Mark Reads ‘The Hunger Games’: Chapter 2

In the second chapter of The Hunger Games, the shock of the results of the reaping drive the main character to make a damning sacrifice. In the process, we learn more about life in The Seam and why Katniss dislikes her mother so much. SHIT IS GETTING REAL SO SOON. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hunger Games.


I used a very specific phrase in my first chapter review when referring to the method Collins uses to build this alternate world: heavy-handed. This chapter, beyond giving us some more backstory, further supports my feelings that perhaps Collins’s strong suit isn’t being subtle.

Chapter 2 opens with a very, very brief story about Katniss falling out of a tree and having the wind knocked out of her. She then says this is how she feels at that very moment, upon hearing Prim’s name chosen as the girl tribute. I also said before that Collins’s style is very choppy, rhythmic, and direct. I was okay with it before and I’m not ready to launch a full scale whine-fest yet, but this metaphor that opens the chapter is a bit much for me. The rest of this section is full of them: painfully obvious flashbacks that provide insight into how Katniss feels in the present.

I understand why they need to happen and what they’re describing. I just feel as if Collins might want to do it with a bit more grace than what exists here.

The very Battle Royale-esque drama continues to unfold; the crowd (and Katniss) express their horror that a twelve-year-old girl has been chosen for the Hunger Games. In a moment of desperation, Katniss fulfills the prediction I made for this book: she volunteers herself in place of Prim for the Hunger Games. I suppose in hindsight this is obviously inevitable, but I was intrigued to see how long the Prim plot would play out. It’s over, and quite early at that.

(PS: Does Effie Trinket remind anyone of Dolores Umbridge? Just a thought.)

“Prim, let go,” I say harshly, because this is upsetting me and I don’t want to cry. When they televise the replay of the reapings tonight, everyone will make note of my tears, and I’ll be marked as an easy target. A weakling. I will give no one that satisfaction.

I’m interesting to see how this sort of gender interplay will flesh out, considering that we’re dealing with a female character who eschews most of the tropes of a female hero. (Though…is she a female hero trope herself? More on that as I read more of this.) I’m also wondering how the use of television is going to play out as well.

I did like this moment a lot, when Trinket asks District 12 to applaud Katniss for her sacrifice:

To the everlasting credit of the people of District 12, not one person claps. Not even the ones holding betting slips, the ones who are usually beyond caring. Possibly because they know me from the Hob, or knew my father, or have encountered Prim, who no one can help loving. So instead of acknowledging applause, I stand there unmoving while they take part in the boldest form of dissent they can manage. Silence. Which says we do not agree. We do not condone. All of this is wrong.

Again, the writing feels a bit stilted and obvious, but it’s a powerful moment nonetheless.

But a shift has occurred since I stepped up to take Prim’s place, and now it seems I have become someone precious. At first one, then another, then almost every member of the crowd touches the three middle fingers of their left hand to their lips and holds it out to me. It is an old and rarely used gesture of our district, occasionally seen at funerals. It means thanks, it means admiration, it means good-bye to someone you love.

I assume this means that volunteer tributes are incredibly, incredibly rare. Also, is there a reason that Katniss’s thoughts seem so…monotone? Is she doing this on purpose? Don’t answer that by the way.

Trinket then chooses the male tribute and it’s someone Katniss knows. And thus begins a continuation of Collins’s brow-beating metaphors.

I am loving the content of this book so far; I think a lot of you were spot-on to suggest that I read this series next. It’s like you know everything deep inside my heart. However, I’m still slightly bothered by the way this is written. Again, it’s possible there’s a reason it’s written this way and I’m willing to wait that out, but it’s a very jarring style.

For example:

The mayor begins to read the long, dull Treaty of Treason as he does every year at this point—it’s required—but I’m not listening to a word.

Why him? I think. Then I try to convince myself it doesn’t matter. Peeta Mellark and I are not friends. Not even neighbors. We don’t speak. Our only real interaction happened years ago. He’s probably forgotten it. But I haven’t and I know I never will…

I can’t place my finger on it, at least not yet, but I don’t know why I don’t like it too much. It’s very matter-of-fact, isn’t it? And maybe that’s a part of Katniss’s characterization. But then with that final line, it seems very obvious that the very next part is going to be a flashback. I’m right. It’s a flashback.

The content of this part of the backstory, in which we learn that Katniss’s mother shut down emotionally and mentally after the death of her husband, is also another bit that I find expected once I read it. It makes it so that Katniss naturally falls into place as head of the household. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it fits a little too well, and is a little too convenient for me.

WAH WAH WAH WHINE WHINE WHINE. This is all incredibly fucked up, though, isn’t it? I lived a large part of my life in poverty and Katniss’s story, which is way worse than anything I ever experience, still resonated pretty heavy with me. I know what it’s like to have hunger pains and to feel nothing but an intense jealousy when you see other people who are better off than you.

I was surprised that the point of the story was that Peeta at one time demonstrated compassion towards Katniss at what seems to be the lowest point of her life by risking a beating to give her two loaves a bread. The moment provides Katniss with something that can keep anyone alive in the most dire of circumstances: hope.

It’s a fairly bold moment of foreshadowing as well and I can’t help but think of Shuya and Noriko from Battle Royale and wonder if this is going to play out in a similar manner. (Though we still have Gale to worry about.)

The chapter ends with Katniss hoping that the odds will work out so that she doesn’t have to kill Peeta, despite odds working against her up until this point. I’m left wondering, however, how much this book will deal with murder. There are twenty-four contestants in this game and someone has to die. Are we actually going to see this? Will Katniss herself kill anyone? I’m hoping so, or else I may not end up liking this book that much after all.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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255 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Hunger Games’: Chapter 2

  1. simply_shipping says:

    Katniss taking Prim's place: I called it too! Do we both get Internet cookies? 😀

    I love that no one clapped for Katniss. At least they still have a little bit of fight in them, enough to make it known that they Do Not Approve of things, even if they can only do that by being silent. And then the three-fingered gesture, which reminds me of the ASL sign for "thank you."

    Katniss's first reaction to Peeta makes me think he was a jerk to her, and she doesn't want to have to put up with him. And I found the backstory tedious. It sounds very bland, and I just…don't care. Move on. Tell me more of the real story, not this stuff about things from years ago. At least we find out why Katniss hates her mom, and why she doesn't want to compete against Peeta. I think it could've been told faster, though.

    Peeta's mother seems…overly cruel. I mean, her being awful to Katniss isn't that surprising, but to her own son? Really? Is this going to be one of those stories where all the bad guys kick puppies for fun?

    "Somehow it just won’t seem sincere if I’m trying to slit his throat." Alright, I laughed at this line.

    I pretty much got used to Katniss's style in the first chapter, but for some reason, it feels much more annoying in this one. More robotic. (Hey, maybe Katniss gets turned into a robot at the end!)

    I wonder what's going to happen with Gale? With the way he was in the first chapter, I expected him to be a fairly major character, but if he's not going to the Capitol, are we even going to see him again? That seems like a bit of a waste.

    Also, I figured out why I hate Katniss's name: I just read Graceling, and I keep wanting to call her Katsa.

    • CEJ says:

      Also, I figured out why I hate Katniss's name: I just read Graceling, and I keep wanting to call her Katsa.

      This. I read Graceling right before THG too, and it was so frustratingggg. But I got used to it eventually, and you will too. 🙂

    • dolphinsmile18 says:


      the first time i read these too books were also at the same time and i kept mixing up their names.

      to this day i still have trouble with katsa and say kasta instead.

    • lebeaumonde says:

      Well in a world where you have to worry about starving children in your backyard, being a little protective of your assets is probably pretty common. Humans tend to develop a very every-man-for-himself type attitude when facing starvation, so when Peeta destroys two loaves of bread, which is probably one nights' supper for the family, it's understandable she became angry. (eeeek run-on sentence.) Although I don't condone her violence, it isn't uncommon for people in situations such as that. I think the meaningful part of the story is Peeta knew his mother was abusive and risked a beating to help a starving girl.

    • notemily says:

      I love Graceling to BITS. OMG. Best book evar.

  2. DameDallas says:

    I want to stab Effie Trinket in the eye sockets. Collins wrote her extremely well. I cannot stand that Trinket.

    • simply_shipping says:

      Yeah. I think Umbridge is worse, but I'd really like to toss the pair of them into a shark tank or something.

    • deleted2934595 says:

      She's less evil than Umbridge, but that almost makes it worse. Because she doesn't ooze hatred and disgust, to me, the same way Umbridge does right off the bat. She's more…ditzy? A bright-side kind of person stuck in a shitty world? Something.

  3. Erin says:

    I had the same issues with Collins' writing at the beginning and I either got so drawn into the story that I didn't care, or she got better — not a spoiler, because I genuinely don't know which and YMMV and all that — but reading this is reminding me how off-putting I found her writing in the beginning.

    Though, IMO it makes sense for Katniss, as someone who has lived her life with repeated trauma and crushing poverty, to be somewhat monotone and direct.

  4. crazyravenclaw says:

    Like I said on the last review, Collins's writing really annoyed me at the beginning. It's often choppy and heavy-handed, almost too plain and too flowery at the same time. It's a weird mix of things, and I'm not a fan. At this point Katniss also really annoyed me. I can't really explain why, but I didn't like her at all. I think it might just have been my high expectations. I kept hearing how great this series was, and although the story was intriguing, I found it really difficult to get invested at this point.

  5. Pan says:

    I'm still ok with the writing style, because it seems to fit with what we've seen from Katniss by now. Her experiences were so painful, that she ceased to feel like a teenager in our world. If, for example, she didn't kill the animals in the forest, her family would have died. If she didn't sell the meat for an adequate price but gave it to the other starving people, she might have been killed by the authorities and her family died as well. etc. etc. And she's right about thinking that she might die at the very beginning of the hunger games – mind district 12s history. (And Katniss doesn't know, that the novel is first person and has still ~300 pages to come…)

    I don't worry about Gale at all. He's 18, so he won't take part in any reaping anymore. Furthermore, he's just her hunting partner. Maybe he's secretely deeply in love with her, but if she dies, I think he'll get over it.

  6. helloimbella says:

    Effie = DOLORES UMBRIDGE? WAT. Mark, you're amazing and have the most epic logicz ever, but that is nonsense. Umbridge is EVIL INCARNATE. Only not even remotely as much a badass as MIB.

    No. Just. No.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      No, I know she's not the same, but I meant that I was just reminded of her.

    • bookling says:

      Effie does sort of have the sickly-sweet thing going on, though. I can kind of see how someone reading the book for the first time would get that impression.

      • helloimbella says:

        YES, this is true. Only Umbridge is a nutter and Effie. Well. Certain OMG SPOILERS and things make her less unexcusable than suckfest!Dolores.

        Although, Effie is very much hate-worthy, this is true as well. Methinks my first impression of Effie happened so long ago that now all of my thoughts about are linked directly to her and to no one else.

        I make no sense.

    • kajacana says:

      This. I hate Umbridge with ALL THE FIERY PASSIONS. Effie Trinket pisses me off, but Dolores Umbridge deeply and personally offends every part of me that could possibly be offended. I don't know that I've ever loathed a fictional character half as much as I loathe Umbridge. But, Collins… nice try?

  7. Kripa says:

    JKR set the bar rather high when it comes to writing style. That's what I would chalk disappointment with Collins' writing to. But…keep reading.

  8. Fireheart says:

    I think some of what might be bothering you with her writing it the use of the short pointed phase (or maybe the over use of it). I feel the use of them can be very dramatic and meaningful, but if you use them a lot it can diminish their impact, especially considering how it's written (first person present tense). Most peoples' thoughts ramble, even people who tend to speak in short thought out phrases probably don't think that way. It's very "me eat food" sort of tone, as such I think it dehumanize Katniss some. You would expect her to to explain an event in a tone that reflects her emotional state. However, that said, as I got into the book I became use to the tone and I thought it worked for the character (or maybe it just colored my understanding of the character).

    BTW – have been reading since MRHP, but this is my first comment. Really enjoy your stuff. 🙂

  9. Treasure Cat says:

    Ok let's post some opinions-
    1. The writing style. I agree with you Mark, Collins really isn't the most talented writer and it shows. I can't post my favourite examples because spoilers but she does lack subtlety and finess. She knows how to think up a good story though, which is what I choose to focus on when I'm reading.
    2. I really liked Effie when she was introduced and I think the reader's first impression of her is spoiled by Collin's writing.
    3. I have to say this; I'm not a huge fan of Katniss'. I don't like how she's supposed to be this independent heroine and it's shoved down our throats how gritty and grown up she is. I also have huge giant issues with the way she treats and talks about her mother.

  10. weathered says:

    Collins is super heavy-handed. I think it becomes less annoying as you go. And I think Katniss' monotone fits with her characterization. Basically, as the action picks up, the writing becomes less important than the content (imo).

    I really liked what you said about Peeta and the bread story, about the power of hope. Simple, but true.

  11. Kate says:

    I actually "read" the first book by listening to the audiobook version, and I highly recommend it. I think the narration blunts some of Collins' more annoying tendencies toward short, straightforward phrases. I read the second and third books myself but by then I was either so invested in the story that I didn't notice the poor writing or Collins improved immensely from these first chapters.

    • ThreeBooks says:

      🙂 I listened to audiobooks for the whole series, and the voice actress- while being just as monotonic as Katniss herself- is quite good at what she does. The few moments when she actually has some emotion… brr.

    • maript says:

      This, about the audiobooks so much. I listened to all three books and I canNOT dissociate Katniss from Carolyn McCormick. I fear for the day I try to watch the movie version, everyone is going to sound so wrong x.x

    • klmnumbers says:

      Does Katniss have an Appalachian accent in the audiobooks? I remember it blowing my mind when I heard Collins read the first chapter of Mockingjay in that accent. Even though she tells you in the first chapter that they're coal miners it was was 'left of north america.' AND WHERE IS COAL MINING MOST PREVALENT? Oh yeah, Appalachia.

      • notemily says:

        Awhile ago there was a fan's version of the map of the Districts going around, and it was pretty interesting. I think Collins has confirmed that D12 is in Appalachia, but the others were (mostly?) speculation. I remember I'm in District 8 🙂 most people are probably underwater though. Yay for living in the relatively disaster-free Midwest!

  12. Marie_Goos says:

    When I first read about Effie the image in my head was movie!Umbridge, I'll admit it. I'll also admit I thought Gale would be the chosen male tribute. And while the writing style is a bit jarring now, I'm looking forward to seeing how it depicts some Battle Royale style murderin'. And I agree, I hope we see Katniss kill someone and how she reacts… HOPEFULLY NOT WITH A FLASHBACK. Actually, I'm saying it right now: if Katniss kills someone, a flashback will IMMEDIATELY FOLLOW. That is my totes m'gotes accurate prediction for this book. Now I want to read more, but I must hold out! Now I know how you feel, Mark, having to hold yourself back from eating the book whole.

  13. Sarah B. says:

    While the heavy-handedness of her writing style does bother me, the matter-of-factness doesn’t. To me, it simply creates a tone of utter hopelessness – a “this is the way it is, and there’s nothing we can do about it, so just suck it up” sort of sense. But I agree, Collins isn’t the most elegant writer.

  14. Terra says:

    I'm reading along with you on the Amazon preview of the book (it skips a page here and there, but is mostly complete for the first few chapters, it seems). I like the directness of the prose, but it seems clumsily written at times. I like Katniss, though, and I'm interested in seeing where the story goes from here. I'm generally willing to overlook the prose quality for the content, and the content does seem interesting so far. Let's just hope that it continues to be so.

  15. Sammy says:

    The writing style never really bothered me at all. I think it fits with the books, and the character. The Hunger Games are definitely my favorite books(right after Harry Potter). I think you will come to love the story more and more as you read the book. Also no, Effie is not anything like Umbitch. I love Effie :P.

    I loved Mark Reads Harry Potter, can't wait to read your thoughts on the Hunger Games 🙂

  16. tethysdust says:

    The writing style doesn't really bother me. It just feels like a constant reminder that this is a book written for adolescents, not adults. I don't really like the way she uses flashbacks, though. It seems like it sort of takes away from the immediacy of the situation.

    Katniss does seem like a cliche, but I still like her so far. I do think Collins has beat us over the head a little too much with Katniss' toughness, but it's nice that she cares about her sister. I agree with others that Gale got way too much introduction if he's not going to be in the story anymore. Maybe they'll write letters or he'll sneak to Capitol to see her.

    The one thing I don't understand is why she didn't take her family (or just Prim) and run off into the woods before Prim turned 12. Sure there's the uncertainty of starvation in the woods, but it's clear that this is a problem in District 12, anyway. I'm hoping that we're going to be given a better reason why this was not an option later on.

  17. Lan says:

    Will Katniss herself kill anyone? I’m hoping so, or else I may not end up liking this book that much after all.

    why is that? why does there have to be violence for you to enjoy this book?

    i'm not attacking or anything, i am just wondering what your thought process is in stating this.

    • bookling says:

      Probably because setting up a story where the main event is going to involve the main character being forced to kill someone, and then somehow getting out of it so she never has to face that decision, would feel like a cop-out.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      Well, it would feel like a cop-out, unless Collins finds an intriguing way for Katniss not to. But the point of the Hunger Games is to murder your competitors and I'd be surprised if Katniss managed not to kill one person.

      • Hermione_Danger says:

        Exactly what I was going to say.

        Incidentally, been reading since MRHP, went back and read MRT, and that was my first comment.

        SO glad you moved here so I didn't have to make a Buzznet account 😀

        • bibliotrek says:

          Ha, I've been reading ever since almost the beginning of MRT and I never commented on Buzznet either! Or maybe once? It seemed really complicated and ridiculous there for some reason, I DON'T KNOW.

      • Reonyea says:

        I'm hoping for self defense!

    • RaeLynn says:

      Probably because it's UNREALISTIC to have no violence lol. We don't want another Twilight ending now, do we? Plus, violence = emotions. I want to be able to FEEL for these characters and to be impacted by anything that would harm them. If I shed a tear, it means it's a good story because the author did his/her job in developing the character. If the story is just one big hippie fest, then there's nothing really to the story…

  18. stellaaaaakris says:

    I think the problem with Collins's writing is mostly that she's no JKR. JKR, for all her faults and reliance on the same old techniques, is a brilliantly skillful writer. Her talent becomes even more apparent when you re-read, just you wait. I noticed things on the fifth reread that I hadn't before and there were things I only realized when reading the comments for MRHP. Collins, on the other hand, is a decent storyteller but nothing special as a writer. She certainly found a compelling story to tell and does it adequately but her style lacks subtlety and refinement. I honestly don't remember if she gets better or if I just got so sucked into the story itself that I didn't care. But I definitely think it adds something to Katniss's character.

    I always imagine Effie as Kristin Chenoweth. Possibly meets Fudge. I don't think she's as bad as Umbridge with this introduction, but really, who is?

    Question: How do I get my name to be clickable? Because that seems like a fun thing to be able to do.

    • pennylane27 says:

      Kristin Chenoweth. Exactly! Thank you, I had this mental picture of her and couldn't place who it was!

      And I got a IntenseDebate account to make the name clickable, I suppose that you're logged in as a guest?

      • stellaaaaakris says:

        I tried making an IntenseDebate account but it didn't work. I'll try again. I registered under meta. I have absolutely no idea what that means but it was one of Mark's options. But when I'm posting this I'm apparently replying as a guest, even though I'm logged in (it says I have the option of logging out) – huh?

        • pennylane27 says:

          Yeah, it's weird. I had to get the IntenseDebate because the WordPress one wasn't working. I don't know, I'm not very good at this!

    • Tabbyclaw says:

      Oh, God, you are so right. Effie is a mad hybrid of Rita Skeeter and Kristin Chenoweth, especially as Galinda.

    • notemily says:

      OMG, now I hope they get Kristen Chenoweth to play her in the movie! Perfect.

  19. JapaneseAlps says:

    I definitely wouldn’t rule out Katniss killing people – come on, she was willing to drown a kitten – but I don’t think it’s going to be in the context of the Hunger Games. Not even George R.R. Martin would go, “okay, let’s watch scores of teenagers brutally murder each other right on schedule”, and Collins is no George R.R. Martin. At least, I hope she isn’t. Also, Gale got way too much of an introduction if we’re never seeing him again.

    The prospect of killing Peeta isn’t, apparently, the tipping point, but I bet you something is going to happen that causes Katniss, Peeta and maybe some other contestant(s) to try and buck the system entirely. I can only think it’s going to involve an escape, because, I mean, single-iteration Prisoner’s Dilemma with twenty-four possible betrayers? Losing proposition right there.

    By the way, massive love for Peeta and his advancing the cause of human decency in a world of clawing for scraps.

    But yeah, the writing style is a little irritating.

    • newageamazon says:

      No, Martin would make sure people died OFF schedule just so you sit there going "WAIT, WHAT? WTF? WHAT DID YOU JUST DO OH MY GOD?"

      • IsabelArcher says:

        Is it terrible that I was more upset by certain animal deaths in that series than with people? Of course, either way, I spent the majority of that reading beating my head against the wall saying, "whywhywhywhywhywhy!!!"

        • newageamazon says:

          Not if you're talking about the one I think you're talking about, because there was no reason that animal had to die other than Joff being JUST TERRIBLE.

      • JapaneseAlps says:

        Yeah, that’s about the size of it. =p

  20. Erin says:

    When I first picked up Hunger Games, it took me four tries before I got into it enough to read past the first chapter. However, once I started, I couldn't stop and read the whole book in one sitting. While not the most amazing writer, Collins knows how to tell a good story. I don't want to give too many opinions and give anything away, but keep reading. You'll get sucked in.

  21. Ally says:

    Part of me really enjoys how blunt and straight forward this story is written, because it gives power to the setting. However, I can easily see it being a downfall as things go on.

    Effie Trinket is proving to be even more Umbridge-like which has not helped her case at aaaaalllllllll.

  22. IsabelArcher says:

    I like the blunt manner of writing. But then again, I'm a sucker for the cynical, badass heroine types. In my mind I am Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Except I have throwing daggers (the sacrificial kind with curvey blades and, like, a dragon on the handle), and I throw them at guys in the bar who are pissing me off. I don't hit them, I just stick them in the wall right by their left ear. It makes a "twang" sound. WHY AM I STILL TYPING OH GOD.

    • IsabelArcher says:

      In my third to last sentence the first "them" refers to the previously mentioned annoying male, while the second is referring to the dagger. Just to clarify. I wouldn't want anyone to think I wanted to throw and stick drunk, annoying men into a wall. That would just be silly!

    • BradSmith5 says:

      Whoa. 😮

      Did I say this writing was bad yesterday? What I MEANT to type was that this style is gritty and…real! Yes! That's it! Ha,ha-ha! Silly me!

  23. Kaybee42 says:

    Collins' skills as a writer don't seem to be very apparent as of yet, but that's okay because, lets be honest, the first 3 HP's weren't incredibly well written but simply awesome stories. I hope she improves as the books progress.
    As for the manner in which Katniss 'thinks' I quite like it 🙂 It's monotonous and blunt as if she is almost emotionally dead. She has given up on trying to be truly happy or passionate and instead settles for surviving.

    As for the Prim/ Katniss swap, I was disappointed. It would have been interesting to see Prim do the Hunger Games or to see Katniss having to somehow swap with Prim without it being in the rules. That would have been cool and it feels like the Prim announcement was just a cheap shot at being 'plot twisty' early on. If she wanted to announce it to be Prim, then at least stick with it for a BIT longer!

  24. bookling says:

    How many people here are reading this book for the first time? I've read it before, but it seems like a big change from MRHP, where just about everyone had read the book before. It's so interesting to see everyone's first impressions.

    "I’m interesting to see how this sort of gender interplay will flesh out, considering that we’re dealing with a female character who eschews most of the tropes of a female hero."

    I love this about Katniss. There's more to say on this topic, but I don't want to spoil you, so my comment's going to be short.

    Also, Collins' writing style is definitely not subtle. Not at all. I totally relate to your criticizing her writing but loving the content, because she's really not as talented a writer as J.K. Rowling. But she tells a great fucking story.

    • ldwy says:

      I'm new to the series, reading along with Mark.
      You're right, it does seem like many many more people are in this boat, this time.
      I'm loving it, getting to read Mark's reactions AND other people's? It's like icing on the cake.

    • tethysdust says:

      I'm new to the series as well. I read MRHP, joined in around DH time, and it was really fun to re-experience the series vicariously. I've been told Hunger Games is one of the better young adult series out there, so I'm looking forward to reading Mark's reviews and being able to discuss and compare reactions here :).

    • Jenny_M says:

      I've read THG, but not the second or third books, so I'm looking forward to reading some of it right along with Mark.

      I really enjoy the characterization of Katniss as well. Once I got past the somewhat disaffected voice, I really began to love her.

    • Sternenblumen says:

      I'm new, too – got my books today, actually (and it's a bit embarrassing that I'm terribly excited about having a box set … Normally I just get the cheap paperbacks. Well, if I end up not liking them, at least I have some pretty books?).

      It's really interesting to see that lots of us are new to it and really reading along with Mark for the first time :).

    • pennylane27 says:

      I found out about the books a few weeks before Mark first said he was going to read them. I tried, I really tried to wait for him to start, but I just couldn't. So I read them all in like two days. Maybe the next thing he reads will be new for me!

      • bookling says:

        It's odd to me that so many people didn't even know about the series, because it's been such a big thing the past few years in the publishing world. I work in a bookstore and it's been one of our biggest sellers, especially since Catching Fire came out. But I'm glad so many people are giving it a shot and reading with Mark!

        • pennylane27 says:

          Maybe in the USA or any other English-speaking country (I don't know where you are), but here in Uruguay, South America, bookstores haven't even heard of them. I found out because I'm sort of a freak and I love to read anything that I can get my hands on. But I think I might be one of the few people who have read these books here.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      I actually wanted to read a series where people could read along with me, as opposed to something everyone was familiar with.

      • bookling says:

        That makes sense, it's just new to not have a hundred comments that are like, "I can't wait until you get to Chapter X, Mark! You will hate this person, Mark!"

        But I will say this: YOU ARE NOT PREPARED. You may think HP has prepared you for anything, but shit gets pretty real in this book.

  25. nrafx says:

    I think that this is definitely a book that people enjoy mainly for the content. Collins doesn't generally do subtlety very well, and there are definite problems with the writing style. But it is very engaging, and I think that helps distract from the flaws as the book progresses.

    I'm really enjoying your thoughts so far, I think you're pretty much spot on with everything. I'm definitely interested to read your opinions of the characters, because I think I was fairly conflicted with my feelings towards some of them.

  26. jana says:

    Haha, now this is gonna be fun. I'm really looking forward to your reaction to this.
    I will say this right now, I didn't really like the Hunger Games series and that is mostly because I the writing style annoys me SO MUCH. It could be because I went through all three books quite fast but reading them felt like… reading bad fanfiction? (with an okay story/battle royale rip off)
    I don't think I can say much more without spoiling you, so.. yes. :3 really intrigued to see how you like it!

  27. Hermione_Danger says:

    +5 points for use of totes m'gotes.

  28. Hermione_Danger says:

    The writing style is definitely love it or hate it — it's very easy to get so turned off by the choppiness and strange structure that even the (IMO) thrilling story can't make up for it. Me, I loved the books, gobbled them up in single sittings. I really hope that the content (which I just knew that you would love) gets you through the worst of the writing.

    And Katniss is an oddly divided character, and becomes more so as we go on.

    Stopping now for fear of spoilers.

  29. Ida says:

    Effie didn't strike me as a fylly fledged sosiopath like Umbridge… More like a big wellmeaning idiot. It's as if she thinks the people of District 12 are actually looking forward to the reaping.
    And I'm surpriced you didn't mentione Haymich Aybernathi. I like his character alreaddy.:D

  30. ldwy says:

    Well, so far I’m liking this book. The author does a great job of drawing you in and keeping the ball rolling.
    That said, at the end of chapter 1, my prediction was that Katniss would find some way to take Prim’s place. I thought figuring out how to do that was going to be part of the conflict and action. I imagined her having to sneakily follow the tributes to the Capitol, somehow get into wherever they are and get Prim out. Instead, she just volunteers. So I didn’t quite like that, but I think mostly because I was just expecting something else. And the selflessness and love it showed were great and were actually highlighted more this way. And I thought the crowd’s silence was heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. Basically, it jarred me a little at first, but I’m getting used to it, and I don’t mind it.
    Alright: second main point of this chapter. It wasn’t Gale??!! I felt sure it would be. So I know I’m contradicting myself a bit here, but I was SO GLAD that it wasn’t the obvious choice of Gale here, so glad that my expectations weren’t met. The two best friends going off to the hunger games together would have been a little too…something. I think this is better. And we get some characterization on a new person, Peeta (Pita bread, anyone???). So I think this is all good.
    And so my newest prediction is that Gale will obviously be involved somehow. And he seemed itching to do something, to leave, when he and Katniss were talking back in the woods. So I think – AND THIS IS JUST A PREDICTION BECAUSE I DO NOT KNOW BECAUSE I HAVE NOT READ THIS – that he will leave district 12 to stage some kind of rescue? (My biggest concern about my prediction is that I don’t actually know if, should it happen, it will work well given the first person narrative. Will Katniss be in the midst of hunger gaming, and then “suddenly I saw my old friend Gale, he must be here to rescue me!”???? )
    Okay, maybe I am unimaginative, but I enjoy theorizing while I read, and amend my theories every two pages or whatever as necessary.

    • ldwy says:

      Oh dear, my spacing is gone. I had written this out in word after I read, so I could have my reactions all fresh, but the formatting seems to have changed a bit in my copy/past. I'll have to check that in future.
      So sorry this is a crazy block of text!

    • pennylane27 says:

      Pita bread. Yes.

    • LoonyLu says:

      Another example on how Collins isn't subtle. His family are bakers and his name is PEETA! That annoyed me so much when I first started reading, but after a while, I got over it.

      • Mim says:

        Haha. Pita bread was the first thing I thought too when I reading the book. But it actually might just be a different form of "Peter" which means "rock" (this makes characterization sense later on.) Collins is as subtle with her name choices as she is with her writing, but some of the names are a bit less obvious than the rest.

        • trash_addict says:

          I know with my accent (Australian) 'Peeta' sounds identical to 'Peter', not 'Pita'. The latter never even occurred to me!

      • ldwy says:

        Yes, I've gotten over it, it does sound like a name. But it's still was the first thing I thought of, and does pop back into my head periodically.

        • notemily says:

          This is another parallel to Graceling–the heroes are Katsa and Katniss, and the male characters both have ridiculous names that start with P. Po and Peeta. There must have been some kind of brain wave going through the air. "Quick, I must write a young adult book in which the heroine's name starts with Kat and the male characters have silly P names!"

  31. Revolution64 says:

    Shit. Now I have to go to the library and get these books, otherwise I have no fucking clue what is going on.

  32. grlgoddess says:

    I was seriously expecting Gale to take Peeta’s place and go with Katniss. I still expect him to find a way to come with – there’s just too much backstory and potential to leave him behind.

    With the style, I’m finding that I like the idea of Katniss more than the actuality.

    And I don’t get why she’s thinking about killing Peeta. If I were somehow in that position, I’d try to make an alliance with the other kid in my district, and fight for ‘glory’ for the district first, and then work together for mutual survival.

    • bookling says:

      Because that's not in the rules. There can only be one winner.

      The first time I read the book, I really expected Gale to end up in the Games, too. One way or another.

      • Terra says:


      • grlgoddess says:

        I know there can only be one winner, but if you form an alliance, wouldn't that help you survive until the end? Sure it makes that last fight really suck, but you made it to the end, and if your district wins, doesn't that help your family until the next games?

        • bookling says:

          You're very smart. 🙂 I was just referring to the "mutual survival" part when I said that's not in the rules. Maybe you should be in the Hunger Games.

    • theupsides says:

      But why would Gale volunteer to enter a game where he'd have to either kill or be killed by his best friend (or someone else)? The two of them look after each other's families. The best thing Gale can do for Katniss is stay behind and watch over Prim. If he were to go, and they both got killed, it would be doubly-devastating.

    • Joanie says:

      I think Katniss has grown up in such harsh conditions that she literally can't trust anybody else. It's her family and Gale's, that's it.

  33. plaidpants says:

    This chapter seemed fairly exposition heavy and blunt to me. Not much progress on moving things forward, though. I agree with you Mark, that there's not really a lot of subtlety in the way she writes. I had been hoping perhaps Katniss would have followed Prim and somehow broken in to the games, but I guess having her volunteer just adds even more to her sense of martyrdom.

    One thing I did like was how Gale was not chosen and it was some random boy we hadn't met yet. It's not always the two main characters who get chosen. Obviously we'll find out more about the kid (I'm awful with names, of coures) soon, but I'm also (wildly guessing here) we have not seen the last of Gale. Maybe he'll sneak behind them some how and end up participating.

    I also, I don't know if enjoyed is the right word, appreciated her blunt description of having to possibly kill this boy. Yes, they mentioned in the last chapter that this was a fight to the death, but to have Katniss specifically talking and contemplating killing a person makes it a bit more real.

  34. Dragonizer says:

    Oh man, Effiiieee. Never liked her. She's not quite ALL EVIL, but she seems sort of… I don't know, fake? All of her cheerfulness and everything. I DON'T KNOW. :B

  35. dakjak says:

    This is going to be a Battle Royale appreciation post, fyi, incase you were wondering (which you probs weren't)

    So I'm all
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

    because, well, i mean, I like reading your reviews, right?
    but then, this writing style starts to annoy the hell out of me, so i'm like
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">
    I mean, you like scarred my face, WTF?!

    and then i realize I shouldn't be complaining so much and just take my weapon
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

    pretty much.

  36. SusanBones says:

    I found the writing style very annoying. It was almost like fingernails on a chalkboard for me every time I read an incomplete sentence. I don't mind a few of them scattered here and there, but Collins uses far two many of them. They give the text a choppy feel. Maybe she is trying to shock and awe the reader. But whatever it is, I had a hard time with it.

    I suppose that having Peeta be someone who was very kind and thoughtful to Katniss in the past is the author's way of making the games seem in more horrible than they are. It also could have been done differently by letting us get to know Peeta later, as the story evolves.

    • simply_shipping says:

      It was almost like fingernails on a chalkboard for me every time I read an incomplete sentence. I don't mind a few of them scattered here and there, but Collins uses far two many of them. They give the text a choppy feel.


    • Joanie says:

      I always end up skimming by accident and I have to trace back. My eyes just want to wander when the sentences are so short.

  37. BradSmith5 says:

    Oh man, did you guys see what Katniss said on the first page of this chapter?

    "There must have been some mistake. This can't be happening. Prim was one slip of paper in thousands!"

    Holy crap, is that an EXCLAMATION MARK!? Man, those of you thinking that Katniss is passive must have missed this momentous event in character development! Woo! The main protagonist is getting outraged over lottery odds! HOLD ON––HERE COMES HUNGER GAMES!

  38. ladylarla says:

    I have to say I ignored the writing style because I wanted to know what happened next, but rereading I agree that there is something jarring about it, could it perhaps be that Katniss is in shock with all the proceedings? Face it i would be a puddle of weepy mess by now, and she has certainly not had an easy life. Am intrigued by Peeta and want to see how Gale handles everything, once he has finished handling a wailing Prim that is.

    Also – "Somehow it just won’t seem sincere if I’m trying to slit his throat."–I had to laugh for that. It sounds like something my roommate and I would say to each other.

  39. Cyna says:

    Ah, yay! I'm actually kinda glad you haven't gotten used to the writing style, because that bugged the shit out of me through the whole series and I'm kind of pleased it wasn't my imagination. That being said, again, the story is worth it, and yeah, the tone kind of fits Katniss' outlook.

    You know, Collins didn't even acknowledge Battle Royale as a source of inspiration, and I was v. surprised considering how similar they are. Ah, well, I'm sure she's aware of it now if she wasn't before.

  40. tgyr says:

    The first thing I have to say is that I believe that you have a larger effect on people than you may know, Mark. About half of my family works in libraries, so I figured, "It'll be easy to get a copy of this book to read." Nope. There are TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTY FOUR requests for this book. Now, it could just be a random chance, but I get the feeling this is coming from people reading this blog.

    Now, on topic, I kind of enjoy the style that Collins writes in. I don't know why, just like you don't know why it bugs you, but something about it just feels right to me. I think I'm glad it's in the present tense because past would ruin the book, as we would know she survived. The first person present is letting us see everything through Katniss's eyes, while not showing us things that have yet to come.

    I'm off to read Chapter 3. Till next time!

  41. Janet_M says:

    When I first read the book, the style of the prose and narration didn't bother me. Reading through it again, it's still not raising my hackles. It's not my favorite form, but I think I understand why Collins did it.

    One thing I've been thinking about a lot is how the narrator would be perceived if Katniss was a male character, with all the typical gender expectations. Would she be seen as passive, or instead as resilient, etc. etc. I had a hard time relating to her at first, because she didn't react the way I would, but I fall pretty strongly into what is traditionally "female" in my emotions and reactions to things. Katniss has been hardened by her life, and I think a lot of people might not bat an eye at that if she were a male character, but as a female she's held to a different standard by some. I appreciate your close reading of the gender politics – not a lot of people would do that.

    Also, I might just be rambling because I have a cold. Things to ponder!

  42. Sternenblumen says:

    I think I agree with most of the other comments – the resolution to the Prim story line was awfully fast. I really would have liked to see that solved in a more dramatic fashion. Ah well.

    Also, yeah, so far the writing style is a bit offputting to me. I hope I will get used to it … Right at the moment I really have troubles sympathizing with Katniss. She's too … over-the-top gritty, a problem I often have with urban fantasy. Are The Hunger Games urban fantasy? I never know how to categorize things …

    Sorry that I don't have much new to add … Just want you to know I'm here and reading along with you :).

  43. Kaleidoscoptics says:

    Wait, so that’s it? That’s the end of the Prim storyline? I wanted to see Katniss have to actually deal with that, have to suffer and fight to come to grips with the fact that her precious little sister had been chosen. Eventually yeah, I expected her to end up taking Prim’s place, but that was awfully fast.

    Based entirely on the excerpts you put up here, Katniss’ voice sounds almost passive. I hate that word, but that’s the best one I can think of for it. She’s not reacting, she’s just transcribing the information. It’s like the author was trying for the kind of impartiality you get in (some) third-person POV but for some reason just didn’t do it.

  44. bibliotrek says:

    Everyone is bagging on Collins' writing, but I have to say, whether or not you dig the Hemingway-esque straightforward, short sentences (and I confess that I don't), she is brilliant at plotting and pacing. I read Chapter 1 yesterday with every intention of going chapter by chapter with Mark, and today — less than 24 hours later — I've finished the entire freaking series.

  45. Moonie says:

    Yeah, the writing style is super… bleh. I like first person, but sometimes it does not work. This is one of those cases.
    BUT. I LOVE the scene where everyone gives Katniss the gesture of love. That was when I first got sucked into the book, I was amazed at how beautiful it was.

  46. kaleidoscoptics says:

    "by the age of 16 she should have grown out of the resentment and all that. "

    Hah, in my experience sixteen is the prime age for parent-related angst.

    • Reonyea says:

      I thought so too – I was at my most argumentative at 16

    • pennylane27 says:

      Maybe, but her father has been dead for four years or so, I would've got used to it by then (just me). I don't know, but I think that I can understand her mother, up to a point. I won't say more because of spoilers.

      • kaleidoscoptics says:

        Four years really isn't that long a time. That's all I'm going to say on that point, because it hits a bit too close to home for me.

        I'm not saying she's not being immature, because she definitely is. I'm just saying that at sixteen it's realistic for a character to be resentful of their parent(s).

  47. jahizzle says:

    I don’t know…after like the first page, I completely forgot about the first person present tense thing. As far as the bluntness, I really think that’s just part of who Katniss is. She’s been through a lot and she’s just not a sugar coating kind of gal. Also, I found some things more surprising when the were just flatly stated. It made me go WHAT! And maybe I’m just literarily dim but I don’t get the chopiness. I just think the one liners make her sound spunky and frankly add some much needed humor to the situations. Keep reading! It won’t dissapoint!

  48. Miss Erin says:

    Mark, I have a feeling that this is going to be very similar to HP in that at the begining it seemed you had some reservations about the writing and about where the story was going but it wasn't long before you loved it like cake. I actually don't see what the problem with her writing style is, because I'm not looking at it as Suzanne Collins talking, but as Katniss talking. Katniss is not the nicest person. She's abrasive, and most importantly she is emotionally closed off from everyone except Prim and Gale. That's all I think when I analyze the style. This is coming from someone who is in emotional crisis and is dealing with it by deadening herself to the world.

  49. Penquin47 says:

    So far… not liking this book. The writing style bugs the crap out of me, it alternates between obvious and obvious-in-retrospect and out-of-left-field, and Katniss seems to be trying too hard to be a gritty kick-your-face-in heroine revolutionist while actually covering up a whiny little chick. And who's going to protect Prim next year, when she has to put in for the tesserae?

    Prim being chosen only for Katniss to have an easy way out of Prim actually going smacks of probability once again proving its willingness to sneak into a back alley and service drama as would a copper-piece harlot.

    (Posted as Rodinia before.)

  50. skillwithaquill says:

    I see Collins' blunt writing style as a match for the blunt and brutal nature of the story. Romanticizing a book about a battle where poor children are forced to kill one another wouldn't fit very well. It's also a reflection of Katniss, who is a very matter-of-fact person because of her harsh upbringing. She tends to look at things with a very shrewd and straightforward eye. Katniss is not a very kind person and she knows it; that's why I find her so interesting to read.

    The backstory between Peeta and Katniss is so sweet. It gives me warm-fuzzies, which is nice since so much of this book is Shit Getting Real.

    • bibliotrek says:

      I totally agree. Also, I keep seeing accusations that Katniss is passive, and I don't understand where they are coming from: she has taken responsibility for her family, she volunteers to save Prim — what more is she supposed to do at this point? What would make her "active"? She's taken more action than anyone else in District 12.

      • lossthief says:

        It's not necessarily that her actions are passive, but that the way she narrates the story feel very "So yeah, I did this and some other stuff happened and shit, no biggie" and it sort of detracts from the urgency we're meant to feel during these scenes. It just comes off as if Katniss isn't that interested in the story she's telling us, so it can be difficult to put ourselves in it.

        • kaleidoscoptics says:

          This, exactly. The character herself is 'active' in that she does stuff, but her narrative voice is very low key.

        • bibliotrek says:

          Ahh, I can see that. I'm not crazy about the narrative style either, but I do think that Collins is making a specific point with it: Katniss is beat down by the system, since it's constructed to beat people down. When the world is this fucked up, it takes a lot to faze her. Also, from a writer's perspective, you have to have somewhere to build to — if you start out at fever-pitch tension, the climax has nowhere else to go. This way Collins can keep ratcheting up the tension.

          But, I mean, that doesn't mean anyone has to like it. 🙂

          (Edited to clarify)

  51. ColdDesert says:

    I agree, The style is heavy-handed, but I guess it fots with Katniss' characterization. It will probably get used to it, I did.
    Well, this shit is fucked up from the very beginning. I had difficulty putting the book down.

  52. Reonyea says:

    I'm actually really caught up in the story – I think, although the writing is not brilliant, that the use of tense and person gives it an immediacy, and the flatness of the lines goes well with Katniss's character; there is a lot of her character that is dead, there's no enjoyment of life that we've been shown, just a constant and monotous struggle for survival.

  53. monkeybutter says:

    I think you touched on my big problem with first person narration: the action gets easily derailed by the narrator's tangential thoughts and opinions. It can be really grating. I also think that it would be difficult to have an audience raised in relative comfort identify with a character who is impoverished and on the verge of starvation without pitying her. Collins took the easy way out, but it is an effective way to make you empathize with Katniss instead just feeling sorry for her from a distance. Mixed feelings.

    And Effie's annoying and superficial, but she doesn't ooze malevolence or raise my hackles on mention. Are we all doomed to see every hyper-feminine authority figure as a cousin of Umbridge?

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      I blame that on Rowling. Umbridge is THE quintessential villain in the HP world. Maybe the world of literature at large.

  54. xpanasonicyouthx says:


  55. Tabbyclaw says:

    Ah, screw it. Apparently I'm not gonna shut up any time soon, so here I am with an account.

  56. rainbowsinside says:

    So I got to the part about Peeta being chosen, and Katniss was saying Anybody but him and I wondered why? Is it because he's a super huge killing machine with a mean streak? Nope, it's cause he saved her life once. At first I thought it strange that this would cause her so much dread, but thinking about it again, I kind of like this twist. Katniss is possibly going to have to kill someone who she owes her life to.

    Also, Peeta's name bothers me. Whenever I try to imagine how it sounds, all I can hear is Peter in a british accent. I think the only way I'm gonna get through this is if I just never say his name aloud.

    • Tabbyclaw says:

      It makes me think of the "Fudge" books, with Fudge unable to pronounce his brother Peter's name and calling him Pee-tah.

    • ReptarLives says:

      It makes me think of "pita" bread, which is ironic(? i suck at literary elements) because they are BAKERS and they sell BREAD. hahahhaha. my little brain is easily amused

  57. ReptarLives says:

    Effie aggravated the heck outta me when I first read it. She doesn't remind me that much of Umbridge, though. Umbridge KNEW that what she did was wrong and delighted in doing it. Effie also likes it, but she doesn't see it as wrong-which is almost worse.
    I knew you would sorta-kinda hate the writing style, but I think the content more than makes up for it.
    The flashback is a little jarring, but it sets the stage for the relationship.
    initial read thoughts:
    yes! do it!
    effie- die in fire sweetie
    aww poor prim *tear*
    aww poor gale *weep* (p.s. i love you)
    I want to punch you effie
    district 12- bamfs, all of you
    peeta? you make me think of bread and that is hilarious
    aww peeta- you're so sweet
    you're trying to reasure her?! Gale move over, you're sharing my heart!
    *predicition* peeta so totally loves you/so totally likes you and wants to be bffs
    ficitional bff, you can't kill half of my heart!!

  58. lossthief says:

    So basically, the "dramatic twist" at the end just went nowhere and was resolved in about 2 pages, then we're given some decent backstory about Katniss' parents and the lowest point in her life. I'm alright for most of the flashbacks, except for the jarringly quick one at the beginning that just feels forced. What happens with katniss' mother I actually liked, it gave some clarification as to why Kat has such a seething hatred for her mom. I have to say I'd have enjoyed if we'd been in the dark a bout it for a little while longer, keep a little more mystery in the story.
    Overall, this chapter's about on par with the previous for me. I definitely think Collins is trying to make it more realistic to have Katniss' inner monologue jaded, but it just doesn't work to get me into the story.
    Final Grade: "C"

    • BradSmith5 says:

      C!? You aren't going to use that grading system from Harry Potter? Troll! Dreadful! 😉

      • lossthief says:

        Well, I'm not sure if everyone here would get that, but I think on the HP O.W.L. scale this is somewhere between "P" and "A"

        I think I'll save "Troll" for when something gets offensive.

    • Katie says:

      Well, keep in mind that this isn't improved by reading chapter to chapter. If you were reading it normally you wouldn't have a day to sit around and think "Ooh, what's going to happen with the Prim storyline? How will Katniss deal?" You'd flip the page and find out. If this was a TV show where the next episode wasn't going to be shown till next week, I'd agree. Similarly, if we had then cut away to another character or storyline before coming back and having this be immediately resolved I'd agree. But the book moves on right away; reading it with an externally imposed slowness creates the effect instead.

  59. LoonyLu says:

    The first person did bother me at first, especially since I heard it on audio book and so now in my mind Katniss has the voice of a 50 year old woman. Also, I think Collins does more tell not show you when writing. I almost feel as if is shoving the fact that Katniss is a gritty, strong, independent woman down our throats rather than doing that subtly. And I cannot stand something that feels like it is being shoved down my throat. It took me a while to warm up to the books, but I like them now. I just finished the second book.

    Also, what is the deal with all the Effie Trinket hate. I didn't really like her at first, but I never thought of her as anything close to the monster that was Umbrige.

    • Karen says:

      Also, what is the deal with all the Effie Trinket hate. I didn't really like her at first, but I never thought of her as anything close to the monster that was Umbrige.

      I agree! Effie is silly, vain and a tool of the Capitol, but I don't think she's actually calling any evil shots. She's just kind of… stupid and unaware. She hasn't been shown to like actually try to make things worse for anybody.

  60. LoonyLu says:

    I love these gifs! And I hadn't even heard of Battle Royale until Mark talked about it yesterday. Is it a movie, because I really want to see it if it is just because of these gifs.

  61. Karen says:

    I actually really sort of like the blunt writing style. I think that in this case the really blunt style actually serves to develop Katniss as a character, as is the point of any good first person. I think that the reader understands her better just through her style as a narrator. I like it.

    Also, I kind of really like the jumping back and forth via flashbacks to explain things. It kind of reminds me of post-modern novels from the 50s and 60s which I adore (except more simplistic for a younger audience). So yeah, the writing style doesn't bother me at all and I grew to really love it (and Katniss as a narrator).

    And in general, this is just a less complex series than Harry Potter. I mean, I ADORE this trilogy. It's seriously up there with my favorite books now, but it's just a lot more straightforward and obvious. It's a fun ride, but it doesn't have a complex and interwoven mythos like Harry Potter.

  62. Vivian says:

    I always thought of Effie as more of a Rita Skeeter.

  63. trash_addict says:

    I'd agree that subtlety is probably not Collins' strong point – I think may her strength is in creating a story rather than the telling of it….she's probably quite suited to screenwriting in some ways. I do however think the blunt manner really lends well to the punches that she pulls (yeah, you're still not prepared) over and over again.

    Yeah, so anyway, toot toot! As we all knew would happen, Katniss is off towards the Hunger Games.

  64. Sophie says:

    I agree with you about Collins' writing style. I've always felt like she's beating me over the head with her metaphors, and while I sometimes like her choppy, direct style, it does get annoying. I personally like how Katniss' thoughts sound kind of monotone, it adds to her character for me.

    I think Collins' writing does improve later. Either that or I just got so into the story and the characters that I didn't care anymore. Probably the latter.

  65. Lutralutra says:

    Present tense really bothered me at first, especially how ridiculous it would sound in my language, but I managed to get over it, especially later in the book. It's not the best I ever read, but it absorbs person, and in my case gives you some unbelievably weird dreams (especially no. 2).

    OT but I have a question for book fans here: Inkheart? Good, bad, worth losing time? I have loads to study and need something to read in-between, to relax. I can get this trilogy from a friend and need honest opinion on it. Thanks. 🙂

    • ReptarLives says:

      I loved Inkheart. The characters are awesome and it's great for any lover of books. The story really comes alive. The writing is suburb.. There are some part which drag on but the end result is awesome..

    • simply_shipping says:

      I personally didn't like it much, but I know my Dad loved it, and we usually have pretty similar tastes. So, uh… I'm useless.

    • Katie says:

      Couldn't finish Inkheart; completely bland and boring. However, I got the vibe that some of it was a terrible, terrible English translation being sold in the States. If you'd be reading it in a different language, that might not apply.

    • Sternenblumen says:

      I loved Inkheart! I read it in German, though, so I can't say anything about Funke's writing style/the translation (not sure if she wrote/translated it herself) in English. Of course it's not perfect but overall this series is one of my favourites of all time and one of those where I anticipated each new volume after Inkheart eagerly :D.

      Also, just to make you jealous: In German the book covers are some of the most gorgeous I've ever seen :p.

      <img src=""&gt; [Pulled from Google]

      I always wondered about the English titles, though – the second and third German title translate to "Inkblood" and "Inkdeath" but in English they are called Inkspell and Inkdawn … That always struck me as a strange change.

      (Oops, sorry, that got longer as intended.)

  66. Joanie says:

    I definitely found myself gazing off and skimming certain lines when I read this, the writing couldn't keep my focus so I'd have to go back just in case I missed something. I love the concept of it, and I had just read Battle Royale before starting the series so it was neat to compare the two.

  67. ArneNieberding says:

    I'm sorry, Mark. I was going to read chapter per chapter, along with you. However, I found myself incapable of doing so on the second day… I've read the entire book in three sessions (one chapter yesterday, the rest in two sessions today, separated by dinner).

    That is all I will share for now.

  68. Caitlin P says:

    When I read the book I got the impression that most people in the Districts thought and acted like Katniss. It makes sense given the constant state of fear most people seem to be in and the fact that in general everything just sucks. If you are born into soul crushing poverty and despair I feel like this is kind of a logical sort of progression who seems to live in constant blahness. I also think that Katniss may have more direct and abrupt thoughts because she may just be one of those people that appear to be allergic to BS. She describes not being able to speak freely in District 12 and maybe the way she thinks about things is because she is sort of rebelling in her mind by just thinking what she knows she cannot say out loud.

  69. celestineangel1 says:

    Also, is there a reason that Katniss’s thoughts seem so…monotone?

    THANK YOU. This is what I mean, I guess, when I said before that I don't feel any urgency in Katniss. I was beginning to wonder if it was just me, but I'm glad it apparently isn't. To me, it just doesn't feel like she's in her own body, or in a deep connect with her feelings. Maybe that's purposeful, considering her upbringing.

    I'm liking the story well enough, but I'm with you in that I'm still not very impressed with the method of storytelling.

    (Whooo, I created an IntenseDebate account and my name was already taken. 🙁 Hence the 1 at the end of my username, now.)

  70. celestineangel1 says:


    (I do enjoy that I was able to set my avatar as a pic of my kitty.)

  71. xkcdhobbes says:

    I really enjoyed reading the first 2 chapters today, and it was quite hard to not read one more before reading the reviews! The writing style doesn't really bother me, I actually quite enjoy it. I can't really tell why though, but I would guess that the slightly more direct writing is just as good as another in my mind.
    The first impression, strangely, that I got of Katniss is that I would fall in love with her. Reading the first pages, it just sprung to my mind!
    And I also felt a little of "Umbridgeness" from Effie trinket. But, if I remember my Harry Potter correctly, I think she feels a little more happy and innocent then Umbridge. I'd have to re-read the chapter again though, just a first impression.

  72. cantthinkofaname says:

    My first impression of Effie Trinket was Umbridge and I now can’t stop picturing her as that 🙂

  73. Arione says:

    I read the HG because of Battle Royale (book, manga, movie, *shudder* sequel.) Something about futile survival situations fascinates me. Add in a love of post apocalyptic/dystopian stories, and you can see why I wanted to read this. My feelings are still somewhat mixed. I won’t spoil.

    Oooh but someone mentioned the Handmaid’s Tale, and I have to say read it read it read it! I had to stop about every ten minutes to catch my breath/ remember to breathe. Margaret Atwood is amazing, and troublesome.

    • kajacana says:

      THIS. The Handmaid's Tale is one of my favorite books. We read it during my senior year of high school. It's so, SO creepy and disturbing, but if you're even remotely into dystopian stories, READ IT.

  74. DragonTickler says:

    I was really into the story when I first read it so I didn't really focus on the writing. However, I did notice that there was a difference between the way Katniss in chapter one and Katniss in chapter two spoke. I didn't really mind the blunt thing but it irked me how many flashbacks there were and how the writing drastically changed. AND THE FIRST PERSON, it bugged me through the entire thing.

  75. CuriousApe says:

    My prediction: Katniss and Peeta will become bffs or fall in love and they will become leaders of a small group of survivors who will try to beat the system (i.e. they won't kill each other), and there will be fights against another group of tributes who want to kill everyone. In the end, Katniss and Peeta will be the only survivors and refuse to kill each other and finally they will win because WHY NOT TWO PEOPLE.
    and somehow gale will turn out to be evil. or something. i don't know. maybe he will sneak into the games and try to kill peeta so that katniss gets to win.
    something like that.

    yeah, i have no clue. but i like the story so far, though the prim conflict really was resolved way to quickly. don't mind the style, though. it fits, and it's quite easy to get lost in the story and just not think about it (at least for me).

  76. mrsnorris says:

    Hi, I'm Kat, and I have lurked about in the shadows since halfway through OOTP. I love your reviews Mark; it was like reading the books for the first time all over again, and with some new perspectives to boot. I've got a copy of The Hunger Games and started reading it, but I don't have as much strength of will and kept reading waaaaay past the first chapter yesterday.
    I like this book, but I agree that the writing is almost too direct and to the point. The themes remind me of the book by Lois Lowry called the Giver, which I loooovvveee. I find it to be quite haunting and one of the best books I have ever read, even though I read it in grade 5.
    I keep checking back, even though I know you probably won't post again till tomorrow. What can I say- I'm addicted to Mark Reads 🙂

  77. Becky says:

    When you were reading Twilight, it was pretty obvious you were going to hate it, because its poo. Harry was a series that I new you'd love, because, well, its Harry and you had too. 🙂 Now, I have no idea how you are going to like this series at all! I hope you don't hold back, with whatever you think. I've read it, so I won't say what I thought either way, but this is so exciting to have a series that I have no clue what you're going to think!

  78. rowanlee says:

    Ah man, I really want to like this book. I know your recaps aren't substitutes for reading it, but I'm still just so… unimpressed, I think is the word. Of course Katniss will volunteer in Prim's place. Of course everything's so gritty and fierce. I love fierce, tough heroines who fight the system! I love Battle Royale! I should love this book. (Shuya needs to show up and be Rock and Roll Jesus again).

    And quite frankly, that dead herring about Peeta was painful. HE'S NOT GOING TO BE IMPORTANT TO THE STORY, WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT? Obviously, he's going to remember whatever it is Katniss is talking about, become her friend, team up with her, and so on.

    So tell me, great denizens of the Mark Reads world. Do I go out and try to find a copy of Hunger Games and read it? I'm alone for the holidays, and the library's still open.

    • theupsides says:

      I would read it. Honestly, this is a book that is best read in a sitting or two. Almost everyone I know that has read it couldn't put it down. I credit Mark for doing it chapter by chapter, but I also think it will take away from the enjoyment of it. It's supposed to be a really fast, whirlwind adventure. IMO, you start to enjoy most things less if you sit around and pick them apart. It's much easier to get lost in the story if you just go along for the ride.

  79. jonni13 says:

    Yay I just got my copy of the book! Now to open it….

  80. 4and6forever says:

    1) I really don’t like Katniss. She. Is. A. Robot. (not literally!)

    2) I don’t see the Umbridge-Effie connection. True, they are both sickly sweet, but Effie is just acting how she was raised. I have grown fond of her, to the point where she is one of my favorite characters.

    3) The writing style doesn’t bother me because it’s so much like mine, but it doesn’t work in first person present tense. I would prefer first person past tense, or third person present tense.

    4) And…. I totally had another point to make, but forgot it.

    Anyways, I’ve been a fan of you for only a little while, but I am excited to start a series with you. (And I’m glad that it’s a good book, not like Call of the Wild or something.)

  81. Riley says:

    I didn't like her writing at first either. I'm a bit biased because I don't like first person narrative to begin with, let alone obvious and heavy-handed lines. I would say I got used to her style of writing and the story itself right after the games started; hopefully you'll experience something like that. Also, I feel like her writing is the best in Catching Fire, so look forward to that!

    I didn't like Katniss either and in some ways I still don't like her. She's very different from the main characters in other novels I've read and not necessarily in a good way. I can't put my finger on exactly why I don't like her, but yeah, I just don't.

    • Hermione_Danger says:


      Please be careful when discussing upcoming plot points (the games, future books, etc.), as they can very easily veer into spoiler territory. Thanks!

  82. Rimma says:

    "(PS: Does Effie Trinket remind anyone of Dolores Umbridge? Just a thought.)"

    OMG YES.

    Also: Haymitch = Mundungus y/y/y/y/y?

  83. klmnumbers says:

    I agree with all your qualms on her style. I really think it's just Katniss' characterization, though. Like you said, she is very 'matter-of-fact' and unemotional (to a degree). I guess you have to be having led the life she has led. I got over it because the story rather sweeps you up.

    I agree with your musings on gender roles and how un-stereotypical she is as a young, female protagonist in a YA novel. Although, when does subverting the stereotype become a trope all its own?

    WHO KNOWS. Also, the name Peeta made lol for the entire first book. He's the son of a baker, AND HIS NAME IS PITA? REALLY?

  84. Dan says:

    Hate to say it, but I would put money on the fact that at least 50% of these "first time readers" have read the series before.
    LET THE SPOILING BEGIN…(in not so subtle "OMG, I bet this and this and this happens", and its 99.9% correct)
    This should be an interesting journey

    • theupsides says:

      Yeah, I have that feeling too. Maybe not 50%, but yeah.

      I hope that doesn't happen for Mark, though. I enjoyed the books so much because I read them so quickly and never could see what was coming next. When you read everyone's "predictions", there's not as much of an element of surprise.

    • fnoodles says:

      hah. got that feeling from some of the posts too. I managed to retrieve great enjoyment from the books by staying far far away from the net.

    • JapaneseAlps says:

      I’m hoping I’m one of the people that made you think that. =D

  85. pagefivefivesix says:

    I think that the way Katniss acts is understandable, as she doesn't want to appear weak or pathetic to the other contestants. Collins' writing doesn't bother me, I've read the book about four times and I've never really noticed, I suppose I've been too caught up in the story to notice. I've noticed that other comments are saying that they'd like Prim to be in the games, dispite the fact that she has none of the skills of her sister and is shown to be a weak, emotional character, and yeah, it would be interesting to see how she'd react in the games, she'd be killed off pretty much instantly. I'm rambling now , so I guess I'll stop but keep reading, it just gets better. :3

  86. lamuerta says:

    This is starting to remind me of Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy – well, the whole arc of 9 books set in the realm of the elderlings, actually. I think it's the whole European Medieval Fantasy setting, minus stuff like the TV etc. Except that Hobb is more wordy, more subtle, and her world and plots are as intricate or more intricate than Rowling's.

  87. hazelwillow says:

    You're picking up on exactly the same things I disliked about Susan Collins' writing! (And i have to say, I'm glad you are 😛 ). I felt that the content was interesting but the writing was somewhat weak. Heavy-handed is exactly it. I also feel like the moral complexities of the hunger-games idea and situation (which are really interesting!!!!) are given short shrift by the way it's presented, at least so far. Katniss is so obviously in the right. The Hunger Games seem so obviously evil, and everyone in her community seems to know it so blatantly. I feel the way its presented is morally satisfying but a lot less interesting than it could be. At least so far (I don't actually know if things change as the book/series goes on!).

    Still, the pacing is gripping, imo, and I do enjoy it. But it's interesting to discuss both the good and bad aspects so I'm glad you're mentioning both!

  88. Hedjie says:

    Re: the writing style. This is the first-person account of a teenager. Most teenagers I know don't have the writecraft down well yet. I'll give Collins the benefit of the doubt on this for now.

  89. Fuchsia says:

    So far, all the complaints you have with this book are mine too. I hate first person present narrative and Collins' style is very blunt (both of these probably have to do with the fact that she was a screenwriter before she started writing the Hunger Games). Despite that, I love the series and the more you read, the easier it is to ignore those annoyances.

  90. Tabbyclaw says:

    I feel like I should say that I don't hate first person present tense. Hell, I've used it myself and it can be a very effective narrative tool. It works great for creating a sense of urgency and intensity…in short fiction. When your narrative is spanning three books, you lose that and it just becomes the narrator dragging you through the minutiae of his/her life, especially when your narrator is as un-engaging as Katniss.

  91. BinahtheBold says:

    Hi Mark.

    Me again. I cheated and read the first two chapters before reading your reviews. Haven't read the third one yet, though, so this is where I'll stop until I've caught up with you.

    I'm enjoying the writing style a lot, mostly because it's not one that I have a lot of experience reading. I'll admit that I totally thought Gale was going to be the guy that got picked, thus creating "Oh noes! I have to kill my BFF!" But apparently I was wrong. Which I think is good?

  92. RaeLynn says:

    I just bought this book yesterday and read to catch up so I can read your blogs. I can't agree with you more… there's something about the writing style that just bugs the hell outta me. It DOES seem matter-of-fact and kinda bland and monotone.. I dunno. Like I read it, the voice in my head kinda sounds like Ben Stein lol. I don't know if this bothers you, but it bothers me, but what annoys me is the constant reminding that she's poor and starving. YES, I get it. you have to hunt and gather your food. You're hungry. Almost everyone struggles, but you seem worse off. I get it. I get it. It seems like in every paragraph she goes on and on about how she had to hunt for this, gather that, etc. I dunno.. it just annoys me lol.

  93. RaeLynn says:

    OH YEAH! And the Umbridge thing! I THOUGHT THE SAME EXACT THING! o.o… sometimes Umbridge's voice will even creep into my head when I read Effie's dialogue.

  94. lindseytinsey says:

    Wheeeeeeee! I just finished chapter 2. My birthday is also the 8th of May =)
    That's the only way I can relate to Katniss. She seems so grown up and serious. I suppose that happens when you're so young and have to be the head of the house.
    The part with her selling baby clothes and being so tired and hungry really upset me.

  95. Warmouth says:

    Thank you Mark, I'm glad I'm not the only one who found the writing heavy handed. It's not even so much the info dumping that's the problem is the fact it sort of jars from the scene. We had a very nice scene setting up what was going on and all of a sudden flashback and back to the current time and its sorta jarring. However, I am intrigued by Peeta so we will see.

    And oh god Umbridge! Cannot unsee!

  96. Stephalopolis says:

    Haha, yeah, I can see the Umbridge undertones 🙂

    You know, I've never encountered Battle Royale. Must rectify this immediately (is it a book? A show?) However, I once read a Harry Potter fanfiction that was a direct rift of it, only, you know, with Harry Potter characters. Perhaps I'll dig that out and read it again.

    I kind of agree with you about Collin's heavy handedness. Coming straight off of JK Rowlings love of the subtle, it's a bit jarring. But like you, I like the content that's being presented, so I'm a bit more forgiving of the style.

  97. matteh17 says:

    Definitely agree, it's almost like she's in a rush to get to the exciting bits and is awkwardly and subconsciously playing it out too early.

    Idk. It's still interesting to see where it'll go next, though.

  98. Amber says:

    I just wanted to let you know that I haven't read this series, but having read both "Mark Reads… Chapter 1" and this entry…

    …I'm probably going to start reading it like next week. Because shit's intense.

  99. kyle says:

    I agree, that the writing style is not optimal, but at least the content is intriguing. I vastly prefer books that are poorly written with a wonderful story to tell to beautifully written books with nothing to say.

  100. Hayley says:

    I have to say, I thought of Dolores Umbridge too when I first read the Hunger Games and I actually gasped when I read your reaction to Effie. I have no idea why Effie reminded me so much of her, as Effie is merely a pawn and Dolores is a very, very evil woman. I am excited to see Elizabeth Banks play her in the movie adaptation however!

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