Mark Reads ‘The Hunger Games’: Chapter 20

In the twentieth chapter of The Hunger Games, Peeta and Katniss do their best to figure out what their next move as Peeta’s condition continues to worsen. When the Gamemakers invite the tributes to a particularly appealing feast, Katniss does something drastic to save Peeta. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hunger Games.

Getting the broth into Peeta takes an hour of coaxing, begging, threatening, and yes, kissing, but finally, sip by sip, he empties the pot.

I’m not a fan of this new twist in the story or any sort of romantic plot, but I feel I should explain why.

I know a few of you asked me about pairings in Harry Potter and wondered why I didn’t seem to care much about shipping in my reviews, especially since it was such a contentious point of the series. I tried saying that my mind just simply didn’t wander there, but that’s not really what is actually going on. I think it’s just a matter of experience. I don’t intend for this to be something depressing or sad, but I did not have any romantic experiences until I was 19. I don’t know what it’s like to date my peers in school. I don’t know what it’s like to have the typical high school romance. I had no way to relate or empathize with all the personal, relationship, or romantic drama in Harry Potter. And that’s probably why Twilight was so vile to me as well, since that was the only thing left in that book.

That doesn’t mean that any of this is wrong or anything. It’s just me and I’m well aware it’s my problem and it’s my preference. It’s also why I don’t watch romantic comedies ever. Romance bores me. So I feel like I should admit this straight up right now so that you don’t feel that I’m criticizing any of this because there’s something actually wrong here. I’m just whiny, that’s all.

The temperature drops rapidly and soon I’m chilled to the bone. Eventually, I give in and slide into the sleeping bag with Peeta. It’s toasty warm and I snuggle down gratefully until I realize it’s more than warm, it’s overly hot because the bag is reflecting back his fever.

I know that this is not a reference to anything else and exists because it’s a way for Katniss to stay warm, but I can’t read any sort of scene with people sharing a sleeping back and one of them has a fever and not think of that horrific chapter in Eclipse. AGAIN, I’M SORRY, THIS BOOK IS CLEARLY NOT TWILIGHT BUT I CAN’T HELP IT. It’s just where my mind goes STOP YELLING AT ME.

“You were worried about me? Have you taken a look at yourself lately?”

“I thought Cato and Clove might have found you. They like to hunt at night,” he says, still serious.

“Clove? Which one is that?” I ask.

“The girl from District Two. She’s still alive, right?” he says.

Man, these characters have fucked up names, don’t they?

Oh, right, the whole romance thing. I reach out to touch his cheek and he catches my hand and presses it against his lips. I remember my father doing this very thing to my mother and I wonder where Peeta picked it up. Surely not from his father and the witch.

“No more kisses for you until you’ve eaten,” I say.

Seriously, I’m now completely checkout out of the narrative. I don’t care about this charade. It’s just…it’s just not interesting, you know?

I must be heartless when Peeta’s festering, swollen leg holds more interest  to me than anything else. And ohhhh boy, it’s worse.

There’s no more pus in evidence, but the swelling has increased and the tight shiny skin is inflamed. Then I see the red streaks starting to crawl up his leg. Blood poisoning. Unchecked, it will kill him for sure.

Well, this is not good. Maybe Collins will go for the super fucked up route and have Katniss and Peeta survive the game but then Peeta dies of blood poisoning anyway. Then this book would be super tragic. Right? Well, if not then, then this story is now turning towards the opposite inevitability: Katniss is going to have to do something to get that medicine. She mentions that it is so expensive that the chance that Haymitch can gather enough sponsors is nearly impossible.

So what on earth is she going to do? The truth is that this fact is such an overwhelming reality that when Katniss launches into a flashback about getting Prim her goat, I’m instantly bored. The problem with this flashback is that it feels like the entire narrative comes to a standstill. There are only four other tributes left, Peeta is dying, and the book is nearly done. What is the relevance of this story to what’s happening here? I mean, it does remind us of Gale again, as if to suggest that Peeta’s relationship with her now has some relation to what happened back then. But I’m not ready to connect those dots yet because Katniss doesn’t respect Peeta in the same way she does with Gale.

Thankfully, Collins doesn’t spend much time on this sidetracking story:

The sound of the trumpets startles me. I’m on my feet and at the mouth of the cave in a flash, not wanting to miss a syllable. It’s my new best friend, Cladius Temptlesmith, and as I expected, he’s inviting us to a feast. Well, we’re not that hunger and I actually wave hiss offer away in indifference when he says, “Now hold on. Some of you may already be declining my invitation. But this is no ordinary feast. Each of you needs something desperately.”

I do need something desperately. Something to heal Peeta’s leg.

“Each of you will find that something in a backpack, marked with your district number, at the Cornucopia at dawn. Think hard about refusing to show up. For some of you, this will be your last chance,” says Claudius.

Well, holy shit. I have to say, these Gamemakers know how to complicate things. It makes me wonder what the other four tributes need right now as well.

I jump as Peeta grips my shoulder from behind. “No,” he says. “You’re not risking your life for me.”

Um, OF COURSE SHE IS GOING TO. Duh. That’s just how these things work, don’t they?

Not surprisingly, they bicker about what to do. Katniss tries to lie and say she’ll wait it out, but Peeta doesn’t believe. Then he tries to say he’ll follow her there (REALLY, DUDE), and then actually gives her an ultimatum that he won’t die if she doesn’t go to the Cornucopia. REALLY, PEETA. THAT IS A TOTALLY FAIR DEAL. Ugh, I hate when characters do petty shit like this. IT IS SO IRRITATING.

But Katniss agrees to placate him, thinking of some way to get to the District 12 backpack. Her answer comes from Haymitch, who has sent another parachute. At first, she believes that it’s the medicine needed to cure Peeta, but she’s disappointed to find out he sent her sleeping syrup. That disappointment, though, turns to pure joy when she realizes she can use it to drug Peeta to sleep so she can go to the Cornucopia alone. There’s nothing quite as romantic as drugging people against their will, right????

It does make me a bit uncomfortable, but I’ve lost the ability to care for most of these people anyway, so as long as the story moves forward, I suppose I’m ok with it in this context.

“They’re as sweet as syrup,” he says, taking the last spoonful. “Syrup.” His eyes widen as he realizes the truth. I clamp my hand over his mouth and nose hard, forcing him to swallow instead of spit. He tries to make himself vomit the stuff up, but it’s too late, he’s already losing conscious. Even as he fades away, I can see in his eyes what I’ve done is unforgivable.

RIGHT? I mean, JESUS FUCK KATNISS, YOU ARE DRUGGING HIM. I’m sure she’ll justify it as necessary in the Games, but it doesn’t make it any less fucked up.

Man, I seriously don’t know how more messed up this can all get. But whatever: Bring it, Collins. I’M PREPARED FINALLY.

About Mark Reads

Vegan cyclist, Internet community nerd, atheist bookworm, high-five purveyor.
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338 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Hunger Games’: Chapter 20

  1. bell_erin_a says:

    I'll be 19 in a few months and have never had any relationship ever, so I feel where you're coming from. Except that I went the opposite way and am a freaking hopeless romantic. So this didn't bother me as much as it bothers you.

    OH EXCEPT FOR THE DRUGGING AGAINST HIS WILL WHICH IS JUST TOO FREAKING MUCH LIKE TWILIGHT, YOU ARE CORRECT. Okay, the Games. Desperate times, all that shit. But still.

    • TyBlack says:

      I was about to post almost the exact same message (except for the twilight part because i dont remember any actual drugging so my head never went there.) But i am not a fan of sappy romance. Or the stupid misunderstandings in most RomComs. Twilight is actually one of the only romances I will read because interspersed with all the sap there are vampires occasionally vamping. It makes me sad you don't like romance Mark because most of the books I would recomend depend on it.

      • Bluejay says:

        I only read the first book in the Twilight series but at the end of that one, Bella is in the hospital and she's like, "Turn me into a vampire!" and Edward is like, "No and if you don't calm down I'll call the nurse to come drug you." I was like, "Okay, that is a really horrible joke." Only it turned out it wasn't a joke because then he ACTUALLY DID IT. Out of all the crap in that book that was the part I hated the most and I almost threw the book.

    • affableevil says:

      Similarly, I've never had a relationship and I'm 18. My sister is apparently contemplating setting me up with some sort of Platonic Life Partner, which cracks me up :b

      Also similar to you, I love a good romance in fiction. I've never cared much for the romance plot in this particular book – I just don't find it compelling. I'd rather just have Katniss run around and stick arrows into people kthx. As far as real life….eh, I've got video games to play and books to read and other shit to do that I find much more fun than relationshippy crap.

      • kytten says:

        I like a well written adult love story, either as main plot or as an undertone in the plot. But I cannot abide teenage, awkward romance. I had enough of awkward teenage romance and awkward teenage romance stories when I was a teenager, thanks.

    • Fuchsia says:

      This is the thread of loneliness! I'm 26, never had a relationship until I was 21. I've only had two relationships up to this point and they were both beyond horrible. So, yeah, happily single and I generally can do without romance in my novels. Sometimes I like it, but that's rare, most often I can take it or leave it.

      Thankfully, the romance is *not* the focus of this book and is just a device (for Katniss, at least) to get things to help her survive.

    • Cherry says:

      You know, there's a key difference here between this and Twishite.

      Collins treats this moment as wrong.

  2. Kate Monster says:

    Oh Mark. I wish you really were prepared. I'm not sure you are.

  3. Karen says:

    Unlike you, Mark. I am a huge sucker for romantic storylines (but I don't get so involved in them that the outcome of a pairing affects my enjoyment of a book as a whole), so I love this whole schtick.

    His hand brushes the loose strands of my nair off my forehead. Unlike the staged kisses and caresses so far, this gesture seems natual and comforting. I don’t want him to stop and he doesn’t. He’s still stroking my hair when I fall asleep.
    <img src = "http://i41.tinypic.com/11w5w8w.jpg"&gt;
    Giiiiirl, I see where this is going.

    “Besides, I like watching you sleep. You don’t scowl. Improves your looks a lot.”
    This, of course, brings on a scowl that makes him grin.

    LOL. I love you, Peeta.

    “I know what blood poisoning is, Katniss,” says Peeta. “Even if my mother isn’t a healer.”
    NOOOO. MY BB. IS HE GOING TO BE OK?

    A happy story? This will require a lot more effort than the soup.
    Hahahaha. Oh Katniss. ILH. I love how dour she is.

    “I can see why that day made you happy.”
    “Well I knew that goat would be a little gold mine,” I say.
    “Yes, of course I was referring to that, not the lasting joy you gave the sister you love so much you took her place in the reaping,” Peeta said drily.

    LOL. Feverish and sarcastic Peeta is the BEST.

    “Who can’t lie, Peeta?” I say, even though he can’t hear me.
    It doesn’t matter. The rest of Panem can.

    I love this bit for two reasons. Firstly, lol, Katniss. I love that throughout this chapter, we’ve really gotten a better feel for Katniss as a character. Having her interact with and play off of Peeta has opened up a friendlier side to her. She seems like less of a wall of a character now than when we were just with her thoughts. Secondly, it’s a great way to bring back the idea that this is all being broadcast and that for Katniss, this is all an act.

    • AngryAsian says:

      i'm a sucker for the romance too. yeah i dig the violence blah blah but what kept me reading was the romance angle.

    • cait0716 says:

      I agree. The romance played a huge part in my love of these books. I thought it was very well done. Katniss' cluelessness rang very true for me (though I wanted to shake her a few times) and I thought the whole romance angle was well done overall. Thanks for pulling out these quotes so I can relive this part of the book as well.

    • myownmetaphor says:

      See I love it, except I feel so so bad for Peeta. Because I don't know if he knows that it is fake and that. just. sucks. Because I have been on that end where the other person is faking it and it is so horrible when it all comes out. I know desperate times and everything. I do adore the romance scenes but they're almost hurting Peeta, you know? And it is Peeta, you can't do that to him, he's perfection.

  4. pennylane27 says:

    Well, there must be something really wrong with me, because Katniss drugging him didn't bother me at all until I reread it. I was all "Fuck yeah, Katniss is going to kill everyone and get that medicine so they can live happily ever after". So, um, am I a horrible human being?

    • bell_erin_a says:

      I mean, I'm fine with it (mostly. I think. It's the only way), but it just smacks of Twilight there. Which I'm not fine with.

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        You're not a horrible being. I think that it might possibly be a commentary on how the Games dehumanizes people and makes them do things that are immoral to survive.

        • pennylane27 says:

          Oh wow, thanks!
          I think you're right, and it also relates to something I've been thinking about recently (Mark you make me think way more deeply about books than I used to so thanks!) but I will wait to post it until I can write it down in a coherent way.

          • xpanasonicyouthx says:

            That's awesome! I guess the whole point of doing this is to make people think about what they're reading in ways they hadn't before. :)

        • liliaeth says:

          another difference is that Katniss isn't just drugging him to get her way, she's literally drugging him to save his life and keep him from doing something that will get him killed.

    • Kate Monster says:

      I have to agree, it didn't bug me as much as it would have if she had just sat there angsting and whining about the decision. If I'd had to read "WOE IS ME, HOW WILL PEETA EVER FORGIVE ME", I really might have given up on this series right then and there.

      • monkeybutter says:

        Yup. She's being pragmatic, and Peeta's right: she's just like Haymitch. I don't like that it happened, but they're in an arena fighting to the death, so this is a grey area that I can accept. Katniss isn't the type to agonize over what's right and wrong as long as it keeps people alive, and that makes her so much more bearable.

        • Karen says:

          IA so hard. Katniss is a pragmatist and a survivalist. She doesn't really think about the more complex moral issues like consent. She's doing what she has to do in order to ensure that she and Peeta make it out alive.

    • theupsides says:

      It doesn't bother me too much either, because she's doing it to save his life. I mean, I know it's shitty, but he'll die if she doesn't go.

    • corporatecake says:

      Yeah, the drugging him doesn't bother me, either. She could drug him, or he could die. Drugging him is definitely the lesser of two evils.

    • Warmouh says:

      Nah, I think I'm the horrible human being because I was happy he was drugged so we could get a break from this relationship crush BS and get back to the action. Collins, your strong suit is action scenes, STOP GRINDING TO YOUR ACTION TO A HALT.

    • TheRedQueen says:

      Yeah…everyone else is going "OMG SHE DRUGGED HIM HOW DARE SHE" and I'm like "huh…all I thought was 'nice thinking, Katniss'…" I mean, seriously, maybe I'm evil/crazy/desensitized but that just…did not even phase me.

      I think it was the motive. If she doesn't go get the medicine, Peeta will surely die. If she just runs off, Peeta will surely injure himself even more trying to, what, crawl after her? (You know he would.) So she's left with little choice. I mean, she could always respect his decision and, you know, allow him to die painfully, but even though she's callous and awkward, Katniss does have feelings for Peeta at this point (even if her expression is largely faked for the sake of the cameras) and she truly wants to save him. Katniss is not a person who sits idly by and hopes for something good to happen – Katniss takes charge.

      Now I'm in no way saying that we should just go around drugging each other because it's convenient and allows us to get our way, but if I was stuck in a cave with someone I loved who was grievously injured and mere days from dying, trapped in a chaotic arena filled with people who will kill us if they find us and various other dangers…..I might just do whatever it takes to keep the person I love alive. Maybe I'm harsh but that's how I see it and Katniss' actions didn't seem out of line, given the context of their situation.
      :)

      • thatonegirl says:

        Plus she has to keep playing the game. The sponsors just sent her some sleep drugs and they expect her to use them. Not that it justifies it, just that it puts more pressure on Katniss to do what she did.
        Drugging him doesn't bother me but it does make me wonder where I would draw the line in agreeing with Katniss. She's killed people, is playing out a faux-mance with a kid who obviously likes her, and is drugging people against their will but for their benefit. She kind of has to do all of those things, but that's a justification that I think can go too far.

  5. pagefivefivesix says:

    I never had a problem with her druggin him (am I a bad person?) because if she didn't he'd sort of die a little bit.
    I don't particularly care for the romantic shite either, mainly because I find romance in general boring and pointless (FOREVER ALONE T_T) Love the book as a whole, but this chaper isn't very good.

  6. aurorabora says:

    "I’M PREPARED FINALLY."

    Hahahahahaha YOUR NAIVETE IS AMUSING TO ME.

  7. bibliotrek says:

    This chapter made me think of just how much the issue of consent is a major theme in the book. Katniss sort of consented to participating in the Hunger Games, but only because she didn't want Prim to go. We learn that the careers volunteer (right? or am I misremembering that?). But Peeta didn't; Rue and Thresh didn't; presumably none of the others did, either. And now Katniss is taking away Peeta's ability to consent even to letting her go to the feast. I feel like this is another way for Collins to show just how fucked up everything is thanks to the Capitol's draconian laws: not just that the tributes have to participate in the games, but that they have to behave like the Capitol even in the games.

    The only way to survive is to perpetuate the Capitol's own mindset. That is seriously fucked up and kind of brilliant (narratively speaking) at the same time.

    • TheRedQueen says:

      That's a good point. Because while the drugging didn't bother me in the sense of "she's doing this to save him" it's true that drugging someone in general is fucked up, let alone so they can't stop you from doing something they don't want you to do. The basic idea is awful, even if Katniss is doing it purely out of keeping Peeta alive.

      Fight fire with fire I suppose? It is massively crazy (but awesome, I thought).

  8. Caitlin P says:

    You are so unprepared Mark!

  9. theupsides says:

    Romance bores me.

    The romance is my favorite part of this book. *shrugs*

  10. Lauren says:

    You're not prepared.

    And I find it very intriguing that you're not very attached to the characters, themselves. I'm curious to see if this will change as the book (and series) continue and, if so, to whom you'll find yourself more attached.

  11. SarBear says:

    Romance bores me, too. x)
    All my friends think I’m insane, they all love it but I’m just like UGH BORING CAN WE PLEASE MOVE ALONG
    Although I enjoyed it in Harry Potter since it was such a minute thing. I for one am all for ~FRIENDSHIP SHIPS~
    My Harry Potter OTP was basically the trio being BFF and ever and ever.
    Another reason I got so into LOST, it had a TON of awesome relationships that were not all about romantic love (even if they did start to focus on that in the end I guess)
    I’m starting to get bored with this, but that’s probably because my mind is going “oh wow awesome, now somehow they will fall for eachother for real, omg I bet there will be a love triangle, no one has ever done that before.”
    Also flashbacks are annoying, drugging people WTF, and how the hell did Haymitch get to know Katniss well enough to understand she would get his little “messages?”

    • banabou says:

      Your point about friendships really rings true. :D Romantic YA fiction can become SUPER boring because (as we saw very clearly in the Twilight series) the starring relationships so often serve only to exclude others. All of Bella's friends from the first book just sort of fall away. I know she was new in Washington and all, but did she even have one friend from Arizona that she tried to keep in touch with? I don't think so. Friendship ties were treated as completely superficial and unimportant when compared to her TWU WUV with her marble butterscotch sparkly Adonis, blah blah BARF.

      In books I prefer reading, character relationships are much more inclusive. The deep friendship between Harry/Hermione/Ron, for example, doesn't keep them from forming bonds with Neville, Luna, and others. Ron also has realistic, well-fleshed out relationships with his family members. And even when romance enters into things, it doesn't destroy the friendships that were there first.

      TL;DR – friends are wunnerful, let's all hug.

    • castlejune says:

      Ah, but this romance is important to the plot! After all, how is this Hunger Game different from ones in the past? THE ROMANCE! The romance between Peeta and Katniss so far has:

      1. Caused the Gamemakers to change a rule. Which is the first time in 74 years!
      2. Allowed a rule change where people can WORK TOGETHER. In a game whose purpose is to divide the districts, create conflict and despair, suddenly there is hope and an example of unity! Which is NOT good for the capital.
      3. Given the viewers something to be invested in besides DEATH! Romance = coupling = making life = hope for the future! This is directly contrary to the purpose of the Games which is supposed to be: Senseless death of children = loss of the future / hope for the future = despair and belief in futility of making the world a better place.

      The Capital just undermined its own goals by allowing Peeta and Katniss to cuddle and coo at each other! When I stopped to think about it, I couldn't help cackling madly! They are totally going to start a love revolt! Cuddle your way to change!

  12. stellaaaaakris says:

    "I'M PREPARED FINALLY."
    Mark, I do not think this means what you think it means.

    What do the other characters need? I'm guessing Foxface needs food what with the Careers supply gone, she can't pilfer anymore. Cato and Clove need…subtlety. No more running around and breaking people's necks with your hands. I do not like. And Thresh needs to lose his freakin' invisibility cloak. WHERE IS HE?! HE IS A GIANT, HE SHOULD BE SEEN ONCE IN A WHILE. Plus he can't have that many sponsors, he's just chilling almost off screen all the time.

    Can't blame you for hating the romance angle. It can certainly get a bit sappy. I have a tendency to decide who I want to end up together right in the beginning and then cling with the grip of a spider monkey to it. And then I get seriously peeved when the characters don't listen to my AWESOME advice/coupling/insanity (Why hasn't Draco realized he's in love with Hermione yet even though she's way too aswesome for her and is Ron's TRU LUV? Um, yeah, anyway…). Peeta declaring his love sealed the deal for me. But I'm not a fan of sap, got my fill right there in Chapter 9, and all this kissing to make him eat, no, that's too much.

    • bell_erin_a says:

      LOLOLOL subtlety. I wonder how the Capitol is going to manage to wrap that up in a backpack. Unless it's a note like "Steal Thresh's invisibility cloak. Kthanxbye, the Capitol."

      • stellaaaaakris says:

        You write lovely notes from the Capitol. You capture their essence very well :D

        • bell_erin_a says:

          Haha, that probably means I'm just too much of a sarcastic bitch for my own good. :p

          I… probably have more where those came from. And the one I wrote last night will be making an appearance here. Because I can.

    • Tabbyclaw says:

      Thresh needs a jigsaw puzzle to keep from getting soulcrushingly bored as he chills just offscreen.

      • bell_erin_a says:

        I think someone's already said something like this, but I wonder how often tributes die of boredom as they're hiding out somewhere. Presumably though, if Thresh's part gets too boring for the audience, the Gamemakers will make it more ~exciting~ for him.

      • stellaaaaakris says:

        Is it weird that I imagine Thresh lying in the grass/wheat/whatever, just sunbathing and looking for shapes in the clouds while the other tributes are all battling it out? Yes? oh, never mind then….

        • Tabbyclaw says:

          ZEN MASTER THRESH. "Dude. Put down that spear and come check out how the sun is slanting through the wheat here. It's, like, cosmic."

  13. SarBear says:

    LOL sorry I an being such a Debbie downer my bad I am just in one of those moods where it is easier to find what I don’t like as opposed to what I do, sorry? :’D

  14. Multiplicitous says:

    Yeah, I didn't really date until college, and didn't have a boyfriend until law school (LOL 22-year-old virgin), so I've always been ambivalent about romance in stories. The relationship with Katniss and Peeta only intrigued me because at this point you don't know whether Peeta is faking his affection as well, or if he's not, waiting for the other shoe to drop and him finding out that Katniss is (and the effect that would have on their chances of winning.) But the romance angle is definitely not Collins's strong suit.

  15. Miss_Connell says:

    To quote Yatzee – "Imagine if there was some kind of parallel universe where every game and movie regardless of genre was required to incorporate at least one line dancing competition. You'd think they were all raving lunatics, and yet here's us forcing in an out of place cheesy romance scene that's more agonizingly painful to watch than any of the actual horror that the game is supposed to be about."

    Replace game with book and that just about sums up my feelings for this chapter. It also doesn't help that I just do not get this whole romance thing in the first place. What can I say? I'm honestly not interested.

  16. zulaihaha says:

    Yeah, I'm only a fan of romance if it's written really, really well. And while I'm enjoying this book… not loving the romance. I can't make myself like Katniss, I've tried. I just find her super aggravating and annoying. I'm liking Peeta though, so we shall see where this goes.

  17. Esther says:

    The romance stuff bores me because I ship Katniss/Gale.
    I didn't like this chapter. There's too much kissing going on, all obviously fake on Katniss's part while just as obviously real on Gale's.

  18. thatonegirl says:

    The whole goat story felt weird to me but I liked that Peeta called Katniss on her bull at the end of it. Was the point of that story to show that Katniss thinks and feels a lot more than she lets on?
    And maybe I'm a bad person too but I didn't think anything of her druggin Peeta. Her little 'who can't lie?' made me laugh.

    • DameDallas says:

      Same here. I mean she's saving the boy's life! He's crazy if he thinks he is going to survive by dragging after her to a fucking BLOODBATH that is about to happen.

  19. jessicaduh says:

    Mark,

    I did have some romantic experiences young, but they were mostly unrequited crushes. I love crushes. When I was 19, I met my husband and fell madly in Love. We have been together for 12 years now and are more in Love with one another than ever, but that doesn't mean that I am going to start watching everything that has ever starred Hugh Grant.

    I don't give a shit about romance in my books or films typically. There are the rare occasions where something might strike a chord, but when series or movies or whatever are built around that, it's just like you said – boring as hell. I just don't care. And the majority of the time, the falling in love process is so truncated and trite that it's incredibly unbelievable.

    Additionally, I had no idea there were ever any issues surrounding relationships in the HP series until I read that shit on your blog. It makes zero sense to me. ZERO.

  20. celestineangel1 says:

    I'm not the biggest fan of romance, either. I can tolerate it–but I cannot stand love triangles. CAN. NOT. I hate love triangles with a passion.

    And I'm with you on not caring about the characters. The story is interesting enough, definitely, but the characters… especially What-Is-This-Emotion-Thing Katniss… meh.

    • bookling says:

      I can't stand love triangles, either! Ugh. Gag me with a spoon.

      (Apparently love triangles are so revolting that they make me revert to my third-grade self, who said things like "gag me with a spoon".)

      • monkeybutter says:

        Love triangles are grody to the max!

        I'm gonna listen to Zappa…

      • Kate Monster says:

        My question is, "WHY are love triangles SO DAMN PREVALENT in YA fiction?" Siriusly though, they happen way too damn often. I feel like every girl grows up expecting to be involved in a highly dramatic love triangle at some point in her life and they just….don't really…happen…ever.

        • bookling says:

          Honestly, I think it's because of Twilight. I remember there being a lot of romance in the YA I read growing up, but not many love triangles.

          • Kate Monster says:

            Isn't there one (or two…or three?) in the Traveling Pants saga as well? Perks of Being a Wallflower has some, weird as they are, and I totally want to scour my bookshelves for more examples, but I'm far too lazy. Mostly, though, I blame Twilight.

            • bookling says:

              Maybe? I never read the Traveling Pants books. I'm thinking more of SVH, Christopher Pike books, etc. Lots of dramatic, fucked-up romances but not many love triangles. I think it's definitely a more popular trope now due to the success of Twilight.

        • lossthief says:

          It's because for a lot of teenagers, they don't really have perspective, and thus for many the idea of having to choose between two people to date is the most difficult thing they can think of. This isn't to say teenagers are shallow (I myself being one) but that a lot of them, myself included, have a habit of thinking that High School and what they're dealing with RIGHT NOW, is the most important thing in the world and their whole life hinges on it.

        • oohlivia says:

          I don't know, but I am so grateful for The Trio (although I did see an article once which referred to them as a love triangle, wtf). God bless you Ron, Harry and Hermione.

        • omg says:

          Actually, one happened to me.
          And it was BROTHERS, so it was stupid dramatic.

    • banabou says:

      I am not a big fan of them either, mostly because the two love interests always seem to be so perfectly opposite. Blonde/brunette, nice dude/rascal, trusting/aloof, etc. Borrrrrrrrrrring~

      A love rhombus could be pretty rad, though.

    • Ken says:

      Love triangles would be much better if they got together at the end and were all "let's just all settle down together!" That doesn't happen nearly often enough…

  21. Randomcheeses says:

    Personally, given the context, I see Katniss giving Peeta the syrup more like a doctor giving a patient a sedative so that they don't hurt themselves. With his leg the way it is, if Peeta tags along with Katniss to the cornucopia, then he will die. She is saving his life and giving him appropriate medical treatment, not doing anything creepy,

    Of course Peeta feels it's unforgivable, but, important fact, he really isn't in any state to make that kind of judgement right now. He's feverish and dying, and (apparently) in love with Katniss. All of those factors are contributing to him making stupid decisions right now.

    • calimie says:

      Exactly, Peeta planned on follow her shouting her name to stop her from going. Smart. Their only hope is the feast and he's being unreasonable (and feverish). He was in no position to argue anything and he was nothing but a danger to himself.

    • TheRedQueen says:

      I completely agree. I wrote something similar in response to a comment above yours but I didn't even think of the "doctor" angle and that's basically exactly what this is: she is his caretaker, he is her patient, and he is sick and will almost certainly be a danger to himself, especially if she leaves when he's against it.

      I guess for some people it's "creepy" or "without consent" but I just read right through it without even batting an eye because, to me at least, it made perfect sense.

  22. potlid007 says:

    Romance doesn't necessarily bore me unless:
    1. It's the entire freaking story aka Twilight
    <img src="http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx228/padfoot007_2010/GIF%20PARTY/tumblr_l43baeaHk01qzez5w.gif&quot; border="0" alt="Photobucket">
    OR
    2. It's random and semi-unnecessary
    <img src="http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx228/padfoot007_2010/GIF%20PARTY/erhh7djpg.gif&quot; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

    I feel like this is randomly stuck in here for Collins' strange enjoyment/need. I mean, there could have been some epic bloodshed in this chapter, or actually something meaningful to the Hunger Games. Hell, I would have preferred a chapter of eating squirrel to this.It does seem like the book has come to a random standstill, and I'm not entirely sure why…GET BACK TO THE BLOODSHED AND CRAZY CAKE MAKING PLZ
    <img src="http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx228/padfoot007_2010/GIF%20PARTY/tumblr_kon1j5m8Dd1qzoaqio1_250.gif&quot; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

    <img src="http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx228/padfoot007_2010/GIF%20PARTY/tumblr_ld76wj3Y6N1qasdemo1_500.gif&quot; border="0" alt="Photobucket">
    Harry is not impressed.

    • andreah1234 says:

      THIS COMMENT AND IT'S GIFS ARE MADE OF AWESOME. *Up-voting like there is no tomorrow*

    • Openattheclose says:

      Spike! Thank you for these gifs.

    • jessicaduh says:

      AGREED.

      There is one other scenario where it is just AWFUL –

      when it's clear that the author is inserting romance (OR SEX) to fulfill his/her own repressed desires and it's like you're reading them have sex with their characters and it is just indecent (coughCHARLAINEHARRIScough)

      • adev0tchka says:

        Don't hate on Charlaine Harris. Sure, there's lots of sexy fluff. But, there is more than enough action and shit-gets-so-real moments that it makes it all worth it. Also: BUBBA.

    • rowanlee says:

      I've just been watching that boombox hit the guy in the face for five minutes and I regret none of it.

    • Karen says:

      OMG. UPVOTE FOR SPIKE AND JOYCE GIF.

      That said. I don't think that the romance is unnecessary at all. I have some non-spoilery reasons and some spoilery ones, so I'm just not going to say anything at all right now. Suffice to say is that I think theere are larger themes at work here.

      • Openattheclose says:

        This is why I will love Buffy forever and ever. It's been over ten years since I first saw that scene and all I have to do is look at that gif and I know exactly what the context is and still giggle like it's the first time I have seen it.

        About the romance, I think I know you're spoilery reasons and I agree.

    • FlameRaven says:

      The romance isn't really pointless, although I can understand that it feels jarring because everything has been so action-packed thus far. But I think you'll see why she put this in as we continue the story. ;)

    • flootzavut says:

      That Harry gif is particularly hilarious :D nice one!

  23. DameDallas says:

    Mark, I think you are more confident than I am about our preparedness.
    I think Collins has been giving us a break because our brains are about to get FUCKED from the SHIT THAT IS ABOUT TO GO DOWN.

    I don't think I am prepared AT ALL.
    Ugh.

  24. corporatecake says:

    No, Mark, you are not prepared.

    I actually thought that the sleep syrup was one of the more clever things in the book. It was a nice solution to the Peeta being a brat problem. Compared to allowing him to die, I don't think that drugging Peeta even registers on the awful things Katniss has to do radar. She only feels bad about it because Peeta's clearly pissed.

    I remember in other posts people talking about Peeta being too perfect or without a flaw. I think this is the chapter where you really start to see some imperfections come out. It's hard to see them because he's being self-sacrificing, but seriously, Peeta's being a freaking brat. He objects to Katniss going to the Cornucopia because he wants to die for her, without considering how it would make her feel to just let him die.

    Oh yeah, and I just turned 22 (today!) and I still have never had a serious romantic relationship. I've dated here and there but really I'm pretty much uninterested. So I'm usually uninterested in romances as well. I mean, is this supposed to be romantic? Katniss is acting, Peeta is delirious and his leg is fucked up… Just had some rose petals and flickering candle light and this will be the best date of all time?

    • paulineparadise says:

      Happy Birthday!

    • monkeybutter says:

      Happy birthday, fellow December baby! We're the best.

      Yeah, I appreciate that Katniss is aware of his feelings, but doesn't let him get away with being a martyr. Keeping someone alive with your death weighing on her mind is less okay than drugging someone.

      • corporatecake says:

        High five! And thank you! :)

        Martyr is a good word for what Peeta's trying to do right now. If he acted reasonably, Katniss never would have had to give him the sleep syrup. Does he not realize that his plan could kill both of them? Geez.

  25. lunylucy says:

    That was the thing with these books for me- they were good and I enjoyed them but I never got as attached to the characters as in Harry Potter. Not even close. I think a huge part of it is that we're inside Katniss' head and she's so bad with picking up emotional cues. You only get to know the other characters through her and being inside her head can be a frustrating experience when you see things coming a mile away while she's paranoid, oblivious, and confused.

    • Ken says:

      I think it's part of the fun. It's the ultimate in "show, don't tell"… have the narrator show us things that she misses the point of and let us fill in the blanks if we can and wait for her nose to get rubbed in it eventually.

  26. bookling says:

    I think the people who read this and get all "Squeee, Katniss and Peeta forever!" are missing the point. Mark, you're much closer to the point. These scenes are not meant to truly be romantic. It's all an act because it's what the audience in the Capitol wants to see. Even if Peeta has real feelings for Katniss, it's cheapened by the fact that he's still basically played it for ratings. (I am aware that ratings = survival in this case so I can't really blame Peeta, but still. Not really romantic.)

    One of the things I think is great about this series is that Katniss could not be less interested in any sort of romance. We're starting to see her, maybe, question that a little because it's becoming clear that she does care about Peeta, at least in a platonic way. But Katniss' life just hasn't been set up to allow her to care about cute romances. She's had to provide for her family and be the strong one and I think she feels disconnected by the idea of this romantic show they're putting on just like you do, Mark.

    <img src="http://lh3.ggpht.com/_3lVOb8wvDlE/TMu34kgRCuI/AAAAAAAAAtU/RyE4MNNlR4U/tumblr_latx8iYWy71qbkz5fo1_500.gif"&gt;

    Also, I love how you're way more interested in Peeta's leg wound oozing pus than anything else.

    • Shanella says:

      well said!! I agree 110%.

      Also, you win for cutest gif.

    • Clare says:

      THIS THIS THIS!!!

      I didn't feel romance in this scene at all- because I felt like KATNISS did not feel romance in this chapter. Its awkward play-acting not only because Katniss IS playacting… she believes Peeta is play-acting it all up just like her.
      Therefore- this chapter reads to me like an actor taking on a role she was never really comfortable with, and has very little experience doing.

  27. barnswallowkate says:

    The romance bores me too, at least in this book. I like some romances in other stories, this one just doesn't do anything for me. I don't think it reveals some kind of problem on your part!

    I liked the goat story just because it works that way IRL too. There are charities where you can donate a goat to kids in need and they raise money from it etc just like Prim did.

    I think sometimes Collins is trying to get her readers to look at how their society compares to the Capitol and think about what they can do to to make the real world better. It might be less than ideal that some people will be more affected by fiction than non-fiction stories, but sometimes it just works that way. It does slow down the action sometimes, but it seems like she's got another goal for these stories besides plot development.

    • bookling says:

      I think Collins also wants her readers to look at what we like in entertainment, and how we are sometimes like the shallow, ignorant Capitol residents. There are so many really interesting themes in these books.

      • barnswallowkate says:

        Oh, absolutely. You know there are people in the Capitol debating whether Peeta really loves Katniss, whether she's kissing him just for the camera, complaining that the kissing is boring, taking bets on who will die next… just like all of us on here. They're fictional but it's not much different from watching reality shows (except for the oppression and dying, of course) or how we talk about celebrities.

        It's like she took our world and exaggerated aspects of it to make it clear how ridiculous those aspects are.

    • corporatecake says:

      That goat story was really nice. The real one about donating goats to children. :)

      But I liked the goat story because it did give us an interesting piece of District 12 life to see. And it was really sweet.

      • barnswallowkate says:

        Yay goats! A friend donated one in my name a few months ago (I tell people she got me a goat) and it made me so happy. We should have a Mark's Fans Goat Drive or something and buy a bunch of goats for real-life Prims. Or a "Stop Hunger" Game where we donate to Oxfam. Reading these books makes me want to fix so many things.

    • calimie says:

      I also liked the goat story, I like Saint Prim, okay? :p
      I had heard of charities that gave camels to families in the Sahara but I didn't connect the two. It's an excellent idea.

      I agree that these are not the best books out there but they do talk about something deeper than an interesting plot and Collins is very good at that.

      • barnswallowkate says:

        Until I'd heard of that charity (and read Prim's story) I had no idea one goat could do so much. It's pretty cool.

        I bet the deeper themes are why they're popular despite being marketed as YA and the writing not being the best and so on. That and the insanely fast and cliffhangery plot.

  28. Erika says:

    I wish you were actually prepared.

  29. fromthisgirl says:

    I don't like romance much either, it's the reason I've hated most YA books recently, their romance is made of suckage, BUT I did enjoy the romance in this book because it was done in such a particular way. This is actually the only YA book I can think of in which I enjoyed the romance presented.

  30. jsh357 says:

    Yeah, so far this arc of the story has been totally boring me, especially after the Rue storyline was so fantastic.

  31. Michelle says:

    I think the romance is intentionally boring. The whole series is from Katniss's point of view and she's bored by romance. She's not interested in anything beyond survival. Just how I saw it.

  32. Meyli says:

    I usually like a *little* romance, but it has to be needed. Ron/Hermione? YES ALWAYS. Peeta and Katniss? … Well I understand its for the cameras, but I'm getting annoyed with it. I kind of want to slap Peeta for being so whiny, and yell at Katniss to stop pretending and just admit she likes him. Ugh.
    I already finished this book (read ahead of you :( ) and I have to say, I was pretty disappointed with the whole thing. The moment I heard Peeta's name, and found out Katniss knew who he was, I thought they would be getting together, whether real or just for the cameras. I'm just not surprised by anything in this book, and thats kind of sad because I was hoping completely different things would happen :-(

    WOW what a complainy-pants I am. Mark, I love your reviews, I get excited every day after class to read the latest one :D

  33. Warmouh says:

    For romance in a story it's kinda a case by case thing for me. I like it when it's woven into the story where it's part of the story, but not the main focus of the story (Twilight) or when it becomes a Romantic Plot tumor and totally draws away from the plot (which happens here to some degree). It doesn't help here that Katpiss is just so freakin set on it being an act. It's just so freakin obvious and annoying! What I think might have been more tolerable if maybe she knew the truth and was just trying to convine herself that it was an act to spare the pain of killing Pita, or even just straight up dealing with the crush but the way its dealt with in this is just Gah!

    And Pita dude, I really like you (I think it's because I have a character in my current story who's also a blonde nice guy who is good at cooking and baking, I swear I made up this character before Hunger Games was even released LOL GET OUT OF MY COMPUTER COLLINS), but did you ever think that you running after your crush like a goon in your state won't just get yourself killed but also probably get her killed since it'll draw attention to herself? Siriusly…

  34. paulineparadise says:

    Peeta: "Besides, I like watching you sleep."

    T-t-t-t-twilight!
    ~cue horror sound~
    <img src="http://www.deviantart.com/download/122223058/twilight_motivational_poster_by_RayneWolfspeaker.jpg"&gt;

    <img src="http://fc05.deviantart.net/fs33/i/2008/308/7/4/Motivational_Poster___Twilight_by_PandaTheNinja.jpg"&gt;

    Also, Katniss is ~cleary~ a Legilimens. She knows what Haymitch thinks!

  35. Mauve_Avenger says:

    I'm surprised that no one's really brought up Peeta's threat to get his sparkle on in front of the Volturi if Bella does anything to endanger herself.

    • ldwy says:

      Amazing. And I commented briefly on it, way up in some other commenting thread. I think it's a) dumb and b) not his choice whether Katniss goes to the feast, even if he is concerned for her.

      • Mauve_Avenger says:

        The problem I have with it is that the situations they're in basically excuse the things they do (he's delirious and dying, she's trying to save his life), but there's no indication of how these things would be seen had they occurred outside of the Hunger Games. It would have been so easy to have Katniss say "I know this isn't normally acceptable, but these are extreme circumstances and you have to do what you have to do," demonstrating that they don't have any real choices as a result of the Games, whereas they did have some choices at home (which are still far more limited than our choices).

        We don't live in an unspecified time in the future under an oppressive totalitarian regime where starvation and deadly hallucinogenic wasps and the Hunger Games take lives. As such, we have no reason to assume that the moral code of District 12 is the same as ours. Collins, however, seems to take it for granted that we are working under that assumption. That, or she seemingly doesn't have a problem with the less murdery things she has her characters do.

        I think if she had started the book at an earlier time in Katniss's life she could have done some sorely needed District 12 world-building, wouldn't have to rely on flashbacks so often, and could have shown us what morality metric we're supposed to be using when analyzing the Hunger Games as a system of oppression.

        In these comments, I see far too much "I think this *might* be commentary on the Hunger Games as a system" for me to take comfort. Unless this book aims toward a deeper evaluation of what we consider morality to be and how we derive our moral values (and it doesn't seem like it's headed there), there needs to be a lot less confusion between what's happening because of the characters versus what's happening because of the Gamemakers.

        If for no other reason than that Twilight happened, and from it we learned that we can't assume that everyone has problems with stalking and invasion of privacy and codependency and pedophilia and all those other ~wonderful things.~

        So, basically, I need Collins to prove that she's not in league with the SMeyer.

        • Shanella says:

          "Unless this book aims toward a deeper evaluation of what we consider morality to be and how we derive our moral values (and it doesn't seem like it's headed there)"

          Well, we're only on book 1 of 3, so I'd say hold this thought.

          For me, reading this chapter, I think in Katniss' head she's thinking two things. 1) Peeta is dying. 2) She needs to try her best to save him, if she goes home without trying her all she would be somewhat ostracised.

          In the context of the games, Haymitch is basically telling her what to do, use the drug — that's familiar to District 12ers — save the boy. If she had come up with this on her own I might have been a bit more concerned, but given the fact that it was a gift and she did the most logical thing with that gift, I guess I let it slide.
          Also, like you pointed out, Peeta didn't give her much of a choice with that whole distraction by sparkling yelling.

  36. BradSmith5 says:

    Romance!? I'm more upset about Templesmith; those instructions he gave were so plain! "Think hard," he says. What is this, "The Price is Frickin' Right!?" They aren't trying to figure out how much a car costs! Demand that they go to the banquet! Tell them that they'll all die miserable deaths if they don't attend! "A grid of laser beams is on its way; you'd better get running!" Instead he's like "No pressure, but this is your last chance to use a phone shout-out." RRRGH.

    And the stories in the comments are more touching than the relationship we're getting in the book. At least there were goats in this chapter. Man, I just know Prim loves looking at those cute little rectangular pupils. :D

  37. Tabbyclaw says:

    27 years old. Never been kissed. A sucker for a good romantic subplot.

    THIS IS NOT A GOOD ROMANTIC SUBPLOT.

  38. Sizzlelucid says:

    I, like a few others on here, didn't see the syrup as a bad thing the first time I read this. I thought Katniss was doing what she had to so that her and Peeta could survive.
    Thanks Mark! Now I'm always going to read this and think how Katniss is drugging poor, helpless Peeta. =/

    I remember that this was one of the few chapters that I felt myself getting bored. I can see the point of the flashback. I think maybe Collins is trying to make us feel closer to Katniss as a character by letting the reader know about a story from her past, and also letting us know a bit more about the happenings in District 12.

    Also, who's excited for the feast?!

  39. Cara says:

    hahahahahahahaha you are SO not prepared AT ALL for this book or for the two sequels. just….stop lying to yourself, Mark. lmao.

  40. paulineparadise says:

    Completely irrelevant, but I'll just leave this here.

    <img src="http://www.steelcityinterpreters.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/FunnyGolfSign.jpg"&gt;

  41. ilram says:

    Well now that there's a way to save Peeta and win the games with them both alive Katniss is focusing on that. She always wanted to pay back her debt and I guess it's an honour as well as that it would be unforgiveable for people like her family if she had got the rule change and stil killed Peeta or didn't care for him. That's how I see it at least.

    I like romance in books and I actually don't think the Hunger Games are that bad. After all it's mostly just a ploy on Katniss' side because Haymitch will get the supplies if they act like a couple. I can understand why it's included. I also like romance books on their own and I think action books like these have a hard time finding a balance. JKR wasn't that good at romance either unless it was a longer build up like with Ron and Hermione but I think Collins handles it well enough.

    But I do have to say that I can't relate to those High School experiences either and it makes me bitter reading about it like everyone gets a boyfriend in high school. Or at least. I'm not saying that you're bitter Mark that's just why I sometimes dislike the the high school romance trope.

  42. dvtd2hp says:

    Like i said yesterday, I walked away from this series not really liking any of the characters. I think Katniss is selfcentered (to the point that i don't really believe that he undying love for her sister is actually true), that Peeta is a sop that has a hint of arrogance because he's totally buying into Katniss LUVING him because she's kissing him on national tv, and Gale… well, we haven't heard enough about him yet, so i'll save that for another day. All of these characters ring completely false for me.

    That being said, i can appreciate a romance that's well written and actually advances the plot. This seems like Collins had to come up with some filler, like she had a quota of pages to make. I'm not digging it.

    The real story, the oppression of the capitol, fighting and surviving the games, the horrors that entails, THAT'S a compelling story to me. Had i been the editor, i would have slashed this stuff out. Or demanded a rewrite. But, that's just me. :)

  43. Lynn says:

    Agreed!

  44. ldwy says:

    This is a wonderful comment, thanks. So well thought out.

  45. taratheninja says:

    I am sorry to say, Mark, that you are in no way prepared…I read this whole book last night and I can already tell that I am going to have NIGHTMARES FOREVER lol.

    And I am turning twenty soon and have had no romance whatsoever in my life :/ but I really like reading about it.

  46. Cynkro says:

    You and I are the same when it comes to romance in books, Mark. I became extremely picky after reading Twilight and every time I read anything related to romance in these books, my brain automatically thought of Twilight. I wish the romance would be toned down, I'm more interested in the action.

  47. Inessa says:

    I'm not sure if it's the fact that you did not have the high school romantic experience, that makes you bored with this, otherwise it would be just teenage or school romance that annoyed you. I think it's the second point; romance bores you, it's not your thing. ( Sorry to sound like I'm telling you what you think.) Katniss' being dense is frustrating, but I get it to a point. She is pragmatic. She was living a "survival game" with risking her life and taking gambles to survive, including increased chances for Reaping. She truly believed initially that in this fucked up situation playing the game for survival is everyone's driving force. It is reasonable that she would think that Peeta played it, since they never interacted all those years, and I wouldn't buy a crush without ever interacting or getting to know me either. The whole situation of kids murdering each other, while the game makers pull their strings is so revolting that I can accept Katniss only thinking game strategy and assuming Peeta is doing the same. It's consistent as well. Katniss dropped the tracker jacks on the group including Peeta, and he could have been one of her indirect victims. Now the game changed and she doesn't need to kill him, but inaction might bring on something horrible from the game makers, so she is still driven by strategy. I'm not so bothered by the drugging as the idea that the sleep syrup means that Hamish and the sponsors have kind of become the game makers of sorts, directing Katniss' actions, steering and enabling her to risking her life to get the medicine, to keep the romantic pair alive. If Peeta succumbs to the infection, Katniss will still survive and have a chance to win. This means the audience, including the sponsors are the ones who are suckers for romance, holding it higher than Katniss' best chance at survival. Sorry for the rant.

  48. Dannie says:

    I am a big fan of these books and I've never read that goat story before. I always skip over it.
    I actually like the little "romance" thing that's going on. It's kind of disturbing but whatever. I like Peeta's character.

  49. stellaaaaakris says:

    I can't find the comments that were talking about how the narrative has come to a standstill so I'm just going to make a new post. Yes, things are moving slower than we'd like, especially when Katniss flashbacks to Prim and Lady. It's not as action-packed as the rest of the book (or action-packed at all, really) and, in that way, it reminds me of the camping sequence in DH. It just slowed things down so much.

    Also, let's be fair here, a big part of the reason we feel the narrative has come to a standstill is because we are all insane and reading this ONE CHAPTER AT A TIME. SC's style is not meant for this. THG, and its sequels, is meant to be read in large chunks, maybe a part at a time *cough* or the entire book in one sitting *cough*.

    • Karen says:

      IA so hard. When I first read the book, I was going so fast that this cave interlude actually felt like a really nice break in the midst of the non-stop action. But since we're doing this a chapter at a time, it does feel like the narrative is being dragged down a bit.

    • fnoodles says:

      agreed. I finished reading the book in the library in one shot. It didn't feel slowed down to me at all.

  50. Katie says:

    I think the interesting thing about the supposed romance in these books is that its not really romance at all. Its all used for the leverage within the games and its genuineness is ALWAYS questionable. It may seem particularly barfy but if you strip away the layers of it there is always something more complicated going on underneath. Its why Katniss will so willing to forceable drug Peeta. She cares more about the end game than she does for him.

    Also, this whole section seemed more like a case of Stockholm Syndrome than actual romance.

  51. Lynn says:

    I think that (for me) these books exemplify the concept of the sum being greater than the parts. The book as a whole works better for me when I look at it like that versus when I isolate a chapter out at a time. When I first read the book it was in one fast setting. But now that I am rereading it one chapter at a time it has a different feel to it. Some things in the chapters work better on a big scale than on the microscopic one

    It will be interesting to see how everyone feels about the book when they are finished. I am a big fan of the series personally, but to each their own.

    By the way, did you guys know that this is actually her second book series to write? Her first is called "The Underland Chronicles" and is a middle reader series. I read it with my 11 year old son and enjoyed it. (I might not be as picky as some of you on here though). If I had read that series first I might have been better prepared for this one. It deals with similar themes, but is aimed at a younger audience. The narrator is also not present tense which lends me to think that her choice of using that tense in this book is for some of the reasons you have discovered once Katniss is in the Games.

    • corporatecake says:

      I really agree with you on your first point. When reading where chapters start and end in little bits, it seems like, wow, this chapter isn't exactly riveting. But when I read it, I was riveted. Because I hadn't put the book down since I started it. I was so caught up I was tearing through it without time to think about whether or not this plot development or that was contrived or get too worked up about any sorts of predictions for what happens next. Instead, I think these books are really meant to be torn through and then, when you get to the end, you see how all the pieces fit together.

      That's definitely a weakness of Collins's writing, but every writer has them.

  52. Mimi says:

    Oh, Mark, I cringed a little at your response to the "romance". After reading this book, I never ever want to see the phrase "star-crossed lovers" again.

    Ever.

    While I enjoy romance done right, Katniss + Peeta drove me insane, BUT I did like Katniss' thoughts during/after the ~FIRST KISS ZOMG~ because I thought they were realistic. I was so glad there weren't fireworks or earthquakes or, Heaven forbid, chest monsters involved.

    Also, can I just say—as an RN who works in the Emergency Room, I really enjoyed Collins' purulent wound descriptions :]

  53. agirlinport says:

    You know, I thought it was interesting your point about not relating to a high school romance or anything like that. I myself didn't date until I was 19 and now, at 23, I have never had a significant relationship before. But for me, that's what makes this kind of romance plot more intriguing, interestingly enough. I find it entertaining because I can't relate, I have to imagine. I just thought I'd mention that since it's kind of interesting the way people react and relate differently to these kinds of things.

  54. BradSmith5 says:

    Well shoot, why aren't YOU writing Templesmith's dialog? See guys? THIS is the kind of thing that should have been said IN THE BOOK! Amazing.

    • castlejune says:

      I had another clarification that I feel I must add to my rant appreciating the romantic revolution:

      The Romance between K and P is giving the viewers something to be invested in besides DEATH! Romance = coupling = making life = hope for the future! This is directly contrary to the purpose of the Games which is supposed to be: Senseless death of children = loss of the future / hope for the future = despair and belief in futility of making the world a better place.

      The Capital just totally shot themselves in the foot and they don't even know it yet! They allowed their greatest weapon, the Hunger Games, to undermine their own message, all in the pursuit of "good entertainment!" I would be so ecstatic if Peeta and Katniss kissing on screen cause the Capital to crumble and fall.

      • BradSmith5 says:

        Well, if the book is trying to show that transition from despair to love, I think they need to show it through the audience as well. I mean, we see some of the gifts being sent, but are left to guess at what caused them to fall. Katniss' romance could be changing the minds of an entire nation, or it could just be influencing a few wealthy sponsors. The reader does not know for sure at this point.

        If this idea is what Collins is going for, how will she show us if we can't see the viewers? Just have Team Peeta win, get picked up by the hovercraft, then have some guy say "Oh wow, you sure changed our way of thinking! Good job!"

        If only you were the one writing this book, Castle June!

  55. lossthief says:

    p.257: "Hopefully the gamemakers will allow us a peaceful night." 5 bucks says they send a bear after them.
    p.258: The instinct that sent you to him was *~*TWU WUB*~* of course.
    p.258: "I was worried about you." D'awwww
    p.258: I still thing "foxface" deserves a name. Right now I'm envisioning her as a female Naruto.
    p.259: "no more kisses for you until you've eaten." Kat you are really bad at this.
    p.259: "This gesture seems natural…" because he's in love with you, you dolt.
    p.260: " like watching you sleep…" Peeta please stop. You're starting to sound like Edward Cullen.
    p.261: Peeta's all like "Don't insult my intelligence, sweetheart."
    p.261: I figured the gamemakers were controlling the weather.
    p.262: "Tell me a story." Could you please not?
    p.263: "Did I ever tell you…" she asks despite having had maybe 6 on screen conversations with him before.
    p.264: "…the thought of all that fresh innocent meat." Kat, please stop sounding creepy. This is like something a serial killer/rapist would say, even if it's about a deer.
    p.265: The Goat Man is secretly Aberforth. I am sure of it.
    p.266: Oh hey, wounded goats. Because the story wasn't sad enough as it was.
    p.266: Rooba you sly devil, you.
    p.267: Well, isn't this just soul-crushingly adorable?
    p.267: "I had almost forgotten he was there." Well that's just rude.
    p.267: "Don't worry. I'm not trying." Peeta, don't ever change.
    p.268: Oh hey, Peeta breaking out the heavy duty sarcasm now.
    p.268: You Gamemakers are a sneaky lot.
    p.269: Peeta, now you're turning into an asshole. Stop it. Did you not read my note just a second ago?
    p.271: Sleep Syrup? Oh fuck no. I see where this is going and it is bullshit.
    p.271: No. DON'T. This is just fucking wrong
    p.272: Collins, you're really pissing me off now. What the fuck was the point of that at all?
    So yeah, this chapter was just sort of "meh" until the last two pages. Then for me it just went right off the rails into "fucked up wankery" ville. That whole bit of her drugging him was just fucked up, plain and simple. I don't care what justification she tries, it's absolutely horrendous and disgusting. No, just fucking NO. :@
    Grade: "D-"

    • Miranda says:

      "p.258: I still thing "foxface" deserves a name. Right now I'm envisioning her as a female Naruto. "

      OH MY GOD I AM SO GLAD I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE!

    • Phoebe says:

      *aberforth*
      LOVE

    • flootzavut says:

      Seriously, we've watched lots of murders and Katniss has murdered (directly or by means of tracker jackers) at least two children, and it's her drugging someone to save his life that gets your goat? (Sorry,bad pun)

      I do find the reaction to the drugging thing really weird/interesting. It's like, murder is not shocking, but trying to save someone's life in a less than honourable way is…?

      • lossthief says:

        She's killed people because she's been forced to in order to survive, and I'm not even that angry with Katniss. I'm angry with Collins for adding something like this in there when there was no need or foreshadowing for it. It just felt like she'd added the drugging bit in because she wanted to milk more drama to show how dark and edgy she is. I've been in a situation where I was forcefully sedated, and that is one of the scariest damn things I've ever experienced. I'm sorry, but when somebody uses something like that just for cheap drama, I get a little pissy.

  56. Stephalopolis says:

    I have nothing relevant to add to this chapter. Except that I love that puking rainbow gif. And I'll add a general Dun Dun Duuuunnnn just for shits and giggles.

  57. Inessa says:

    I just wanted to say that I kind of like Katniss' pragmatism. She's not sitting around for pages and pages of "loves me, loves me not, is he genuine or not?" It's sort of secondary to her. She didn't really care whether he was genuine when one of them had to die, even when Rue told her that he was genuine. She knew he was bitten by the tracker nightmare wasps, and wounded severely by Cato, but she never sought him out to check on his wounds, or to form an alliance until the rule change. Now, we're criticizing her for faking it with the kissing etc, and feeling sorry for Peeta because he's not faking it, but at the end of the day, the thing that Katniss needs most is to heal Peeta's leg and save his life, not anything for herself. She is going into a setup where it's highly likely she will get killed, to try and save him. I like the distinction that she is risking her life for him, but she is not sacrificing her life, her aim being for them both to survive. Under the circumstances, this is kind of romantic to me, as a case of actions speaking louder than words, and in this way, it is reminiscent of Twilight, but then demonstrates how it should be done. To me, it reads like "We're in love, fine, it will get us in with the sponsors, let's play it up for the cameras. Ok, you really mean this in love shit. Still not buying it. Right, enough of this lying around, the kissing is not fixing the leg or putting food in our mouths. I'm just going to go and get you some medicine, kill a few people, in some gruesome way, try avoid them
    beheading me and such. See you soon, hopefully.

  58. Miranda says:

    "Man, I seriously don’t know how more messed up this can all get. But whatever: Bring it, Collins. I’M PREPARED FINALLY."

    (snrk). You think you're prepared. XD

  59. Quizzical says:

    the flash back style annoys the shit out of me. it's overused. it interrupts the flow. it's too obvious.

    still had to keep reading at this stage, though.

    i wasn't surprised she'd drug him. she's got her own reasons for everything she does, and this whole game disorientates them so much that 'right' is very difficult to define.

  60. The drugging Peeta against his will thing would be creepy and Twilight-ish if it weren't for the fact that it's nothing like Twilight. Collins doesn't try to justify Katniss having the moral high ground. They're in a nasty situation and they have to play dirty to stay alive.

  61. kelseyintherain says:

    "I’M PREPARED FINALLY"

    No, you're not. No matter what you do, you will NEVER BE PREPARED.

  62. Coraline says:

    Recently discovered this blog and I love it. Felt I needed to comment when I read about you not having any romantic experiences before you were 19, I'm 17 now, but I felt hat's the road I'm on. I've taken the opposite approach though, I kind alive vicariously through characters love life.

    How did it end up working out for you by the way? (If I may ask) Any insight? :)
    - Greetings from Norway

  63. Hotaru-hime says:

    You're not prepared, but it's cute that you think you are.

  64. theupsides says:

    I really love this comment.

  65. mag11 says:

    I don't know, Mark; I can understand part of it maybe being because of your "experience", but honestly, I had similar experiences in the romance department–I didn't get kissed til college–and I was always a big shipper. I still am. I've always loved romantic comedies, and I've never felt any of it was impacted by my own experience. It seems to me to be more something of personal preference. Of course it's fine that you're not that interested in the shipping, but I'd argue that it's not just your own experience, but simply your personality.

  66. oohlivia says:

    Um the sleeping bag thing actually reminds me of, "Maybe you'll get lucky and sleeping bags will fall from the sky" in that episode of the X Files, which is decidedly more amazing than Eclipse. So hopefully you can associate sleeping bags with that Mulder and Scully scene instead of the horrible Jacob and Bella scene from now on :D

    Don't worry about not liking the romance. The first time I read it I was into it, but now it seems weird and I'm not sure I like it anymore. I prefer Katniss and Peeta as allies and it would be a lot cooler if neither of them liked each other and they trolled the Capitol together by being all overly gushy and icky.
    I too have always hated romantic movies (I do not understand why all my friends cry at Nicholas Sparks, ugh The Notebook). I prefer romance to be EXTREMELY subtle or at least something that is built up to (like Mulder and Scully) over a very long period of time. I can only get behind a couple if they have severe UST.

  67. Phoebe says:

    agreed about the twilight thing. there are so many aspects that are (most likely) unintentionally similar.

  68. singstar19 says:

    Hm I haven't commented on any of THG reviews. I honestly can say that when I read this chapter I didn't even notice anything wrong with it (I'm not saying there isn't anything wrong with it though). It just felt like a filler. Oh, and this is like one of the only chapters Collin's doesn't end with a cliffhanger so far, isn't it?

  69. Eric says:

    Mark,

    I disagree with you about the drugging. In general, taking someone's agency away = unquestionably wrong. But here, Peeta is pulling the classic messed-up teen threat — "if you do X, then I'll kill myself." And he's pulling this emotional blackmail in a situation where the consequences to both of them will be death if he wins. While Peeta is a liability right now, it could be that long-term the only way for Katniss to beat the team of Cato + Nameless Girl is to have a partner. So Peeta's insistence on the short-term goal of "keeping her safe" is ultimately selfish romanticism as he doesn't expect to be alive when she has to fight off Cato + Nameless in the future.

    If Peeta were insisting on going to the feast himself, then despite the futility I'd be angry at Katniss for taking away his choice of action. But that isn't what's happening here. Instead, Katniss is attempting to choose a practical (albeit dangerous) course of action, and Peeta responds by threatening to kill himself if she tries. Let's face it, he doesn't think following her will make her safer, or accomplish anything but his death (thereby forcing her to stay in the cave because action on his behalf would be futile).

    It seems to me that Peeta's blackmail is as similar to Twilight-style "I know better than you how to run your life" as is Katniss' drugging him. In both cases, one person is trying to control the other person's actions. However, Peeta wants to keep Katniss with him because it will make him feel better (but will not result in any long-term gains), while Katniss wants to keep Peeta in the cave because it is more likely they will BOTH come out alive that way. The fact that she's as concerned about her own survival as she is concerned about Peeta's life makes her decision to drug him less irking. It seems to me that in a life and death situation keeping someone alive will sometimes (but not always) trump the good of allowing them choice of action (especially when one person is out of their mind with fever). Twilight can be distinguished because Edward and Jacob use the rationale to take away Bella's agency constantly (even in everyday situations). Twilight can also be distinguished by the fact that it sucks.

    Eric

  70. trash_addict says:

    I like the romance in this book. What can I say, I'm not a big romantic in my real life but I can love some of it in fiction (still hated Twilight – because, yeah, THAT WAS THE ENTIRE BOOK). But after the first HG book, *spoiler muffle*….just, not so much. I got sick of the plotline quickly.

  71. adev0tchka says:

    I'm still on Team Peeniss.

    • Karen says:

      lol. Me too. 50% of that is because I think it is the BEST PORTMANTEAUEVER. 25% of that is because I love Peeta and I want him to be happy. And the other 25% is because I genuinely like the pairing. I think they bring out interesting sides to each other.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      What about Teem KatPee?

  72. Karen says:

    Yep. The romance ties into much larger themes and narrative structures. It's not there just because. It has its purpose.

  73. spectralbovine says:

    I missed out on all that teenage romance too (beyond the many unrequited crushes, of course), and I generally don't care much about romance in my stories, so I was all prepared to be eye-rolly about the inevitable love triangle here, but I love how fucked-up it is. I mean, like you said, she's drugging him to save his life! And she has to fake being in love with him for the cameras IF SHE WANTS TO SURVIVE. It makes it far more interesting to me, and I think it ties it to the narrative more than the incidental romances in the Harry Potter books.

    • adev0tchka says:

      I agree. Truly complicated relationships make for great story-telling. There are so many fucked up layers to K&P's "relationship." Just the fact that they were forced together by being tributes puts them in an awkward place. I can't really dwell much more on this since it heads into dangerous spoiler territory.

  74. Yusra says:

    *shrugs* I like the romance in the hunger games primarily because it makes me laugh. Katniss is so blissfully oblivious (not only because she's ~uber cynical~ but also because I don't think she's able to register feelings other people may have for her..she's more practical, romance is not practical) .

    Also, Katniss drugging Peeta? Maybe I'm a very odd person, but I don't see much wrong with it…in her situation.

    • fnoodles says:

      I don't see anything wrong either. Not in this situation when everyone is struggling to live.

    • oohlivia says:

      Katniss drugging Peeta reminds me of Hermione obliviating her parents. It's an awful thing to do, but under the circumstances it's just something you gotta do.

  75. Rose Brazeale says:

    I turn 19 this year and I haven't had a romantic relationship yet either. But I'm one of the biggest shippers there are. So I don't think it's so much that you hadn't had a relationship until you turned 19 but that you just don't find it interesting. And that's fine. I don't like science fiction or soap operas, but my dad loves the former and my mom really likes the latter. To each their own.

  76. Amy says:

    Not going to lie, PK are my second favorite book “ship” behind Harry/Hermione (yeah I’m one of ~those people, whatever). Non spoilery reasons being that I think it’s interesting. They’re thrown together in this awful situation, and maybe I’m just a sucker for romance that isn’t Twilight, but I love the idea of it starting out as a ploy and ending up to be real (even if it’s a plot used often enough).

    Katniss is so oblivious to other people and herself emotionally. It’s something throughout the trilogy that both endeared me and frustrated me to hell.

  77. hazelwillow says:

    Mark, I never kissed anyone till I was 21. So you beat me by two years! I went to a high school with an art program and the percentage of available straight or bi guys was really very low. It wasn't until my third year of University (!) that I ever opened up to anyone about how I felt, or had any sexual experiences whatsoever. I just assumed I was too unattractive for anyone to ever be interested back, so I always hid my feelings. Of course, I was wrong. I'm not completely over it, but I know that now.

    So, while I appreciate that your situation had other factors going on, I think many people can relate to the lack of high school romance.

    But that doesn't necessarily mean I don't like reading about it. I enjoy romance if the author make me care about it. It has to be well-written and inventive, not generic. I'm not all that interested in the Katniss/Peeta relationship because Collins hasn't made me care, which is not surprising because her protagonist doesn't care. It's slightly more interesting as strategy, but even then.. meh.

    I'm not fond of Romantic Comedies either, but that's mainly because i view them as too dependent on overused, problematic tropes ("The woman never knows what she wants! You just have to persuade her more. You know what's best for her better than she does, because she's Confused"). I like stories where each person frees the other in some way, so it's about more than attraction, there's a kind of coming-of-age mixed in. My favorite on-screen romance is Harold and Maude.

  78. ruroken says:

    Someone briefly mentioned an idea already along the lines of "Katniss has the best chance of survival [compared to Peeta]" and I wanted to expand on that.

    I'm slightly surprised that Haymitch decided to follow this strategy at all (i.e. enabling Katniss to knock Peeta out for the purposes of going to the feast.) I think it says a lot about his character, in that he's not as completely coldly rational as his previously actions may have suggested. Yes, he was brash and insulting when he tried to coach Katniss for her interview, and he never tried to get to know her on a personal level; everything was about what the sponsors would like to see (strategy, strategy, strategy), not about who she really was. He took Peeta's (real?) feelings and turned it into a calculated strategy to save Katniss, because let's face it, he could only have expected to see one of them alive again, and Katniss was his best bet. From the Haymitch we met in Chapter 2, it seemed like his custom is to drink himself senseless, having already given up on his tributes. Now, he has "a pair of fighters", and he clearly had some hope of one of them coming back.

    Now put it in context of this current situation: he now has a chance of saving both his tributes, but one is dying. He has two choices:
    1) let Peeta keep Katniss from going to the feast, Peeta will die, and Katniss will mourn, but being the survivalist that she is, eventually get over it and kick Cato's butt, or
    2) help Katniss neutralize Peeta and let her go to feast, the results being either
    a. she comes back with the medicine and Peeta lives,
    b. she dies, Peeta wakes up (or doesn't) and he dies anyways,
    c. she comes back and Peeta's dead already (can you picture Cato/Clove hiding behind a tree waiting for Katniss to leave so they can kill the now-drugged Peeta? Now I can.)

    Choice 2 seems like an all or nothing strategy. If I was [cold-hearted, strategizing] Haymitch, I might not encourage Katniss to go into a bloodbath where both Cato and Clove are probably setting up an ambush for her. Seriously, there are so many ways this could go wrong, and no matter how kickass you think Katniss is, it'll be one of her against four people who have to kill her to get back home. To show the strategic flaws of both of these options:

    1) Protect Katniss and give up on Peeta: Peeta's greatest (combat) strength was hand-to-hand combat, but now he has an injured leg and will probably lose any close combat. I don't think he can climb trees, especially with the injured leg. The most he can do to help Katniss is yell out a warning, give away his location, and hobble away as fast as he can NVM he can just paint himself into a tree and stand still while Cato runs by, it'll actually work.
    2) Go to the feast – all or nothing: maybe Katniss could use someone to watch her back. Like she really needed that before… And we really shouldn't just give up on Peeta. And the playing-the-audience strategy. And if all else fails, Peeta can sacrifice himself to save her. Jump in front of a spear or something. Although why go through all that trouble going to the feast for the strategic advantage of sacrificing him later?

    I don't know, would you risk the life of both your tributes to save the life of one? I'm just trying to play the cold and heartless devil's advocate. If Katniss comes back successful, and they both win, Haymitch will make history as the first mentor to bring back both tributes(not that there were any possibility of that before.) If she dies, he's gonna kick himself because he threw both their lives away on this bet. Now, it seems like either Haymitch has a lot of faith in Katniss' abilities, or he's actually making the irrational, emotional choice here. Putting all thoughts of sponsors and star-crossed lovin' aside, rationally, the safer bet is Katniss, as cold as it is to write off one of your tributes[/kids, because that's what they are]. Emotionally, we want both of them to survive – it's all or nothing, and we've totally bought into the start-crossed lovers thing.

    (continued)

    • ruroken says:

      (continuation)

      Anyways, to bring myself back on point, Haymitch acted like such a cynic that I partially expected him to just go with sacrificing Peeta to keep Katniss safe. I feel like this decision by him shows his attachment to the kids as people rather than just another set of pawns in the game. Of course, before the rule change, he had to resign himself to letting Peeta die for Katniss to win, but now it's like he's actually letting himself care about Peeta as a person. I don't think it's an ego thing, where he just wants to be the guy who pulled two kids out alive, because he seems like he couldn't care less about his reputation. Of course, it could be that he's just playing the star-crossed angle one step further, but I also feel like even that doesn't make his drug strategy any less risky.

      I feel like I can draw a parallel from Haymitch to Katniss in this respect. She seems like a detached and practical person who puts her survival before anything else (including mourning Rue for any extended period time), but we forget that she risked her life for her sister, and I'd say more than her life, because if she does die as a result, her last few moments will be horrible, Collins guarantees it. It's pretty clear that volunteering in place of even your best friend or sibling is practically unheard of; that's how fear dehumanizes you, you find yourself watching someone walk to their certain death and you can't even stand up for them, and then you have to watch them die on television. Now, Katniss is doing it again. As much as we want to call her bluff, she's actually going all out, here. No one in District 12 would blame her for not going to the feast, because it's one thing to find your wounded teammate and nurse him back to health, but it's another thing entirely to put his life before hers. She's not doing this for her people in the district; she's not even doing this for the sponsors. She is, once again, about to put herself in a life or death situation to save someone else's life. Let's face it, she doesn't need the feast. Peeta does.

      The point of this whole commentary is to say that I don't think Haymitch and Katniss are as cold or calculating as their actions might imply. And to point out that this strategy is actually very, very risky, despite the presumptions that Katniss will be fine.

      Or maybe Haymitch is just drunk and gets his giggles out of this.

  79. Fluffy_socks says:

    Clove! A name to add to the list!

  80. forthejokes says:

    Sorry Mark, I really don't think you are prepared. I wish I could say otherwise.

  81. Tabbyclaw says:

    It's a weird thing to focus on, I'll say it right off, but one of the things that bugs me about this chapter and the last is Katniss' unwavering certainy that romance = babies. You live in the poorest place in the world, your mom is the local herbalist, and you have zero awareness of contraceptives or abortifacents? I'd even accept a throwaway line about there being few or no options that aren't difficult to obtain and/or unreliable and dangerous, but the lack of any acknowledgement whatsoever that there's a step or two in between "LET'S GET MARRIED" and "LOOK WHAT THE STORK BROUGHT" grates.

    • lossthief says:

      I think I missed that. Where was this mentioned?

      • Tabbyclaw says:

        It's just a few lines, mostly in the previous chapter, I think (and it's been a long time since I read this so I AM DEEPLY SORRY if I am actually jumping ahead, but I saw other people making reference yesterday so I think the subject has already been broached), but she says she doesn't want a relationship because she doesn't want to bring more children into this world.

    • ruroken says:

      I agree with all of your points about the stuff that Collins is leaving out, but I also want to try to get into her head a little. For me, I'd feel like I'd be leading someone on if I got in a serious relationship with them all the while knowing I'll never want to have kids. Of course, there's companionship, casual dating (who says we're getting married), etc., etc., but it basically comes down to not wanting to get involved with someone whom you're going to have to separate from because eventually they'll want kids and you never will (due to Hunger Games or other personal reasons.) It's one of those so-rational-it's-irrational things where your mind goes "and then that will happen, and then that, and then that", and you end up deciding not to even get started because something will eventually possibly maybe happen in the future. Maybe she's just assuming that every guy will want a baby and family, but even if that's not the case…

      Of course, that turns it into a mental problem instead of an ignorance or lack of contraceptives problem, but if I can think like that, I'm sure it's possible that Katniss does too. I don't want kids, but I'm in a committed relationship, and my boyfriend does want a family eventually…and not saying that this won't work out or anything, but it's constantly on my mind and I do ask him every few months or so, what if he wants a family one day, and I never will, so should we still be together? And then he reminds me that we're only 20 and I know I just worry too much. But again, that's why I can relate to Katniss.

    • corporatecake says:

      I think that Katniss just never wants to go down that road because she's afraid that falling in love with someone will make her change her mind, and that a desire to go forth and multiple with a man she loves would overpower her feeling right now that she can't bring a child into the world when they might end up in the Games.

      Not saying that it's inevitable or anything, but I know enough people who have, at one point or another, claimed they never, ever wanted kids and then changed their minds eventually that that seems like a valid concern to me.

  82. Moonie says:

    Okay, I am a giant diehard romantic, but. I get it.

    The romance is the reason I can't love the book. Yes, I adore Peeta, but the forcedness of a love plot and potential love triangle made me really. really. angry. I came into this book wanting badass teenagers killing each other and sticking it to the man. Not mooning over boys. SIGH.

    I think Collins put it there to attract a crowd, which I get. Did I quit the series anyways? Yep. I read the second book (Months and months later) but have no plans to read the third. Because of this. Sigh.

    LET ME DISCLAIM; I adore Peeta! He's my favorite! I enjoyed the banter between them! i just think this is not a book that needed romance. Sigh.

    • bendemolena says:

      MTE. Why can't we just have a badassed, single YA herione?!

    • ruroken says:

      I can't remember the third book that well, but I think you should still read it. I'm recommending it because I think it's still worth it, and I really wouldn't say this if I felt you would hate it for the same reasons you were turned off the first two books. You might not like it for other reasons, but I can at least say that the romance wasn't the reason I liked this series, so I'm making the recommendation completely not based on any romance or lack thereof on the part of the third book.

      Sorry if that doesn't make much sense, I'm using vague language on purpose. The third book really gives us a look into the inner workings of Collins' mind, and it couldn't be more different from Smeyer's.

  83. Newbia says:

    Actually, I loved the Peeta/Katniss romance because it was such a twist on the usual love story. She has to totally fake this overly gushy, puking-rainbows romance for the camera — I found that hilarious.

  84. vaporeon13204 says:

    Oh snap, good idea on Haymitch's part, lol. XD Drugging him against his will is a very bad thing, but it's either that or he dies, so… XD; I hate when characters give stupid selfish ultimatums like that. =/ I imagine this 'feast' will be rather interesting.

  85. jonni13 says:

    I love a good moral dilemma! Hmmm is it OK to fake a romance if it saves both of your lives?
    AND drug someone against their will when their judgement is clouded by fever and it might give you the chance to save them?
    I don't know, I can't judge Katniss for making some tough calls, it's what she does.

  86. Tabbyclaw says:

    It does make me a bit uncomfortable, but I’ve lost the ability to care for most of these people anyway, so as long as the story moves forward, I suppose I’m ok with it in this context.

    FINALLY I CAN RELATE TO YOUR READING EXPERIENCE.

    Frankly, I think ceasing to care about the characters is a level of preparedness. But I'm also apparently having a "NO QUARTER FOR THE STUPID" kind of day, and I don't think I've ever met a protagonist I found quite as dim as Katniss, so.

    • lossthief says:

      I don't think I've ever met a protagonist I found quite as dim as Katniss

      I believe you've forgotten about a certain young woman named after water fowl with a prejudice against heartbeats and sanity.

      • Tabbyclaw says:

        I would like to make a comparison here, but I would most definitely start drifting into spoiler territory. For now, suffice it to say that within the confines and rules of their respective universes I find Katniss dumber than Bella.

    • Ken says:

      I don't see "stupid". I see "can't read people worth a damn" which is way different from "stupid". A dim person in her place would have died long before this point.

  87. dumbxblonde07 says:

    I didn't like this chapter… DULL!

    Also, I like Peeta. I find his character so endearing and am pretty sure he actually likes Kat for real… which makes me hate this fake romance. I mean, it makes sense for survival, I just feel bad for him.

  88. Inessa says:

    Has anyone commented on the responsibility of Haymitch and the sponsors in the drugging decision? Katniss has so few resources and a gift from the sponsors is like this rare, valuable thing. I would imagine it would push her decision significantly that by sending her this precious package, they mean for her to drug Peeta. (assuming they don't mean for her to have a good sleep until the "feast" is all over.

  89. Caitlin says:

    Hmm. See, in general, I am a huge sucker for romance, to the point that I'm rather disappointed if there isn't any. However, reading through this, I did not connect with or truly enjoy the romance at all. I think it might be because it's entirely fake on Katniss' side, and kind of too much on Peeta's side. Like, here's this guy, his defining character trait is that he loves Katniss, even though she doesn't want him. It doesn't matter how many cakes he bakes or overly sweet things he says, I just can't get into it.

    I'd love to be a fangirl. I would. I just can't make it happen. Much like "fetch".

  90. Nova says:

    It does make me a bit uncomfortable, but I’ve lost the ability to care for most of these people anyway, so as long as the story moves forward, I suppose I’m ok with it in this context.

    Sadly this happened to me sometime after the first book ended, and if I remember correctly, during this part of it as well. I never much cared for Peeta, probably because I’m pretty unromantic too. He’s just SOOOO lovey dovey, and whether that’s real or fake, or simply hammed up, it got on my nerves. The ONLY reason I got through this part of the book was because it wasn’t about romance for Katniss. She’s doing it to stay alive and to keep Peeta alive. You aren’t alone in being later than most to date. I’m 17 and I’ve only been on one date (and it was a Star Wars movie) and I’ve never kissed anyone either. I totally know what you mean about the whole ‘it doesn’t do anything for me’ part.

  91. See, I'm a big fan of romance. I pretty much can't get into anything that doesn't have some undercurrent of romance. But that doesn't mean I will go for anything with romance. So far this one bugs me and I don't like the book so much because of the annoying romance.

    • 1foxi says:

      I usually dont mind romance either but yep the romance in this book between Katniss and Peeta is just annoying. The LAST thing I was expecting from this was a love story.

  92. Carla says:

    This series hardly has any romance in it overall. I don't see why everyone is picking on it so much. Up until now it's been full on and hardcore so I didn't really mind the little lovey scenes (not that it's that lovey anyway).

  93. rissreader says:

    I'm not a romance fan either.

    This year I finally read "Ender's Game". Sci-fi, no romance, some violence and angst, mysterious Aliens. It's sorta YA, I guess. It can easily be read as a stand alone but it spawned two different sequels following two different characters (I thought that was cool). It won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for its year. Recommended by me.

  94. 1foxi says:

    "Romance bores me"

    Yeah the romance in this book bores me too. I keep saying it in my comments and I'm sorry but I can't help it, this book reminds me so much of Twilight! Katniss (Bella) will do anything to save Peeta (Edward) while the best friend Gale (Jacob) waits at home for her. Two guys in love with the one girl YAWNl!

    I do enjoy this book and it is a 100x better than twilight, but the similarities between characters are right there!

  95. Jaime says:

    I'm 21 and I've had no significant romantic experience from anyone at all (not from my parents, significant other, anyone…so much sad I know…), yet I get warm and giddy everytime at declarations of love (when done right that is…fuck you Twilight), probably because I like seeing fictional people experience what I long for deep inside, which makes it easy to step into their shoes and enjoy the romance (didn't happen in Twilight though, fortunately). So, for me, its barely about experience. Its just a personality thing. Though, I admit, most romantic comedies and all the other jizz soaked hollywood drudge that gets passed around as romance these days (heard of the upcoming Little Red Riding Hood? don't look into it unless you wanna die from fail) makes me puke, but when its original, pivotal, significant, and actually carried out with some heart, then I gush like everyone else (the little known swedish masterpiece Let the Right One In comes to mind…a vampire movie that owns Twilight in EVERY SINGLE WAY).

    As for PiNiss…I don't like this plotline very much. Probably because Katniss inspires absolutely no emotion from me, and just her entire character is just an invert of Mary Sue (which is still Mary Sue…). Pita deserves better, even if just a lie.

  96. tookiecj says:

    I think the reason the romance has to be in this book is to mess with the Capital. Because something has to change about these games and work with the public but also mess with what the government wants to happen. I agree that the best way to do this is to have a couple on the "show." I really do not think that the Capital wanted to make the rule change, but the two of them were so darn popular, they had to adjust to popular demand. This totalitarian government probably has never done such a thing, and I have a feeling that they are probably really pissed, or maybe worried about possible rebellions sprouting up if they did not give the couple a chance. I don't know if there is a better reason than a romantic storyline for all of this to happen .

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