Mark Reads ‘Catching Fire’: Chapter 14

In the fourteenth chapter of Catching Fire, the crushing reality of the most terrifying plot twist imaginable weighs heavily on Katpee and Haymitch. In a desire to take the Games as seriously as possible, they spend time watching videos of victors past, where they learn the unbelievable way in which Haymitch Abernathy won the second Quarter Quell. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Catching Fire.

So, after a wonderful conversation with my food-porn friend, I should make it a little more clear that the method in which I am reading this book is entirely fucked up. I need to acknowledge that more often than I do and make it much more clear that what I’m saying is representative of the chapter I’m reviewing. Looking back, I have been pretty negative and not stating that I don’t hate the book, despite that it seems this way.

I’d like to make sure I’m transparent about this process to make sure I’m fair to Collins’s vision for this book. Despite that it has chapters, it wasn’t meant to be read at a snail’s pace.  Fair enough? Then let’s move on with what is conveniently one of the better chapters in this book.

I remain at the window long after the woods have swallowed up the last glimpse of my home. This time I don’t have even the slightest hope of return. Before my first Games, I promised Prim I would do everything I could to win, and now I’ve sworn to myself to do all I can to keep Peeta alive. I will never reverse this journey again.

My issues with this bizarre “I have to keep the other alive” plot choice aside, this is about as bleak as it gets. We know Katniss is going to survive BECAUSE DUH THERE IS ANOTHER BOOK DUH, but it doesn’t make this situation any less horrific. I think one thing Collins has done particularly well is build this oppressive sense of dread. The Games are obviously going to be worse than before and I can’t think of a way that Collins will manage to keep both Haymitch and Peeta alive. One of them have to die. None of this is going to be pleasant at all.

Too heartsick to cry, all I want is to curl up on the bed and sleep until we arrive in the Capitol tomorrow morning. But I have a mission. No, it’s more than a mission. It’s my dying wish. Keep Peeta alive.

This may make me unpopular, but I’m still not convinced that Peeta and Katniss should love one another. I understand Gale and Katniss, even if Gale is kind of an asshole, and I understand Peeta’s crush. But actual, full-on love? I don’t know, dudes and dudettes, what reason does Peeta have to love her? What reason does she have to make her dying wish to keep him alive? Wouldn’t your dying wish be better suited as like, “Hey, I wish that the Capitol would dismantle the Games” or something? I don’t know if this is because Collins hasn’t conveyed this well or if I am truly without hope when it comes to reading about romance. Maybe I’m just a lost cause. I AM WILLING TO ACCEPT THIS.

This chapter also converts most things into AWKWARD TOWN, USA, and understandably so. No one, aside from Effie, seems to be into much of a conversational mood, most especially Haymitch, who has been unable to have a single drink in quite a long time. (I assume he hasn’t had a drink since Peeta threw out all his alcohol, right?)

So what do they do when they can’t seem to talk? They rewatch the reapings across Panem. This is a healthy bunch of friends, isn’t it? But is important to do, since it’s their chance to see who they’re competing against much earlier than the last time around. (THAT IS SO WEIRD TO TYPE. I never thought they would ever go back.)

There’s the classically beautiful brother and sister from District 1 who were victors in consecutive years when I was little. Brutus, a volunteer from District 2, who must be at least forty and apparently can’t wait to get back in the arena. Finnick, the handsome bronze-haired guy from District 4 who was crowned ten years ago at the age of fourteen. A hysterical young woman with flowing brown hair is also called from 4, but she’s quickly replaced by a volunteer, an eighty-year-old woman who needs a cane to walk to the stage. Then there’s Johanna Mason, the only living female victor from 7, who won a few years back by pretending she was a weakling. The woman from 8 who Effie calls Cecelia, who looks about thirty, has to detach herself from the three kids who run up to cling to her. Chaff, a man from 11 who I know to be one of Haymitch’s particular friends, is also in.

Well, this is a totally different dynamic. I figured that Collins would have to change a lot of details if she was visiting the Arena a second time because she wouldn’t want to bore people. Here, we’re no longer dealing with tributes who are victors. They’re all adults, some much older than others. I have a feeling that the tributes themselves won’t be as brutal this time around, though. My prediction is that whatever is in the Arena is what is going to be worse.

I think that it’s the uncertainty of all this, despite having faced it once before, that might be one of the reasons Katniss can’t sleep. Sure, the nightmares are probably triggered in even worse ways, too. But I think about how much terror the idea of a second visit to the Games brings to me and I can’t even begin to imagine what Katniss is experiencing right now. Sleepless after waking from a particularly gruesome nightmare, Katniss orders some warm milk from an attendant and heads out of her room on the train to see if anyone else is having a hard time sleeping. She finds Peeta in the television room, watching old tapes of previous Games. Two things happen here that I do enjoy very much.

First, Peeta asks Katniss if she wants to talk about her inability to sleep and this happens:

When Peeta holds out his arms, I walk straight into them. It’s the first time since they announced the Quarter Quell that he’s offered me any sort of affection. He’s been more like a very demanding trainer, always pushing, always insisting Haymitch and I run faster, eat more, know our enemy better. Lover? Forget about that. He abandoned any pretense of even being my friend. I wrap my arms tightly around his neck before he can order me to do push-ups or something. Instead he pulls me in close and buries his face in my hair. Warmth radiates from the spot where his lips just touch my neck, slowly spreading through the rest of me. It feels so good, so impossibly good, that I know I will not be the first to let go.

Given that she says this, it’s still strange that she has such an intense desire to save him, especially since she states here that they don’t even really have a normal friendship, let alone one based on love. However, this passage doesn’t feel awkward or out-of-place. At least for Katniss, the emotions she feels for Peeta seem situational. They come and go, arriving in moments when she feels she needs him. To me, that makes sense. That is a reason to care about someone the way she does.

Peeta makes a good point after this, something that had only briefly crossed my mind.

“I don’t think the people in the Capitol are going to be all that happy about our going back in,” says Peeta. “Or the other victors. They get attached to their champions.”

I don’t believe this specific Quarter Quell was always intended to turn out this way. I have a suspicion that President Snow ordered it. What I don’t understand is how he thinks this will work, even if he didn’t orchestrate it. I have a sensation that it’s going to backfire against the Capitol. Does he think the rest of Panem is just going to accept the destruction of their only sign of hope?

Katpee turn their attention to the videos of the past Games and Peeta says he has no real pattern to watching the videos, so he offers to let Katniss pick the next tape they will watch together.

The tapes are marked with the year of the Games and the name of the victor. I dig around and suddenly find one in my hand that we have not watched. The year of the Games is fifty. That would make it the second Quarter Quell. And the name of the victor is Haymitch Abernathy.

Oh. My. God. It’s happening. Please let it happen. Please don’t skip over this.

“You think we ought to watch it?”

“It’s the only Quell we have. We might pick up something valuable about how they work,” I say. But I feel weird. It seems like some major invasion of Haymitch’s privacy. I don’t know why it should, since the whole thing was public. But it does. I have to admit I’m also extremely curious.

RIGHT???? Oh christ, you guys, I have been waiting for this moment SINCE MANY, MANY REVIEWS AGO. oh god I can’t breathe oh my god

Katpee watch the video, which starts with President Snow reading the plan for the second Quarter Quell, then the horrifying reapings, where scores of kids are chosen to be murdered, including one of the only people that Katniss’s mom mentioned that she knew from the Games, Maysilee Donner. Standing alongside Maysilee is Katniss’s mom and Madge Undersee’s mom as well.

I think of Madge’s mother. Mayor Undersee’s wife. Who spends half her life in bed immobilized with terrible pain, shutting out the world. I think of how I never realized that she and my mother shared this connection. Of Madge showing up in that snowstorm to bring the painkiller for Gale. Of my mockingjay pin and how it means something completely different now that I know that its former owner was Madge’s aunt, Maysilee Donner, a tribute who was murdered in the arena.

Wow. WOW. Collins, what an evocative and DEPRESSING way to explain so many of the small details you’ve been dropping since the first book. Holy shit, guys, this is fucking awesome.

We learn a bit more about Haymitch’s personality during his interview with Caesar Flickerman before the Games start:

“So, Haymitch, what do you think of the Games having one hundred percent more competitors than usual?” asks Caesar.

Haymitch shrugs. “I don’t see that it makes much difference. They’ll still be one hundred percent as stupid as usual, so I figure my odds will be roughly the same.”

So his wonderful sense of cynicism was not born in the Games. It’s been there the whole time. So what happened to him?

Was I ever prepared for this? Not in a trillion years.

It’s the most breathtaking place imaginable. The golden Cornucopia sits in the middle of a green meadow with patches of gorgeous flowers. The sky is azure blue with puffy white clouds. Bright songbirds flutter overhead. By the way some of the tributes are sniffing, it must smell fantastic. An aerial shot shows that the meadow stretches for miles. Far in the distance, in one direction, there seems to be a woods, in the other, a snowcapped mountain.

So the Gamemakers decided to go with sheer beauty. Of course, this beauty doesn’t trick Haymitch, who immediately bolts for the Cornucopia to get weapons and supplies.

Eighteen tributes are killed in the bloodbath that first day. Others begin to die off and it becomes clear that almost everything in this pretty place—the luscious fruit dangling from the bushes, the water in the crystalline streams, even the scent of the flowers when inhaled too directly—is deadly poisonous. Only the rainwater and the food provided at the Cornucopia are safe to consume. There’s also a large, well-stocked Career pack of ten tributes scouring the mountain area for victims.

The possibilities at this point are endless. Just when you think you’ve thought of something super fucked up for the Games, the Gamemakers come up with something worse. This is just awful.

Haymitch, however difficult he finds the arena (with things like CARNIVOROUS SQUIRRELS or STINGING BUTTERFLIES), seems convinced to head in one direction: away from the mountain. Maysilee, on the other hand, uses a poisonous dart gun to go about murdering to stay alive because she is a clear bad ass forever. Then there is a GODDAMN VOLCANO ERUPTION THAT KILLS TWELVE PEOPLE because the Gamemakers are the most sadistic people of all time, so the remaining tributes are forced in the opposite direction. Well, that’s where Haymitch already is and he continues that way until a thick hedge forces him to circle back. It’s then that Maysilee saves him from being killed by a Career and they decide to team up. And that is when everything gets unbelievably weird as Haymitch insists on moving further into the woods.

“Why?” Maysilee keeps asking, and he ignores her until she refuses to move any farther without an answer.

“Because it has to end somewhere, right?” says Haymitch. “The arena can’t go on forever.”

“What do you expect to find?” Maysilee asks.

“I don’t know. But maybe there’s something that we can use,” he says.

WHAT THE FUCK!!!! This is not even something that I would consider. The edge of the arena? It exists? It’s real???

Indeed it is. Using a blowtorch to get past the hedge, they find the end of the arena: a cliff leading to a rocky death below. That’s when Haymitch tells Maysilee that he is staying behind. She doesn’t want the game to come down to just him and her, so she leaves. That is when everything gets OUTSTANDING.

Haymitch skirts along the edge of the cliff as if trying to figure something out. His foot dislodges a pebble and it falls into the abyss, apparently gone forever. But a minute later, as he sits to rest, the pebble shoots back up beside him. Haymitch stares at it, puzzled, and then his face takes on a strange intensity. He lobs a rock the size of his fist over the cliff and waits. When it flies back out and right into his hand, he starts laughing.


!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT TO SAY. THIS IS WILD. THIS IS SO AMAZING. Oh my god, can you escape the arena? THERE ARE LIKE A MILLION NEW QUESTIONS AND NONE OF THEM ARE BEING ANSWERED.

Unfortunately, Maysilee is murdered by a bunch of pink birds with knives for beaks just after this, so we don’t get to learn more about the “edge” of the arena just yet. That doesn’t happen until it’s just down to Haymitch and a girl from District 1.

She’s bigger than he is and just as fast, and when the inevitable fight comes, it’s bloody and awful and both have received what could well be fatal wounds, when Haymitch is finally disarmed. He staggers through the beautiful woods, holding his intestines in, while she stumbles after him, carrying the ax that should deliver his deathblow. Haymitch makes a beeline for his cliff and has just reached the edge when she throws the ax. He collapses on the ground and it flies into the abyss. Now weaponless as well, the girl just stands there, trying to staunch the flow of blood pouring from her eye socket. She’s thinking perhaps that she can outlast Haymitch, who’s starting to convulse on the ground. But what she doesn’t know, and what he does, is that the ax will return. And when it flies back over the ledge, it buries herself in her head. The cannon sounds, her body is removed, and the trumpets blow to announce Haymitch’s victory.

I can’t. I just can’t. I can’t even believe this. Haymitch figured out the arena. He figured out what no one else did or even tried to do. My head cannot handle this.

“You know they didn’t expect that to happen. It wasn’t meant to be part of the arena. They never planned on anyone using it as a weapon. It made them look stupid that he figured it out. I bet they had a good time trying to spin that one. Bet that’s why I don’t remember seeing it on television. It’s almost as bad as us and the berries!”

Haymitch is now my favorite of all time forever and ever until everything ceases to be. I am in awe of this backstory and character development. Holy god.

“Almost, but not quite,” says Haymitch from behind us. I whip around, afraid he’s going to be angry over us watching his tape, but he just smirks and takes a swig from a bottle of win. So much for sobriety. I guess I should be upset he’s drinking again, but I’m preoccupied with another feeling.

I’ve spent all these weeks getting to know who my competitors are, without thinking about who my teammates are. Now a new confidence is lighting inside of me, because I think I finally know who Haymitch is. And I’m beginning to know who I am am. And surely, two people who have caused the Capitol so much trouble can think of a way to get Peeta home alive.

I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am right now.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
This entry was posted in Catching Fire, The Hunger Games. Bookmark the permalink.

267 Responses to Mark Reads ‘Catching Fire’: Chapter 14

  1. CINNAmon says:


  2. bell_erin_a says:

    Patience, Mark. Collins isn't great in the MOAR BACKSTORY department, but she won't let you down all of the time, considering this was a REALLY important piece of backstory we needed. 😉

    That said, Haymitch is such a BAMF but his life is so full of tragedy. No wonder the man's an alcoholic! DD:

    I wonder if Snow ever threatened Haymitch like he has Katniss. Exploiting the arena to win? Not exactly the most Capitol-approved ways of ending the Games, especially a ~super-special~ Quell… It just seems out of character for XOXO Snow to let Haymitch go home and drown his tragedy in alcohol.

    • ldwy says:

      No wonder the man's an alcoholic! DD:
      I wonder if Snow ever threatened Haymitch like he has Katniss.

      Two things this made me think of. Was Snow the president then? or maybe someone a little less ruthless…
      Also, Haymitch is definitely an alcoholic, I'm not contesting that. But he did pull it together enough to help Katniss last games….so what I wonder is:
      Has he always played himself up as more debilitated than he actually is? As a way to present himself as useless and harmless to the Capitol, thereby protecting himself?

      • monkeybutter says:

        Snow reads the card for Haymitch's Quell, so I assume he was president. Katniss said he was younger but still creepy.

        • ldwy says:

          Ah, I forgot that part. Guess it was Snow!

        • alwayssilverdoe says:

          So Snow's been president for at least 25 years? Doesn't sound like the modern model of democracy, more like a dictatorship…

          Think there's even elections? Or that any Districts besides the Capitol are allowed to vote?

      • bell_erin_a says:

        Ooh, that's a good point. If he's so drunk he's not a threat, then clearly he can't be a threat! It would match with the badassness he's displayed, lol.

        No, I think Katniss said President Snow announced what Haymitch's Quell was going to be. So he was either President or pretty close to killing the guy who WAS it.

        • andreah1234 says:

          "pretty close to killing the guy who WAS it"

          This makes me wonder: HOW do they choose their President???? I mean I don't think in a society like the one the Capitol has achived actually allows their people to choose their representatives. So HOW DO THEY DO IT?!?!?!?!?! I think the killing part is actually very accurate because I can totally see Snow doing it. So, HAI THERE CREEPYNESS WELCOME BACK!!

          • 4and6forever says:

            I bet they throw all the cantidates into an arena and the last one alive is it.

            ‘ And senator Joe goes for the campaign speech but senator Bob blocks him with an amendment to the constitution! Meanwhile, senator Snow is making the best of the blackmail he found at the Conucopia, usig it to force senator Billy into lowering minimum wage!’

            Oh, and those aren’t my political views and I’m not condemning anyone who believes in those. Please don’t take it offensively, it’s supposed to be a joke.

      • mugglemomof2 says:

        "Has he always played himself up as more debilitated than he actually is? As a way to present himself as useless and harmless to the Capitol, thereby protecting himself?"

        I have often wondered this!

      • notemily says:

        That's an interesting question about Haymitch! He does kind of play the part of the staggering drunk all the time, making no effort to even hide it, so maybe it is partly an act.

        • thatonegirl says:

          Maybe that's how he understood so quickly that Katpee would have to play out being in love for the rest of their lives… because he's been putting on a show for years and years.
          I think Haymitch really is an alcoholic, but he's pretty wily for someone who's hammered all the time.

  3. Aninimouse says:

    I was so excited for you to get to this chapter because Haymitch is indeed a BADASS

    • AccioUsername says:

      Yes! I loved Haymitch from book one, just because I love alcoholic assholes. But this chapter sealed the deal permanently. I loooooooooooove character back story. This is probably why Prince's Tale was my favorite chapter of Harry Potter 😛
      I can't wait for you to keep reading, Mark <3 You're really, really not prepared.

  4. monkeybutter says:

    [The] fluffy golden squirrels turn out to be carnivorous and attack in packs…


    Then I remembered that I've seen some pretty aggressive squirrels, so maybe Collins is onto something.

    As for Snow and his Quarter Quell plot, this is a guy who thinks that all of his troubles lay at the feet of a couple of teenagers who threatened to eat some berries. He's not so much a political mastermind as a huge, bullying dick.

    • bell_erin_a says:

      Then I remembered that I've seen some pretty aggressive squirrels, so maybe Collins is onto something.

      Holy shit, my family and I were at Zion National Park this summer and boy were the squirrels aggressive! They were so desperate for food that they would crawl through your stuff and even on you! We saw one repeatedly try to climb on a baby asleep in a stroller and another that decided it would walk right up to a man lying on the ground in the sun, thus waking him up. I find squirrels more of an annoyance, but that was really quite too much like creepy for my liking.

      • monkeybutter says:

        Come on people, there are two rules you must follow in life!
        1) Do not feed the animals
        2) Do not feed the trolls

        I've seen some pretty bad ones in city parks and on college campuses. And around my bird feeders. Food supply + desensitization to humans = fluffy death machines.

    • tethysdust says:

      He's not so much a political mastermind as a huge, bullying dick.

      I keep wanting him to be a political mastermind, but everything so far has indeed pointed to him being a huge, bullying dick. How has Panem lasted so long, if he can't even keep a teenage girl (who desperately wanted to cooperate) from accidentally starting a rebellion?

      • calimie says:

        We talked a bit about this in the spoiler thread not long ago. I agree Snow is an awful politician. He goes and directly threatens a girl? I know it's a cliché but underlings are there for such things. A President can't be doing all the laundry all the time, his job is killing said underlings once they get too smart for their own good.

        Fail, Snow, fail.

    • Silverilly says:

      I've had many squirrels growl at me. I would be dead within seconds.

    • BradSmith5 says:

      Rotten squirrels! They always tear up my cyprus vines and dig up my plants! I had to turn my balcony into a fortified battlement just to keep those little bringers of botanical destruction at bay! Collins knows of the horror––she must!

      And you butterflies may be pretty, but don't think you're off the hook after stealing my nectar! I'll find some way to stop you guys too!

    • Melissa says:

      I laughed at the squirrel thing too. The squirrels at my school are really fat. I once saw one try to jump over a rock, and well it didn't make it. It just kind of got stuck there, trying to claw it's way over. I guess that squirrel just really needed to work out more.
      Snow is sooo not a political mastermind. He actually seems like kind of an idiot

  5. Nanima says:

    God, I loved this chapter. Learning about Haymitch's Games was simply amazing. I think I could understand him better as a character.
    And how he outsmarted everyone with the force field was awesome.
    Haymitch ist the biggest Badass of the trilogy!

  6. herpestidae says:

    While I read this chapter, I couldn't help but think that I'd love to have one of those Gamemakers as a DM for a Dungeons and Dragons game. Rabid squirrels? Stinging Butterflies? That's just so incredibly genius that I can't begin to imaging how much fun that would be.

    "You see a squirrel on the ground."

    "I Make a Handle Animal check."

    "You rolled a 1. It claws your face off. Roll for Massive Damage."

  7. Madeline says:

    I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for you to get to this point in the book! I've read the book twice and now I'm following along with you and I STILL get chills. It's sooo hard to follow along with you as someone who's read the books and not say "just wait!!" 🙂 The way Collins skips over weeks at a time in a few sentences does irritate me sometimes but she always makes up for it in other ways, like this chapter. Anything that REALLY matters to the story always comes out, just never when you want it to. I really appreciate that though, because by the time it does come out, you're so damn curious that you soak up every word and it makes it that much more exciting. Haymitch needs his own book for sure!

  8. SusanBones says:

    I wonder if Haymitch's trick of hiding out near the edge of the game was the reason why the Gamemakers would flush the tributes out of their hiding places so many times during the game that Katpee were in. It just seemed odd to me that Haymitch was allowed to wait for all the other Tributes to die without being forced to fight anyone but the last one.

    Or maybe I'm missing something.

    • ldwy says:

      What a good thought. We certainly did see that they didn't really let them just hide around during Katpee's games. Well, maybe just Foxface.

    • Thiamalonee says:

      I thought that the volcano was meant to do that. Haymitch wasnt forced to move because he was already in the area where the gamemakers were firing everyone together. I imagine that if they stayed Spread out or if the games had gone on longer, the tributes would have encountered more events to drive them together.

    • knut_knut says:

      I thought they Gamemakers flushed the tributes out when nothing was going on? Like if 2 days go by and no one is killed, the Gamemakers purposely throw the tributes together. Since there were more tributes in Haymitch's year there was probably a greater chance that there was a bloodbath going on somewhere, therefore giving Haymitch the opportunity to explore and not fight.

    • mag11 says:

      Did it ever actually say he never fought anyone besides the last one? He may have had to fight some at the Cornucopia, or while he was moving away from the mountain.

    • Mauve_Avenger says:

      It actually mentions that he directly killed two of the Career tributes who cornered him, before a third nearly kills him and is attacked by Maysilee. So he killed three people.

  9. Rebecca says:

    Why are you so sure Katniss wil survive?Isn't Collins very good at tricking people and taking it in another direction. I wouldn't be so certain of anything.

    And I loved this chapter, backstories are love.

  10. mugglemomof2 says:

    1. The gifs are killing me HA HA HA HA
    2. Best chapter yet? Yes? yes!
    3. Haymitch is the most BAMF ever! What a visual- holding in his intestines convulsing while waiting for an ax to pop back up over the cliff! Genius. I don't think Stephen King could have written that better.
    4. You KNOW Snow had to have planned this Quarter Quell. It is just too convenient otherwise!
    5. Oh and Mark, by the way…… you are still no where near prepared. Just saying!

  11. meh says:

    I literally shuddered in the middle of my class when I read the fight between Haymitch and the girl from District 1 because HOLDING HIS INTESTINES IN and BLOODY EYE SOCKETS.

  12. andreah1234 says:


    This has to be the best chapter ever. I love that Haymitch didn't won with strength or with the most powerful weapons, instead he won WITH CLEVERNESS. That's incredibly awesome to me. And we got even more parallels about how Haymitch is so alike Katniss, which is totally why she could ~read his mind~ during HER games. The thing about Madge's aunt made me sad forever, but damn she was a BAMF while she was still alive. Poor Haymitch life has been full of tragedy, no wonder he picked up drinking. But whatever, TEAM HAYMITCH UNTIL THE END OF TIME.

    • Haley says:

      When I first read that part my original opinion was that Haymitch didn't win with cleverness but luck and accident on the ax-throwers part, because after all, she was the one who threw the ax, and despite Haymitch knowing about the edge, he did not know that it was fly back to the exact spot where it would hit his opponent in the head. It's just my take, I do think half and half though because he was clever enough to find it 🙂

      Team Haymitch!<3

    • Hanh says:

      And Maysilee wasn't even killed by another tribute either. If those damn birds hadn't have been there who knows? Maybe she would've been the victor and not Haymitch.

      Haley: Yeah I agree that luck was a big factor in keeping him alive but so it was for Katniss, too.

  13. Ida says:

    Haymich is my favourit for ever! He had to survive 47 other tributes, one of them his own friend, and each year after he had to watch two kids die for 24 years. That's 48 kids!:( Then Katniss comes around and makes both herself and Peeta a victor the same year. For someone who has gone through what Haymich did this is so much more than he could ever have hoped for. Wich must make this Quarter Quell especially hard for him, having to watch them risk their lives again and very likely loosing both of them just like he did all the other kids.

  14. Erica says:

    I'm pretty sure Haymitch was born awesome.

  15. pagefivefivesix says:

    I love this chapter, and I love Haymich more than anyone, I can't remember but Haymich never actually murdered anyone did he? He just let the arena do it for him.
    Also, you've made my favourite typo of all time. OF ALL TIME; "he just smirks and takes a swig from a bottle of win." <my favourite x)
    -Obligitory statement of your unpreparedness-

  16. t09yavorski says:

    "but he just smirks and takes a swig from a bottle of win."

    I really really hope this was unintentional cause it would make it that much more awesome.

  17. hungriestgame says:

    "but he just smirks and takes a swig from a bottle of win."

    greatest typo of all time.

  18. Karen says:

    Well I don't think you have to accept that Katniss's dieing wish is to keep Peeta alive because she loves him because I don't think that's what Collins is going for. Yes, she cares about Peeta and that is factoring into her decision, but that MAIN reason she's on a "keep Peeta alive" kick is because she feels so hopeless about her own situation. She knows that Snow is out to get her now, so in her mind, there's no point in trying to escape her fate, but there is hope for Peeta. And maybe Peeta, with all of his eloquence, can help inspire a revolution. AND this is something she can control and do something about. She can't do anything about the Capitol putting on any more Games. That's why keeping Peeta alive is her dieing wish.

    As far as whether they should love each other or not… Well, Peeta is 17 years old. He's a teenager. AND he's something of a dreamer/idealist. I don't think it's out of character for someone like that to feel like they are in love. It's just that in fiction, it's usually the female characters who play that part. Plus, feelings like that can't exactly be rationalized. He likes her because he likes her. I mean you can itemize some things like I'm sure he admires how much she cares about her family and how hard she fights to survive, but feelings can't always be spelled out like that. As far as Katniss's feelings, I think they do go a bit beyond "well he's there". I think that she's maybe intrigued by his kindness and his goodness, which is something that has captivated her about him since he gave her the bread. And I think that Peeta has come to represent someone who she can rely on, someone who will always be there to comfort her. Katniss spends so much time trying to be strong for everyone else, that I imagine it's a huge relief to be the one who is being held and comforted for once. It's nice to have someone that you can actually be weak with.

    Also, LOL. Every time you were like "MOAR HAYMITCH BACKSTORY", I just had to giggle, knowing what was coming because IT IS AWESOME.

  19. Erica says:

    PS–Haymitch drinks from a bottle of WIN? This explains EVERYTHING.

  20. tethysdust says:

    Hooray Haymitch backstory! And it was a really interesting story, too! I kept wondering why no one tried to get out of the arena. Haymitch is officially my favorite character in all these books. Haymitch drinking from a "bottle of win" might be my favorite typo from this blog ever.

    I can sort of see why Katniss would prioritize Peeta's life over her own. She's been told that she's worthless in many ways by the government throughout her life. In the more recent past, even people who should have been supporting her through her post-Games mental health problems (Haymitch, Peeta, Gale) have been taking every opportunity to remind her what a terrible person she is. I think she's internalized this by now. It seemed less to me like she was doing it for love of Peeta, and more like she just honestly believed that he was better than her, so he deserved to live and she deserved to die.

    Also, I can buy Peeta's post-Games love for Katniss. She did save his life. She could very easily have let him die at any point and continued on to be the victor. He was so hurt that he was not actually any benefit to her, but she constantly risked herself to keep him alive. I think going through that would make Peeta feel really close to her, even if everything was calculated and fake on her side.

    • exbestfriend says:

      What I love about Haymitch finding the edge of the arena is how it shows just how crafty he is. I mean, we all fawned over Foxface and her smart sneaky ways in the Games, but she has nothing on Haymitch.

      Also, please forgive me for posting the following, but it was my favorite typo as well.
      <img src=""&gt;

      • erin says:

        Haymitch: "I was nervous when the Capitol told me I had to outlive forty-eight murderous teenagers in a carefully cultivated valley of death. But then I discovered the wonders of Win (TM)! Just one swig every three hours gave me the endurance I needed to stay alert, kill all my opponents and leave the Arena victorious. Thanks, Win!"

        Bottled Win: The Breakfast of Champions. DRINK LIKE A VICTOR.

  21. notemily says:

    he just smirks and takes a swig from a bottle of win.

    One of your best typos ever, I think.

    (Although, when you say "we're no longer dealing with tributes who are victors" I assume you mean teenagers/children? Maybe I'm reading it wrong.)

    We've all been waiting for you to get to this chapter ever since you demanded moar Haymitch backstory 😀 it's like how you were like MOAR SNAPE and then you get the Snapiest chapter ever at the end of the series. If last chapter was one of my least favorites, this is one of the most awesome. HAYMITCH FOREVER.

  22. 1foxi says:

    'Haymitch shrugs. “I don’t see that it makes much difference. They’ll still be one hundred percent as stupid as usual, so I figure my odds will be roughly the same.'

    Yep, Haymitch 'tells it like it is' Abernathy RULES!

  23. Kripa says:

    I understand not feeling Katpee, but Gale and Katniss? Bleh! You might as well ship Harry and Hermione!

    • 1foxi says:

      Katpee is BLEH to me. I'm all for Gale and Katniss.

      • adev0tchka says:

        But can Gale get over his jealous douchebaggery long enough to make that happen?

        • iolchos says:

          Well, he's got his work cut out for him, what with her being pressured by an evil dictator to marry another dude and all. NOT ALL HIS FAULT, is all I'm saying.

    • knut_knut says:

      Katniss should really just remain single and get drunk with Haymitch on waterfalls of win

    • Jamie S says:

      At think as far as Katniss is concerned, both "ships" are equally bleh. I kind of like that Mark has such an aversion to romance in this series so far, because that's Katniss's exact reaction to it too. (Part of me wonders if Collins meant for the reader to feel this way, but greatly underestimated peoples desire to ship the characters they like.) Emotionally, Katniss can't think about a romantic relationship with either guy, so it's awkward and uncomfortable and something she'd rather just avoid all together. Since the story is told from her perspective, the idea of Katniss/Gale AND Katniss/Peeta should be a Harry/Hermoine situation.

    • icingflarewhite says:

      I see no problem with Harry/Hermione. Better than Ron/Hermione in my opinion.

  24. Erika Johnston says:


  25. Ali says:

    Weirdly enough, the thing that most stood out for me in this chapter was Effie…I warmed to her a bit in the first book as a kind of entertaining-but-not-really-important-ditz, but here we get to see a bit more of a kindly side to her – her distress at the tributes she knows going into the arena, making small talk with Peeta, and her support of Haymitch by sending her wine away when she sees he’s quit drinking. I know it’s not much but…
    Am I the only one who really wants to hear more about Effie? We know hardly anything about her; why she has this job, whether she volunteered for it or was chosen, if she has a family, even how old she is.
    I sort of feel the same way about Cinna – he’s an important character but we have no idea of his background and motivations.

    Ah well, I’m glad we at least learnt more about Haymitch because TEAM HAYMITCH FOREVER. 😉 God, that man is a bamf!

    • spectralbovine says:

      I completely agree with you on Effie and Cinna. I'd love to know more about them.

    • Melissa says:

      Yes to all of this. I think that Effie's really sad about Katpee being back in the Games. I would like to know more about Cinna as well. Where does he come from? Why did he volunteer to be the stylist for District 12? Also, it's now official, Haymitch is currently my favorite character in all of science fiction. Yes, I said it!

  26. heatherfeather says:

    "…but he just smirks and takes a swig from a bottle of win."
    FANTASTIC typo.

  27. jennywildcat says:

    For all the awesome action of Haymitch's Games and his backstory, this chapter depresses me so much –

    1. Maysilee Donner – I think there was a line in a previous chapter where Katniss' mom mentions they were friends and it carries the tone of somebody remembering an old classmate from high school with fondness. Then we find out how Maysilee died – even that she and Haymitch had teamed up… ugh… (then you remember Katniss' mom and Madge's mother HAD TO WATCH HER DIE ON TV!!! D:< This is more messed up than I have vocabulary for).

    2. Haymitch – He needs a hug. Like, right now.

    3. Quarter Quell – This is a few chapters back, but I call BS on these scenarios having been set up 75 years previous. This is too convenient for what's going on.

    4. The end of this chapter – Why am I hearing "Uprising" in my head all of a sudden?

  28. kajacana says:

    I love Haymitch backstory. And Games backstory. Basically there is so much in this world that we weren't around to see… 73 years of Hunger Games, for instance, all of them presumably unique… that getting these glimpses of details is like a delicious treat. Cupcakes for the brain.

    [Also Mark, re: your new schedule announcements, I know this is the wrong post but whatever — I just want to say that I am 100% for anything that helps you enjoy these books more. I know the one-chapter-a-day thing is, well, Your Thing, but honestly — if you get more joy out of one chapter every other day, or three chapters a day, or alternating between Watching and Reading, or weekends off, or whatever, then I think you should do it. It's really awesome and exciting that you're doing all these projects simultaneously, but damn it must get crazy! So, I hope you work out your schedule to be exactly the reading/watching experience you want, even if that means taking your time — I daresay none of us are going anywhere!]

  29. I want a bottle of win.

    I always knew that squirrels and butterflies were evil, this merely confirms my suspicions. I can't wait to see what the new arena is like.

  30. Silverilly says:

    Well, to be fair, which wish is more realistic? There's at least a bare chance that Katniss can actually keep Peeta alive. The Capitol dismantling the Games? Not so much. Maybe Katniss is just trying to find hope in the most hopeless situation EVAR.
    Also, as a romantic person I can understand how Peeta can love Katniss. I just don't really get why he's willing to give EVERYTHING for her safety. Like, dude, get a life.

    Post-dated thoughts:
    "Excuse me? Carnivorous squirrels? This is EVERY RIDICULOUS 18+ ANIMATION EVER MADE. It's the classic Disney Movie Gone Horribly, Horribly Wrong scenario that wants to be funny but is mostly just DEEPLY FUCKED UP. Are these the thoughts that went through Collins' head when she was writing scripts for childrens' shows? DOES THIS SEEM LIKE A PROBLEM TO ANYONE ELSE???"

  31. arnenieberding says:

    He has made the same typo before (during the Victory Tour), so i do think this one is intentional 😉

    BUT OMG HAYMITCH. Before this I imagined that the arenas were surrounded by tall walls, even though that was never mentioned. There are so many things I'd like to find out about this world, but Collins doesn't elaborate on them :/ I NEED MOAR.

    Also, as a game, I can totally see myself sitting at the edge of the cliff throwing nuts down below, only to be able to catch them with my mouth. *nom*

  32. Cyna says:

    NGL, I never understood why Haymitch's use of the bouncy barrier thing was such a BIG DEAL. He didn't escape, the barrier made it pretty clear that he couldn't escape, and yeah, it made the ax bounce back up and kill that chick, but it wasn't like she represented the Capitol. She was just another tribute. Maybe the Gamemakers didn't intend for it to be used like that, but so what? It seems like it would have been the same to me if the ax had bounced off an actual wall in the arena or something WHY IS THIS SUCH A BIG DEAL? I don't get it 🙁

    • corporatecake says:

      I agree with you. I can never understand why that's such a huge deal to the Gamemakers. In fact, you think they'd be pleased that they had a good end to the Games, because really, what was the worst that was going to happen with Haymitch and that force field? What happened. And that wasn't bad — the Gamemakers don't look stupid to me, because it absolutely makes sense that there would be something like that at the edge of the arena. Of course they have to have something to keep them in. And they designed it in such a way that it could be a weapon.

      Then again, I've never understood why Katniss got so much bullshit for the berries thing, either, because the "starcrossed lovers" thing was already in place, and if people weren't going to buy that story when it happened in the arena, they wouldn't buy it later on, and Katniss had no way of knowing what the consequences of those actions would be. Placing the blame on her, rather than conditions that made people so ready to rebel… THAT is stupid.

      Basically, the Capitol is run by paranoid dumbasses.

    • Jamie S says:

      I'm with you Cyna. I can see mild embarrassment on behalf of the gamemakers, but I thought it was more along the lines of that one kid who reconfigured the platforms into landmines during the last games. Maybe if Haymitch had exploited it to derail the entire games, but he only really used it to kill the one tribute.

      But then maybe it all just boils down to the fact that he was refusing to play by their rules, which is why they saw it in the same vein as Katniss and the berries. The games are meant to be a yearly reminder of the Capitol's absolute power. If any element of that is questioned, the Capitol looks weak.

  33. Kripa says:

    Katniss' dying wish is to keep Peeta alive because she hates feeling indebted to someone and because Haymitch has just told her that she doesn't "deserve" Peeta, i.e., Haymitch told Katniss that Peeta's a better person than she (fandom, take note that Peeta has NEVER come anywhere close to expressing such a thing to Katniss, plz), and Katniss internalized that. Also, last games, Peeta and Haymitch were investing in keeping Katniss alive, so she wants to repay the favor, as it were.
    Peeta has feelings for Katniss, and there need not be rhyme nor reason for that. But Lord knows this is more palatable than Katniss and Gale becoming romantically involved. It's not just that Gale isn't always nice, it's that a relationship between them feels incestuous. He's been like a big brother to her, and in the first chapter of the first book, Katniss even said as much. Gale is even MOAR tough as nails than Katniss is. No gender barriers broken if they get together. But Katpee? They work for the same reason Ron/Hermione works. Opposites attract and all that. And of course, the opposites attract does a genderflip. It's progress u guise!

    • Jamie S says:

      I think there are plenty of relationships (fictional and otherwise) that began with a deep friendship, and I wouldn't characterize those as incestuous. I never thought of Gale as a "big" brother, in that he was protecting her. I thought their friendship was always very mutual and equal. He takes care of her, she takes care of him.

      If I had to pick a team, I'd pick Gale. I think both are bad for her, just because she's not ready to have a romantic relationship with anyone. But of the two, I think Gale respects this and understands this more. Up until the games, Gale was always willing to be exactly what Katniss needed, and never demanded more, even if he wanted more. Peeta is just so head-over-heels in love, and not at all afraid to let Katniss know. I realize their situation in the games made all of that more complicated, and Peeta's outward show of affection is mostly done to keep them both alive. But then there are little moments where he'll say something that reminds Katniss that he is actually in love with her, and he doesn't seem to care that she CAN'T return that. And he doesn't know her well enough to see how much owing him something like that torments her. I love Peeta as a character, but if I had to pick a ship (and "none" was not an option), I'd pick Gale at this point.

  34. Stephanie says:

    "Takes a swig from a bottle of win" I know you meant wine, but I feel like win fits more 🙂

  35. elusivebreath says:

    This is one of my favorite chapters because, if it isn't obvious by now, I am a Haymitch fangirl. This was the point when I felt fully justified in my Haymitch love 🙂

    Mark, this review is up so early … I usually wait for the tweet, but since the reviews seem to be going up earlier I decided to check it early – and I'm glad I did!!

    Hooray for MOAR HAYMITCH!!!

    Also, how horrific was it to get the visual of someone having to pry their kids away from them to go into the arena? That's gotta be a whole new kind of awful, since it's usual kids that go in, this probably doesn't happen often. WHY IS THERE MOAR SAD?

    There are other things this chapter makes me want to talk about but I'm not sure if they're spoilers, so :X

  36. momigrator says:

    This is my favorite review so far because you have addressed EXACTLY the issues I had a problem with concerning the Katpee LUVOMGBBQ.

    I agree that this is a pretty good series, but reading it at this pace is very frustrating. Sometimes I read a chapter ahead of you, but usually I stay on par, and it's HARD. I can't imagine having to read Harry Potter this way, and I commend you. I read the HP books in like 1-3 days each (albeit, waiting years between them) and I know I never would've been able to keep this chapter-a-day pace with them. Thanks, it really means a lot to us readers to be able to read your thoughts a chapter at a time from our favorite (and most despised, * twilight*) books.

    Also, Haymitch is FRIKKIN AWESOME, and I hope they use this barrier to their advantage in the games, just as he did.

  37. theupsides says:

    Haymitch is such a tragic character. He's a bad ass who beat the arena and one-upped the Capitol, but whose partner died in the Games. He then lives the rest of his life alone, miserable, and drunk. I think this is supposed to serve as a contrast to Katniss (and Peeta). Haymitch and Katniss have obviously been set up to be very much alike, even with the way they won the Games in a clever way. But Katniss's partner survived. So despite all the horror she's seen, there is some hope for her, because she doesn't have to go through all of this alone. Peeta is that hope, and he stands for everything Haymitch didn't have–companionship, love, and hope.

    So of course Katniss wants to keep Peeta alive. He's the constant that has kept her going since those first Games, and he offers her hope that maybe things can be okay. She has to take a chance on him.

    • Clare says:

      Katniss and Peeta= Luke and Leia? = A New Hope? <– the force is strong with these…

      Ok the brother sister romance is kind of creepy… But we didn't know they were siblings until the Return of the Jedi!

      So does this mean that Pres. Snow is Katniss true father? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooo………..

      • theupsides says:

        In a Star Wars analogy, Katniss is Han Solo and Peeta is Leia. Maybe Gale is Luke, idk. Katniss and Gale are fake cousins, after all.

        • Clare says:

          I agree the personalities of Katniss and Han align much more, yet Katniss is seen more as the "symbol of rebellion" so yeah- not a parallel analogy either way.

          I LoLed so hard when reading Eragon though, the parallels were drawn so hard I couldn't stay within Poalini's story world for 10 pages at a time.

        • xpanasonicyouthx says:

          That analogy got all weird there in my head.

          • theupsides says:

            Yeah, after I said it, I realized it didn't make any sense. OH WELL. Star Wars > everything else, anyway.

  38. chocohouse says:

    Was anyone else thinking of Haymitch's squirrels when the joke about acorn bombs came up yesterday? (Acorn bombs: more likely than you think!) I would love to see fanart of the carnivorous fluffy squirrels chucking acorn bombs. XD

  39. Miranda says:

    I loved this chapter when I read it.
    I agree with you. Haymitch is awesome and he will continue to be awesome FOREVAR. No character can top is. Ever.

    Kind of off topic, I'm going to see if our library has Infinite Jest. And if it does, I think I'll read it with you. 🙂

  40. thefbm says:

    I love the incite about Katniss's mom and Madge's mother and aunt. Like it's awesome and ih gosh it better be in the movie!

    Haymitch's games, goodness I could picture them right now and just see Haymitch sitting by the edge as that pebble he threw shoots back up. I completely forgot how much I loved reading this chapter. Isn't it awesome how Haymitch didn't even have to kill anyone but let the arena do the killing for himself–haymitch rules. I sincerely hope the movie does an awesome job displaying these scenes in this chapter.

    Also for the Hunger Games movie, I heard they are stating to send out scripts to certain actresses for Katniss. I can't believe they are seriously making the movie!

  41. Shanella says:

    Regarding what you said earlier about the whole "love" thing. I found that a bit hard to swallow was well, more so after reading your reviews of it. I really don't think this book was meant to focus on romance or love triangles, however, I've given this particular relationship a lot of leeway because sometimes during intense events, feelings are so magnified that I don't find it impossible that Peeta could possibly develop feelings of love for Katniss, especially after getting to know her in the first arena.

    Anyways, I'm babbling. Haymitch is such a great character, and this chapter made me love him more!

  42. stellaaaaakris says:

    I realize the Gamemakers probably wouldn't let them do this, but when I read about the bouncing force field, I imagined the Tributes halting the Games for a moment and using it as a giant trampoline. I swear I'm an adult.

    But back to the real story. I do think Katpee have legitimate reasons to care about one another, maybe not love yet, at least not love love. Peeta's a mature guy. He had 6 months to himself to moan about how cruel Katniss was to pretend in THG, and then he realized he was being ridiculous. She wanted to keep him alive. To do that, she needed to do some acting. Then they were friends for 3 months. Going through the things they did are enough to bring people together. There is some kind of love going on between them. It's just needs time to grow and be recognized, something the Quell is refusing to give them.

    This chapter shows once again how the Reapings might be rigged. We already know that Victor's children get picked more often than probability allows. But in Quell 2, once again another town child (Maysilee) was picked who probably only had a handful of slips in there. In Quell 3, a brother and a sister. It's District 1, there had to have been other potential choices.

    Also death by flamingo or squirrel is a pretty terrible way to go.

    And once again, what is it with District 2? Brutus volunteers eagerly. Not cool. I'm assuming he's more middle aged than young, since Collins seems to make a point of when younger Victors are chosen. Which means he's known the other Victors for several years, has met up with them annually. And now he can't wait to go into an arena so he can fight to the death with them? Messed up.

    • bell_erin_a says:

      halting the Games for a moment and using it as a giant trampoline
      Man, I wish my brain ever went to such levels of awesomeness.

      Yeah, maybe it's "love" because that's all they've had time to consider. Were they mentoring tributes (also, how does that work out? Would Haymitch have taken a year off?), they would have spent time together (although under the watchful eye of the Capitol so they would have had to keep up the pretense) and would have had a chance to see what each really feels about the other. Of course, they probably would also have been married by that point, so that would have added other complications. They just really need time because they can't deny at this point that they've been through things that have brought them really close. But we can't have that now, can we?

      I really felt sorry for the Careers after Cato's awful death because although they train, they're in there to die too, but Brutus pretty much just erased those feelings, ugh.

      • thatonegirl says:

        but Brutus pretty much just erased those feelings, ugh

        I think we just met the (other) bad guy for the book. I was going to include a picture of Brutus from Popeye but am too stupid to figure out html (or to find the comments where someone explained it)

    • shortstack930 says:

      "Brutus volunteers eagerly. Not cool. I'm assuming he's more middle aged than young, since Collins seems to make a point of when younger Victors are chosen."

      Yes, I think she says right before this that he's in his 40's and can't wait to get back into the Games. What a sick freak!!

    • corporatecake says:

      District 2 is really worrying, isn't it? It's scary to imagine what their culture must be like when these are their representatives in the Games.

    • Saber says:

      I know right? WTF Brutus. How mess up must 2's society be that makes him want to go BACK to the games, even knowing what they're really like? Then again, we don't know his story. There could be any kind of influence on him.

  43. Stephalopolis says:

    I loved loved loved the Haymitch backstory!! While Team Cinna is still my #1 team of all time and forever, Team Haymitch is right up there as well.

    As far as Katniss's desire to save Peeta… I guess I don't really take that as a sign of her "deep love" for Peeta… I'm taking it more as her sense of worthlessness and despair. I think she see's herself as doomed no matter what she does with President Snow after her and and all the other authorative Capitol people wanting her dead. She's also discovered that she's been propped up as the motivation for revolutionarys- sure, she hates the capitol and wants a rebellion, but she never asked to be their motivating force.

    • Stephalopolis says:

      So there's more weight on her shoulder. Finally, there's her thoughts that Peeta is pure and sweet and doesn't deserve to be in the arena or in this mess. I'm not arguing it's true- just that Katniss perceives it to be. People keep telling her (okay, Haymitch and her mind) that she "doesn't deserve Peeta." So saving him isn't about her being in love with him, it's more about she doesn't feel worthy enough to live over Peeta.

      Or at least, in my opinion. 😛

  44. QuoteMyFoot says:

    Haymitch: so badass that he drinks bottles of WIN.

  45. xpanasonicyouthx says:

    I am leaving in the "bottle of win" typo because I just improved the story by 82%.

  46. Mauve_Avenger says:

    So if Katniss is right in saying that the Haymitch force-field thing was probably edited out of the broadcast version by the Capitol, then why on earth was Effie allowed to bring the unedited footage back to Katniss and Peeta? It seems so unlikely.

    Deadly flowers?
    <img src=""&gt;
    I wanted to use a picture of the bee scene, but I couldn't find one. 🙁
    I kind of wonder if Collins's idea for this Hunger Games arena was Rappaccini's Daughter or some similar story.

  47. exbestfriend says:

    <img src=""&gt;

  48. azurefalls says:

    First off, I think that one of the main reasons for Collins pushing Katpee is that in that situation, it might have been the only thing they had left. I agree with what you say about them not being truly "in love", but I think maybe they want to believe that they could be, because it gives them both something to live for. It means they haven't lost everything. I think they both kid themselves into thinking they love each other, so much so that it kind of becomes true.
    Plus, going through the Games together – they must feel so connected, so *together*, that they are the only people who understand what it was like in there – must have brought them together significantly. So no, I don't think it's true love. But I think that perhaps they THINK it is.

    Also, regarding Katpee's whole "I must keep you alive" thing, I think they just need a mindset, and something to focus on. In their eyes, the chances of survival are slim. Perhaps the hope of saving each other is all that's keeping them going.

    And the obligatory: HAYMITCH IS A BAMF.

  49. warmouth says:

    Oh Mark, I didn't think you hated the book. I think your complaints are valid, I had the same ones, but I think I brushed them off a lot easier since I read the book in one reading and just got swept away in the action and everything being GRIMDARK

    I don't really have much to add, except yay Haymitch back story! Gif Party for Haymitch!

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

    that last one is just awesome.

  50. Maddi says:

    I honestly kind of wish these books had been about Haymitch's Games instead of the rebellion. There's like a billion pages of untapped genius in there.

    • Clare says:

      I would love Prequels or Spinoffs! They obviously wouldn't end on much of a happy note, but they would be SO interesting!

      I nominate the following possible subjects of a Prequel:

      Haymitch's story
      Cinna's story
      District 13's story

  51. Kripa says:

    Katniss' dying wish is to keep Peeta alive because she hates feeling indebted to someone and because Haymitch has just told her that she doesn't "deserve" Peeta, i.e., Haymitch told Katniss that Peeta's a better person than she (fandom, take note that Peeta has NEVER come anywhere close to expressing such a thing to Katniss, plz), and Katniss internalized that. Also, last games, Peeta and Haymitch were investing in keeping Katniss alive, so she wants to repay the favor, as it were.
    As far as Katpee, I like it because it's revolutionary when it comes to gender roles – HE's the gentle, emotional baker, SHE's the BAMF who hunts and doesn't worry about ~feelings. Opposites attract, and in a very unconventional way.

  52. hallowsnothorcruxes says:

    This may be slightly OT but was anyone else reminded of Naruto while reading THG as to how kids are pitted against each other.

  53. potlid007 says:

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Harry Potter Pictures, Images and Photos"/>

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Hug Pictures, Images and Photos"/>
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Harry Potter Pictures, Images and Photos"/>
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Harry Potter Deals With It Pictures, Images and Photos"/>

  54. mandii says:

    I love love loved this chapter! I was pretty much seizuring at the opportunity to learn more about Haymitch! Since reading this chapter I’ve been secretly hoping Collins will do a series or just a book about Haymitch and his sheer BAMFness. Ahhh maybe someday!
    Love him so much! My Nook is officially named Haymitch lol

    • exbestfriend says:

      Aww, I love when people name their inanimate objects of affection!

      • mandii says:

        I was naming everything after Shakespearean characters but started to run out…so I got my Nook and it said I had to give it a name during Haymitch was born =)

        • exbestfriend says:

          OMG that is so funny. I name everything after Shakespearean characters too!! My laptop is called Mercutio and my goldfish are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and have been for a while because I love announcing that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead. My goldfish have a pretty regular turnover rate.

          • mandii says:

            Mercutio is my portable hard drive lol my old laptop was Iago (RIP), my main laptop is Tybalt and my mini laptop is Othello =) I love the goldfish idea! Oh good old Rosenstern and Gildencrantz hahaha!

            • exbestfriend says:

              What is really sad is I have a couple of names on hold, like Iago is going to be a cat I adopt and if I ever get a blue Weimaraner her name will be Desdemona.

              • mandii says:

                Omg your like my new best friend haha I actually have a foster kitten that loves sitting on shoulders like a parrot so I wanted to rename him Iago haha So full of win!

  55. ooohlivia says:

    This is one of the many reasons why Catching Fire is my favourite book of the series and the only one I don't feel 'meh' about.

  56. Nisha says:

    I'm very pleased with this typo –

    "but he just smirks and takes a swig from a bottle of win."

    Exceptionally well done!

  57. corporatecake says:

    Haymitch is my favorite character in this series, full stop. Because he's just SO BADASS. And hilarious. His snarky comment at the interview was just perfect.

    Anyway, regarding Katpee… I honestly think that Katniss's desire to save Peeta doesn't really have a lot to do with loving him, and with a lot of other reasons. A lot of other people have mentioned that she "owes" him, which I think is a big factor. (Though, maybe I'm just a selfish, entitled person, but I do not fucking get the whole "you can never really repay at debt, the first gift is hardest to repay" stuff. If someone does me a favor, I am, of course, grateful. Extremely grateful! I will thank them and certainly be nice to them, and if I can repay that kindness, that is amazing. But I don't understand the concept that Katniss seems to have cemented in her head of some sort of karmic list of things you have to repay. Sometimes things are given out of love and kindness and you don't have to repay them with anything but gratitude and kindness. Peeta saving her life in the arena has a different bent, but she saved his life just as many times as he did hers. I DON'T GET IT.)

    But anyway, I think that Katniss's reasons for wanting Peeta to live have a lot to do with how little she values her own life, and how little she wants to live. She has so readily accepted that she will die that I can't see it any other way. She sees Peeta's life as worth more than hers, because he's a "better" person, and he would be worth more to the rebellion. (I think that Peeta is, for the most part, a wonderful person, but underneath her emotional teaspoon and the awful things she's been forced to do, Katniss is a good person, too. She really cares about others and is very compassionate.)

  58. exbestfriend says:

    One of the other things, besides MOAR HAYMITCH WHOO!!, that this chapter made me really think about was the scene in the first chapter of The Hunger Games where Madge talks about wanting to wear a nice dress in case she had to go to the Capitol. Katniss and Gale both take the statement as some sort of ironic put-down, when Madge has watched the aftermath of what happens when a tribute loses. There is no way her mother didn't watch Madge get dressed and prep her for the games and spend the entire time thinking about her dead sister. Even in the aftermath of the encounter between Madge, Gale and Katniss, Collins introduces us to how the reaping works and why it is more likely for the poor to get chosen, when in actuality Madge is just as nervous as they are. Looking back on it, the whole situation is way more awkward than it was the first time we read it and even then it was plenty awkward.

  59. adev0tchka says:

    There was something completely gut-wrenching about the line where Cecilia's kids are all clinging to her as her name is called. Those poor kids will probably never see their mom again. As a mother myself, that really hit home for me.

    And…holy shit, Haymitch! Invisible force fields and exposed intestines…damn. He wins everything, including the bottle of win.

  60. BradSmith5 says:

    If the review represents the chapter, I give it an "Excellent, A plus. Star sticker, SUPER, plus-plus." Revealing how both the arena boundary and Haymitch worked was amazing, and having the story affect the characters made it all the more poignant.

    How do you guys know how the book is supposed to be read, though? I didn't see anything on Collins' site that said "Blaze through as fast as you can! No exceptions! No snails!" And her interview there only talks about spiders and rats. How in the world do authors do interviews and not say a THING about writing!? Am I missing where you guys got this idea?

    • corporatecake says:

      Speaking as someone who writes and knows a lot of writers, I think that most of them would feel as though their work wasn't being given a fair shake by someone stopping at the end of each chapter and consciously assessing how they felt about it, predicting what will happen, and criticizing plot and development. Especially writers of these kinds of books. And by "these kinds of books" I don't mean YA or dystopian fiction, but books that are written to be suspenseful.

      It's very, very obviously one of Collins's goals as a writer to keep people reading — in fact, it's pretty much ever writer's goal. The cliffhangers, much? Though I am certain there are people out there that disprove this, no one I know who's read these books did so in more than a few days, Mark is taking a month. Writing suspense is one of her strong suits, and I really don't think that the pace or plotting of the novel is ruled by chapter divides. That is, each chapter is not a self-contained piece of the story in the way that chapters in, say, 19th century novels that were published as serials are. Collins puts most of the "breaths" in her story — natural pauses where you might want to put the book down — in the middle of chapters (so you'll keep reading to get to a logical place to stop), and ratchets up the suspense at the end (so that you'll go on to the next chapter to see what happens).

      In other words, stopping at the end of each chapter disrupts the flow of the story. And that's without even starting on the idea that a book can't be considered analytically unless you're aware of its whole.

    • L_Swann says:

      As someone who pointed out the flaws of chapter-by-chapter reading, I'll go ahead and answer this. 🙂 While Collins herself doesn't ever say that she means for us to read them as quickly as possible, there are a few stylistic choices that seem to point that way. As an author, she has complete control over how she structures her chapters. So she could pull an event-by-event, where something bad happens at the beginning of the chapter and is mostly resolved by the end, or a day-by-day, where it starts with Katniss waking up and ends with her going to sleep, etc. But Collins deliberately chooses to end nearly every chapter with a cliffhanger. To me, that demonstrates that Collins clearly planned that.

      Judging by the way most of us react to those cliffhangers (at least, those of us not obligated to read one-chapter-a-day…poor Mark), it leads to us gobbling up the books . THG, CF, & MJ were the first books that I deliberately stayed up until 4am on a school night to finish reading, and judging from some of the other comments, it seems as though I'm not the only one with this reaction.

      I just think our natural response to cliffhanger chapters (a specific choice by Collins) is to rip through the books, and Mark can't do that. And so, to me, that stretches the narrative unnaturally. Slower chapters, the ones we refer to as "breathers" from the action, are usually read with a whole BUNCH of other chapters.

      Does any of that make sense?


    Oh god whenever I get to the part with Cecelia, I cry.

    Katniss's desire to save Peeta has nothing to do with romance. It's like how she told Peeta in the last book: "It’s the first gift that’s always the hardest to pay back." Because of her background, she's developed her own sense of pride and honor. She owes him for being so prepared to die for her in the arena, and she owes him for his leg. Combine that with her very low sense of self-worth, her affection for Peeta (and not in a romantic sense), and the non-romantic way she kind of has him on a pedestal (she genuinely thinks he's a much better person than she could ever be, which is tied right there to her self-worth), and how she has it in her head now that he would make a good rallying symbol for the rebellion because he's good with words… Katniss's decision to save Peeta at the cost of her own life makes perfect sense to me.

  62. maybe genius says:

    I totally LOL'd at your typo of Haymitch drinking from a "bottle of win."

    RE: the romance, I'm right there with you. The romantic element of this series just never feel quite right to me, and I consider myself something of a romantic. It just feels too… convenient? Forced? Like I'm pretty sure Katniss openly admits that she'd rather not get emotionally involved and she doesn't want marriage to be a part of her future. Also there's this whole bleakness and terror to the events of the series that makes me feel like romantic inclinations would not be at the forefront of her mind, which most of the time they're not. I understand wanting human love and contact when things are THIS HORRIBLE, but I don't know. That doesn't seem like part of Katniss' personality.

    I also often felt like she tries to be something for Peeta because, I don't know, she feels like she owes it to him. Which doesn't feel genuine to me. I can't get behind a Team Peeta/Team Gale stance because neither of them feel *right* for her to me. I'm always like "Can I just be Team Katniss?" But that's just my Very Important Opinion.

  63. Liz says:


  64. bendemolena says:

    Man, I think I'd love these books even more if they were from Haymitch's point of view– his life before the games, thought process during, descent into alcoholism later. I'd love to know how he treated the other tributes before the current story and if he ever had any sort of hope for them.

    Idk it's probably just because he's my favorite character.

  65. Jaria says:

    Is Haymitch your Hunger Games Hagrid?

  66. katieeleanor says:


    A new BEST TYPO EVER is born.

  67. tookiecj says:

    So happy that Haymitch is drinking out of a bottle of win. He's the ultimate bamf.

  68. burtonguster says:

    Haymitch is awesome but I love Finnick more! I want to see your reaction to him when you get to that chapter.

  69. Inessa says:

    Was the “win” bottled from the “waterfall of win”?
    I think Haymitch must have had flack from Snow and the Capitol, otherwise, you’d think he would have mentioned using the forcefield of the arena to Katniss and Peeta in the hunger games, or the previous tributes.
    Also, assuming Snow orchestrated this to get Katniss, how sad is it that he is sacrificing all these other people?

    • corporatecake says:

      He probably values the other victors as little as he values her — which is to say not at all :\

    • Saber says:

      Bet Katniss isn't the first victor to think of rebelling. These are the people who've suffered the most at Snow's hands.

    • trash_addict says:

      Well, there was going to be a Games anyway, so in any case 23 people were going to be dead at his hands (pretty much). I doubt he particularly cares who they are (apart from Katniss), so hey, why not throw a bunch of people in there who have lived through the worst thing imaginable?

  70. Dragonizer says:

    Haymitch is such a badass. So much that he doesn't drink wine, he drinks win. c:

  71. spectralbovine says:

    Wow. WOW. Collins, what an evocative and DEPRESSING way to explain so many of the small details you’ve been dropping since the first book. Holy shit, guys, this is fucking awesome.
    It is! Both awesome and depressing.

    WHAT THE FUCK!!!! This is not even something that I would consider. The edge of the arena? It exists? It’s real???

    I can’t. I just can’t. I can’t even believe this. Haymitch figured out the arena. He figured out what no one else did or even tried to do.
    And that is why Haymitch is a BAMF. Man, did he annoy me early on, but he is still a BAMF.

    Haymitch is now my favorite of all time forever and ever until everything ceases to be. I am in awe of this backstory and character development. Holy god.
    I was a little underwhelmed because I kind of expected some sort of murderous bloodbath rather than one clever kill, but since it is ONE PRETTY AWESOME CLEVER KILL, I'm cool.

    I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am right now.
    You. Unprepared. And so on.

  72. Phoebe says:

    1. bottle of win
    2. i love that haymitch doesn't actually kill anybody (i dont think)
    3. favorite chapter ever
    4. when i read about the axe i literally stopped reading and had to watch harry potter to keep me from having nightmares that night.

  73. Phoebe says:

    was that typo intentional?

  74. Steeple says:

    I don't know, I always assumed the Arena was in a closed-off dome thing? Maybe I'm just too used to video games…

    BUT THAT ARENA. EVERYTHING DEADLY AND POISONOUS WHILE SO BEAUTIFUL i really just love that. I am a terrible person.

  75. Sarah says:

    I really like Maysilee. She is as cool as someone who we know nothing about can get. I love Haymitch and Maysileee together even though she is dead. Haymitch is indeed my favorite THG character.

    • Gabbie says:

      I know people "ship" them, but I think Maysilee to Haymitch was like Rue to Katniss. They cared about each other, not romantically, but sort of ignored the fact that the other would have to die in order for the other to go home. (And there have been alliances outside the Career Pack all the time, so theirs wasn't out-of-the-ordinary or something.)
      Wow. Long rant is long.

  76. Gabbie says:

    Is it a spoiler to say there's more MOAR HAYMITCH?
    And, yes, this chapter made me realize how much I love that man. Still do.Finished the series like, three months ago. XD

  77. Gabbie says:

    He had a lot of other fatal injuries besides his intensities hanging out of him..

  78. PigRescuer says:

    What I want to know is, how did the only other (now dead) person from Twelve win the Games? Twice can be a coincidence, as people tell me at archery, but if the third person did something like that too, clearly Twelve rules everything.

  79. Jaime says:


  80. vampira2468 says:

    Haymitch got sort of more awesome in this book

    I thought the way she changed the area was really clever

  81. Quizzical says:

    i do love the way haymitch suddenly makes sense.

  82. Revolution64 says:

    I think Katniss is trying to protect Peeta so much because he'd be better than her as the face of the revolution. Like you said, "Her last wish could be something like ending the games and overthrowing the Capitol," Peeta could do that with his awesome powers of speaking in public, whereas Katniss couldn't.

  83. notemily says:

    Is anyone else around here having problems with their comments mysteriously disappearing, or replies to their comments being emailed but then not showing up on the actual site?

    • ldwy says:

      Hmm, I haven't noticed that happening to me…but I haven't always been able to come back and reread after my initial read and comments.

    • bell_erin_a says:

      One of mine disappeared two days ago. I wrote one, which told me it needed to be approved by an admin (it was in the sprained ankles discussion-not even remotely resembling a spoiler!). About an hour later I decided to write the same comment again, which displayed the same thing. The first one eventually showed up later, but I don't think the repeat one ever did.

      Also, I'll see something like "1 reply" in response to a comment, but when I click to expand the thread, there are more like 3 or 4 replies. I dunno.

  84. kelseyintherain says:


    That's all I have to say about this chapter. That, and I hope the movie shows the carnivorous squirrels because the GIFs of that scene would be GLORIOUS.

  85. Lumosnox says:

    I've read the first two of this trilogy, and had a pretty definite image of Haymitch in my mind. Then recently someone suggested that Hugh Laurie should play him in the movie. Ever since then I CAN SEE HIM NO OTHER WAY. 😀

    Go Team Haymitch and his "bottle of win"! Now we need an awesome Cinna backstory plz.

    • Morgan says:

      I heard they might be trying to get Robert Downey Jr. for the part which I am all for as well. Both he and Hugh Laurie would be so good in this part.

    • Saber says:

      I'm hoping for RDJ myself. He seems more… Haymitch-y

  86. Haley says:

    …don't even being to think you're prepared;)

  87. Anon E. Mouse says:

    What is a bottle of win and where can I get one?

  88. forthejokes says:

    Absolutely LOVE this chapter. Also the review, because I completely agree with the lack of reasoning behind people falling in love with each other. And the poignancy of Maysilee being the one who had the Mockingjay pin, it's so beautiful.

    And also because Haymitch is AWESOME.

  89. trash_addict says:

    Aww man, how pleased must those Tributes have been with their pretty, abundant, luscious arena? But just like these books WHENEVER THINGS SEEM GOOD THEY TURN NIGHTMARISHLY HORRIBLE.

    Goddammit Collins.

  90. Meghan says:

    Oh Mark, I love how even when you think you're prepared, you're not at all prepared. Snail pace is killing me though DX

  91. Fusionman says:

    Wait Haymitch is drinking a bottle of win? I didn’t know he was that awesome. Oh Mark. You are amazing sometimes.

  92. Will says:

    I have not read Mockingjay yet, but just because there is a third book doesn't necessarily mean that it's a shoo in that Katniss and Peeta survive the Quarter Quell. Just puttin' that out there.

  93. CBG says:

    Haymitch = Total BAMF
    That kitty gif = WIN

  94. Hanh says:

    One of the victor's name is Brutus? Are we going to get an 'Est-tu Brute' moment? Collins has made it pretty obvious her basis on Rome. But yeah so I totally wonder what would have happened if Haymitch had just died right there in the arena. I mean, his intestines are spilling out. Kind of a tough thing to come back from. If the Gamemakers were willing to allow two victors to avoid no victors, what would they have done? I needs to know. Also, I don't see Haymitch's cliff and Katniss' berries to be the same. Haymitch manipulated the arena just like that boy from District 3 reactivating the mines, but Katniss messed with the game itself. Either way, it seems like she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The unrest in the districts have been there for forever. Any kind of catalyst could have set them off. It just so happened to be Katniss in this case.

    "I was thinking we might get you a golden ankle band and maybe find Haymitch a gold bracelet or something so we could all look like a team," says Effie.
    Am I the only one who found this incredibly cute?

Comments are closed.