Mark Reads ‘Catching Fire’: Chapter 8

In the eighth chapter of Catching Fire, the community of District 12 comes together to help Gale. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Catching Fire.

Obviously, things might change, since I’ve got nineteen chapters to go in this book, but this will probably be my favorite chapter in Catching Fire. If you’ll allow me to relate this to film for a moment, I’m a big fan of ensemble casts. It’s why I was drawn to shows like LOST and The Wire; I love the idea of a large number of characters interacting with each other, of the narrative being able to focus on separate people without ever returning to the first for a long while. There’s something special about a story that can pull off such a thing. I don’t necessarily think Catching Fire does that as a whole, but this chapter utilizes almost every character we’ve been introduced to, showing the roots of what will inevitably become District 12’s attempt at rebellion. It’s great how silent and subtle most of the actions are in this chapter because it’s not characters screaming, “FUCK THE CAPITOL” and ranting about. They are moving about through this horrifying situation with the thought moving out of the back of their minds. It’s as if the collective subconscious of this community has been rapidly and inexplicably ignited. Their actions from here on out are motivated by that spark, even if they aren’t saying anything.

Katniss, naturally, begins the chapter by jumping in to stop the Peacemaker from whipping Gale. Despite what he just said to her and how he treated her, she is still his friend. She demonstrates this by taking one to the cheek and risking further strikes from Gale’s punisher.

It’s here when the other people in District 12 begin to step in.

“Hold it!” a voice barks. Haymitch appears and trips over a Peacekeeper lying on the ground. It’s Darius. A huge purple lump pushes through the red hair on his forehead. He’s knocked out but still breathing. What happened? Did he try to come to Gale’s aid before I got here?

Either that or someone from another district was sent in to do this to Gale. I can’t help but feel this is entirely intentional, that President Snow ordered this on purpose. So…does that mean they were being watched? Or was it coincidental and Snow had been planning this all along?

The man rests the whip on his hip. “She interrupted the punishment of a confessed criminal.”

Everything about this man, his commanding voice, his odd accent, warns of an unknown and dangerous threat. Where has he come from? District 11? 3? From the Capitol itself?

My guess? The Capitol.

Reading Haymitch and Peeta stand up for both Katniss and Gale is a huge moment for this story and for the community they live in:

Maybe we’re it. The only three people in the district who could make a stand like this. Although it’s sure to be temporary. There will be repercussions. But at the moment, all I care about is keeping Gale alive. The new Head Peacekeeper glances over at his backup squad. With relief, I see familiar faces, old friends from the Hob. You can tell by their expressions that they’re not enjoying the show.

Intentional or not, what Haymitch, Katniss, and Peeta have done affects those around them. Someone from the Hob steps forward to bullshit some rule about how Gale’s punishment is over. It’s a small action, but to Katniss, it means everything. She spared Gale any more pain. She stood up to the Capitol, even if it was a tiny act.

That’s what this chapter is comprised of. Anyone helping Gale is doing so under the subtext of rebellion, which is something entirely new for the reader. They take Gale to Katniss’s mother, but not before an old woman sells them a board to carry Gale. Even this act is powerful and the woman is aware of it.

It’s interesting that this is the time Collins chooses to introduce us to so many new people as well. All of it is in the context of people deciding to help Gale as well, and it’s our first inkling that District 12 can use what skills they have to become a powerful, meaningful community outside of what the Capitol has made them.

We learn what happened from Bristel and Thom, who work with Gale.

Gale must’ve gone to Cray’s house, as he’s done a hundred times, knowing Cray always pays well for wild turkey. Instead he found the new Head Peacekeeper, a man they heard someone call Romulus Thread. No one knows what happened to Cray. He was buying white liquor in the Hob just this morning, apparently still in command of the district, but now he’s nowhere to be found. Thread put Gale under immediate arrest and, of course, since he was standing there holding a dead turkey, there was little Gale could say in his own defense. Word of his predicament spread quickly. He was brought to the square, forced to plead guilty to his crime, and sentenced to a whipping to be carried out immediately. By the time I showed up, he’d been lashed at least forty times. He passed out around thirty.

Holy fuck, that is terrible. I still think Snow orchestrated this, though now I believe they weren’t spied on out near the lake. I think Snow just set things up so that Gale could be caught.

At Katniss’s house, her mother immediately leaps into action. We’ve only read passages that were flashbacks about her mom doing what she does best, but here we see the determined efforts as they are happening. She largely ignores the world around her, even when Hazelle arrives to see her son.

Since Gale is regaining consciousness, they decide on an herbal concoction he can take by mouth. “That won’t be enough,” I say. There stare at me. “That won’t be enough, I know how it feels. That will barely knock out a headache.”

“We’ll combine it with sleep syrup, Katniss, and he’ll manage it. The herbs are more for the inflammation—“ my mother begins calmly.

“Just give him the medicine!” I scream at her. “Give it to him! Who are you, anyway, to decide how much pain he can stand?”

UM, WHAT. SHUSH, KATNISS. Let your mother do the job she knows how to do a million times more than you. She doesn’t, though, so Haymitch and Peeta have to carry her out of the room “while [she] shouts obscenities at her.” I get that you’re upset, Katniss, but siriusly, no. Just no. Don’t be rude!

After Katniss’s mom does all she can to help Gale, she comes into the room with Haymitch and her daughter and says something ominous after Haymitch fills her in on what happened.

“So it’s starting again?” she says. “Like before?”

I wonder if we’ll get any details about what happened during the last uprising. Instead, we do get details about the last Head Peacekeeper:

Cray would have been disliked, anyway, because of the uniform he wore, but it was his habit of luring starving young woman into his bed for money that made him an object of loathing in the district. In really bad times, the hungriest would gather at his door at nightfall, vying for the chance to earn a few coins to feed their families by selling their bodies.

Oh, gross. Fuck Cray for taking advantage of the impoverished.

They all receive a surprising visitor after this and it’s yet another sign of this community coming together.

When she opens it, there’s not a squad of Peacekeepers but a single, snow-caked figure. Madge. She holds out a small, damp cardboard box to me.

“Use these for your friend,” she says. I take the lid of the box, revealing half a dozen vials of clear liquid. “They’re my mother’s. She said I could take them. Use them, please.” She runs back into the storm before we can stop her.

Holy shit, Madge rules. Does that mean the Mayor also knows? Or did Madge and her mother do this without telling him?

Turns out that Madge brought them morphling, which I’ll guess as being a form of morphine to calm Gale’s pain. After injecting him with the stuff, everyone calms down and leaves to go off to their respective homes. Katniss gets to spend some time alone with Gale, though he’s completely knocked out by the drugs.

After a while, my fingers find his face. I touch parts of him I have never had cause to touch before. His heavy, dark eyebrows, the curve of his cheek, the line of his nose, the hollow at the base of his neck. I trace the outline of stubble on his jaw and finally work my way to his lips. Soft and full, slightly chapped. His breath warms my chilled skin.

I know this is supposed to be sweet and touching, but I have a black heart of hate and this is just creepy to me. He’s unconscious from drugs. This is seriously weird to me.

Katniss begins to doubt who she is because of what happened earlier that day and it leads to a particularly depressing passage:

Because I’m selfish. I’m a coward. I’m the kind of girl who, when she might actually be of use, would run to stay alive and leave those who couldn’t follow to suffer and die. This is the girl Gale met in the woods today.

No wonder I won the Games. No decent person ever does.

You saved Peeta, I think weakly.

But now I question even that. I knew good and well that my life back in District 12 would be unlivable if I let that boy die.

She’s being incredibly hard on herself here and it’s sad to see it. I think that conversation on the roof of the Training Center still haunts her; she’s tried to do what’s right and maintain her sense of identity, but she’s now conflicted by the thought of the Greater Good. Should she even care about herself when she can help save and free others?

It’s a fine line and I think a lot of us have had a moment like this. But I would argue that self-care and especially self-preservation aren’t bad things or bad concepts. It’s a complicated situation for Katniss right now, and I sympathize with the terror and disgust that she feels.

“I’m so sorry,” I whisper. I lean forward and kiss him.

His eyelashes flutter and he looks at me though a haze of opiates. “Hey, Catnip.”

“Hey, Gale,” I say.

“Thought you’d be gone by now,” he says.

My choices are simple. I can die like quarry in the woods or I can die here besides Gale. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to stay right here and cause all kinds of trouble.”

“Me too,” Gale says. He just manages a smile before the drugs pull him back under.

Even my black heart of hatred can admit this ending is scene is pretty awesome.


About Mark Oshiro

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

164 Responses to Mark Reads ‘Catching Fire’: Chapter 8

  1. Booksinbulk says:

    I really loved this chapter because it actually shows how so far, district 12 has been just a little bit spoiled in terms of discipline. Don’t get me wrong, they totally are oppressed and the nonsense about girls having to sell their bodies and just everything they go through is awful. But when you consider the huge electric barbed wire fence in Rue’s district and that poor man getting shot through the head, katniss and the district 12 peeps had it pretty good. They could hunt and even sell their catches to high officials. I think this chapter shows the true and daunting power of an oppressive government. I definitely took this as Snow’s way of saying “you thought what you’ve had is bad? Watch how much worse I can make things for you.” And I think it’s actually the only way katniss will get the motivation and courage to stop being an accidental/coincidental rebel and be one for real.

    • Annalebanana says:

      I totally agree. District 12 is special, and Katniss is special because of the lenient qualities of the district. The lack of Capitol appearance is why Katniss has had enough freedom to hunt and to develop skills and ideas. It is like the symbol of the mockingjay. The mockingjay only developed because the Capitol released the jabberjays into the wild, thinking they were to weak and stupid to survive. The fact that the mockingjay (Katniss, and I suppose the whole district) has been able to survive and flourish (sort of….) is incredibly significant in this book.

  2. shelly says:

    How sad is it that katness ever thought of selling her body to cray when they were starving. Reintroducing saddest sentences in the English language.

    • liliaeth says:

      I like how at no moment she considers this something that lessens the girls who do it, that instead it clearly reflects on the man taking advantage of them

      • thatonegirl says:

        THIS. And it's a good reminder that Katniss isn't the only one willing to do everything she can to help her loved ones survive. I hadn't really thought of there being other people who would want to rebel in district 12 but it sounds like there's a whole lot who have a personal investment in taking the Capitol down.

  3. Yeah, petting drugged people is creepy, no getting around it.

    I doubt that we have very long before Haymitch and Katniss's intervention bites them in the arse. Shit is going to hit the fan.

  4. liliaeth says:

    It's not just another woman from the hub who manages to stop the new head peacemaker. Purnia, like Darius is a peacemaker herself, it's probably the only reason Thread actually listened to her. Unlike Darius she was just smarter about it, and went about it the official way. I loved that Katniss did mention how most of these people aren't bad guys, they've gotten to know the people of District 12, have grown to like many of them, and they know Gale and Katniss. (hell, they've bought enough of their meat). So this must be terrifying for them as well, since they've been letting things slide for a while now and could get in trouble over all the infractions they've let pass.

  5. Trapp says:

    Secondhand embarrassment when Katniss shouted at her mother. =/

    • Yeah, I was not enjoying reading that. She treats her mother like a punching bag for a lot of her negative emotions. I don't mind Katniss anymore, but this particular character flaw of hers makes me really uncomfortable..

      • Erica says:

        Not that it's right, but I think Katniss would've yelled at anyone like that. Except for Prim, b/c Prim is perfect.

        • I agree with you. I keep assuming she's a Mary Sue, but we know so little of her personality. Do you ever wonder if inadvertantly Katniss has made her a "red shirt" because Prim has had so much done for her in terms of survival? She never learned Kat's self-reliance, and in a way I'd worry more about her surviving in the Hunger Games or just in the District because of it. I think some hard-core survival training might be in order.

          • Erica says:

            Definitely. In some ways, I think Katniss thinks of Prim as *her* child and thus she's blinded to her flaws. So since we see everything through Katniss' perspective, that might impact how objectively Prim is presented to us.

    • Andrew says:

      Yes, I imagine her mother (is Katniss' Mother's name ever mentioned?) has experienced that kind of abuse so many times before.

      • liliaeth says:

        I don't think that Katniss' mother's name has ever been mentioned, so far. Which isn't that weird, since it's her pov. I mean, the only times I think of my mom as anything other than 'mom' or 'my mother' is when I'm filling in a form that needs my parents name on it for some reason.

        • Andrew says:

          Oh yes, I don't think it matters much. I was just wondering.

          • liliaeth says:

            don't think so either, but I was just reading someone 'else's review of the triology and they were complaining about how Mrs Everdeen first name is never mentioned. While to me, I just couldn't think of a reason why it would have to be.

      • Keysmash says:

        this is a literary device to dehumanize someone. not even giving them a name makes them less of a person, only existing as a relation to others. SHe's "Katniss' Mom", nota person. Her only value is as parent to Katniss. (Has anyone read "of mice and men"? they did this w/ curley's wife, too. She was just called Curley's wife throughout the entire book, to remove the reader from empathizing with her.)

    • thatonegirl says:

      I thought it was really sad. No matter how competent her mom is now, I feel like Katniss will never trust her again with anything that's important to her.
      But I also thought some of her anger at her mom was misdirected anger at herself.

    • theanagrace says:

      I also suffer from Third-Person Embarrassment. You are not alone. The support group meets alternate Thursdays at the community centre on Elm St. We'd love for you to come, it's a good time. We sit around and drink coffee and talk about unimportant things, because if we shared embarrassing stories about ourselves, it might embarrass others. 😛
      Seriously though, that type of thing is why I can't watch Seinfeld. I feel too embarrassed for fictional characters when stuff like this happens that I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that its not real. :S

      • notemily says:

        Ha, I remember watching Seinfeld with my parents as a kid and going "HOW can you like this show? It's just people getting into horrible situations!" So, I hear you there.

  6. Puel says:


    Chapters like this are why CF is my favorite — I'm like you, Mark, I love seeing how communities band together under oppression and perform small acts of resistance. And in less academic terms, it warms the cockles of my black shriveled heart. Plus, it tells us more about the world, and even after finishing the series, I STILL want to know more about this world, so I will cling like a mofo to any scraps I get.

    Also, d'aww, Katniss is becoming a real revolutionary. Slowly. Maybe. VIVA LA RESISTANCE~ and all that.

  7. mugglemomof2 says:

    I agree that this was just an absolutely moving chapter. I adored how everyone stepped forward (as much as they could) to be supportive of Gale.

  8. clodia_risa says:

    I finally registered over here, after reading through all of HG and all of HP on the old site. I'm so excited that you're continuing on!

    I've actually not read the books myself, but am experiencing them completely fresh through your eyes. It is interesting. (Although I sadly got spoiled recently for a couple of plot points at the end of the book which I will, of course, not be relating here.)

    I also dropped by to recommend a TV show to you. If you like ensemble casts working together, I recommend you watch Babylon 5. It's not popular enough to be one that would work well for the "Mark Watches", but it is my absolute favorite show. Much of the joy of watching comes from seeing the large ensemble cast pull together (or not) and do amazing things. Also, it has a plot that makes sense.

    • Ali says:

      I would like to second the Babylon 5 thing about a MILLION TIMES. :D:D:D

      Speaking as someone who has so far loved all the shows and books Mark has loved (Harry Potter, Firefly, The X Files etc) I would LOVE to see him watch Babylon 5. Mark, I swear, you would love it!

      It's a perfect example of a show that works with a huge cast, and every character is just pitch-perfect. Babylon 5 does not have enough love, and it is the only show I have ever seen that I loved more the the X Files.

      We live for the One. We die for the One. ^^

  9. Karen says:

    I don't have much to say about this chapter other than what you other said, but I do really enjoy this chapter because all of the undertones of rebellion just gives the feeling of SHIT IS ABOUT TO GET REAL.

  10. Saber says:

    You're still not prepared. But I'm done shouting at the book, promise.

    Now that you point it out, um, yah it's a little creepy for her to be touching a drugged Gale. But I take it as her way to explore her feelings without anyone judging her.

  11. Phoebe says:

    After just reading your Twilight/ New Moon/ Eclipse blogs, which I have just started reading, this part about touching his face seems very similar. =/
    However, I do how she ends it deciding to fight.

    • Liz says:

      I have to say that when I read this series, some of the ~love triangle~ moments did remind me uncomfortably of Twilight, but (a) I think it was partially because of them both being in first person from the POV of an indecisive teenage girl and (b) I reminded myself that even with all their various faults, Katniss, Peeta, and Gale are all worlds better characters than Bella/Edward/Jacob, and their story is far less problematic on pretty much every level than Bella/Edward/Jacob's. And Collins is an exponentially better writer than Meyer (not that it's difficult to be that, lol).

    • Melissa says:

      Personally, I just think that Meyer has ruined everything romantic for me. I know that this was supposed to be platonic, but when Collins was talking about Peeta and Katniss sharing the same bed, all I could think of was Edward watching Bella sleep. Twilight get out of my head!!! I think I might need to consult an exorcist.

  12. theupsides says:

    I agree that Katniss is incredibly hard on herself. I mean, she provided for her family for years. She not only got herself out of The Hunger Games alive, but Peeta as well. And all of this by the age of 16. So, I'm quite okay with the fact that she hasn't mastered a plan for revolution yet. She's not selfish. When she cares about someone, she'll do anything to protect them (see: volunteering for Prim at the reaping, risking her life to get Peeta's medicine, getting whipped to help Gale). Maybe, because she puts it all on the line for a select few, she can't always see the bigger picture in the way Gale can. She already risks everything for those she loves. Also, she's not a coward at all. Surviving the way she has, that's brave, because it takes such determination and hard work.

  13. iolchos says:

    dude, it's so true

  14. stellaaaaakris says:

    I don't really have much to say about this chapter other than what you and others have already said. It did make me sad that Katniss questioned herself and her motives so much. I don't find what she did despicable or really self-involved at all. Nor was she truly trying to defy the Capitol at that moment (other moments in the Games, perhaps she was, but not with the berries). She was just trying to keep herself and a guy she cares about, maybe not loves, alive. Nothing wrong with that.

    Sidenote, I love Madge. I think she and Cinna are my favorite guest appearance makers. I love every scene they are in or even influence.

    Also, look at all the names we're getting! I don't think we knew this many names at any point during THG. Darius, Purnia, Thread, Bristel, Thom, Leevey…who are you? Can't say if any of them will play a part in the story but I do like that we know their names all the same.

    • BradSmith5 says:

      Yeah, choosing this moment to name and develop characters is an interesting move on Collins' part. I first thought that Katniss' plan to abandon these jokers seemed like a good idea, but now I just can't bear to see good ol' Bristel and "Sweet-talker" Prunia left behind!

      And Gale, of course, with every facial feature seared into my retinas. =/

      • Annalebanana says:

        Yeah, I agree. I think it goes to show how much Katniss has grown. In the first book she couldn't depend on anyone and she didn't trust anyone, but she has grown to rely on others more and I dunno, kind of appreciate them more? Anyway, I enjoy that she is giving us names. Now if we could only have more district information…. This is the problem with first person protaganists who already know everything that I want to know.

    • Keysmash says:

      This also serves to put a face on the people who are effected by the oppression who can't escape like Katniss can, to justify her decision at the end of the chapter for the readers.

    • Gemi says:

      We do get Darius' name really early on in the book, at least. There's a scene where she's going to sell animals in the Hob and he teases her playfully. But yes, it's really interesting, how it was handled this chapter. My whole view of the District and the people within it shifted after this chapter.

    • notemily says:

      Am I the only one who initially read Purnia as Purina, as in cat chow?

  15. Ned says:

    Team Cinna FOREVER. I cannot stand how popular a plot twist the "one girl must choose between two guys" thing is these days. It's unbearably tedious.

  16. Erica says:

    Did you just mention The Wire. aka one of the most underrated shows of ALL TIME? +1000

    I had a visceral reaction to the new Head Peacekeeper, how he splattered everyone w/ Gale's blood from the whip, how he probably would've kept going until Gale was dead. I can't imagine how much pain one has to be in to actually black out from it =/

  17. Cally_Black says:

    Fanart! These are kinda sad and gross.

    Making a Stand by RohanElf
    <img src=>

    Keep Breathing by Muchacha10
    <img src=>

    • liliaeth says:

      who keeps thumbing down these pics? they're awesome

      • Cally_Black says:

        Lol, thanks 🙂

        I'm wondering if it is because I said they are sad and gross. But…they are. Gale was just whipped and there is blood everywhere. And the last one always brings a tear to my eye and makes me sad. I still think they're great pictures, even better because of the emotions I feel when I look at them, otherwise I wouldn't have put them here.

    • Ronni says:

      The first one is amazing because you can really see how much blood there was, how much it must have hurt. I love it, even though it's sad and scary.

    • Gabbie says:

      The first is so realistic! It's morbid to say, but it's really cool/creepy how the blood laces around the tiles on the road.

  18. Gembird says:

    This chapter actually reminded me of Order of the Phoenix with the way people started to do things like using the establishment's own rules to undermine authority. You can see young people and adults working together to get rid of somebody who just walked in and thought they could rule with an iron fist, and I love that, although it does make me rage as well because I associate that sort of thing with BLOODY UMBRIDGE.

    I felt so bad for Katniss when she was questioning herself, but I think we needed to see that in order for her to have that realisation that she can be and is an inspiration to others, and that rebellion might be the right thing in this case. I don't like everything she says and does, but this was the point where I was like FUCK YES, THIS IS IT. My reaction to the end of the chapter was something like this:

    [IMG ][/IMG]

  19. shortstack930 says:

    I liked this chapter because it finally made Katniss take a look at the bigger picture. Up until now she has really only been thinking about her family and close friends (which is of course understandable) but Gale's whipping makes her realize that things in the district are only going to get worse, and she can't leave everyone to suffer. It's like she said–Katpee and Haymitch were the only ones who could make a stand and save Gale. If she had run away already, he probably would be dead. She's coming to terms with what Gale said to her in the last chapter: "you could do so much".

  20. Cally_Black says:

    This is where I decided that I didn't care who she ended up with, both are great guys who she has a connection to. And also, that's not the point of the story, who Katniss will end up with. I'm not going to elaborate much more, since tons of people have already brought up this point, but Team Katniss!

  21. syntheticjesso says:

    The part about her touching Gale's face while he's sleeping doesn't strike me as creepy because it reminds me of when my little brother was a baby/toddler. He was a screaming hellion of a child, so when he was asleep my mom would revel in the silence and just sort of watch him actually being quiet. Once she actually videotaped him for a minute or so, with the narration of "see, he actually is quiet sometimes!" or something like that.

    I think it's a similar thing with Gale. When he's awake, he's always going. Working, or hunting, or ranting about the Capitol, just always going, never just being. This is the first time she's had the chance to see him at rest and really observe him as himself, not him as The Hunter or The Hater Of The Capitol.

    Plus, she's all shaken up from the events of the day. She's not petting him sexually, it seems more like an affectionate gesture to me. It's more childlike than anything else.

    I don't know. I seem to be in the minority here, but it doesn't strike me as creepy. She's not going "Yes! He's drugged, now's my chance! BOW CHICKA BOWWOW", she's going "Oh, wow, so this is what he looks like when he's at rest. Huh."

    • Silverilly says:

      It didn't strike me as creepy either. To me it was like when you see people at the hospital with patients who are sleeping or comatose. People talk to these patients, they'll hold their hands, they'll kiss them. Katniss is scared and upset and irrational at this point and maybe she just needs to be close to Gale in this moment.

    • CINNAmon says:


  22. Elise says:

    Romulus Thread =antithesis= Remus LOOPin

    Just noticed that and it made me chuckle. I really loved what you said about this chapter. It's like after a natural disaster or crisis when the community pulls together and restores your faith in humanity. Although it's a dark thought that our world could become the HGs, it's reassuring to remember that the spirit of banding together and helping each other will still last.

  23. ilram says:

    I really want to know more about Madge.

  24. bookling says:

    I love how you're always scolding characters for being rude, Mark.

    <img src=""&gt;

    Katniss is being rude, but you know, her best friend just almost died and Katniss isn't always especially rational. It's times like this that she reminds me of Harry Potter, just going off and raging at someone even though it's uncalled for. I think she may also feel guilty for putting Gale through any emotional pain and doesn't want him to go through more physical pain than he needs to.

  25. CINNAmon says:

    Team Cinna!!
    And Katniss

    This is one of my favorite chapters as well.

  26. Amy says:

    I’ve always found this chapter a bit ridiculous. Well, not the chapter, but the scene with Katniss and Gale. “He is mine. I am his.” WTF?! I know we’ve heard about how good of friends they are, and we’ve had glimpses of it, but I just don’t believe that kind of dependence and wtfery from Katniss. She’s had a total of ten pages of interaction with him, and it’s just not believable, no matter how much we’re told how soul mate-esque they are. If there’s anything that reminds me of Twilight in this trilogy, it’s that scene/paragraph.

    • 1foxi says:

      Yep, he is mine and I am his. Twilight shit that is right there.

      • Agreed, no matter what, I found this too Twilightish. Also, I'm getting really tired of her treating her mother like garbage. People keep making excuses for her, and in the end it's sounding almost as implausible as the excuses people made for Bella mistreating Charlie, her dad. I'm sure people will be furious at me for saying it, but in this particular instance I can't like Katniss at all. Normally, I like her very well, and enjoy the story, but her mother has good reasons for being who she is too. It can't be easy to become a better person when you're treated like shit daily.

    • theupsides says:

      Yeah, I agree. It made me cringe. Generally, I think she's just feeling really guilty about the whipping, especially since it followed their fight. What better way to make herself feel better than by making these grand declarations?

    • BradSmith5 says:

      Yeah, it's a good thing that I made a New Year's resolution to never freak out about books in a brazen, over-dramatic fashion. Those lines you speak of, Amy, are most unsettling.

    • Mauve_Avenger says:

      And she got irrationally angry after Madge brought Gale the medicine. It felt like it came completely out of nowhere. I could understand it (but only very slightly) if she got angry after Haymitch implied/joked that Madge had a crush on Gale, but she was angry even before that.

      • Kripa says:

        IKR! Also, why should she be angry about Madge having a crush on Gale? I thought that possibility was sweet. Also, in the first book, Madge accidentally offended Gale, and he got angry. Maybe Madge still felt bad about that and wanted to make it up, too. EVER THINK OF THAT KATNISS?

    • Erica says:

      I think the key to that passage is context.

      In Twilight, the dependence was nauseating b/c it was based on antiquated, misogynistic ideals of what romantic love should be like. The guys are never brought to task for being possessive or controlling but instead are revered as ideals.

      With Gale and Katniss, the foundation of their relationship is a more natural (IMO) sort of dependence–they relied on each other as hunting partners and confidantes, and as Katniss noted in this chapter, they "forced each other to be brave." For years they did this and in the process became an essential part of the other's life.

      So I felt that her claiming Gale was more of a knee jerk response to the idea that anyone (male or female) could usurp Gale's position in her life, or vice versa. It's a prospect she finds an unthinkable at this point.

      In short,

    • bendemolena says:

      I believe it. Their relationship has been nothing if symbiotic, with them working together to support one another and making sure their families are at the very least fed. If it wasn't for the accident that killed both their fathers they wouldn't be doing what they do, but they don't have a choice. They were both forced to grow up very, very fast in order to survive and they've shared in the responsibility together. They vowed that if one of them is taken, that the other would make sure everyone is still cared for. They've spent enough time together to know each other rather intimately (not necessarily in a romantic context, mind) and I highly doubt that either one of them had any other relationship like that before the Games. In each other they found somewhere to be at ease, to let down that mask they have to adopt in the rest of the district. They found someone they could actually be themselves around.

    • Kripa says:

      Thank you, yes. I loved this chapter until this shit. JFC Katniss, if your and Gale's situations were reversed, I expect you to not get possessive of Gale if he does the x-crossed lovers routine with his female co-tribute. And WTF with her getting jealous of Madge? Not cool, Katniss. And why? You haven't thought of him romantically before. Why start now? Why does every platonic friendship HAVE to become sexual?

    • notemily says:

      I think the shock of seeing something so horrible done to him just inspires a fierce protective instinct and love in her. Not saying that thinking someone is "yours" means it's TRUE LOVE or whatever, but I can see why she'd go to that thought process immediately after what has happened.

  27. She almost considered it at one point.

    Had I been older when my father died, I might have been among them. Instead I learned to hunt.

  28. Mauve_Avenger says:

    On one hand, the "morphling" made me think that think that Collins should give up on naming things forever. On the other, it made me wonder if perhaps most of the Capitol's medicines aren't that much more advanced than ours, but just seem miraculous to the District 12 people because they're used to depending on herbal remedies. I'm trying to be vague about this in case the book's going to get reviewed here later, but it made me think of Giacomo's "precious ointment" that turned out to be standard drugstore antiseptic cream.

    • LadyLately says:

      Yeah, I think the morphling was the only name choice in the entire series that really threw me. The others I got used to the second time they were used, but 'morphling' still fucks with my suspension of disbelief.

    • monkeybutter says:

      To be fair, heroin and laudanum are pretty cheesy, too. Opiods = inappropriately cutesy names.

      Katniss did get that awesome burn cream, but it was very expensive. I assume that the Capitol's medicines are more advanced than ours, but the good stuff is reserved for the people who live there. Madge said her mom couldn't go to the Capitol for treatment because they would have to be invited, but I guess they're willing to send painkillers.

      • Mauve_Avenger says:

        Over-analysis time: 'Heroin' and 'opioid' do sound weird, but I think 'morphling' suffix bothers me on a more etymological level. While it used to basically just mean 'offspring/product of,' nowadays the '-ling' ending is pretty much always diminutive (gosling, changeling, fledgling), which makes it sound weird when applied to narcotics. I could understand it if 'morphling' meant 'child of morphine,' as in a morphine addict, but as the name of the drug itself it just seems strange to me.

        • monkeybutter says:

          Your over-analysis is great and I agree with everything you say.

        • MissRose99 says:

          Morphling bothered me quite a bit as well. Would have rather had it stay morphine. The suffix just….like you said doesn't work. And every time you read the word you get this moment of " is that spelled ….. Right??"

        • notemily says:

          Maybe it means "child of morphine" as in "derived from morphine"?

    • Melissa says:

      Just curious, what book are you referring to? Oh, and morphling seriously bugs me too.

  29. Lumosnox says:

    Around this point I was really getting tired of this love triangle. GALE or PEETA, GALE or PEETA, JACOB or EDWARD, who cares. Absolutely Team Cinna forever; he's my absolute favorite out of every single person in this book.

  30. warmouth says:

    Poor Gale. This is terrible. And now the Capitol is messing with the few good things in District 12. It's kinda like…

    <img src=""&gt;

    Yeah, kinda like that.

    At first I was like, I want Cray! Then I heard he as a creeper. Eww, gross.

    <img src=""&gt;

    Madge you're awesome and Katpiss, cheer up. It'll be okay

    <img src=""&gt;

    Still so not prepared. Now I gotta go watch my football team lose. *sigh*

    <img src=""&gt;

  31. bendemolena says:

    I'm going to assume that Romulus is from whatever district is in charge of making textiles/clothing/whatever. Or.. the Capital. Or maybe a transplant? Because everyone from the Capital has a Roman name, and a lot of the others from certain districts have names that reflect where they're from (Rue, Thresh, Glimmer, Gloss, etc).

  32. Treasure Cat says:

    I have had a ~thought~ and I wish to share it. A couple of times in both this book so far and in HG Mark has noted phrases that were worded hella awkwardly, things that just didnt seem to fit with the rest of the narrative. I think it would be a fair criticism of Collins' writing to say that she sometimes has fourth wall issues. I note this here because of the paragraph in which Katniss explains what happened to Gale, although not as awkwardly phrased as the other statements Mark has noticed, sounds a lot more like Katniss is a human being talking to you than the narration of a book. It's like Collins accidentally leaned on the fourth wall and made it wobble a bit. It doesnt really impact the story at all, other than making you go 'eh' for a moment, it's more of a technical critique.

  33. andreah1234 says:

    Woah, this chapter was tough. Poor Gale, it's a horrible thing to happen to a (fictional) person, and even if I dislike him, I feel really sorry for him. I didn't like Katniss reactions on this chapter, but I get them. She's seeing her best friend and maybe even more been almost whipped to death and there's nothing she can do about it, it took the help from other people in the district to help her help Gale and that makes her feel powerless. Plus, she's feeling guilty about the things that have happened because of her and because she can do nothing to stop them. Poor girl. Still that doesn't gives her the right to be rude to her mom, WHO IS ONLY TRYING TO HELP. Fuck the new Peacemaker. Fuck the old Peacemaker. Fuck the Capitol. Fuck everything. D: D: D: D:

    And the possessive thing is siriusly bringing some Twilight flashbacks." He's mine and I'm his". Creepy as hell. I want MOAR Madge. And I'm with Mark "TEAM CINNA MOTHERFUCKERS". 😀

  34. demented says:

    Catching Fire
    -It’s nice when Collins can intermix reality with fantasy, such as women being on such hard times that they would sell their bodies just to get some money to get the things they need to survive and the cruel individuals in the world that use that in their favor.
    -The romance bits of the books were always the least interesting bits to me. I can’t see Gale or Katniss as more than brother or sister. This is the sort of love I think she holds for him. While it looks like they would be a great match, and think it is a bit to obvious and chessy. Instead , I like to feel that he is more that big brother she wished she had to watch over the family after her dad was killed in the mines.
    -For some reasons the actions of the Peacekeepers remind me of the Nazis

    Love to Cinna!!

  35. knut says:

    It's ok, Mark, you don't have a black heart- the unconscious petting IS weird. It's one thing if your family member is sick and you're trying to calm them or something, but the line "I touch parts of him I have never had cause to touch before" is creepy and molester-y :/ I had a bf who liked to watch me nap and do the loving petting thing and I thought it was CREEPY AS HELL so maybe that's just me.

  36. Jessikaw says:


    ~because he channels his RAEG into FABULOSITY~

    Also, another Mark Reads recommendation — the Codex Alera by Jim Butcher. Because fighting against an oppressive system + awesome female leads + intrigue + difficult moral situations + magical pokemon = AWESOME. The above equation is trufax.

  37. Keysmash says:

    She never did, but there's a line in this chapter that says that if she'd been older when her father died, she would have ended up at his back door. She was eleven.

  38. Gabbie says:

    Mark, I'm surprised you didn't include the quote with Haymitch saying to Katniss along the lines of: "Don't worry. Used to be a lot of whippings before Cray, and she's the one we took them to." when she was weary of her mother treating Gale's wounds.
    It's such a loaded line. It's reassuring to Katniss, sure, but also implies that Haymitch and Mrs. Everdeen did this kind of stuff a lot 'back in the day.'

  39. Ella <3 says:

    Sorry, but I'm desperately in love with Gale.

  40. Kripa says:

    Loved this chapter until the "He's mine and I'm his." Oh right and her getting angry at Madge for (possibly) crushing on Gale. Get a grip Katniss. And I should hope you wouldn't act the way Gale was acting if it had been he who got chosen for the reaping and did the star crossed lovers thing with the female tribute. Jeebus.

  41. Ali says:

    I love how he always knows exactly what to do in any situation. You can really see why he must have won the games himself.

  42. gredandforge says:

    I like this chapter a lot too. It's the first time we see Katniss seeing the bigger picture and making up her mind with conviction to do something, to take action for "the greater good." Feels very noble and proactive to me. And I understand her outbursts of emotion; her friend is a slab of raw meat at this point and he's bleeding everywhere (sorry for the imagery), I'm sure I would be in hysterics too. We've all been rude to our parents before, and for lesser things. I actually like seeing her react strongly because I feel she suppresses her feelings a lot most of the time; then again, I always tend to prefer assertiveness over passivity

  43. celestineangel1 says:


  44. celinagabrielle says:

    Repeating what someone said yesterday: Team No one because they're both morons.

    Seriously. Rebellion=/=not a romantic time. GET YOUR HORMONES IN CHECK AFTER THIS IS OVER.

    Anyway, I did love this chapter, too. But this entire book has me just cringing, waiting for things to get worse and worse and worse. I can't even enjoy good moments like Madge bringing over morphling for Gale simply because all I can think is, "Oh God, I hope she doesn't get punished for that."

    But it is a wonderful chapter.

  45. Saber says:

    This whole reveiw is making me smile at how you'll react to things later on in the book. Things that most people overlook because OMG PEETA OR GALE?! is all they talk about.

    so excited!

  46. Annalebanana says:

    Well first of all, I don't really agree that Katniss was being creepy when she was touching Gale. She almost lost him, give her some slack. If my friend almost died, I would want to reassure myself that they were still there too.

    On another note, you keep commenting about how rude Katniss is to her mother, but yelling at people when someone you love is hurt is an entirely normal thing. Katniss was in shock, and she was freaking out. She wasn't being malicious or rude, she was just being human.

    Also, when Katniss claims Gale, I saw it as more of a deciding to stay with the district and rebel thing than a creepy twilight thing. Besides the fact that Katniss and Gale actually know and love (sort of) each other, Katniss was just expressing that she was wrong about wanting to leave the district and everything and maybe even everyone to survive. I think it was more sweet than creepy.

    Oh, and this post is dragging on forever, but I think even if Peeta and Gale (and sometimes Katniss) are a bit hormone crazy, the fact that Peeta and Gale are trying to have love is normal even if it is in the middle of a rebellion. In the same way that soldiers form bonds in a war, Peeta and Gale seek love as a way to get away from the horrors of the rebellion/Capitol. Such a "petty" thing as love is actually really important to them, because really, what else can they hang on too? Love is all they have left after the Capitol has taken their lives, and I don't even think the rebellion would be bearable if they didn't have such human connections. Remember, they both loved her before things got so crazy, but did they do anything? No. They need to cling to love, as petty and sappy as it is, at the moment because the rebellion is taking everything away from them.

    Hmmm… I must really love run on sentences and parentheses.

  47. Steeple says:

    Ugh, I had a dream that involved the Hunger Games. Instead of being a Dystopian Future, Panem was a country that existed in our world, and it kidnapped people to maintain its population. So I was kidnapped, never to see my friends and family again, to work in District 12.

    Also apparently I had won the Hunger Games, and was in a ceremony type thing, and I made a nice little speech, but it was too "rebellious" since it made reference to liking the other districts and the outside world. =(

    • erin says:

      I also had a Hunger Games dream! It was terrible. I'm really squeamish, so I kept trying to wound people in a way that would lead to their death but not be utterly gory, and I kept shouting "I'm sorry!" the whole time I was doing it. And then afterwards I had to watch my little brother go into another arena and I was convinced he was going to die… IT WAS SO BAD. D:

  48. I, too, feel bad for Katniss in that scene – I have a tendency to be ultra-hard on myself, so I can kind of relate, but it is sad to see someone just rip themselves up like that, picking at all these flaws and questioning their own motives. It's the product of terrible situations; they make you wonder if you're actually just a bad person and it's your fault bad things are happening. It's painful.

    I did think that scene between Gale and Katniss t the end was kind of sweet in its own way.

    The way the people of District 12 pull together is really touching to me. I like getting to re-read the books through you, as I ripped through these books at warp-speed just trying to see what would happen next. I feel like I missed a lot of these subtleties and nuances because of my desperate need to read more.

  49. theanagrace says:

    I kept getting distracted by names in this chapter, for instance, I first read Purnia's name as Purina, the dog food brand. :S And then, when Katniss finds out the new head Peacekeeper's name is Romulus Thread, all I could think about was that his name would sound way more ominous if it was Romulus Threed. (Thread is way too innocuous, but Threed sounds menacing) So that was a little distracting, lol.

    I did however, love Katniss' line at the end of the chapter; 'I'm going to stay right here and cause all kinds of trouble.' I cheered a little bit at that, and it reminded me of Cap'n Tightpants Mal Reynolds.

    So all in all, I liked this chapter. Gold Stars to Peeta and Haymitch for helping Katniss protect Gale. Gold Stars to the people of District 12 for helping out, even/especially if it could be harmful to themselves. And finally, Gold Stars to all of us for not being Spoilery McRuinEverythings to Mark and everyone who has the fortitude to read along with him.
    (I was doing so well, and then I finished both books in 16 hours. Shame on me, 😀 )

    • accio doublestuff says:

      Hah I definitely read it as Purina as well, and Romulus Threed is definitely more ominous sounding than Romulus Thread. Between that and Spoilery McRuinEverythings…i think you should be nominated to replace Collins as Chief Namer of Things in THG.

  50. Cally_Black says:

    Also, I LOVED Haymitch in this chapter. His lines are priceless:

    "Oh, excellent." His hand locks under my chin, lifting it. "She's got a photo shoot next week modeling wedding dresses. What am I supposed to tell her stylist?"

    "I don't care if she blew up the blasted Justice Building! Look at her cheek! Thank that will be camera ready in a week?" Haymitch snarls.

    "No? Well, it's about to be, my friend. The first call I make when I get home is to the Capitol," says Haymitch. "Find out who authorized you to mess up my victor's pretty little face!"

    Oh Haymitch, never change <3

  51. Saber says:

    Just a thought:

    katniss was screaming her head off when the capitol doctors were fixing (Cutting off*ahem*) Peeta's leg in THG

    So maybe the screaming-when-someone-she-loves-is-in-pain is just a Katniss thing?

  52. easilyentranced says:

    lol, I love your black heart of hatred, Mark, because it's refreshing from all the other reviews that seem to focus on the romance in this book, despite the fact that it's never been the focus. All I can really say is that I fucking loved Haymitch in this chapter and FUCK YEAH TEAM CINNA!

  53. Shanella says:

    Oh Mark, I'm so glad you like this chapter … but still … not prepared.

  54. trash_addict says:

    'but I have a black heart of hate and this is just creepy to me. He’s unconscious from drugs. This is seriously weird to me'.

    If I'm willing to shout out loud that Edward watching Bella sleep is creepy as all get-out (although, um, at least Katniss didn't have to break in), I've gotta own that this is MORE than a little weird. I'm not cool with it.

    • erin says:

      Ehh, I dunno. Edward breaks into the house of a girl he only knows in passing to eavesdrop on her sleep-talking. Katniss is sitting at the sick bed of her oldest friend, in her own house, after that friend just had a near-death experience. Even if you've got physical contact/boundary issues, it's not really comparable.

  55. Kelly L says:

    I'm going to agree with a comment I passed by on my way down to the box. I didn't find it to be creepy when Katniss was stroking Gale's face or whatever. It was something that she was doing out of affection, being completely helpless to do anything in the situation, and kind of getting a good look at him for the first time. The Games kind of took a hatchet to their friendship, but like I said on my comment on the previous chapter, even thought he's being kind of an unreasonable asshole, even though she's too busy focusing on things like STAYING ALIVE to care too much about any possible romantic connection, he still means quite a bit to her.

    Also, the part where she analyzes her motives and what a horrible person she must be, completely made my heart hurt. Poor Katniss. 🙁

  56. notemily says:

    Ensemble casts, eh?? *coughLORDOFTHERINGScough*

  57. corporatecake says:

    Dear writers of romantic storylines,

    The concept of two people belonging to each other is not romantic. In fact, it is kind of creepy, that they think of each other as objects that can be owned. A line like "He is mine. I am his." can really ruin a great chapter! I mean, it's just illogical and not at all romantic. Does that mean that, like a book, they might lend each other to a friend? That they can misplace them? And why is it that no other characters ever call them on it? Please give me romantic lead who baulks at being told "you belong to me."


    • bendemolena says:

      Idk, personally I never saw that line as romantic. It's more of the fact that they've been responsible for each others' well-being since both their fathers died and they were forced to take leadership/provider roles within their own families. And remember, they vowed that if something were to happen to one of them, the other would make sure both familes were at least acceptably taken care of. Katniss also says something about how they kept each other brave, and had to grow up extremely quickly or die, so obviously without the other they wouldn't be where they were today. The way I see it, they share(d?) a sort of symbiotic relationship that came out of that transition. I didn't see any sort of romance in that line, just expressing how bonded she was to someone very dear to her, and they both kept each other alive until very recently. Also, I feel like people forget that romance is not the central focus in this book! Sure Katniss isn't sure where her relationship with Gale stands in the present, but why does everyone in the triangle's motivations have to be seen as automatically romantic?

      Plus (and let the flames come at me bro) I feel like if Peeta had said it, or if she had said it about Peeta, it wouldn't be made into a big deal and would be seen as ~sweet and caring~ or something.

      • RainaWeather says:

        I agree with your whole comment. There are more kinds of love in this world than just romantic. Gale is her best friend. Whether romantic or not, she certainly loves him.

        And really, people don't literally mean everything they say. Saying "Gale is mine" does not mean Katniss actually thinks she has ownership over another human being. It's a figure of speech that shows the special relationship they have.

      • corporatecake says:

        I know that romance is not the central focus of the book, trust me, but this is coming off of 1) a kiss they shared, 2) Gale declaring that he loves her, 3) Katniss touching his face and then kissing him when he was unconscious. The relationship between Gale and Katniss has changed in Catching Fire and they are no longer simply best friends who are a little too co-dependent. If Katniss had said something like, "I regret letting my friendship with Gale fall apart. I can't imagine being closer to anyone than I am to Gale" I would completely agree with you, but the concept of belonging, of being someone else's, is one with heavy romantic overtones.

        (Also, I do think that if Peeta had said it more people would defend it, but I wouldn't be one of them, because I find it creepy. Maybe that's part of why I prefer Peeta/Katniss to Gale/Katniss — less creepy possessiveness, though there is certainly quite a bit of weirdness there, too.)

  58. Melissa says:

    I also think that his saying "I love you" earlier that same day probably makes the face-stroking less creepy. She definitely knows how he feels about her. I know I'd be a lot less creeped out waking up to someone I love stroking my face…

  59. Hanh says:

    I was embarrassed for Katniss in a different way. It just reminded me of all the times I've yelled at my own mom like that. I am not proud.

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