Mark Reads ‘The Hunger Games’: Chapter 4

In the fourth chapter of The Hunger Games, Katniss begins to emotionally separate herself from Peeta Mallark in order to gain an advantage over him, and in the process, possibly makes a new friend in Haymitch. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hunger Games.

Let’s talk about Haymitch, shall we?

I’ve been ignoring him because up until this chapter, I felt I had no real reason to pay attention to him. In my mind, he was just a past winner and now he was a drunk. He seemed to act as a foil to Effie Trinket and, by extension, everything the Capitol seems to represent. It wasn’t until chapter four that I started to feel him come into his own.

But first, we deal with Katniss’s separation from Peeta. As Peeta prepares to take care of the viciously drunk Haymitch, she wonders why he’s being so nice and it it’s just in his nature to be kind, like he was to her so many years before. But she realizes this is probably not the case.

The idea pulls me up short. A kind Peeta Mellark is far more dangerous to me than an unkind one. Kind people have a way of working their way inside me and rooting there. And I can’t let Peeta do this. Not where we’re going. So I decide, from this moment on, to have as little as possible to do with the baker’s son.

It’ll be interesting to see if this theme of paranoia plays out in the rest of the novel. Katniss is about to enter a situation in which she’ll have no control and trusting someone might get her killed.

When I get back to my room, the train is pausing at a platform to refuel. I quickly open the window, toss the cookies Peeta’s father game me out of the train, and slam the glass shut. No more. No more of either of them.

I understand the symbolism here, and how this signifies Katniss’s rejection of any sort of relationship with the contestant around her, but the thought of cookies being thrown out of a window is pretty ridiculous. I’m just saying.

Unfortunately, the packet of cookies hits the ground and bursts open in a patch of dandelions by the track. I only see the image for a moment, because the train is off again, but it’s enough. Enough to remind me of that other dandelion in the school yard years ago…

Let me guess. Those ellipses mean we’re heading into a flash back. Well, saw that one coming. Thanks for the subtlety, Collins.

We learn of the importance of the dandelion to Katniss: it’s what triggered and motivated her to begin to hunt and gather outside the gates of District 12. In fact, the first time she ventured beyond that fence was the same day Peeta gave her those two loaves of bread. In a way, the Meadow revitalizes Katniss’s life, since she learns that she is able to take life into her own hands:

The woods became our savior, and each day I went a bit farther into its arms. It was slow-going at first, but I was determined to feed us. I stole eggs from nests, caught fish in nets, sometimes managed to shoot a squirrel or rabbit for stew, and gathered the various plants that sprung up beneath my feet.

I know I’m repeating myself, but I do love that Katniss seems to be doing what our society might consider “masculine” things (which is bullshit, by the way) and doesn’t ever seem to make her out to be less of a woman. It’s just who she is.

We do find out where Katniss got her name too:

In late summer, I was washing up in a pond when I noticed the plants growing around me. Tall with leaves like arrowheads. Blossoms with three white petals. I knelt down in the water, my fingers digging into the soft mud, and I pulled up handfuls of the roots. Small, bluish tubers that don’t look like much but boiled or baked are as good as any potato. “Katniss,” I said aloud. It was the plant I was named for. And I heard my father’s voice joking, “As long as you can find yourself, you’ll never starve.” I spent hours stirring up the pond with my toes and a stick, gather the tubers that floated to the top. That night, we feasted on fish and katniss roots until we were all, for the first time in months, full.

It’s a pretty neat story, despite that Katniss’s father is still portrayed as a saint. Is that strange to anyone else? He can gather birds around him by just singing and he’s the very best hunter and he knew to instill his daughter with clues to keep his family alive and…

It’s a overtly positive mythology. I wonder if it’s all so perfect.

Want to read a particularly awkward sentence?

Probably the drawers hold any number of nightgowns, but I just strip off my shirt and pants and climb into bed in my underwear.

I don’t know which is more awkward: the beginning of this sentence or that, “Also like a hospital” line in Breaking Dawn.

Actually….I take it back. Few things are worse than “Also like a hospital.” Sorry.

The next morning, Peeta, Haymitch, and Katniss are served an enormous breakfast meal, one that rivals the dinner they had the night before. Katniss has her first cup of hot chocolate ever and I don’t care how bizarre this writing is, THAT IS A WONDERFUL, BEAUTIFUL MOMENT. And I’m writing this at the dinner table just after Thanksgiving feast times and I AM DESIRING A HOT CHOCOLATE. Damn.

So, let’s get back to Haymitch. The man is already drinking during breakfast and Katniss explains why she hates him so much:

No wonder the District 12 tributes never stand a chance. It isn’t just that we’ve been underfed and lack training. Some of our tributes have still been strong enough to make a go for it. But we rarely get sponsors and he’s a big part of the reason why. The rich people who back tributes—either because they’re betting on them or simply for the bragging rights of picking a winner—expect someone classier than Haymitch to deal with.

Here’s what I don’t get: how does that effect the “chances” of someone winning? So far, it seems to me that money still stays outside the actual game itself. It doesn’t seem to cause certain tributes to get better weapons or more education on how to fight, so I’m wondering what this is all about. I’ve yet to figure out any reason for this.

It’s supposed to be tradition for previous winners from a specific district to give advice to the current tributes. Haymitch, predictably, has nothing insightful at all to offer.

“That’s very funny,” says Peeta. Suddenly he lashes out at the glass in Haymitch’s hand. It shatters on the floor, sending the bloodred liquid running toward the back of the train. “Only not to us.”

Haymitch considers this a moment, then punches Peeta in the jaw, knocking him from his chair. When he turns back to reach for the spirits, I drive my knife into the table between his hand and the bottle, barely missing his fingers. I brace myself to deflect his hit, but it doesn’t come. Instead he sits back and squints at us.

“Well, what’s this?” says Haymitch. “Did I actually get a pair of fighters this year?”

It’s an immediate change of tone for all three characters, but mostly Haymitch. We don’t learn precisely how Haymitch managed to win all those years ago, but this scene insinuates pretty heavily that every tribute from District 12 since that year he won has been pretty dismal. There’s an awkward moment where Katniss throws a knife at the wall (not at an object?) to show him her skills and then Haymitch sort of…examines the two of them? I mean…it’s a really dumb scene. It serves a purpose, I get that, but it’s dumb.

In exchange for not interfering with his drinking, Haymitch agrees to help the two of them. Unfortunately, he only gets to tell them to obey the stylists’ orders before the car is plunged into darkness: they’ve entered the tunnel that leads up to the Capitol.

I will say that Collins’s description of the Capitol is pretty fantastic and one of the better passages I’ve read in the book:

The train finally begins to slow and suddenly bright light floods the compartment. We can’t help it. Both Peeta and I run to the window to see what we’ve only seen on television, the Capitol, the ruling city of Panem. The cameras haven’t lied about its grandeur. If anything, they have not quite captured the magnificence of the glistening buildings in a rainbow of hues that tower into the air, the shiny cars that roll down the wide paved streets, the oddly dressed people with bizarre hair and painted faces who have never missed a meal. All the colors seem artificial, the pinks too deep, the greens too bright, the yellows painful to the eyes, like flat round disks of hard candy we can never afford to buy at the tiny sweet shop in District 12.

I know that Riverside, California is not THAT small or distant of a city, but I remember the first time I rode into San Francisco or got off the Metro in New York City and was utterly overwhelmed by these exact same things, most especially how vibrant and colorful these places where, so unlike everything I’d seen. And this is unlike anything Peeta or Katniss have ever seen either.

I have misjudged him. I think of his actions since the reaping began. The friendly squeeze of my hand. His father showing up with the cookies and promising to feed Prim….did Peeta put him up to that? His tears at the station. Volunteering to wash Haymitch but then challenging him this morning when apparently the nice-guy approach had failed. And now waving at the window, already trying to win the crowd.

All of the pieces are still fitting together, but I sense he has a plan forming. He hasn’t accepted his death. He is already fighting hard to stay alive. Which also means that kind Peeta Mellark, the boy who gave me the bread, is fighting hard to kill me.

It’s finally starting. The games are about to begin. I’m actually kind of excited to see how these turn out, so that I can at least stop referencing Battle Royale. Onwards!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
This entry was posted in The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games (novel) and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

197 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Hunger Games’: Chapter 4

  1. Hayley says:

    You made me want to read this and I couldn't put it down lol I finished it in one day! I really enjoyed it although like you I HATE first person writing in stories!

  2. Jake says:

    when I read thanksgiving I was like silly Mark that was totally last month….then I realised the whole world is not canadian

  3. Elise says:

    I think we all tend to look at the dead with rose-tinted glasses. You start to forget all the bad times and focus on the really great parts of the person you lost. I think it is especially likely for Katniss to do this because she was a child when he died and she remembers having food to eat. She doesn't remember the struggles that went on before he died because for her, they didn't exist.

    Oh Haymitch, how I love you.

    I know people are saying that the plot overcomes the writing, but at some point while reading it, the writing just clicked for me. Remember that this is first person (not usually my favorite either) and so it is Katniss' voice. It is Katniss that you want more from sometimes and then less overshare sometimes.

    So glad you're continuing the "reads" journey w/ hunger games. and just in general. YA lit has a way of bringing people together that is totally awesome!

  4. maript says:

    Haymitch is interesting because he is obviously deeply fucked up. Katniss says that the victors are given all sorts of stuff but that clearly hasn't helped Haymitch or given him peace.

    Also, seeing as Haymitch doesn't seem very happy to be there with them, it seems the Capitol forces the victors to go with the tributes and try to help them every year, which only adds to the constantly growing pile of fuckedupness that is the Capitol.

    • ldwy says:

      Yes, I am interested in Haymitch, especially now that we've seen him develop a little in this chapter.

      Mark said: "I felt I had no real reason to pay attention to him. In my mind, he was just a past winner and now he was a drunk."
      I sort of felt that way a little at first, but more and more I am thinking it may have been the horrors he was forced to be involved in/commit himself as the victor of the Hunger Games that may have led to his degeneration into a drunk.
      And having to mentor each year, since he's the only survivor in District 12? Maybe it just reinforces his habits, by making him relive those horrors again and again. I'm moving more and more toward pitying him.

      • pennylane27 says:

        Yes, my thoughts precisely. And not only does he have to relive the horrors, but also watch his tributes die, which makes it worse. I guess that if one of them had survived, he wouldn't be so fucked up. (Can we say fuck?)

        I pitied him from the first time he appeared, I sort of guessed all this from the beginning…

  5. Karen says:

    I know I’m repeating myself, but I do love that Katniss seems to be doing what our society might consider “masculine” things (which is bullshit, by the way) and doesn’t ever seem to make her out to be less of a woman. It’s just who she is.
    I love this a lot. I actually have more I want to say about gender roles and what Collins does with them… but I need a spoiler thread. Or you know, patience. That would work too. (But waiting is so hard!)

    It’s a pretty neat story, despite that Katniss’s father is still portrayed as a saint. Is that strange to anyone else?
    This isn't strange to me because Katniss is telling the story. Her father died when she was 11. It makes sense that she'd idolize him and remember him as perfect. I mean, she was still really young. I remember being around 8 or so and my dad injured his back and all of a sudden he couldn't pick me up and carry me around any more. It was a major blow to me. Like, I couldn't understand that my dad wasn't able to do EVERYTHING. I just assumed that he could. Because he was my dad. So Katniss's age at her father's death combined with the fact that we tend to remember the dead more fondly than we might have thought of them in life, it makes sense that she'd remember him like that.

    There’s an awkward moment where Katniss throws a knife at the wall (not at an object?) to show him her skills
    Don't hate! It's actually incredibly difficult to throw a knife or ax and get it to stick. I should know. I've tried (at summer camp, throwing tomahawks, as a kid). And failed. It'd be much easier to throw a knife and break an object. You have to get the spin and rotation and force just right in order to get knife to stick like that.

  6. karadudz says:

    I actually think that Katniss' "paranoia" as you call it is not so much paranoia but more her lack of the ability to trust anyone. I think it all starts from her father's death to her mother's clear depression after the father's death (which she obviously does not understand).

    My point is, she hasn't had close affection to anyone but with her family BEFORE her father's death. She's been taking care of her loved ones and doesn't really think for herself. So when Peeta's father and Peeta himself show kindness she's not used to it. She's not used to having people being nice to HER after all those years of taking care of others. I think that's why she doesn't trust people easily.

    I dunno just what I think.

  7. stellaaaaakris says:

    Oh Mark, I started cringing when you compared the nightgown line with "Also like a hospital." Come on, Suzanne Collins is no JKR, but she's no SMeyer either! But then you acknowledged that so all is well.

    Personally I liked the knife scene. Yes, it could have been executed a lot better, but it felt adequate to me. I mean, it's such a cliche to throw a knife at a wall and have it lodge between two planks. And, I don't know why, but I kind of like visual cliches. I hate them in story lines. Also, they were in the moving breakfast train (random, but I adore hot chocolate and thought that was an excellent addition), maybe nothing was at a great enough distance to prove she can throw and not just stab.

    I did think the cookie scene was ridiculous though. Katniss feels like an overly dramatic teenager at this moment, which, I suppose, she is at times. It reminds me of the TV show Friday Night Lights when Lila burns her cheerleading uniform and walks away.

    • Treasure Cat says:

      "Come on, Suzanne Collins is no JKR, but she's no SMeyer either!"
      ^ This is true, Collins > Smeyer. However I would like to say if Smeyer could possibly toss a few of those commas she loves so much in an envelope and send them to Collins, that would be great XD

    • tethysdust says:

      I think Katniss is an overly dramatic teenager. I think she is not nearly as mature and wise as she believes. I'm expecting (hoping!) for this to be a plot point later.

  8. monkeybutter says:

    The knife throwing still stands out in my mind as one of the corniest scenes in the series, followed closely by the cookies. Oh, and I'm glad we got to Katniss's name because I couldn't defend it when everyone was making fun of it in the first chapter; it's really no different than naming a girl Lily, Rose, or Bryony. Her father hunted with bows and the Katniss plan has arrowshaped leaves, so it's ~meaningful.

    For all my criticism of this book, I still really enjoy reading it.

  9. BinahtheBold says:

    Okay, so when I read this chapter and saw the ellipses (indicating flashback), I immediately went "oh yeah Mark pointed that out," and got annoyed. What have you done. Usually when I read, I go blank and just absorb the novel. But now I'm trying to remember shit so I can post a comment and not say "herp derp it were good."

    Also, I had the exact same thing happen to me the first (and thus far only) time I went to San Francisco. I've literally spent the past two years trying to figure out how to go BACK to San Francisco… (signal flashback)

  10. LoonyLu says:

    I actually think Haymitch is such a tragic character. First, he wins the Hunger Games so obviously he would have to have killed some people which would mess anyone up. Then, he has to watch two children of his district die every single year. I think I would be a drunk too if I was in his place.

    • Joanie says:

      Seriously. I didn't even think about this for the longest time but it really is a tough job. No matter how tough you are, the chances are against you that you have to personally watch two kids from your district die year after year after year…

    • DameDallas says:

      Yeah, that's the first thought that popped into my head when Haymitch first appeared. He probably killed a lot of people and watched a lot of others die when he was a part of the Games. That feeling of being helpless and a murderer at the same time probably never leaves you, especially when you have to watch kids go through what you went through year after year after year.
      I would be a drunkard too, if I hadn't killed myself already.

  11. Garoben says:

    I just wanted to mention about Collins' writing style that up until this book she was writing for a much younger audience, which might explain some of the awkwardness of her style. It doesn't mean it isn't awkward but it may add insight – it also does improve.

  12. Quirrelmort says:

    I didn’t really pay any attention to Haymitch either. I was definitely not expecting that he could possibly be helpful.

    Also, I was excited when Katniss realized that maybe someone could do something nice because they were actually a nice person! Of course her response to that is to completely cut them off. It’s realistic but come on Katniss! And why would you throw cookies out the window? They’re cookies!

    The part where she wondered if her family was watching her on their TV confused me. How do they have a TV if they barely get enough food? What?

    And when I read about Katniss being uncomfortable under the mounatin my mind immediately went, she’s totally gonna get trapped underground and will panick and then Peeta will save her and she’ll have to deal with having that weakness. Yeah, I don’t know.

    Anyway, hope you had a great Thanksgiving Mark and everyone!

    • kaleidoscoptics says:

      Maybe they have it up on one of those public TVs from earlier? Who knows.

    • pagefivefivesix says:

      I always presumed that the government gave them out so that people could watch The Hunger Games and other goverment programes. Just a thought.

      • LadyLately says:

        Yeah, I always assumed this too. Propaganda's not much use if the only people see it are the ones who are all 'WOO PROPAGANDA SO COOL'

  13. Jenny_M says:

    When I first read the description of the capitol, I couldn't help thinking of the Emerald City, in both the books and the film of Oz. That kind of technicolor strangeness (although in the books, it's all manufactured) is really appealing and disconcerting all at once.

  14. Moonie says:


    I can't say much about this chapter without spoiling it, but I really like this one.

    To explain a bit: This is way into the future, guys. Having a tv- a lame, old one- is the same as having a lamp now. While the future has deteriorated quite a bit and Katniss and family are not in luxury, obviously, they do have some expenses that would be considered expensive and unnecessary now. All families must have tv. It's the law there.

    /trying to keep this vague to avoid mini spoilers, orz

    On another note, Peeta is my favorite character of the books. Eeee. <3

  15. kaybee42 says:

    Pg 50:“Dandelion salad” ???? Is that a thing??
    They use parchment? Cool. What is it with the constant AMAZING technology then returning to using parchment? It’s weird.
    Pg 51: “I kept us alive” sentence was awesome. It gave me chills!
    Pg 52: What a horrible thing to be named after. Still think it is a stupid name
    53:“Hated her for her weakness” I still hate you katniss.
    “Going to die without all that being set right” genuinely made me sad 
    54:“Glad I didn’t drown him” hahaha! Made me laugh, but not with her. At her (the author).
    “Rapping” ?? haha
    55: “nudity is the last word in fashion” huh? What? Does this sentence make sense? I don’t think it does…
    56:“That shut her up” Urgh I hate you
    57: WOAH don’t hit the kid! I like Peeta!
    58: Well wasn’t that LUCKY
    59:Air forces? Oh that’s much more advanced than I thought

    • tethysdust says:

      So her name is basically Potato. Yeah, I'd be a little irked at my parents.

    • Marie_Goos says:

      Dandelion salad is totally a thing, because my mother ate it once 25 years ago and now will reminisce on the wonder and deliciousness of it every time a dandelion is so much as mentioned in passing. (You'd think she'd have eaten another one in the next 25 years if she liked it so much, but no).

      I also don't understand why they use parchment. Parchment is made from cows. Specifically, it takes one entire cow to make two sheets of parchment. Not to mention the process is long and arduous and… Annoying. Yet they have bullet trains and televisions. 9_6

    • jessimuhka says:

      Oh, yeah, Dandelion Salad is totally a thing. You can even buy dandelion greens at some nicer grocery stores. They're pretty bitter, but not bad if you like bitter greens in a salad. My mom grew up having to harvest dandelions to supplement her family's lack of food, and she refuses to eat them now, so I'd never tried them until I was an adult. They're one of those things that foodies have reclaimed, or whatever you want to call that, where they make food that was once something eaten as subsistence popular and expensive.

    • lyricsandhearts says:

      On the whole, “nudity is the last word in fashion” thing: I’m pretty sure that just means that if nothing else works, nudity is always the final decision. Like, if I said right now that bows are the last word in fashion, I (think I) would be saying that bows are the absolute final necessity to be fashionable.

      *facepalm* Oh dear, I’m sorry, I’m terrible at explaining.

      • kaybee42 says:

        nono! I actually understand what she was saying now! I remember sitting there like "what????The last WORD in fashion? The LAST word in fashion? The last word in FASHION? I DON'T GET IT!" thank you, lyrics and hearts 🙂

  16. tethysdust says:

    This chapter seemed really melodramatic to me. The cookies and the knife were just too much. I kind of rolled my eyes when it went cookies->dandelion->FLASHBACK! When the flashback started, it seemed at first as though they were just going to do a recap of a previous flashback.

    All in all, I get that the chapter was trying to show that all the District 12 people (Peeta, Katniss, and Haymitch) are totally badass. I don't really see why that's necessary or helpful to the narrative at this point. I think Haymitch has the possibility of becoming an interesting character in the future. I'd be really curious to hear how his Hunger Games went down.

    The stylists intrigue me. Why does your sense of fashion matter if you're going into a free-for-all murder-a-thon? For that matter, I agree with Mark that the sponsors thing sort of doesn't make sense yet. It sounded as if they weren't even given weapons, just thrown into a random landscape and told to kill each other. How could people on the outside putting money on them actually help the contestants? I feel certain all of this will be addressed shortly.

    • stellaaaaakris says:

      So I've read the book multiple times and I still think they're just going to flashback to the same memory at the dandelion cookies scene. Every single time.

      As for the sponsors thing, I won't say anything, but I was under the impression that there were always some weapons for the tributes. Gale told Katniss in his goodbye scene that it was pretty easy to get a knife so I assumed there were some sort of hidden through out the arena.

    • kaybee42 says:

      At this point of the book, I was under the impression that the Hunger Games were like a video game… somehow? And there were weapons and medicines and food hidden around and in trees or under bushes that they could either find by themselves or a particular sponsor could direct them to. I don't know why. Maybe I have spent too much time on my flatmates xbox…

  17. Treasure Cat says:

    My lasting impression of this chapter: WHY DID SHE WASTE THE COOKIES OMG I understand it was ~symbolic~ and shit but what if they were chocolate chip??? D:

    I legit got fairly upset by throwing away perfectly good cookies, I am so odd >.>

    • Marie_Goos says:

      IAWTC. But then again, I'm pretty obsessed with food.

    • Joanie says:

      I was upset over it too! I don't think I could've thrown those away.

    • jgrec87 says:

      I agree and I don't think anyone who grew up hungry every single day would ever throw those cookies out the window, no matter the symbolism behind it.

      • Tabbyclaw says:

        YES THIS EXACTLY. She doesn't even hesitate, or feel uncomfortable about the thought of wasting food.

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:


      • pennylane27 says:

        My reaction was exactly that, I was like 'girl, you've been starving forever, and you are wasting cookies, which you've probably never had in your life? How messed up are you?'. But I guess that now she's going to the Capitol she can have cookies that don't have any connection to Peeta.

        • bookling says:

          Yeah, exactly. They have every food imaginable on the train, she can totally get more cookies. Although my first reaction was still, "NO DON'T WASTE COOKIES."

    • NAMETAGS says:

      Ugh same here. Especially considering how RARE food is for her. I thought she would cherish the cookies and try to keep them with her as long as possible for the sake of keeping fed while in the games.

    • exbestfriend says:

      Okay so I haven't ever been a starving child, so I don't know exactly what Katniss was going through,
      BUT- there is this woman I work with that always brings in cookies and doughnuts and chocolates, but she only brings them in because she is a horrible human being and she thinks she can win over the office with food. Many of my co-workers even eat these treats and then go right back to talking about her behind her back, but I can't. As delicious as they are I consider them "shame" treats. She only brings them in because she is ashamed of her social faux-pas and if I eat them then I become ashamed of what I say about her. Of course her son and I will not be hunting each other for sport, but I think the sentiment remains the same.

    • Suspicious Cookie says:


      'They Wasted A Perfectly Good Sandwich' gets me every time.

  18. Pan says:

    I disliked the flashback. (surprise!) Particularly because it was triggered by LOOKING at dandelions. Is Katniss always like that? Did she have ten daily flashbacks at home, too? Was she always thinking through the entire process of her first hunting success when she made a kill in the forest? Thinking of the first letter she ever wrote, while being at school? Reminding the first math problem she ever solved while selling stuff at the hob?

    I think that this novel started about a year too early. Yes, shit wouldn't have got real somewhat later, but the number of flashbacks could have been reduced significantly. We would KNOW Katniss by the time she enters the contest, because we'd seen her being forced to watch the past hunger games and how the fact, that Prim will be 12 the next year affects her, going to school, where the opinion of the capitol was presented as the unquestionable truth to them, interacting with other people than Gale (even if she wasn't close to them at all), and many, many other things. Harry Potter didn't start at the first of september either, more than 100 pages of a 300-somewhat pages novel are dedicated to the pre-hogwarts time. In the hunger games, it's the first chapter, 20 pages filled up with just the most needed explanation to follow the story. Everything else is a flashback.

    I'm bored.

  19. phoebe says:

    I was just wondering, do you only review series?

  20. Marie_Goos says:

    I sort of rushed through this chapter because I was like "HUNGAR GAMES SOON." I'm wondering precisely how SRS BSNS Haymitch is going to be throughout the rest of the book, since he seemed to make the change pretty quickly from being a walking joke. And maybe we'll learn more about how the rich backers help contestants in the Hunger Games? Maybe since they're betting on the contestants they send them gifts? I'm assuming there's some way of communicating with the outside world in the games, since otherwise there wouldn't be much of a point to having a sponsor giving you advice. Or maybe they spend a good chunk of time in the city before the games, and that's when they get all the help and then nada, but I don't get that impression. MAYBE THE GAMES ARE RIGGED. Like pro wrestling. IDK I'm probably thinking about this too much, so TIME FOR THE NEXT CHAPTER :B

  21. BradSmith5 says:

    Ah-ha,ha,ha,ha! Oh! The ellipses! And no period after them! Ha,ha,ha!

    But wait––what is going on!? Katniss and Peeta are mixing it up right in the train car? Haymitch isn't all that he seemed to be? Well, what's this? Did I actually get a book with a bit of fight in it this year?

    Let's take a look at you, Collins. Hm. Well, you're not entirely hopeless. And once the publishers get hold of you, your book cover will be attractive enough. All right, I'll make a deal with you, Collins: you give me your best with this story, and I'll hold back on the nitpicking and stupid jokes JUST enough to give you a chance.

    And this is Mark's blog––you're gonna need it.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      ILU 4EVA

    • LadyLately says:

      …why would you need a period after an ellipse? wha?

      • bookling says:

        Because ellipses are not meant to end sentences. You still need to add a period. It's grammatically correct.

      • BradSmith5 says:

        When you end a paragraph or sentence with an ellipse mark, you still put the normal punctuation after it. I didn't know about this until Mark explained the rule in the "Goblet of Fire" blog, so I'm pretty much being a jerky hypocrite here. :p

        • myownmetaphor says:

          WHY DO I NOT REMEMBER THIS!?!? frantically goes back to read all of MRHP again

          • BradSmith5 says:

            I hope you didn't miss the time Mark taught me the CORRECT way to make spaghetti. Boy, did I ever look the fool that day!

            • Tasneemoo says:

              Mark is flawless.
              I hear his hair's insured for $10,000.
              I hear he does car commercials… in Japan.
              His favorite movie is Varsity Blues.
              One time he met John Stamos on a plane…
              And he told him he was pretty.
              One time he punched me in the face… it was awesome.

  22. Kaci says:

    Re: that Katniss hunts and gathers and does other "traditionally masculine things" but it doesn't take away from her being a woman.

    I…look, I'm skewed here, because I LIVE in what would be District 12. West Virginia, the heart of Appalachia, the place where countless coal mining disasters have occurred…I way over-identify with her, and the way she grew up.

    So I just…look, I get that from the perspective of someone who lives in a different part of the country, her hunting can seem like, "Wow! Breaking stereotypes! Way to do 'masculine' things but still be a woman!" but to me…it's really not a big deal because that's just what we DO here. For a woman NOT to take part in those things, THAT'S what makes her "weird." I've been fishing, hunting, gathering, and cutting up carcasses all my life, because that's just…normal for us.

    So I guess what I'm saying is, from the perspective of someone who hasn't grown up in an area like this, I can see how it would be novel and important to them. But for someone who lives where she lives, it's pretty damn normal and not that new or interesting at all.

    That said, I really do enjoy your reviews, I just wanted to offer another perspective on that.

  23. Dragonizer says:

    I always thought it was silly that Katniss was named for a plant. Good thing I actually kind of like the name, then. 😛

  24. DameDallas says:

    I'm starting to like the style in which this book is written – the prose being in Katniss' head and all. I agree that there are some very awkward sentences here and there, but I'm accepting those as well.

    I think I'm beginning to see why it's in the first-person present; we're discovering everything along with Katniss while thinking like Katniss, and that forces you into a different mindset, which in turn propels you into the story more.

    Now, I'm not saying that there aren't better ways to do this, but I see where Collins is coming from with it.

    And damn, I was surprised by Haymitch getting his shit together all of a sudden. Can't wait to read chapter five tonight.

  25. Revolution64 says:

    Weird thought: Her dad is goddamn Snow White.

  26. jasmeen says:

    The writing is really grating on my nerves. I also am not a fan of the 1001 flashbacks we seem to get. Katniss as a character is okay, and I don't totally hate her. She does have this paranoid, me against the world vibe going on though, which I guess in this situation is understandable.



    “Though Harry’s adventures may be over, you’ll get to learn more about his parents, James and Lily, in this new series coming from authoress JK Rowling. While the details are still foggy, it appears it will detail the adventures of Harry’s parents, as well as Severus Snape, and other members of the Potter gang. Said Rowling, of the new series:

    “I expect to finish the first book around 2014, I have no plans for a movie immediately, but if it’s what the fans will want, I’ll be sure to oblige their wishes.”

    Rowling had planned on an extended break from writing, but it appears she simply could not wait to get back to the keyboard.”

    • ldwy says:

      I hesitate to believe it. The quote doesn't really sound like her…

    • kaybee42 says:

      linklinklinklink?!?!? I am on the beeb main site right now but I can't find it! 🙁

      • jasmeen says:

        Yeah, I don't know where it is. I didn't get it directly from the BBC, i got it from someone citing the BBC. I'm sure it's a fake now that I think about it. I feel bad about posting it. I don't think I can edit my post though.

    • kajacana says:

      It must be fake… not only does that quote not sound like JKR at all, but then there's the fact that if there really was more Snape-related Publishable Canon Fact brewing in the world, my Snape Sense (i.e. uncontrollable squealing and unexplained weeping) would have alerted me. I hope.

    • Guest says:

      I don't think it's legit. I can only find this quote through blogs, not BBC.

  27. 1foxi says:

    Mark, you crack me up every time with that 'Also like a hospital' line. It's haunted you forever. Wonder if they will put it in the movie 🙂 🙂

    Back to Hunger Games, I don't trust that Peeta guy. Why is he being so nice? *suspicious*

  28. Penquin47 says:

    This chapter was better, except for the cookies. I'm sorry, this girl is literally half-starved, and she's throwing away perfectly good food? I do like Katniss's paranoia, and I don't even mind her name now that I know where it comes from. I do love the comparison up above… Katniss is being an emo teen.

  29. Yusra says:

    Mark, can you please read faster? So that you can get to bits that I don't feel ~spoilery~ by just reading through the comments? Please?

    • LadyLately says:

      srsly. I made a comment yesterday about Katniss being head of the family and all ~survivally~…and then I started rereading today and realized the basis of my comment wasn't explained until this chapter. D'oh. At least it wasn't THAT spoilery.

  30. ldwy says:

    Do the people who have already read this book/these books have favorite fanart? I don't know how much is out there, and I fear the spoilers!

    • theupsides says:

      There is some AMAZING fanart out there, but a lot of it is realllly spoilery…

      As such, I hesitate to direct you to it.

      • ldwy says:

        Yeah, I kind of figured that might be the case. I guess as we progress I'll look forward to seeing some of it. Until then, I'll have to be patient.

    • bookling says:

      Most of it is very very spoilery at this point. I'll definitely post some for the next chapter, though (if I remember the next chapter correctly).

      • theupsides says:

        I was thinking the same thing! And yes, you do remember ch. 5 correctly.

      • ldwy says:

        Ah, cool, I can't wait to see it! I hope you don't feel ~used~, but it's really nice that the people who have already read can sort of act as a filter and show us their favorites! I really look forward to it.

        • bookling says:

          Haha, I do not feel ~used~. I know which chapters have the good fan art, although overall, there is not as much Hunger Games art as there is for HP, so there's less to choose from.

  31. theupsides says:

    I don't want to say too much–too scared about spoilers. But I'm so excited for you to meet the stylists and to get to know Katniss and Peeta better!

  32. jahizzle says:

    The only reason I don’t think the knife scene was corny was because she admitted that she wasn’t that good. It would have been different if she was all, “Look what I can do! I’m super cool!”

    • Kaybee42 says:

      See that's exactly why I disliked it! "Ooh I wasn't even TRYING to do that- gee isn't that lucky!" I would have preferred it reversed, like she was trying to do something cool but it didn't quite work, but worked just well enough to get away with it.

  33. sez says:

    What i never got was how she could waste perfectly good cookies by just throwing them out the window
    as someone who has experienced extreme hunger i thought she of all people would realise how wasteful that was when there's people back in her districk starving, so to me the cookie throwing was quite uncharacteristic and made no sence

    • BradSmith5 says:

      Yeah, she could have given them to a little train orphan or something! I mean, it would have shown me that Katniss is capable of sympathy beyond her family, at least.

  34. Cecamire says:

    Rosemary? Sage? Olive? :p
    Potato is still weird though. XD

  35. pagefivefivesix says:

    Something I've started doing with this book, because I'm strange, is read it aloud. It sounds much better in my opinion. I get strange looks off my family though, but it's all good.

  36. xpanasonicyouthx says:

    Please read the Spoiler Guide in the 'Welcome to Mark Reads' section and stop telling me when my questions will be answered, ok?

  37. xpanasonicyouthx says:

    Oompa Loompas from Willy Wonka?

    • Tabbyclaw says:

      I completely 100% envision all the people of the Capitol as having Oompa Loompa hairstyles. Only made of plastic.

  38. sageofmudora says:

    I love how you have both really positive and really negative things to say about this book!

    I'm excited to see how Haymitch will do as an advisor. Right now he's reminding me of a mentor like Micky from the Rocky movies- a tough but 'broken' sort of guy who has to prove himself as much as the person he's backing. We'll have to see 🙂

    I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving!

  39. lossthief says:

    My thoughts as I read this:
    p.47: "slippery vile stuff"? Couldn't think of a synonym for vomit?
    p.48: It's because he's being nice? No, you think? I get that Kat's separated from her emotions, but this makes her sound almost dumb.
    p.48: THAT WAS A PERFECTLY GOOD BOX OF COOKIES You don't want them? Give em to me.
    p.49: *FLASHBACK TIME*
    p.51: Sir, that is terribly cryptic/not helpful advice
    p.52: Hm, there's Kat "hating weakness" again.
    p.52: Didn't you yourself say you're "not one to just give up?" Then stop giving up.
    p.53: "I let the train rock me into oblivion" what.
    p,54: Did somebody just mention nudity? What? My teenage brain is enticed.
    p.56: Okay, that was pretty bad ass until she threw it.
    p.58: What's with these random little paragraphs of angst in the middle of being confident?
    p.59: Peeta knows how to play the game.
    Overall, this chapter had some pretty good scenes, and it was nice to see a bit of badassery from Kat instead of her just narrating about it. Peeta is currently my favorite, mostly because he's savvy enough to start playing to the crowd to get support from "sponsors" whatever those are.

    • kaybee42 says:

      yessss someone else posting their notes! I think your point from pg 52 about her "I'm not one to give up… I GIVE UP ALREADY KILL ME NOW!" -ness is almost exactly the same as what I wrote! It really annoyed me that she was contradicting herself every other sentence!
      also your notes are really funny, it makes me want to add some humour and wit into mine when I type them up 😛

    • BradSmith5 says:

      Ha,ha,ha. With all the talk about vomit, I thought that Katniss herself was going to throw up when said she was going to 'toss the cookies.'

      What was the grade, though?

      • lossthief says:

        Oh, I completely forgot about the grade. I gave it a "B" since we get to see Kat doing something cool, rather than her talking about it.

  40. lossthief says:

    I think this is the reason I'm having trouble getting into the story. So much of it so far feels so reminiscent of other stories I've read or seen before, that it sort of makes it difficult to see this as its own story with its own merits.

  41. Suspicious Cookie says:

    "It’s a pretty neat story, despite that Katniss’s father is still portrayed as a saint. Is that strange to anyone else? He can gather birds around him by just singing and he’s the very best hunter and he knew to instill his daughter with clues to keep his family alive and…"

    I'm kind of thinking of James Potter here. I can't predict if Katniss' dad will be OMG SIGNIFICANT in that way, though.

    The knife throwing scene was…weird. Strange. Awkward. Narm. I didn't like it.
    I'm enjoying the book though, and I'm reading ahead :3

  42. NAMETAGS says:


    ….but I don't think Katniss's father is really dead. I think it's a cover up by the Capitol and we're going to discover at some point in the series he's really alive.

  43. bookling says:

    Have you read this before? There's something in your comment that could be considered spoilery. (Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any sort of PM system on here. If I'm wrong, tell me how and I'll message you.)

    • kajacana says:

      Eek!! I'm sorry!! Did not intend!
      Yes, I've read this before — I didn't think there was anything spoilery in that comment at all, so I'm a bit confused… reading it again and still not catching any spoilers…
      BUT, deleted it, just in case.
      (No, I don't know of any PM system. :'( But better safe than sorry, so thanks for bringing it to my attention! I feel massively slow for not catching it though, haha.)

      • bookling says:

        I'm not even sure if anyone else would have picked up on it, but you said something about the Capitol people, and considering we haven't met any Capitol people yet except Effie, it definitely hasn't been confirmed in the book yet.

        • kajacana says:

          Ohhh, okay. I was just going off of Katniss's original impression of the Capitol when they rolled in on the train, the passage that's quoted above.
          Spoiler-avoiding is tricky business!! X_x

  44. Kate says:

    the capitol always reminds me of Oz in…you know…The Wizard of Oz

  45. Maddi says:

    Does it bug anyone else that Collins has absolutely no sense of scale? District 12 is apparently encompassing all of Appalachia and providing all of the coal for Panem but you can walk across it and it only houses eight thousand people. HOW DOES THIS MAKE SENSE.

    Also, uh, hi, I'm new. *waves*

    • DameDallas says:

      *waves back atcha*
      When you put it that way, it doesn't make sense; but I've come to realize that I am horrible at geography. lol.
      Maybe they are all just really fast walkers. 🙂

    • Pan says:

      I don't think that it covers *all* of Appalachia, but just a tiny part next to a coal mine. We still have the forest around district 12, too, so there has to be a lot of empty space between the districts.

      But the energy problem bothered me as well. How is it possible, that a few thousand people support the ENTIRE COUNTRY with ALL THE ENERGY? (I doubt that they are using sun or wind energy, because the entire super expensive and dangerous coal mining thing would be pointless, and the people of district 12 could do other things.) And it seems, as if the Capitol needs *a lot* of energy. Even if we consider that the districts don't get a fair share of the products (even district 12 doesn't have 24/7 electricity, and they are producing it…), just supplying the Capitol seems … tough.

    • ldwy says:

      Wasn't there a line somewhere early on (sorry don't have my book to look it up) that they weren't supposed to go outside the fence ever, except for goign to the mines? Somewhere in relation to all the going-outside that she does. Maybe there's several mines at some distance that they get bussed out to or something.
      But yeah, it still doesn't explain how much coal would be needed to power a whole country. Even a small one.

    • lebeaumonde says:

      Peeta and Katniss and co. live in the Seam, a part of District 12. She clarifies this on page 4, if you wanted to look. 8D

  46. artsyjeans says:

    I like her description of the Capital also it reminds me a lot of how my aunt describes her first moments in the US after she immigrated here in 1969. When she tells the story its always about the colors, the clothing and the way the women looked with their "painted" faces.

  47. 4and6forever says:

    Katniss’s Mary Sue-ness is overwhelming in thins chapter. “Hey, look at me with my highly uncommon name and amazing hunting skillz and my superhuman immunity to cookies.” (Because she is just to awesome to resort to using expressive punctuation like exclamation points.)

    But I like Peeta in this chapter. Heck, I like Peeta in any chapter!

    • Pagefivefivesix says:

      Her talents are all explained and justified. And just because her name is uncomon now doesn’t mean that in the future it’s uncommon, names go in and out of fashion regularly. Justsayin’

  48. exbestfriend says:

    I agree that the style grows on you. I think Collins has some limitations as a writer, but ultimately I think this format is an engaging way to tell the story. As opposed to sitting through long pages of descriptions of this world and the way society works within it, watching the events unfurl through Katniss, who doesn't have to know how everything works and therefore when there are some gaps in logic we can all write it off as being something that a sixteen year old girl would overlook, keeps the story moving at a brisk pace. I think if another writer had the same outline of events the book could have been 600 pages and just as compelling, but we can't all be Tolkien or Tolstoy. Judging by some of the flashbacks and character decisions, I don't think Collins would have been able to create as successful of a story if she had gone a more literary route. And I mean successful not in a monetary sense, but as a piece of work that coveys the story as intended.

  49. xpanasonicyouthx says:

    HAHAHA. This has happened to mostly everyone.

    • Tabbyclaw says:

      Oh lord don't I know it. The first two took me two days each, and I wasn't even enjoying them that much. I just HAD TO KNOOOOOOW.

      • kaybee42 says:

        YES! I read the book after two days and I didn't even like it that much. It was okay and all and there were some BRILLIANT bits (mixed in with completely crap ones) but I HAVE TO KNOW EVERYTHING! I'm gonna need a bit of practice before Mark gets to the second book and I try to read along!

  50. mmcgonagall says:

    I got major deja vu while reading this book,and I've never seen Battle Royale. Seriously, I think I saw this exact thing on a tv show once, but I can't for the life of me remember what show it was.

  51. Sternenblumen says:

    This chapter made me realize two things: 1. The writing style is growing on me. At least it no longer distracts me so much, and the story is enticing enough that I am sorry I decided to do one chapter a day XD.

    2. I like Peeta. Can't say why but so far, I like him better than Katniss. Maybe because we don't get to see every thought in his head being all gritty and awesome and stuff. I don't dislike Katniss but sometimes I want her to … shut up? Well, then there would be no story which is bad, so, uhm … .

    3. Okay, it made me realize three things: I guess I'll never stop being obsessed with food. But honestly, Katniss, they're COOKIES!!! You don't throw away cookies! Also, I loved the hot chocolate description so much. Hot chocolate = Heaven. It is fact.

  52. Lutralutra says:

    I always imagine them as people from The Tribe.

    Damn, I loved that series when I was a kid.

  53. AgentofSHIELD says:

    "I understand the symbolism here, and how this signifies Katniss’s rejection of any sort of relationship with the contestant around her, but the thought of cookies being thrown out of a window is pretty ridiculous. I’m just saying."

    Not to mention, there are starving kids in the Seam who would kill for anything to eat and she's just fucking flinging perfectly good food out of the window. When I first read that little bit in The Hunger Games, I thought it was ridiculous and funny. Having had a chance to think about it, it bothers me quite a bit.

  54. trash_addict says:

    After all your mentions of Battle Royale, which I've actually wanted to see since it came out, I finally pulled my finger out and got it. Awesome movie!

    Apart from that? Mmmm…delicious cookies of symbolism…

  55. xkcdhobbes says:

    The only way I can see those cookies is as if they are Subway (the restaurant) cookies, and it saddens me so much to see them being lost (I love those cookies). Also, I was really surprised by Haymitch in this chapter. I sort of had forgotten he had won the games and in my head he was just this drunk guy coming along. I also really appreciate that Katniss can't stop drinking hot chocolate. On another note, it's really great that Peeta isn't in love with Katniss and that it won't mess with his ability to kill her, but oppositely, Katniss feels a debt towards Peeta and that it might for her. I think it can bring forth great conflict between the 2 if the story allows for it. I wouldn't have found it nice if Katniss already had an advantage of an opponent who doesn't want to kill her.

  56. lebeaumonde says:

    All I can say (for now) is that the book gets better when Katniss is actually in the action.

  57. Arione says:

    … I can see your pixels

  58. peacockdawson says:

    Katniss' father is portrayed in that light because she was a little girl and that's how she saw him. Her perceptions of him froze when she was a child, and he's not around to be disillusioning. She'll always see him as she remembers him.

  59. forthejokes says:

    Haymitch is possibly the best character in the series. And despite never having seen Battle Royale, it was mentioned to me by the girl at the bookshop when I bought the second Hunger Games book.

  60. Cat_Eyed_Fox says:

    I understand what you're saying about Katniss' dad being "OMG PERFECT SAINT DAD!!" but I think the idealism she viewed her dad through nicely juxtaposes the realism and pessimism she sees everything else. I mean she's a teenager and she's lived harder and survived through crap that would have destroyed almost anyone else because she is prepared to drown kittens (so hardcore!) and possibly kill humans to protect her self and her family. (I could probably kill humans if I had too to defend and protect my loved ones, but I could never kill an animal simply because I might not be able to feed them. Needless to say I'd be first dead come the Apocalypse. :D)
    Her clinging to the image of her father, as a saintly man, perfect and pure, is honestly the only shred of idealism she has. She loves her little sister but she does not believe Prim would be able to do what Katniss did at her age, and she's right. She loves her best friend who's name I have completely forgotten but she knows he has to feed his own family which take precedent over hers. Her belief that Peeta is playing the crowd and her is because she knows if she'd had the charisma for it she'd be doing the same damn thing. Over and over again Katniss believes that everyone is as pragmatic and selfish as she is… except her dad. He is dead and safe from her broken world and its pollution.

  61. Warmouth says:

    I do love the paranoia kicking up, though I'm getting kinda wary with the flashbacks. I like to write in first person (you should immediately stop judging me) and the trick about it is writing like how real people think, and people don't really think in very info-dumpy flashbacks, you know?

    One more chapter and I'm caught up!

  62. karadudz says:

    I'll also throw in Gladiator in this mix. Kids thrown in arenas that they don't want to be in and be expected to either die a slow tortured death or come out miraculously alive.

    Oompa Loompas!!! Never crossed my mind… Sheesh best description… But Oompa Loompas scared me to death when I watched that movie. Oompa Loompas 1st then Gene Wilder comes 2nd. LOL

  63. Stephanie says:

    This isn’t a spoiler, because I have yet to finish reading, but can you really blame Katniss for the way she talks about her father? I mean, he died when she was very young and she was clearly very close to him. Her mother doesn’t seem to be a great parent to Katniss, so can you really blame her for romanticizing the dead? Just a thought.

  64. Stephalopolis says:

    I do love that Katniss seems to be doing what our society might consider “masculine” things (which is bullshit, by the way) and doesn’t ever seem to make her out to be less of a woman. It’s just who she is.
    Me Too. 🙂

    I don’t know which is more awkward: the beginning of this sentence or that, “Also like a hospital” line in Breaking Dawn.

    Actually….I take it back. Few things are worse than “Also like a hospital.” Sorry.

    Watch out… The Hunger Games have got some pretty rabid fans too who might take a big offence to any comparison to Twilight. Cause Twlight? No bigger insult.(I kid, I kid, feel free to make any comparison you want with no complaint from anybody. It's your site, your review, you're free to say whatever you want. :P)

    • Stephalopolis says:

      (side note….Mark, I love love love your new site, but I hate every time word press tells me my comment is too long and to split it up into multiple comments. Just sayin :P)

      Katniss has her first cup of hot chocolate ever and I don’t care how bizarre this writing is, THAT IS A WONDERFUL, BEAUTIFUL MOMENT. And I’m writing this at the dinner table just after Thanksgiving feast times and I AM DESIRING A HOT CHOCOLATE. Damn.

      Personal note- I never liked hot chocolate. And then, in my 20s I went down to Disney in FL, got cold (it was in december- FL does get cold at night then!), had some hot chocolate, and fell in love with it.

      It’s finally starting. The games are about to begin. I’m actually kind of excited to see how these turn out, so that I can at least stop referencing Battle Royale. Onwards! Dun Dun Duuuunnnnn

  65. notemily says:

    I just have to say that I'm really enjoying reading people's theories. With MRHP the commenters were mostly people who had read Harry Potter before, so there wasn't a lot of theorizing about future events, so having read The Hunger Games already, seeing people try to predict what's to come is really fascinating. Some people have theories that are wrong, but still make me go "hmm, that WOULD be interesting!"

    It's like reading Mark's prediction posts, only with EVERYBODY! Whee!

  66. Andtrakb says:

    R u writing out the entire chapter!

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