What Jenny's Reading

{April 28, 2015}   Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Pt. 2

The weather’s been pretty dicey the last couple of hours and internet is spotty, so I’m going to post this now while I can.  This is the second part of Catching Fire, which I apparently last posted in February.  Sorry about that!  So Katniss has just found out she’s going into the arena again.

She runs and cries and screams, totally understandably. Then she goes to see Haymitch, because she’s remembered that she’ll be going in with either him or Peeta. Haymitch is already drunk, also understandably, and they devise a plan to keep Peeta alive if he ends up back in the arena with her. Haymitch is still #teampeeta and needles Katniss a bit about how Peeta came to him first, to tell him he was going back into the arena to keep Katniss safe. That’s not really fair. Katniss feels bad about it, but I think it’s fine that she was thinking about herself.

Gale’s at her house when she gets back, and tells her they should’ve just run, and that maybe they still can. Wow, Gale, are you finally starting to see things from someone else’s perspective? But for Katniss, it’s too little, too late, because she knows the Capitol would kill her family and she also needs to protect Peeta now.

For his part, Peeta is basically just pissed at both Katniss and Haymitch. He throws away all of Haymitch’s liquor and orders them to behave like Careers. They give in to the plan eventually, to help Peeta prepare for the Games, since they have their drunken agreement that it’s Peeta’s turn to be kept safe. Katniss’s mother and Prim help too, and Effie sends them recordings of all the living victors’ Games, so they can get familiar with the fighting styles of their competition.

Gale even helps, although Katniss tells us specifically he has no love for Peeta or Haymitch. That seems so unnecessary and just serves to make Gale look like a petty bitch. I mean, yeah, he’s helping, which is nice, so why the fuck do we care whether he likes the boys? Also it’s pretty rich for him to be all hating when both Peeta and Haymitch helped save his life a few months ago (remember when I said to remember that? The time is now!). I guess Peeta’s winning Gale over, though, because he remarks to Katniss that he wishes he could hate him. Katniss agrees, and Gale then pushes the issue of their non-relationship again. She deflects this, because OH MY GOD, GALE, SHE’S A FEW MONTHS AWAY FROM THE ARENA AND WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU????

At the reaping, Effie calls Haymitch, so of course Peeta volunteers. Then they aren’t even allowed to say goodbye to their loved ones, because Snow has decided on “cartoon villain” for his main mode of operation. I guess we’ll just have to see how that works out for him.

Effie’s in a state. She wants them all to look like a team by having some sort of gold token. The other train attendants feel bad for Katniss and Peeta, too, and Peeta thinks this won’t be good for the Capitol, to watch their favorites kill each other. Katniss thinks they won’t care that much once the Games start though.

We find out who else they’ll be facing in the arena: Gloss and Cashmere, brother and sister from District 1; Brutus and Enobaria from District 2; Beetee and Wiress from District 3; Finnick Odair and Mags from District 4; a pair of unnamed morphling addicts from District 6; Johanna Mason from District 7; Cecelia and Woof from District 8; and Chaff and Seeder from District 11. I don’t know anyone else’s names. I think Johanna’s male partner was called Blight. That’s a really mean name to give a kid.

Katniss suspects, and she’s probably right, that Snow contrived the victor’s Quell to get rid of her specifically, in a way that wouldn’t make it look like the Capitol had killed her on purpose. I wonder what he would’ve done if not every district had at least one male and one female living victor.

Katniss is in a foul mood because the other victors tease her, and she snaps at Peeta because he laughs. Okay, maybe it was kinda mean and all, but am I the only one who thinks Katniss is just downright unpleasant for most of this book? I mean, she has reason to be, but God it’s sometimes a chore being stuck in her head. I’d like to see a chapter from Haymitch’s perspective.

Well, maybe not. It’d probably go like this: “Wine. Wine. Wine wine wine. Fuck these stupid kids. No wait, I love these stupid kids! Hey, more wine!” Okay, fine. Not all paragraphs can be winners, you know.

For the chariot rides, Cinna and Portia put them in glowing coal fire costumes, and they’re again all anyone can look at. Some of the other stylists tried to copy the fire trick, but that’s sort of played out. I mean, at this point it’s obviously Cinna’s thing.

Later, they watch the recap and Katniss observes how pitiful the older tributes look. She seems grossed out by the morphlings, a little. I wonder if she has the wherewithal to understand why so many former victors are addicted to drink or drugs. She seems a bit disdainful, honestly. You’ve been in the arena too, girl. You know what your nightmares are like. You know the Capitol would never provide mental health counseling to the victors.

I’m really harshing on Katniss, aren’t I? Well, hold on a bit, because I’m about to dish some more out. Her friend Darius is one of their Avoxes, as punishment for trying to intervene back when Gale was whipped. She is horrified, obviously, and shuts Peeta out entirely, because she doesn’t want to share her horror with him. It comes off that she doesn’t think he deserves to be upset by what happened, because he was from town or something. I mean, sure. Peeta didn’t know Darius as well as she did, and she’s entirely entitled to be upset about what happened to him. But Katniss really comes off as a reverse elitist, looking down on people who had more than her and thinking she’s better than them. It rubs me the wrong way.

It’s funny, but the first time I read the book, I didn’t think anything of Katniss’s attitude. It was just during the second run-through that I really started to get irritated. I also think it’s because I recently watched Catching Fire, and while I love Jennifer Lawrence, I didn’t think she really captured Katniss’s emotional nuance here. It’s not really her fault – she’s very talented. But honestly, if I hadn’t read the book, and just watched this movie, I would’ve assumed Katniss was a closed-off bitch who hates everyone.

Anyway. She and Peeta reconcile the next day and she gets to know a lot of the other tributes. She’s distressed by this, and asks Peeta how they can possibly kill these people.

Of note: while she’s hanging out with Wiress and Beetee, they point out a forcefield around the Gamemakers, which Katniss assumes is because of her and the arrow trick from the year before. Frankly, I was surprised she was the first kid who did something like that. But anyway, Wiress and Beetee explain to her how to see a forcefield. This will be important later on.

For her talent, she hangs a dummy and paints “Seneca Crane” on it. Because she wanted to piss off Plutarch. Also, Peeta paints a picture of Rue. The adults are horrified, because they’ve made themselves targets. The Gamemakers rank them both at 12, the highest score possible, so that all the other players will target them. Haymitch is pissed and orders them to their rooms, and no dinner for you either! Because Katniss and Peeta are teenagers, they think this is great.

The next day they get to spend that “one perfect day.” You know, the one you plan if you think you’re going to die tomorrow? They got to the roof and order some food and have a whole day picnic. It’s sweet and sad and I feel horrible for them both. It’s over too soon.

Interview time! Almost all the tributes are super pissed about being dragged back into the arena, and stage a little revolt during the interviews. Katniss is forced to wear a wedding dress, and by the time she goes out for her interview the whole audience is crying. She spins around for them and her dress burns up and transforms into a dress that looks like a mockingjay. Cinna! YOU ARE ASKING FOR TROUBLE HERE MY FRIEND.

Of course, then Peeta comes out and makes everyone forget what they just saw. He lies that he and Katniss are already married, and she is pregnant! This throws the whole audience into uproar, and the tributes all link hands in solidarity before the television station cuts out.

None of this stops the Games, though. Not that anyone thought it would.

The next morning, Cinna takes Katniss to the launch room. She dresses in the tribute outfit, which is a skintight, thin bodysuit. They decide maybe a desert or something tropical, as it’s thin and won’t offer much protection otherwise.

And of course, the Capitol converges and beats Cinna to death, while Katniss watches through her glass tube. She freaks, and then the tube lifts into the arena.

It’s all water, surrounding her and the other tributes. She wills herself back together from what she’s seen and dives immediately in once the buzzer goes off. At the Cornucopia, Finnick convinces her with Haymitch’s gold bangle that he’s her ally, and even rescues Peeta from his launch pad. The three of them, and Mags, gather their weapons and run off.

Almost immediately, Peeta runs into the force field and is killed. Katniss freaks and Finnick performs CPR and manages to bring him back. Hooray! I love Peeta, if it weren’t obvious.

Finnick makes pregnancy-related excuses for Katniss’s total mental breakdown. Aw. I feel bad for her here, really I do. She’s had a rough day. She’s also hilariously pissed at Finnick, because she’d been planning on shooting him in the back but now doesn’t feel that’s right, considering he saved Peeta.

They make camp, and Katniss hunts a giant rodent. They still haven’t found water, but the rodent was drinking it from somewhere, so they know it’s around. Peeta cooks the rodent by tossing it at the forcefield, and everyone is super excited about this.

You know, in the last arena, there wasn’t a forcefield that killed people. Or maybe there was, and no one ever ran into it.

Their good moods don’t last, though, because that night they see eight tributes are dead, and some of them, like Seeder and Chaff, were their friends. Luckily they are soon distracted by a giant lightning storm, and then some rain, and then an evil fog that burns them and causes temporary nerve damage. Mags sacrifices herself so that Finnick can help Peeta out of the fog rather than her.

You know, for a rebel leader playing the long game, Plutarch is surprisingly shortsighted. By Finnick’s and Mags’s reactions, they clearly didn’t know about the traps. Wouldn’t having as many victors alive as possible have been better for the cause?

Well, I know otherwise we wouldn’t have had a book. So Mags dies, and before they can really react other than to clear out the fog with water (just go with it), they are attacked by mutt monkeys and Peeta nearly dies again, because in this book he’s basically Kenny from South Park I guess. But the female victor from District 6, the morphling addict, saves his life by sacrificing herself.

So their whole day is crap, and they decide to sleep on the beach away from the horrors of the jungle. It’s not a bad plan, honestly; the arena is a big circle with a giant saltwater lake in the middle, so it’s very difficult to sneak up on someone that way. Finnick takes the first watch so he can mourn Mags, and Katniss and Peeta sleep. You know, it was nice of Katniss to give him that time alone, but geez, wouldn’t it be best for someone less distracted to watch their backs?

Luckily for them all, they don’t die in the middle of the night. Katniss wakes up and Haymitch sends them some medicine for their wounded skin. Finnick is horrified by how zombie-like the medicine makes him look. They joke around, and then wake up Peeta by sticking their gruesome faces right up to his and shaking him. It’s hilarious, but I question the wisdom of shocking a person whose heart recently stopped and who hasn’t had medical attention.

The kids ignore my buzzkilling ways. They eat breakfast and then end up running into Johanna, Wiress, and Beetee later that day. Or maybe it’s still morning, I don’t know. They’d heard a cannon earlier, and then another when a giant wave crashed out on the beach from the other side of the arena. So now the death toll is up to eleven out of twenty-four.

Johanna and Katniss argue, as is their wont, and Finnick helpfully dunks Johanna in the water to stop her from revealing too much. See, she’d ganged up with Wiress and Beetee because otherwise Katniss would never have accepted her as an ally, and also because Beetee’s the one who was in charge of breaking them out. At least, I’m assuming the second part of her reasoning. We don’t get confirmation.

Wiress is wandering around in circles, and all she can do is say “tick-tock” over and over again. Beetee was injured at the Cornucopia getting a giant spool of wire, so Katniss binds the wound and they regroup. Johanna bitches Katniss out for basically existing, and Katniss wonders if this is what it would feel like to have an older sister who totally hates you. Well, maybe, but like, really hates, not just that regular “I hate you” thing that all siblings do.

So Wiress interrupts their not-so-heartwarming chat, and freaks about the “tick-tock” again. Johanna’s all, fuck this garbage, and goes to take a nap while Katniss watches the arena and realizes that Wiress is trying to tell them the arena’s set up like a clock.

This seems unnecessary, really. There weren’t that many death traps in the arena the year before. Especially considering the covert nature of the Games, there were way too many times a rebel ally victor could’ve been killed accidentally. And I thought it was established in the first book that death by means other than tribute-on-tribute was boring to the Capitol people?

Katniss wakes everybody up and tells them about the clock theory, because they’re sitting on the beach by the fog and monkeys. They decide to head back to the Cornucopia to observe the jungle and to pick over the weapons again.

They’re ambushed by the Careers, who kill Wiress. Katniss takes out Gloss and Johanna kills Cashmere, the brother and sister from District 1. Even in the chaos, Katniss notices Finnick take a dagger to the thigh because he was protecting Peeta. You know, Peeta’s not a totally crap fighter, you guys. I get they’re trying to establish a pattern here with the tributes protecting him, and they want us to notice because Katniss notices, but geez. It’s making it seem like he’s incapable of defending himself properly.

Anyway. Brutus and Enobaria get away and the Gamemakers spin the arena around. I’m thinking Plutarch did this so that Brutus and Enobaria didn’t die too quickly, leaving our pack of five as almost the only tributes left. So much of this rebel plan was left to chance, and when I was originally reading it I was just surprised by the end, but on re-read it kind of suffers, because the plan was not that smart.

With the arena spun, they aren’t sure where they’re going, and Finnick and Katniss end up in a part of the jungle where the torment is hearing their loved ones screaming for them, via jabberjays. Katniss discovers that Finnick loves a girl called Annie, who we figure out later is Annie Cresta, a victor herself, who went crazy when her district partner was beheaded and won her Games only because there was a flood, and she was the strongest swimmer. She’d been reaped for the Games, but Mags volunteered for her to save her.

Katniss and Peeta take the first watch that night, and have a moment. They discuss how they’re working at cross-purposes, and Katniss discovers that Haymitch may be working against her rather than with her, since he apparently promised Peeta he’d help save her life. Then they start kissing, and it’s apparently really sexy, but they’re interrupted by Finnick, who wakes up from a nightmare. It’s just as well, really; they were clearly being totally crap guards.

Anyway. The next morning, Katniss decides she and Peeta need to leave the alliance, and contrives a way to speak to him privately. He agrees, but wants to wait till Brutus and Enobaria are dead, because otherwise they’d be targeted by two groups rather than one. Beetee’s planning a trap.

The trap is pretty horrific, but I honestly don’t know if it would really work. He’s going to wrap the lightning tree in his special wire, and then drag the wire down to the beach and electrocute the sand when the lightning hits, because it will be damp from the wave. Everyone else agrees to this, because at least they’ll kill the seafood as a food source, even if they don’t kill anyone else.

I don’t really understand this trap. I just don’t think it would work. I mean, I know it wasn’t supposed to work like this, but I don’t really get how they expected anyone to think it would work.

They don’t set the trap till later that night, and in the meantime they feast on the seafood. Peeta finds a pearl in one of the oysters, and he gives it to Katniss, who tucks it away and internally hopes her family will return it to Peeta before they bury her. God, that’s depressing.

So they wrap the tree in the special wire, and then Katniss and Johanna are supposed to take the wire down to the beach. Katniss doesn’t want to be separated from Peeta, but since he has the fake leg he can’t move as fast as they can, and they need to move quickly to get out of range of the lightning blast. They kiss and separate.

Of course, they get ambushed, and Johanna attacks Katniss. Really she’s getting the tracker out of Katniss’s arm, but of course Katniss doesn’t know that. Johanna smears blood all over Katniss’s face and orders her to stay down, then leads Brutus and Enobaria away from her.

Katniss makes her way back to the tree, looking for Peeta. She has a concussion, since Johanna smashed the coil against her temple, but she manages to make her way back up there. Beetee is lying by the tree, injured, clearly because he tried to drive the wire into the forcefield. I have no idea why he tried to do this, considering how electric it is. I’m also surprised he didn’t die, considering what happened to Peeta. Anyway, she hears Peeta yelling for her, and responds, hoping to draw everyone away from him. There are two more cannon blasts, and she sees Finnick and Enobaria approaching the tree. She ducks behind it, readying her arrow to shoot them both. At the last minute, though, she remembers Haymitch telling her to remember who the real enemy is.

She takes her arrow and ties Beetee’s wire around it, then shoots it through a weak spot in the forcefield. The lightning hits the tree, travels up the wire, and the forcefield explodes.

Katniss gets pulled into a hovercraft by Plutarch. She figures he’s going to kill her, but instead he saves her life. She wakes up and, thinking she’s in the custody of the Capitol again, she decides she’s going to find Peeta and kill him so he won’t have to suffer at the Capitol’s hand. She searches the hovercraft and finds Finnick, talking with Plutarch and Haymitch. Haymitch explains to her about the rebellion and how they’re on their way to Thirteen. He also then has to admit to her that they only got her, Finnick, and Beetee out; Peeta and Johanna were taken by the Capitol along with Enobaria.

Katniss attacks him viciously, and is dragged away by Finnick to I guess the hospital area of the hovercraft. Somebody hooks her up to the machines and drugs her. Finnick apologizes and cries because Annie’s a prisoner of the Capitol too, but Katniss refuses to be sorry for him. She remains drugged and furious for I think the rest of the ride to 13, where she comes to her senses.

Gale is there, looking like he needs to be punched. I mean, I’m just assuming. I can’t see him through the book. He tells her that 12 was bombed and no longer exists, because that is the best possible way to break such horrible news to someone, while they are recovering from a concussion and reeling from emotional trauma already.

And on that happy note, the book ends.


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