In the eighteenth chapter of Catching Fire, seriously? How do I even summarize what just happened? Just read the review.
Good lord. Now I know why you guys said you blew through this book in one setting. Reading this one chapter at a time? Simply unbearable.
The uprising has now been made public. TO EVERYONE. And it’s because of Cinna that this is happening. I AM SO EXCITED. THIS IS ME RIGHT NOW.
I am completely in awe of this story right now.
Caesar gestures for Cinna to rise. He does, and makes a small, gracious bow. And suddenly I am so afraid for him. What has he done? Something terribly dangerous. An act of rebellion in itself. And he’s done it for me. I remember his words…
“Don’t worry. I always channel my emotions into my work. That way I don’t hurt anyone but myself.”
…and I’m afraid he has hurt himself beyond repair. The significance of my fiery transformation will not be lost on President Snow.
Seriously, saying TEAM CINNA doesn’t do him justice. He has consistently acted in her best interest, ignoring his own. This might be the most extreme example of that. Bless him forever.
But I was never, ever prepared for what Peeta does next.
Peeta pauses for a long moment, as if deciding something. He looks out at the spellbound audience, then at the floor, then finally up at Caesar. “Caesar, do you think all our friends here can keep a secret?”
“I feel quite certain of it,” says Caesar.
“We’re already married,” says Peeta quietly. The crowd reacts in astonishment, and I have to bury my face in the folds of my skirt so they can’t see my confusion. Where on earth is he going with this?
Peeta weaves a story to Caesar about how he married Katniss in a traditional ceremony (referenced in the previous chapter) because they simply couldn’t wait. And then the Quell was announced and their marriage suddenly became all the more tragic. It’s genius on Peeta’s part, to enhance the sheer horror of what’s happening.
“I’m not glad,” says Peeta. “I wish we had waited until the whole thing was done officially.”
This takes even Caesar aback. “Surely even a brief time is better than no time?”
“Maybe I’d think that, too, Caesar,” says Peeta bitterly, “if it weren’t for the baby.”
Peeta, you have brought it. You have now won all the things and I seriously need to develop the technology to give fictional characters high fives. This is beautiful.
As the bomb explodes, it sends accusations of injustice and barbarism and cruelty flying out in every direction. Even the most Capitol-loving, Games-hungry, bloodthirsty person out there can’t ignore, at least for the moment, how horrific the whole thing is.
I am pregnant.
Peeta, you are genius. This is your finest moment. Can the Capitol actual go forward with the idea of killing a pregnant mother? Are they that depraved?
Sure, they might actually be, and Peeta’s bluff might be pointless, but I’m sure he knew this. Because the affect that matters most is the fact that everyone else who hears this has now reacted in a way that now virtually begs for a rebellion.
The audience has now gone wild, essentially, reacting so chaotically to the news Peeta just shared with the country that Caesar cannot even keep them remotely under control. As the din in the room continues to overpower everything else, one of the most surprising things yet occurs:
And then it happens. Up and down the row, the victors begin to join hands. Some right away, like the morphlings, or Wiress and Beetee. Others unsure but caught up in the demands of those around them, like Brutus and Enobaria. By the time the anthem plays its final strains, all twenty-four of us stand in one unbroken line in what must be the first public show of unity among the districts since the Dark Days. You can see the realization of this as the screens begin to pop into blackness. It’s too late, though. In the confusion they didn’t cut us off in time. Everyone has seen.
HOW. HOW CAN THE GAMES EVEN GO ON AT THIS POINT. The victors have just given the entirety of Panem a symbol, an image of unification, something they’ve been denied for longer than anyone can remember.
The chaos continues as the lights go out on stage and Katpee rush out of the theater and board an elevator alone.
The moment we step off the elevator, Peeta grips my shoulders. “There isn’t much time, so tell me. Is there anything I have to apologize for?”
“Nothing,” I say. It was a big leap to take without my okay, but I’m just glad I didn’t know, didn’t have time to second guess him, to let any guilt over Gale detract from how I really feel about what Peeta did. Which is empowered.
RIGHT??? Oh man, I know this is going to work against them in the future, but just ALLOW ME THESE MOMENTS OF HAPPINESS.
We wait for the others to return, but when the elevator opens, only Haymitch appears. “It’s madness out there. Everyone’s been sent home and they’ve canceled the recap of the interviews on television.”
Peeta and I hurry to the window and try to make sense of the commotion far below us on the streets. “What are they saying?” Peeta asks. “Are they asking the president to stop the Games?”
“I don’t think they know themselves what to ask. The whole situation is unprecedented. Even the idea of opposing the Capitol’s agenda is a source of confusion for the people here,” says Haymitch. “But there’s no way Snow would cancel the Games. You know that, right?”
I don’t know. Given what’s happened, I actually entertained the thought. I still sort of am. I think it would be pretty surprising if something happened to derail the Games.
Of course, that doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen at this point. They realize they aren’t going to see Effie again, so they ask Haymitch to thank her, to really thank her for what she did for them. It’s even harder to say goodbye to Haymitch, who they’ll be seeing for the last time as well. I’m worried that the Capitol will do something to Haymitch if the Games go ahead as planned. Would they murder Katpee’s mentor just to make things more difficult?
We cross the room, but in the doorway, Haymitch’s voice stops us. “Katniss, when you’re in the arena,” he begins. Then he pauses. He’s scowling in a way that makes me sure I’ve already disappointed him.
“What?” I ask defensively.
“You just remember who the enemy is,” Haymitch tells me.
Thinking about this a second time, I feel like this sheds a lot of light on Haymitch’s insistence on Katpee making allies. I don’t think he’s disappointed in her yet; maybe he believes that if there was one person who could inspire the other tributes to revolt in the arena, it’s Katniss. So he’s merely reminding her: her competitors are not her enemy. The Capitol is.
After an awful night of sleep, they awake and it’s apparent the Games are going forward as planned. Peeta and Katniss are separated and Cinna begins to work his calming magic. I respect him so much for how dedicated he is towards making Katniss feel comfortable. He sits with her in the Hovercraft until they reach the Launch Room at the arena, where he begins the process of dressing her and doing her hair.
We sit, as we did last year, holding hands until the voice tells me to prepare for the launch. He walks me over to the circular metal plate and zips up the neck of my jumpsuit securely. “Remember, girl on fire,” he says,” I’m still betting on you.” He kisses my forehead and steps back as the glass cylinder slides down around me.
Even reading this a second time for the review, my heart gets heavy with dread. The plate doesn’t rise immediately, as it usually does. In a moment of panic, Katniss looks to Cinna for answers he doesn’t have.
Suddenly the door behind him bursts open and three Peacekeepers spring into the room. Two pin Cinna’s arms behind him and cuff him while the third hits him in the temple with such force he’s knocked to his knees. But they keep hitting him with metal-studded gloves, opening gashes on his face and body. I’m screaming my head off, banging on the unyielding glass, trying to reach him. The Peacekeepers ignore me completely as they drag Cinna’s limp body from the room. All that’s left are the smears of blood on the floor.
I can’t. You can’t do that to Cinna. Oh god, they’re going to kill him for what he did, aren’t they? Oh jesus christ, this is so horrible. CIIIIIINNNNNNNNNAAAAAAAAA!!!!
Sickened and terrified, I feel the plate begin to rise. I’m still leaning against the glass when the breeze catches my hair and I force myself to straighten up. Just in time, too, because the glass is retreating and I’m standing free in the arena.
Something seems to be wrong with my vision. The ground is too bright and shiny and keeps undulating. I squint down at my feet and see that my metal plate is surrounded by blue waves that lap up over my boots. Slowly I raise my eyes and take in the water spreading out in every direction.
I can only form one clear thought.
This is no place for a girl on fire.
THE ARENA IS FUCKING WATER?????? Oh god up in heaven, this is simply un-preparable.
I can’t handle this. The Games are happening, Cinna’s likely dead, and the arena is water-based.
Collins: 4 billion, All The Rest of Us: 0.