Just read the review.
Everything seems to erupt at once. The earth explodes into showers of dirt and plant matter. Trees burst into flames. Even the sky fills with brightly colored blossoms of light I can’t think why the sky’s being bombed until I realize the Gamemakers are shooting off fireworks up there, while the real destruction occurs on the ground Just in case it’s not enough fun watching the obliteration of the arena and the remaining tributes. Or perhaps to illuminate our gory ends.
Will they let anyone survive? Will there be a victor of the Seventy-fifth Hunger Games?
So this is how it’s going to go out. The Games won’t continue into Mockingjay. Katniss found the weakness in the arena, thanks to Beetee and Wiress, and set into motion the destruction of the arena. Jeez, I didn’t even know this was possible and Katniss has done it.
The hovercraft materializes above me without warning. If it was quiet, and a mockingjay perched close at hand, I would have heard the jungle go silent and then the bird’s call that precedes the appearance of the Capitol’s aircraft. But my ears could never make out anything so delicate in this bombardment.
Well, a sense of futility has finally washed over me. They’ve come to take them away and they’ll probably punish Katniss by killing Peeta or Gale or someone in he family for what she’s done. Were they able to cut away in time or did all of Panem watch Katniss destroy the arena, the first to ever do so?
The claws drop from the underside until it’s directly overhead. The metal talons slide under me. I want to scream, run, smash my way out of it but I’m frozen, helpless to do anything but fervently hope I’ll die before I reach the shadowy figures awaiting me above.
It’s actually really depressing to me to think that Katniss is being raised into the hovercraft, awaiting her fate, knowing that she failed to keep Peeta safe. It’s a damning, hopeless feeling, isn’t it?
My worst fears are confirmed when the face that greets me inside the hovercraft belongs to Plutarch Heavensbee, Head Gamemaker. What a mess I have made of his beautiful Games with the clever ticking clock and the field of victors. He will suffer for his failure, probably lose his life, but not before he sees me punished. His hand reaches for me, I think to strike me, but he does something worse. With his thumb and his forefinger, he slides my eyelids shut, sentencing me to the vulnerability of darkness. They can do anything to me now and I will not see it coming.
Oh god, Plutarch is there???? Oh this is not good at all. Maybe my hope that Katniss will be ahead of the Capitol is entirely pointless now.
Ugh, so this is how this is going to end. This is all I could think, that Collins would end this on an incredibly bleak note. We move through confusing scenes of Katniss awaking in a bed, apparently being kept alive and drugged. Why are they keeping her alive? I imagine (and Katniss does too) it’s so they can later publicly humiliate and damage her for what she did in the arena.
At one point she wakes up, tied to her bed so she doesn’t rip out the tubes in her arms, and gets a brief look at the room she is in:
I’m in a large room with low ceilings and a silvery light. There are two rows of beds facing each other. I can hear the breathing of what I assume are my fellow victors. Directly across from me I see Beetee with about ten different machines hooked up to him.
Ok, wait. Why are they keeping Beetee alive? Are they keeping everyone alive to torture them later? I don’t get this. I sort of expected them to separate the remaining tributes from everyone else. Hell, now I’m wondering…will there be a public victor declared? HOW IS THIS GOING TO WORK?
Finally, Katniss wakes up, not suffering from the effects of the drugs and unrestrained, she sees that she is alone in the room besides Beetee. There, she concocts the silliest plan ever:
Since I have failed to keep him safe in life, I must find him, kill him now before the Capitol gets to choose the agonizing means of his death. I slide my legs off the table and look around for a weapon. There are a few syringes sealed in sterile plastic on a table near Beetee’s bed. Perfect. All I’ll need is air and a clear shot at one of his veins.
OKAY, DR. KEVORKIAN. First of all, shouldn’t you figure out what is going on first? I understand that the Capitol is an evil, oppressive government, but you don’t even know where you are yet. Secondly, isn’t that just a myth that you can inject air into someone’s veins like that? Thirdly, WHAT ARE YOU DOING. Where’s Sassy Gay Friend to tell her to LOOK AT HER LIFE, LOOK AT HER CHOICES.
Ok. Enough shenanigans. Time for everything to be uprooted and for my face to get punched by Suzanne Collins.
I creep down a narrow hallway to a metal door that stands slightly ajar. Somone is behind it. I take out the syringe and grip it in my hand. Flattening myself against the wall, I listen to the voices inside.
“Communications are down in Seven, Ten, and Twelve. But Eleven has control of transportation now, so there’s at least a hope of them getting some food out.”
It’s Plutarch. Clearly, he’s referring to the districts. What happened to them??? Why are communications out? Is this what the Capitol did or was it an uprising?
“No, I’m sorry. There’s no way I can get you to Four. But I’ve given special orders for her retrieval if possible. It’s the best I can do, Finnick.”
WHAT THE FUCK. WHY IS HE TALKING TO FINNICK. He is talking about…Johanna? I Johanna back in District Four? HOW DOES THIS MAKE SENSE.
“Don’t be stupid. That’s the worst thing you could do. Get her killed for sure. As long as you’re alive, they’ll keep her alive for bait,” says Haymitch.
Haymitch. Haymitch is in on it. WHAT THE FUCK
And so Katniss bursts into the room, syringe in hand, ready to fight those who have betrayed her. Instead, Haymitch calmly gets her to drop the syringe, sits her down next to Finnick, and Plutarch gives her some food.
What happens next is amazing in content, but fucking awful in execution. There is absolutely no reason I can think of for Collins to suddenly revert away from first-person present to a segment of summary that is entirely in third person. It’s jarring and we just lost a moment to experience Katniss’s head exploding at the revelation that Haymitch provides. It feels so unbelievably rushed and I don’t like it.
That being said, let us now experience this all over again.
Haymitch sits directly in front of me. “Katniss, I’m going to explain what happened. I don’t want you to ask any questions until I’m through. Do you understand?”
I DON’T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING HAYMITCH.
There was a plan to break us out of the arena from the moment the Quell was announced.
The victor tributes from 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 11 had varying degrees of knowledge about it.
Plutarch Heavensbee has been, for several years, part of an undercover group aiming to overthrow the Capitol. He made sure the wire was among the weapons.
Beetee was in charge of blowing a hole in the force field.
The bread we received in the arena was code for the time of the rescue. The district where the bread originated indicated the day. Three. The number of rolls the hour. Twenty-four.
The hovercraft belongs to District 13.
Bonnie and Twill, the women I met in the woods from 8, were right about its existence and its defense capabilities. We are currently on a very roundabout journey to District 13.
Meanwhile, most of the districts in Panem are in full-scale rebellion.
I can’t. I just can’t. I was so wrong. I was so, so, so wrong.
It is strange that all of this was acted out without Katniss’s consent and it sort of rubs me the wrong way, especially since she could have easily been killed. Right? That’s kind of weird and fucked up, but I also understand the context that she was in: had she known, would she have been tempted to say or do something and expose Plutarch and Haymitch’s plan? Plutarch confirms that he showed Katniss his watch only to tip her off to the shape/function of the arena, which suggests the arena was built without the knowledge of what the Quarter Quell would be. Does that mean Snow didn’t actually design the Quell itself?
I’m still shocked at how much everyone was involved: Johanna did not try to harm Katniss. She was merely removing the tracker out of her arm. Finnick was protecting her and Peeta out of genuine desire the entire time, not to eventually betray them.
“We had to save you because you’re the mockingjay, Katniss,” says Plutarch. “While you live, the revolution lives.”
Ah, the reluctant and unaware hero. It’s a trope we’ve seen before and I’m not entirely stoked that it appears here, but given what’s happened to Katniss for the last two books, I at least understand it’s motivation for being here. In a way, Collins has written her to be someone who isn’t always sure what she wants or what she’s fighting for and I feel that’s a lot more realistic than if she was a SUPER BADASS HERO WITH NO FLAWS.
Which leads us to heartbreak, because Katniss has experienced a whole lot of it so far:
“Where is Peeta?” I hiss at him.
“He was picked up by the Capitol along with Johanna and Enobaria,” says Haymitch. And finally he has the decency to drop his gaze.
FFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU NNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!1 what the hell WHAT THE HELL. Collins YOU PLANNED THIS CLIFFHANGER ALL ALONG FFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUU
I get Katniss’s anger at Haymitch for keeping the plan a secret, since Peeta got nabbed because of it. I don’t get this:
…I know it’s all Haymitch can do not to rip me apart, but I’m the mockingjay. I’m the mockingjay and it’s too hard keeping me alive as it is.
You’ve been the mockingjay for less than a page. Calm down.
Then they drug her (YAY DRUGGING WITHOUT CONSENT) and off she goes into a wonderful bout of depression, panic, and terror, all of which I understand. I mean…jesus, this is so horrible. Could there be anything worse than this, with Peeta in the hands of a government who would kill him at the first chance that Katniss might get him back? Her despondency is so real and frightening here and I love the urgency with which Collins conveys it.
Never prepared. I was never prepared.
“Gale,” I whisper.
“Hey, Catnip.” He reaches down and pushes a strand of hair out of my eyes. One side of his face has been burned fairly recently. His arm is in a sling, and I can see bandages under his miner’s shirt. What has happened to him? How is he even here? Something very bad has happened back home.
Man, I kind of miss Gale, at least as a character. It’s nice to see him back, but what the hell happened?
“Prim?” I gasp.
“She’s alive. So is your mother. I got them out in time,” he says.
WHAT?????? Got them out in time from what?
“After the Games, they sent in planes. Dropped firebombs.” He hesitates. “Well, you know what happened to the Hob.”
I can’t. I can’t even. What the fuck is going on.
“They’re not in District Twelve?” I repeat. As if saying it will somehow fend off the truth.
“Katniss,” Gale says softly.
I recognize that voice. It’s the same one he uses to approach wounded animals before he delivers a deathblow.
OH MY GOD. WHAT. WHAT. WHAT WHAT WHAT HAPPENED
“Don’t,” I whisper.
But Gale is not one to keep secrets from me. “Katniss, there is no District Twelve.”
FFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!
NEVER. FUCKING. PREPARED.
And because I’ve now reached the end of the second book:
Catching Fire is a flawed but much more entertaining and satisfying book than The Hunger Games and F U COLLINS for that cliffhanger.