As always: Spoilers ahead. And a lot of opinions.
So, I’ve finished the first book and I have all ready started Catching Fire (I would like to reiterate that the second book is my favourite). I will be starting that tirade when I get done with part I. I know I’ve said a lot about this book all ready, but it’s nicely broken up in three pieces. This is probably not the last you will hear about this book, but I am sure that this the bulk of it.
Part III had a lot going for it - it kept up a nice pace, a good twist and at the very end let us have that impression that the Capitol was really more sinister than we believed. There was a lot packed into those last nine chapters. Let me not get ahead of myself, I will start right this time. Mostly.
So, we hit part three and we know that the rules have a changed a bit; this rule change only affects Peeta & Katniss and Cato & Clove. Thresh and Foxface have no one left and work stronger alone than with another person to take watch out for - the rule change says that two winners from the same district can win, and we all know it’s for Peeta and Katniss.
I am not a fan of the whole Katniss and Peeta “romance.” But, I understand why it works, why it was encouraged by Haymitch. It strikes a chord in people, especially people who enjoy a good soap opera - lots of drama, lots of tension and that moment we can all sigh in relief. When she realizes that they can both live, it’s a relief to her. I don’t think it’s because she loves him - Katniss is so confused and so very against being in love because of the life she is afforded in Panem. And she’s only 16! I think sometimes we forget that these characters are just fucking children. She’s confused, away from home and doesn’t think she’s going to survive. Having a chance to work with a partner that she doesn’t have to kill or fear death from is pretty powerful.
I realized when she found Peeta exactly why I don’t like him: he’s a teenage boy. I never liked teenage boys, even when I was that age (it’s been almost 10 years now). I know that he’s doing everything he can to keep Katniss alive because he loves her or he thinks he has undying love her, I can’t judge that because for all I know he does, and I’m just too cynical. Both wanted to survive together, even if for different reasons.
I know that Katniss is confused - she wants to like Peeta but is conflicted because how she came to find out and I know that deep down, if things weren’t so messed up in her world, she would allow herself to fall for Gale. Katniss raised her sister, she knows what kind of life children would have in Panem, what kind of pain comes from loving someone when they are finally taken from you.
The rule change was a godsend, so to say, because then Katniss wouldn’t have to kill Peeta, who would willingly die for her. She wouldn’t have to be the bad guy. People were paying attention to their love story, ignoring the other parts of the arena really - cos Cato and Clove? They were was something there, even if only a slight friendship, it would’ve made more sense for Cato or Clove to kill one another quickly when the odds were down to Katniss, Thresh and Foxface. Peeta didn’t matter, he was slowly dying.
And who’s to say that if Cato and Clove won, ignoring the fact that rule was changed when Katniss and Peeta were last standing, that they would want the other to survive? Winning comes with a huge price - glory, money, food for your district. Why would a Career want to share this glory?
I know that there is sentiment because you share the same district, but the Careers aren’t compassionate. I’m betting that those kids are raised to be ruthless and not care about anyone in the arena - not kin, not friends, not “countrymen” so to say. They are elevated in their own Districts, they are trusted to bring glory and food to their people.
Saying all of that, I can hear the fear in Clove’s voice when she knows that Thresh is about to kill her; I can hear the desperation in Cato’s when he calls back to her, trying to get to her. He was in pain watching her die - he wanted her to live and I can’t help but wonder if he would’ve died for her if they were the last two left or if he would’ve turned on her when the moment came to it. Clove called to him, desperate to have him by her side. My mind starts wondering if Cato would’ve let Clove survive had they got to the end and the rule change revoked or would he have turned on her as swift as the wind?
The sentimental part of me wants to say he would die for her, the logical part of me says that he would disembowel her as sure as the sunrises. I know that he went after Thresh once Clove died, he stayed with her until the end and killing Thresh couldn’t have been an easy feat. I want to think that he did it as a sort of revenge for her, but then again, Thresh did steal his backpack.
The death of Foxface is perfectly described by Katniss - Peeta’s own ignorance was her downfall. Foxface was over confident in her opponents in knowing what they could and couldn’t eat - she paid for it with her life. Of course, I believe that if she didn’t die from the nightlock those wolf muttations would’ve slaughtered her.
Which brings us to the most horrifying death in this book. Cato. I know that Rue’s death was pretty fucking sad and I am sure that the first Tributes to die at the cornucopia died in gruesome and bloody ways, but we didn’t have to watch those people die and Rue’s death was offset by her being taken care of by Katniss. People would remember her singing this little girl to sleep, burying her in flowers.
There was no relief for Cato, not really. Katniss could’ve given him relief when he first fell, or rather when Peeta gave Katniss the signal to shoot him down, and the mutts came over him like a pack of rabid, starving animals. I know that Katniss was pretty freaked out seeing the eyes and amulets of the mutts, seeing Glimmer inside one of those creatures. For a brief moment, I wonder how Cato felt when he saw Clove’s eyes staring at him, intent on slaughtering him.
His death was disgusting. Was there anything to give back to the family when the hover craft finally took him? Did he have the glory of his District or was he used an example how to not survive in the arena? Whatever happened, the nicest thing that happened that next morning was Katniss launching an arrow into his skull, easing his pain in that one movement. I struck me when he begged for it, said that simple “please”, that despite the bravado, he was probably just as scared as the rest of them.
I always forget that all of these people are just children. All of their awful actions against one another is because they are made to do that, they are against their wills here, even if they are Careers. Not that it would be better if these things happened to adults, but somehow that wouldn’t sting as much.
The moment that I know gets to a lot of people is after the reversal of the single district rule that causes Katniss and Peeta to attempt joint suicide - it was a perfect moment. In that moment Peeta didn’t have to kill Katniss and she could tell him without words that she understood when he said he was going to be more than a piece in their Games. They were rule breaking, in a way that no one could stop once it started.
For once, the Capitol had no control over something.
Of course, this started a shit-storm that swiftly followed after, leading to my favourite book in the series. I did like the ending of the First book, the way Katniss handled herself and slowly fell back into the role of awkward teenage girl trying to get home to her family. The scene with the train, Peeta realizing that she did everything for the cameras, to stay alive and that she might not love him back at all.
It strikes all at once that she wasn’t just unsure about Peeta, she was also unsure of Gale and completely torn because it was probably just hitting her that she was crushing on both of them; her heart confused because she knows Gale, but Peeta killed for her, risked his life for her. So, is she having thoughts about Peeta because the situation they were in or is it because she finally got to see him as he saw her all those years? She’s so adamant about not falling in love, not marrying and not having kids, this must feel like a betrayal of her heart and body.
I talk a lot about Katniss, but I think about Peeta and Gale, too. Both practically fighting for her in that world; Peeta has leg up in this though - he lets himself feel for Katniss. He knows he has nothing to lose, not really. Gale on the other hand, has a whole world with Katniss, something that I sure the risk of having Katniss deny him is not worth losing, not yet anyway.
Peeta went into these games prepared to die for Katniss. We can tell by how his family is, that they don’t really care either way for him. Or more practically, they couldn’t let themselves feel for him in this instance. The chances of Peeta coming home alive are non-existent; to his family he is probably all ready dead, this is just their chance to say goodbye and from what I gather, no one really knows how to say goodbye in this world. It’s too hard, people die too frequently.
Peeta would have an advantage over Gale in the fact that Katniss doesn’t like to owe people. Gale and Katniss work together - they hunt together and they take care of each other’s families. She doesn’t owe him because their work is not mutually exclusive, they pay one another back with the act of taking care of another. Peeta gave her everything because he loved her without wanting anything in return but her love: the one thing that she cannot give him. Or rather, the one thing she refuses to give anyone except for Prim once their father dies.
Katniss though, has a lot to contend with coming up in the series, she doesn’t really have time to sort out her emotions, which debilitates her I think. She’s only allowed to mature to a point in this series, stunted by the things going around her. She’s an adult in a lot of ways and a little girl in so many others. Katniss isn’t allowed to emotionally grow in this world - she is practically the mother in Prim and has to take care of her because her mother can’t. The people who make Katniss the Mockingjay are irresponsible with her life. Not physically - Katniss can make those decisions, but mentally and emotionally. But we will discuss that when the time comes.
Now, we’re at the of the Games in the arena, and we are just starting the Games in the real world. A new challenge is about to begin and they all know what is on the line. The odds are not in their favor.
Overall, I find the Hunger Games to be an excellent read. I don’t like it categorized as a young adult book because of the themes - I’m not going to say that preteens and teenagers aren’t capable of understanding the story, because I don’t know how teenagers are today. But I don’t think this book should be limited to the young adult section, it has a lot of themes that strikes chords with a lot of people, of varying ages. This was a very solid book. I would have accepted this story as a singular book - even with the ending; I’m glad its not though.
This is definitely a book I’ll be keeping on my shelves.