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.