In the nineteenth chapter of The Hunger Games, the weight of the news of the rule change in the Games motivates her to take a new direction in the competition, seeking out Peeta in order to win with him along her side. That proves easier said than done. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hunger Games.
Well, this is not what I expected.
I thought this entire story was building up to a moment where Katniss would watch Peeta die or be forced to kill him herself. That discerning moment would be something to frame the rest of the series, or at least the rest of the next book. Like Rue, Peeta seemed destined for death. It was too good to be true to have him end up alive after all this, but now the Game has changed in a way I would never, ever have considered. Peeta can survive??? Oh, now a new thought just popped into my head: what if he makes it to the near end AND GETS KILLED ANYWAY. Oh god, this is actually kind of exciting.
The star-crossed lovers…Peeta must have been playing that angle all along. Why else would the Gamemakers have made this unprecedented change in the rules? For two tributes have a shot at winning, our “romance” must be so popular with the audience that condemning it would jeopardize the success of the Games.
I don’t know what the insinuation is here, but is there a hint that somehow Peeta knew there might be a chance this rule could have even been a possibility? I don’t know…why else would Peeta play up the star-crossed lovers role?
I am intrigued.
This leaves a few key people: Foxface, who is a sneaky badass and I wish she wouldn’t die so she can continue to hide in the bushes and laugh at everyone. Thresh is still around but WHERE THE HELL HAS HE BEEN. No, really, is he also hiding in the bushes behind Foxface. Like what on earth has he been doing for hundreds of pages. Secret weapon maybe? Or maybe he’s waiting until the last minute and he’ll kill Katniss and book two will suddenly switch to his point of view. HOW EDGY WOULD THAT BE.
I shouldn’t write words.
Moving on. The only other two people left are Cato and the girl from District 2, who will inevitably work together to OPPRESS EVERYONE ELSE. I don’t like Cato. He’ll hopefully get beheaded. Right??? That would be pretty awesome, I think. Maybe the Gamemakers have a special weapon that allows the earth to open up and eat people? Look, I don’t think you guys understand my deep desire to see this happen in some form of fiction of film. Way to disappointment me, Suzanne Collins.
The next day (HOW DOES KATNISS SLEEP AT ALL DURING THIS), she heads off to find Peeta. Realizing that his injuries must be serious from Cato’s sword and the tracker jackers, Katniss heads to find a water source. It’s the only way he could have survived all this time alone. The lake is not a good choice, the pools are too stagnant, so she knows the stream is the only place he can be. There, she finds evidence that he was there: blood stains on the rocks alongside the stream.
And then JESUS CHRIST THIS IS KIND OF AMAZING:
“You here to finish me off, sweetheart?”
I whip around. It’s come from the left, so I can’t pick it up very well. And the voice was hoarse and weak. Still, it must have been Peeta. Who else in the arena would call me sweetheart? My eyes peruse the bank, but there’s nothing. Just mud, the plants, the base of the rocks.
“Peeta?” I whisper. “Where are you?” There’s no answer. Could I just have imagined it? No, I’m certain it was real and very close at hand, too. “Peeta?” I creep along the bank.
“Well, don’t step on me.”
WHAT THE FUCK.
I jump back. His voice was right under my feel. Still there’s nothing. Then his eyes open, unmistakably blue in the brown mud and green leaves. I gasp and am rewarded with a hint of white teeth as he laughs.
It’s the final word in camouflage. Forget chucking weights around. Peeta should have gone into his private session with the Gamemakers and painted himself into a tree. Or a boulder. Or a muddy bank full of weeds.
THIS IS SERIOUSLY FANTASTIC. Possibly the best thing in the entire book. Oh my god, Peeta is AMAZING. And get this: he learned all this from decorating cakes. Like, it’s so absurd and sensational and I don’t even care. It is goddamn wonderful.
Peeta smiles. “Yes, frosting. The final defense of the dying.”
Collins high-fived Jesus after writing this line and he most certainly high-fived back.
Katniss goes about helping Peeta out of the mud and cleaning him and his…wound. Oh, his wound. He’s caked thick in mud, so badly that getting his clothes off is an exercise in and of itself. But she does manage to do what she can and then she slides his pants off in the least romantic way possible and OH GOD WHAT.
I can see the tear Cato’s sword made in the fabric over his thigh, but it in no way prepares me for what lies underneath. The deep inflamed gash oozing both blood and pus. The swelling of the leg. And worst of all, the smell of festering flesh.
YEAH, NO THANK YOU. Like, how is she going to heal this, if at all? The burn medicine isn’t going to work and neither are the leaves Rue gave her. (They do end up helping with some of the pus, but it’s still not going to heal the leg.)
I do like the interplay between the two characters, who realize they don’t need to kill each other anymore. And even if they jokes are particularly fantastic, it’s nice to have SOME dialogue. Like…Rue was the first bit of actual speech we’d read in a good while.
Katniss keeps Peeta talking to distract him from the gravity of the situation: he’s malnourished and his leg is, for lack of a better phrase, fucked up. She can’t even get him far down the stream to find a good place to hide. They duck into an outcropping of rocks that form a sort of cave. But the situation is far more grim than she expected.
His forehead’s burning up. Like the medicine’s having no effect at all. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I’m scared he’s going to die.
Actually…I get what Collins means, but isn’t that the exact opposite meaning of “out of nowhere”? Like…he has a high fever from the infection. Logically, the fear of death seems pretty reasonable, so it doesn’t come out of nowhere. Right?
Still, it’s an unsettling thought for Katniss, who is woefully ignorant in this area. And Peeta knows she feels this way and tries to tell her about what she should do if he dies.
Impulsively, I lean forward and kiss him, stopping his words. This is probably overdue since he’s right, we are supposed to be madly in love. It’s the first time I’ve ever kissed a boy, which should make some sort of impression I guess, but all I can register is how unnaturally hot his lips are from the fever.
Well, that’s certainly the worst first kiss story of all time, right? I’m sure it’s worse than yours. BRING IT IF IT’S NOT.
Romance bores me. Is it ok if I say that? I generally don’t really care about it, so I do like that this isn’t really played up as this huge emotional moment. (Well, for Katniss. I feel like Peeta was totally stoked.)
I step out in the cool evening air just as the parachute floats down from the sky. My fingers quickly undo the tie, hoping for some real medicine to treat Peeta’s leg. Instead I find a pot of hot broth.
REALLY HAYMITCH. What the hell are they supposed to do with that?
Haymitch couldn’t be sending me a clearer message. One kiss equals one pot of broth. I can almost hear his snarl. “You’re supposed to be in love, sweetheart. The boy’s dying. Give me something I can work with!”
Haymitch, you are so charming.
“Peeta” I say, trying for the special tone that my mother used only with my father. He’s dozed off again, but I kiss him awake, which seems to startle him. Then he smiles as if he’d be happy to lie there gazing at me forever. He’s great at this stuff.
Because he’s not faking it?
I am not too excited to spend chapters with Peeta hitting on Katniss and meaning it while she proves to be completely oblivious to it all. Oh well. Can we get back to Murder Fest 2057?