Mark Reads ‘The Hunger Games’: Chapter 11

In the eleventh chapter of The Hunger Games, shit is so real that it becomes painful to read. FINALLY. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hunger Games.

It has taken me way too long to figure out how to figure write a review of this chapter. Holy shit, I am so sorry that I ever doubted that Collins wouldn’t bring it and bring it hard. THIS IS SO FUCKED UP.

Is it a lot like Battle Royale? Yes. Yes it is. The context of it and the details are somewhat different and I was hoping that there’d be a few more differences. That being said, I am surprised how suspenseful and exciting this is. IMMEDIATELY.

Sixty seconds. That’s how long we’re required to stand on our metal circles before the sound of a gong releases us. Step off before the minute is up, and land mines blow your legs off.

REALLY??? Oh god, and I bet this has happened to someone. We do learn pretty shortly exactly why this is in place.

Sixty seconds to take in the ring of tributes all equi-distant from the Cornucopia, a giant golden horn shaped like a cone with a curved tail, the mouth of which is at least twenty feet high, spilling over with the things that will give us life here in the arena. Food, containers of water, weapons medicine, garments, fire starters. Strewn around the Cornucopia are other supplies, their value decreasing the farther they are from the horn. For instance, only a few steps from my feet lies a three-foot square of plastic. Certainly it could be some use in a downpour. But there in the mouth, I can see a tent pack that would protect from almost any sort of weather. If I had the guts to go in and fight for it against twenty-three other tributes. Which I have been instructed not to do.

It’s clear that this exists for one precise reason: to goad the tributes into fighting immediately. It’s too tempting, with an unknowable arena stretching before them, and the Gamemakers know this. Unfortunately for Katniss, she suddenly becomes tempted as well.

Something catches my eye. There, resting on a mound of blanket rolls, is a silver sheath of arrows and a bow, already strung, just waiting to be engaged. That’s mine, I think. It’s meant for me.

I’m thinking the Gamemakers did this on purpose to tempt Katniss into fighting in the initial rush. She runs through as many logical processes as she can think of in the short time before the gong releases her, reasoning that she’s a quick runner, but realizing that it also puts her at risk. Lost in her confusing and terrified thoughts, thinking she sees Peeta shaking his head at her to dissuade her from getting the bow, the gong rings and Katniss, unprepared for just a second or two, loses her chance. She instead grabs the piece of plastic in front of her, a loaf of bread, and then darts towards a bright orange backpack before heading to the woods.

A boy, I think from District 9, reaches for the pack at the same time I do and for a brief time we grapple for it and then he coughs, splattering my face with blood. I stagger back, repulsed by the warm, sticky spray. Then the boy slips to the ground. That’s when I see the knife in his back. Already other tributes have reached the Cornucopia and are spreading out to attack. Yes, the girl from District 2, ten yards away, running toward me, one hand clutching a half-dozen knives. I’ve seen her throw in training. She never misses. And I’m her next target.

WHAT THE HOLY FUCK JUST HAPPENED. Did Collins kill off her first character IN THE FIRST TWO MINUTES OF THE GAME??? Oh my god, what the fuck. I cannot believe it. I honestly expected this to happen much later in the game. Jesus, I am completely taken aback by this.

Adrenaline shoots through me and I sling the pack over one shoulder and run full-speed for the woods. I can hear the blade whistling toward me and reflexively hike the pack up to protect my head. The blade lodges in the pack. Both straps on my shoulders now, I make for the trees. Somehow I know the girl will not pursue me.


No, seriously, this is so fucked up. Like…the futility of this all just hit me. Some kid just died in less than two minutes BY A KNIFE THROW TO THE BACK. They are all fucked. Twenty-three of these people are going to die horrible, violent deaths. Oh jesus christ, this is fucking awful.

At the edge of the woods I turn one instant to survey the field. About a dozen or so tributes are hacking away at one another around the horn. Several lie dead already on the ground.

Just…what a terrible mental image. This is really happening. Fuck.

Katniss begins to sprint into the woods, taking Haymitch’s advice to get as far away from the other tributes as she can, slowing her run to a steady jog, never stopping to look behind her or to check what’s in her bag. The forest is not too dense and the ground slopes away into a valley. Katniss doesn’t even have time to worry about being vulnerable in a valley because she has to keep moving.

Here is where the narration style truly works: Collins’s direct, choppy style is so perfect for the terror and suspense of Katniss running through the forest. It now makes more sense than ever for things to unfold the way they do. This is not in the past tense. This is occurring right now. It is a rather wonderful way for the activity to unfold. (It is unfortunate, though, for it to have taken this long for me to finally feel like the narration makes sense. I can’t ignore that.)

It’s late afternoon when I begin to hear the cannons. Each shot represents a dead tribute. The fighting must have finally stopped at the Cornucopia. They never collect the bloodbath bodies until the killers have dispersed. On the opening day, they don’t even fire the cannons until the intial fighting’s over because it’s too hard to keep track of the fatalities. I allow myself to pause, panting, as I count the shots. One…two…three…on and on until they reach eleven. Eleven dead in all. Thirteen left to play. My fingernails scrape at the dried blood the boy from District 9 coughed into my face. He’s gone, certainly. I wonder about Peeta. Has he lasted through the day? I’ll know in a few hours. When they project the dead’s images into the sky for the rest of us to see.

I simply cannot believe this. Five pages into the Games and Collins has killed off eleven people. I swear to you, I thought it would be a few here and there, with the halfway point being reached somewhere near page 250 or something. This is shit getting real to the billionth degree. THEY ARE ALMOST HALFWAY DONE ALREADY AND IT HAS BEEN SIX FUCKING PAGES.

Holy mother of god.

All of a sudden, I’m overwhelmed by the thought that Peeta may already be lost, bled white, collected, and in the process of being transported back to the Capitol to be cleaned up, redressed, and shipped in a simple wooden box back to District 12.

Now I’m overwhelmed. I don’t think Collins would kill off Peeta so quickly, but, then again, I DIDN’T EXPECT HER TO KILL OFF HALF THE TRIBUTES IN ONE PARAGRAPH.

Katniss realizes that she was smart to pick up her pack, which contains a host of crucial supplies, among them a heat reflecting sleeping bag, some minimal food, and a container for water. Which is unsurprisingly empty. Katniss is pained to think about the lake to the right of her; what if it’s the only water source?

This is so fucked up.

Katniss’s natural survival instincts bode her well here in the forest. She hears the wild animals coming out, which may spook anyone else out, but that means it’s a food source for her. She sets up a few snare traps just in case. Food will run out and it’s better for her to have something now than nothing later.

She decides to camp the night out, far in the forest, far up into a willow tree, even using her belt to secure herself on the branch so she doesn’t roll out of the tree. Smart girl. But sleep doesn’t come easy to her, just like the night before, and she’s awake when she hears the anthem.

It’s time to announce the dead.

I take a deep breath as the faces of the eleven dead tributes begin and tick them off one by one on my fingers.

The first to appear is the girl from District 3. That means that the Career Tributes from 1 and 2 have all survived. No surprises there. Then the boy from 4. I didn’t expect that one, usually all Careers make it through the first day. The boy from District 5…I guess the fox-faced girl made it. Both tributes from 6 and 7. The boy from 8. Both from 9. Yes, there’s the boy who I fought for the backpack. I’ve run through my fingers, only one more dead tribute to go. Is it Peeta? No, there’s the girl from District 10. That’s it. The Capitol seal is back with a final musical flourish. Then darkness and the sounds of the forest resume.

It’s chart time, guys!

So there we have it. Our neat little way to keep track of who is left. Man, that makes this look so bad. Also, there are mostly girls left. WHAT!

Katniss finally dozes off, after thinking about those who survived, which includes the 12-year-old girl named Rue. She’s awakened by the sound of another tribute who foolishly starts a fire near here, essentially guaranteeing their own death.

What are they thinking? A fire lit just at nightfall would have been one thing. Those who battled at the Cornucopia, with their superior strength and surplus of supplies, they couldn’t possibly have been near enough to spot the flames then. But now, when they’ve possibly been combing the woods for hours looking for victims. You might as well be waving a flag and shouting, “Come and get me!”

Is Collins seriously going to kill off #12 in this chapter? DAMN IT.

It doesn’t take but a few hours for it to happen.

Then I hear it. Several pairs of feet breaking into a run. The fire starter must have dozed off. They’re on her before she can escape. I know it’s a girl now, I can tell by the pleading, the agonized scream that follows. Then there’s laughter and congratulations from several voices. Someone cries out, “Twelve down and eleven to go!” which gets a round of appreciative hoots.

I did not expect to be so disturbed by this. This is seriously horrible. Collins is wasting no time going straight to fucked up in one single chapter.

Katniss, worried that she will soon be spotted, prepares for the worst. But the worst doesn’t happen to her at all, as she soon realizes the group is distracted by another problem: the cannon announcing a death has not gone off.

The group loudly argues about whether or not the girl they just killed is actually dead. And then:

An argument breaks out until one tribute silences the others. “We’re wasting time! I’ll go finish her and let’s move on!”

I almost fall out of the tree. The voice belongs to Peeta.

You seriously have to be fucking kidding me. Everything is so fucked right now.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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361 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Hunger Games’: Chapter 11

  1. bakercatherine says:

    Late comment from someone who is only just catching up with Mark Reads, but this comment of yours summed up what I feel makes this series so compelling and disturbing:

    'I simply cannot believe this. Five pages into the Games and Collins has killed off *eleven people*.'

    That's the artistry of this series. We're readers. We want to identify with the protagonist. Collins shows us Katniss's narrative. But she still forces us to identify with the spectators who are causing the oppression… all of us end up in the Capitol.

    All the other tributes must have as much agency and humanity as Katniss (yes, even the Careers), but we know nothing more about them than their District and gender. The author has already taken away their personhood and instead we're invited to consider their deaths no more than a game mechanic. By making our emotional investment in just one of them (as the author forces us to do), we've *already* written off the others…

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