically breaks out. She watches the Peacekeepers shoot an old man because he was the first to react to her words, because the way to convince people that you’re more powerful and in control than they are is to pick on the weakest person you can find.

Haymitch drags Katniss and Peeta up to a remote room where they can talk privately. They tell Peeta about Snow, and Peeta is super, super pissed about being left out of the loop. He yells and breaks things and honestly, I think he’s totally entitled to be angry. Peeta also snaps at Haymitch about how he chose Katniss during the Games, even though he (Peeta) is actually okay with it. He stalks off and leaves the two of them alone.

Haymitch confesses to Katniss that he did choose to protect and help her rather than Peeta, even though he actually likes Peeta more. He chose her because she was so fiery, and also because he thought if he and Peeta were both working to save her, he stood a chance to keep her in the running.

From then on out, things are difficult for Katniss. She sees angry citizens and the possibility of an uprising in several districts. Again, not really your fault, kid. It’s the Capitol’s barbaric rule that’s really causing this. You’re just a catalyst.

Katniss has nightmares, because duh. Peeta hears her screaming and comes to her rescue, and then they start sharing a bed. Not for sexytimes, Katniss is careful to point out; just to hold each other and help each other through the night. Honestly, that seems way more intimate than sexytimes. How many people do you feel that comfortable with, to share your bed?

Finally they get to the Capitol. Peeta proposes, because they’d worked out beforehand that he would do that. He is not happy about this, but does it anyway.

At the Capitol party, Katniss finds out she’s failed to prove to Snow that she loves Peeta – or rather, she’s failed to subdue the uprising. Again, not her problem, but anyway. This puts her in a good mood, actually, because at least now she knows, and she decides she’ll run away.

Of note: the Capitol people all eat so much at parties that they need to force themselves to vomit, much like the Romans. Except it’s been shown I think now that a “vomitorium” was actually a hallway leading out of a building, rather than a place to go to be sick. So it’s just the Capitol. Peeta is disgusted, and Katniss remembers all the starving children at home. One of Gale’s brothers was sick recently, she remembers, and they had corn syrup from Parcel Day (the day that the district gets food from being the home of the Games winner), but he felt bad out having some since there wasn’t much left.

Hold on. Corn syrup? Like Karo? The Capitol is sending the districts corn syrup? Isn’t that horrible for you? Are they planning on killing off the population via heart disease?

Anyway. She and Peeta head home, and she discovers there’s an uprising in District 8. She is super excited about this. She decides that she and her family and friends should run rather than take part, to keep themselves alive. She chats with Gale about this, and it goes as well as you’d think, especially since he’s still so butthurt about her fake engagement.

Katniss: Hey Gale, let’s run away together! It’s dangerous around here, you know.
Gale: Awesome!
Katniss: Also I need to take my family. And Haymitch. And Peeta too.
Gale: Wait a second. You want to go with people other than me? You care about people other than me? Well, that changes everything!

God, what a fucking baby he is. Not everything is about you, you know. A real friend would’ve understood, and also would’ve probably asked how Katniss felt about her mandatory marriage and how all of her choices were being taken away from her. They argue a bit longer, and then Katniss lets slip that there’s an uprising. This is very exciting to Gale, and he says then he definitely won’t go with her, but he’ll stay and fight. Fine. That’s his choice.

Katniss decides she’s going to get him to see reason by telling on him to his mommy. Ha! That really happened, I’m not making it up to be funny. She doesn’t get the chance, though, because she and Peeta run into the new Head Peacekeeper whipping Gale for trying to sell turkey.

There’s a big to-do, with Katniss accidentally getting hit in the face with the whip when she tries to intervene, and then both Haymitch and Peeta stepping forward to help save Gale’s life. Haymitch. And Peeta. Helped save Gale’s life. Remember that for later on.

They all get Gale to Katniss’s house, where her mother takes over and starts treating him. Haymitch pays the other guys who helped them carry him. Remember that, too. Katniss screams at her mother to give Gale pain medication, and she gets carted out of the room by Haymitch and Peeta.

Finally, when it’s decided that Gale will not die, Katniss is left alone with him. The less I say about her handwaving away his recent atrocious behavior, the better, I think. Oh, you would’ve done the same thing, so it’s okay? Have you ever stopped to consider that maybe, sometimes, you suck too, Katniss?

She kisses him and decides she will stay and help with a rebellion, rather than running away. See, about here’s where I got really annoyed with Katniss. Not because she’s picking Gale over Peeta, but because she’s been so fucking wishy-washy about the whole thing. She doesn’t know what she feels for either of these guys, and quite frankly most of the time seems like she’d rather not have either of them. You don’t have to pick one of them, girl. You can be alone, or you can even pick someone else. It’s okay.

Peeta finds them in the morning and is very sad, but offers to let her get some sleep while he watches Gale.

Honestly, she’s a little insufferable for awhile here, at least for me. First she bitches internally about how Peeta’s so good with words, but he doesn’t use them to cause a rebellion. The way she puts it makes it seem like she’s looking down on him for this. Then she decides to pick another fight with her mother about not giving Gale enough medicine. See, Madge came by the night before with some morphling, from her mother. Katniss’s mother gave it to Gale and he was able to sleep. Now apparently it’s starting to wear off and Katniss is all, just give him more. Jesus Christ, girl, when did you become a doctor? There are any number of very good reasons she’s not giving him more right away.

Katniss does apologize to her mother, for being such a bitch the night before. Her mother is fine with it, because she’s heard worse from people watching someone they love in pain. Katniss draws up short at this, because she might be choosing Gale, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she loves him, you know!

Ugh. Maybe Gale and Peeta should run off together.

After the blizzard, Katniss does talk to Peeta and Haymitch about starting a rebellion. Haymitch laughs at her and tells her it would never work in District 12. Oh, and then they find out that the Hob exploded.

After that, things get very bad. The mines are closed for weeks, supposedly because of a blizzard, and no one has any money to buy food. When Parcel Day comes, all the food is rotten and spoiled. Tons of kids sign up for tesserae to keep their families from starving, including Rory, Gale’s little brother. Katniss feels like a pariah in town, even though none of this is really her fault. It’s the government’s, but I guess they don’t feel like they can blame the government, and she’s an easy target. Katniss decides that she was stupid to contemplate an uprising or a rebellion.

Katniss’s mother is kept busy with sick and wounded people, but since no one will hunt in the woods now, her remedies run very low. One morning Katniss heads out to the woods anyway, I think to get some herbs or whatever, or just to walk, and runs into some refugees from District 8, who tell her she’s their inspiration and that they’re headed for District 13, which is supposed to have been destroyed and totally uninhabitable. She teaches them a few things about hunting and so forth, then heads back home, only to discover the fence was electrified.

She injures herself getting over the fence and heads home, and discovers the fence was supposed to trap her. There are Peacekeepers there waiting for her. She manages to come up with a story about where she was, and they leave. Her mother says her heel is broken and they give her sleep syrup and Peeta helps her up to bed. She begs him to stay with her for a little while, and he does.

Now, this is interesting to me. I think during this time when her foot is healing is that she really starts to fall for Peeta, except she doesn’t realize it. He comes over every day and they work on her family’s book of herbs and plants. She writes the information, and he draws the pictures. She talks about watching him while he draws in a way that suggests she suddenly finds him fascinating.

Once her foot is healed, Cinna and her prep team come back for the wedding gown photo shoot. The next day Prim comes home and says there’s a special on TV that night that everyone needs to watch. It’s the photo shoot. The Capitol people had voted on their favorite dresses, and now it’s the finals to decide what she’ll wear. Oh, and there’s an announcement about the Games, too.

This year’s a Quarter Quell, which happens every twenty-five years and has some sort of interesting, sadistic twist for the tributes. You know, speaking of the Games, I’m pretty dumbfounded that Katniss never seems to consider Prim going into the ring. It literally never comes up in her thoughts. I know she’s more preoccupied with the idea of potential children of hers being tossed into the arena, or what hypothetical kids she’ll be mentoring, but the more immediate threat would be her sister. I don’t know that she’d be allowed to volunteer for her again, and she’d also be forced to mentor her. I guess Snow decided Katniss was the worse threat and wanted to get rid of her, but geez. That’s all I’d be able to think about.

Katniss’s mother says this is the reading of the card. She tells the girls that one of her friends, Maysilee, went into the arena at Fifty, the last Quarter Quell.

It appears that when the Games were first thought of and implemented, tons of cards were written for Quells. Before reading the card, Snow discusses the other Quells. For twenty-five, a vote was taken on who to send, rather than a reaping. Katniss thinks this would be worse, to be voted on being sent rather than your name being drawn at random. For fifty, twice the number of tributes went. She thinks about how awful it would be, to face that many more tributes. That was the year that Haymitch won.

For seventy-five, of course, the tributes will be reaped from the remaining living victors. So what that means for Katniss, being the only female victor from 12, is that she is going back to the arena.


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