Mark Reads ‘Mockingjay’: Chapter 18

In the eighteenth chapter of Mockingjay, well….shit is getting REAL interesting, isn’t it? If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to read Mockingjay.

I feel safe saying that we’ll never see the arena again. These characters won’t have to face that again, though there will certainly be horrors to come in the final third of this book. I think it would have been just a bit too much if she’d found a way to jam it into the story. Instead, I appreciate that she draws a parallel to the Games and gives the victors an advantage over the people who have been trained for (quite possibly) years.

I’m jumping ahead of myself here, but it’s yet another small detail that makes me enjoy this book so very much. Chapter eighteen opens with Katniss throwing herself into training, as the group moves towards much more involved and realistic scenarios. They train in a space called the Block and it’s meant to imitate missions in the Capitol. At this point, we still don’t know exactly what the rebels will be doing once they reach the Capitol. But we learn that they’re all being filmed for more propos for the Capitol invasion. Meanwhile, Plutarch is busy being an insensitive asshole:

They’ve got footage of Annie getting married and Johanna hitting targets, but all of Panem is wondering about Peeta. They need to see he’s fighting for the rebels, not for Snow. And maybe if they could just get a couple of shots of the two of us, not kissing necessarily, just looking happy to be back together—

I walk away from the conversation right then. That is not going to happen.

Jesus god up in heaven, Plutarch. What is wrong with you? Oh, that’s right, YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT FEELINGS. I don’t mean that dismissively. He seriously doesn’t. At all. He has a goal in mind and that’s what he intends to achieve and people be damned! I’m not surprised. He’s from the Capitol. THIS IS WHAT HE DOES.

Katniss finally gets to her final exam just a few days before troops are meant to leave for the Capitol. Collins skips over the first three parts of the test in one sentence (SERIOUSLY, SHE TOTALLY DOES) and heads straight for the simulation exam on the Block. That’s where Katniss, while waiting for her turn, learns that each person’s test is designed with their greatest weakness in mind. Great!

The thing is (and I agree with Katniss here), as she moves through her test, I couldn’t help but think, MAN THIS IS WAY TOO EASY.

I’m within a couple of  buildings from my goal when things begin to heat up. A half dozen Peacekeepers come charging around the corner. They will outgun me, but I notice something. A drum of gasoline lying carelessly in the gutter. This is it. My test. To perceive that blowing up the drum will be the only way to achieve my mission.

So, they want to test if she’ll kill multiple people at once. Well…she survived the Hunger Games. So…really? OF COURSE SHE WILL.

Just as I step out to do it, my squadron leader, who’s been fairly useless up to this point, quickly orders me to hit the ground. Every instinct I have screams for me to ignore the voice, to pull the trigger, to blow the Peacekeepers sky-high. And suddenly, I realize what the military will think my biggest weakness is. From my first moment in the Games, when I ran for that orange backpack, to the firefight in 8, to my impulsive race across the square in 2. I cannot take orders.

Thankfully, Katniss does this time. But now I wonder if she’s actually going to do it, right? I mean, she has to be presented with this chance in the future. I don’t think Collins would include this detail and then not deal with it. You know what would be fucked up? If during battle, Katniss is ordered to do something, does it, and then it ends up being a bad decision? DO THAT, OK.

She passes her exam and runs to Command, where Boggs lets her know that she’ll be on the team of sharpshooters with Gale, Finnick, and five other strangers. I’m more interested by Plutarch’s explanation of some of the thing’s they’ll face in the Capitol.

Plutarch enters some sort of code on a keyboard, and lights begin to flash. They’re in an assortment of colors and blink at different speeds. “Each light is called a pod. It represents a different obstacle, the nature of which could be anything from a bomb to a band of mutts. Make no mistake, whatever it contains is designed to either trap or kill you. Some have been in place since the Dark Days, others developed over the years. To be honest, I created a fair number myself. This program, which one of our people absconded with when we left the Capitol, is our most recent information. They don’t know we have it. But even so, it’s likely the new pods have been activated in the last few months. This is what you will face.”

TRAPS. BOMBS. MUTTS. And this is why Collins rules: Finnick and Katniss are uniquely tuned to deal with a situation like this. It’s like another version of the Hunger Games! HOW MUCH BADASSERY ARE WE GOING TO WITNESS? Oh god, HOW EXCITING. And I really love that both Katniss and Finnick recognize that amazing advantage they have over everyone else. You can’t train people for lived experience.

Katniss makes an interesting decision here, though. After the meeting, her and Finnick decide that they aren’t going to tell the people they love what they are doing. Annie, Prim, and Katniss’s mom are going to know as little as possible. Katniss initially justifies this to Finnick by saying that the odds aren’t the same as the Games. That’s true. As she says it, “Any number of people will survive.” But it doesn’t seem so low risk that they won’t get hurt. Are they even going to tell them that they’re leaving?

Unfortunately, there’s another snag in the plan. Haymitch finds them and tells them that Johanna is in the hospital. They used her greatest weakness against her: water. They flooded the streets of the Block.

“That’s how they tortured her in the Capitol. Soaked her and then used electric shocks,” says Haymitch. “In the Block she had some kind of flashback. Panicked, didn’t know where she was. She’s back under sedition.”

Heartbroken. Johanna needs to go to the Capitol. She has to go. Could you imagine the catharsis that would provide? God, I WANTED TO SEE HER DESTROY LIKE ALL OF THE PEACEKEEPERS.

After everything that her and Johanna had been through, I really loved that Katniss took the time to leave District 13 to gather the bundle of pine needles to help comfort her. It reminds her of District 7, but more importantly, it was a sign that Katniss really respects and cares for Johanna. I’m pretty gutted that she’s not going to be heading for the Capitol, but that means there’s a better chance she’ll be alive by the time I reach the end of the book.

Suddenly, she has my wrist in an iron grip. “You have to kill him, Katniss.”

“Don’t worry.” I resist the temptation to wrench my arm free.

“Swear it. On something you care about,” she hisses.

“I swear it. On my life.” But she doesn’t let go of my arm.

“On your family’s life,” she insists.

“On my family’s life,” I repeat.

Oh man, do you think Katniss will actually go through with it? I VOTE YES. I think that I am probably messed up for wanting Snow’s death, but after all he’s done to these people, I DON’T CARE.

Squad 451 is an interesting bunch, I have to say. We only get brief flashes of their characters here, but we know that this group is much more talented than most of the soldiers who fight for the rebellion. The Leeg sisters stuck out to me the most, despite that Katniss mentions nothing about their talents.

Unfortunately, it seems like we won’t get any chance to see what they are good at. We learn from Plutarch that Squad 451 isn’t heading to battle necessarily. They’ve been chosen as the “Star Squad” to be mostly on camera.

Ok. What? Why? Plutarch says that it’s because there still is value in putting these sort of images on the screen, but I have to wonder about any ulterior motives. It doesn’t really make sense, does it? Why go through the rigorous training just to stick them far behind the battle lines? I have a feeling that Coin has something to do with it.

The next morning is when they leave for the Capitol. Katniss takes the time to say goodbye to her family, and I get the sense we won’t see them again until the end of the book. I know it’s cheesy, but I do get a kick out of Prim’s final line:

“Next time we see each other, we’ll be free of him,” says Prim firmly. Then she throws her arms around my neck. “Be careful.”

I don’t really think this is foreshadowing so much as hope. And there’s a part of me that simply wants to believe this. I’m positive that people will die and the losses will be severe, but I really do think Katniss will take down Snow and the Capitol.

I was sad that Katniss didn’t say anything to Peeta, but I understood it. I believed that we’d see Peeta again before the end of the book, maybe through news of something happening to him back on the base, but this really seemed like Katniss’s battle. She needed to fight it, and alone.

The trip to the Capitol is a long one, first by train, then by foot through the mountain tunnels up to the Capitol. The Capitol itself has large portions taken by the rebels. At least, that’s what I gathered from the description Collins gave us. Separating the rebel camp from the remaining Peacekeepers and Capitol residents are the streets lined with pods. It doesn’t seem like Katniss will be tasked with clearing out any of the pods, as Collins runs through the first three days quite rapidly.

After three days, much of Squad 451 risks deserting out of boredom. Cressida and her team take shots of us firing. They tell us we’re part of the disinformation team. If the rebels only shoot Plutarch’s pods, it will take the Capitol about two minutes to realize we have the holograph. So there’s a lot of time spent shattering things that don’t matter, to throw off the scent. Mostly we just add to the piles of rainbow glass that’s been blown off the exteriors of the candy-colored buildings.

Well, I certainly did not expect things to be so boring right from the beginning. Again, it’s nice to see Collins willing to add a bit of realism to her story, especially since she takes a risk in losing her audience. It also allows her to explore Katniss’s plan of ditching her squad eventually to go off on her own. She sets up all of the difficulties right here: Katniss has to steal a Holo. Holos only work based on a specific commander’s voice. Then, if she can even do that, she has to navigate the streets and avoid getting killed by the pods. And then…shit, Collins doesn’t even get that far. I have no idea what Katniss thinks she is going to do.

On the fourth morning, Soldier Leeg 2 hits a mislabeled pod. It doesn’t unleash a swarm of mutation gnats, which the rebels are prepared for, but shoots out a sunburts of metal darts. One finds her brain. She’s gone before the medics can reach her. Plutarch promises a speedy replacement.


The following evening, the newest member of our squad arrives. With no manacles. No guards. Strolling out of the train station with his gun swinging from the strap over his shoulder. There’s shock, confusion, resistance, but 451 is stamped on the back of Peeta’s hand in fresh ink. Boggs relieves him of his weapon and goes to make a call.


“It won’t matter,” Peeta tells the rest of us. “The president assigned me herself. She decided the propos needed some heating up.”

Maybe they do. But if Coin sent Peeta here, she’s decided something else as well. That I’m of more use to her dead than alive.

I literally cannot believe this. Peeta? WHY WOULD YOU SEND PEETA IN? Oh my god, SO MANY PLOT TWISTS. MY BRAIN CANNOT HANDLE.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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124 Responses to Mark Reads ‘Mockingjay’: Chapter 18

  1. bell_erin_a says:

    Because only a victor would see what I see so immediately. The arena. Laced with pods controlled by Gamemakers. Finnick’s fingers caress a steady red glow over a doorway. “Ladies and gentlemen…”
    His voice is quiet, but mine rings through the room. “Let the Seventy-sixth Hunger Games begin!”

    Jesus. If they’re going to the Capitol and it’s laced with traps like that, it really will be very similar to going back into the arena for the third time in three books. You are sneaky, Collins.

    “I don’t even know why you bothered to put Finnick and me through training, Plutarch,” I say.
    “Yeah, we’re already the two best-equipped soldiers you have,” Finnick adds cockily.

    Ahahaha you guys are the best! And I love that these two are so close to each other that they can quickly cover up that moment and the shock they’re both feeling. Katniss is right that they won’t want an independently-thinking, traumatized Victor on their squad, especially now that we know they see her inability to follow orders as her biggest weakness. Plus, if they let the others know how they're feeling, it would be much more likely that they would be just kept away somewhere safe (mustn't traumatize the already-traumatized Victors with combat, now!) where the cameras could just film them still doing target practice. Oh, wait.

    “Nothing,” I answer. “That’s what my mother and sister will be hearing from me.” Bad enough that we know we’re heading back into a fully equipped arena. No use dropping it on our loved ones.
    I… feel like that’s probably a bad idea, Katniss. Especially since we've gotten some Prim character development in this story! Shouldn't she know some of what will be going on?

    I watch Johanna for a moment, realize that most of her ferocity is in her abrasive attitude. Stripped of that, as she is now, there’s only a slight young woman, her wide-set eyes fighting to stay awake against the power of the drugs. Terrified of what sleep will bring.
    This is heartbreaking. Also, here we go with the sedation thing again. Johanna has been an utter badass for the last two books, and now, because of what the Capitol did to her ( D: ), we're getting a look at what's underneath. And it's sad that she doesn't have anyone she loves (can we count Katniss? Johanna and Katniss should totally be BFFs), but that even the scent of D7 makes her feel like she's home. The Capitol can go die in all of the fires made by Katniss's special bows. Meanwhile, Collins is taking the pieces of my shattered heart from the last chapter and grinding them into the floor.

    Okay, traveling, shooting things, blowing up things, boredom, Katniss scheming, someone dies, PEETA?!?. Oh. Um, well. Pretty much the only coherent thought I have regarding this plot development is that this shall get very interesting.

    • ldwy says:

      I agree. I think it's going to turn out to be a mistake to not tell her family what's going on, at least to some degree. Earlier in this book she was keeping them in the loop and it was good. I feel like this can only be bad.

    • toneDef77 says:

      Because only a victor would see what I see so immediately. The arena. Laced with pods controlled by Gamemakers. Finnick’s fingers caress a steady red glow over a doorway. “Ladies and gentlemen…”
      His voice is quiet, but mine rings through the room. “Let the Seventy-sixth Hunger Games begin!”

      This is my favorite line/exchange in the book (and that's saying a lot, given the many great lines in this book.)

  2. Andrew says:

    "It’s like another version of the Hunger Games!"

    I'm not so excited, an awful lot of people get killed in the Hunger Games. I bet there's deaths in the Capitol, too.

  3. stellaaaaakris says:

    I don't want to deal with all the Serious of this chapter at the moment, so I'm just going to talk about things I enjoyed. To start things off, the very beginning description of the Block made me think of the exam scene in Men in Black.

    And poor Gale is too pretty to be put in the thick of the action. I have a mental image of a generic aunt pinching his cheeks and making baby sounds.

    I'm really liking the dynamic between Katniss and Johanna. The potpourri ball was actually quite sweet. Having grown up on an island with the beach never more than 15 minutes away, I know I feel better when I can smell the ocean or feel sand under my feet after spending months more inland. And I've never had to survive the Games, twice. Johanna has nobody back home that she cares about but she still cares about home anyway. It provided a sense of stability, maybe even a hint of safety. Way to be perceptive, Katniss. Four points for you. This is bordering too much on the Serious, so let's move on….

    I have also decided to call Part III "Snow's Fall" or "The Fall of Snow" (geddit?) because I'm currently feeling a rather deep dislike for Snow, both the character and the climate. I'm thinking he's going to be killed one way or another, yeah?

  4. cait0716 says:

    My brain instantly went Squad 451 = Fahrenheit 451 = combustion temperature of paper = FIRE! There's going to be more fire!

    You're not prepared. Not even close.

    I'm gonna go curl up in a ball in anticipation of the endgame of this book

    • monkeybutter says:

      Yay, comment twins.

    • roxie says:

      I thought the EXACT same thing!

    • Annalebanana says:

      I was actually just going to comment about that! I was going to make some different connection though. In Fahrenheit 451, literally everything you do and think is controlled by the government, and they implement a type of "happiness" that is not really all that happy because it is just mind washing and ignorance! I drew the connection between what both the Capitol and District 13 do to their people, and also how the squad is a "fake" and only really for show. Honestly, the burning never even popped into my mind. :p

      • cait0716 says:

        Wow. I hadn't thought about all the other parallels. My brain pretty much stopped at fire. But you're right about the similar dystopian themes and the way those play out in terms of entertainment and property. Another book I'm gonna have to go re-read…

      • Moxobee says:

        Yes! I also immediately thought of Fahrenheit 451 and all its controlling of info and all-consuming television shows and MECHANICAL HOUNDS that are creepy as fuck. One of my favourite books of all time.

        If we burn, you burn with us – shit’s about to get real(er).

  5. mr.mowgli says:

    There is just so much happening. I will admit i got a little bored with the middle of this chapter but the stuff with Johanna in the beginning and Peeta and the end. CRAZY!

    Poor Johanna! She is so amazing. We learned why she freaked out in the rain, but she still went through training.
    Damn those people for putting her through that again during training. There is being prepared and there is crossing a line. They crossed that line. So sad that Johanna has nothing to call her own. The moment when Katness presents her with the gift was do damn beautiful.

    I still really want a show about Katniss, Johanna and Delly.

    Peeta seems a little better at least, but still. I HATE, HATE, HATE COIN!

  6. monkeybutter says:

    I literally cannot believe this. Peeta? WHY WOULD YOU SEND PEETA IN?

    Because Coin is terrible and is only interested in getting all the mileage she can out of Katniss? And if she dies in the process, so much the better? COIN IS AWFUL.

    I'm glad Collins had Katniss comfort Johanna; it seemed inevitable that after we got so much awesome Johanna time that something would go wrong. Poor thing. And she's one more person for whom Katniss has to fight her way to Snow to avenge.

    One more little thing that I liked: Squad 451 as in Fahrenheit 451, for another Katniss on fire reference.

    • pennylane27 says:


    • adev0tchka says:

      All the upvotes and internets for that reference.
      And…a facepalm to myself for not seeing it!
      <img src=">

    • BradSmith5 says:

      Don't you remember the part where Plutarch explains all of that? Ah, here it is:

      "What's this number on my arm? Why 451?" I ask. I recognize the individual numbers from the many district's names, but never have I seen them placed in this particular order.

      "It's part of a title from a thing called a book," he explains. "451 is the temperature at which these 'book' objects burn, and the author feared that someday these 'books' would become overshadowed by other forms of mass media. Certainly, Katniss, it is a very humorous and clever name for your squad. Oh yes, very clever."

      😉 😉

  7. Spugsy says:

    Ah I felt so sorry for Johanna, she would've been good.

  8. anamardoll says:

    I think it's fascinating that Katniss' "greatest weakness" as defined by District 13 isn't necessarily what WE would consider to be her greatest weakness.

    Of COURSE District 13 doesn't like that she won't obey orders; obeying orders is what District 13 is ABOUT. But all those instances of Katniss not obeying orders were actually instances of strength that ended up helping her. It's pretty clear by the end of THG that without the backpack she would not have survived – the sleeping bag, the water bottle, the knife (that the bag deflected) were all instrumental in her victory. And her firefight in the districts created absolutely stellar "propos footage" and helped them to finally understand how to utilize her strength as the Mockingjay.

    Indeed, it is the very fact that she doesn't follow orders that led her into this rebellion; if Katniss followed orders like a good little District 13 citizen, then Peeta would have died in the arena and she'd be a regular victor and everything would be COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

    It's fascinating to me that Coin doesn't get this, or rather doesn't WANT to. She's been happy to use Katniss' rebelliousness UP TO THIS POINT in order to declare war on the Capitol and inspire the districts to rebellion, but now Coin is drawing a line and saying "this far and no farther". Katniss is expected to step in line, to be a good little soldier who agrees with everything Coin commands, and she's not to have a single contrary thought in her head.

    I do not think this will end well. I suspect Coin feels the same way, hence her gift-wrapped assassin in the form of brain-washed Peeta. Subtle much, Coin?

    EDITED TO ADD: All of which to say, I think the "test" was less one of weakness and more one of loyalty, to test if she'll obey. If they really wanted to test Katniss' greatest weaknesses, they'd make her work together well in a team without snarking at the other people, or they'd make her choose between two options, both of which would result in the death of an innocent, wide-eyed, 10-year-old girl. Those are situations where she'd freeze up in a battle, not "will you blindly follow the orders of a demonstrably useless commander?"

    • ohheyitsalliek says:

      I totally agree! I think that some of Katniss' better moves have been when she has directly disobeyed orders, even since she has been in Thirteen.

      I know Coin isn't aware, but the entire speech in District 8 was the result of her disobeying orders from her "superiors".

      Although I think I saw a comment on an earlier review about how Coin is afraid of the power that Katniss has (that she doesn't even realize most of the time I think) and so putting her in harm's way in the name of the rebellion is an easy way to take blame from Coin while making a martyr of Katniss (and probably Peeta, Finnick, and Gale) in the process.

    • FlameRaven says:

      I think Coin is probably aware that Katniss's reluctance to follow orders can be an advantage. What Coin wants is control of that advantage: SHE wants to choose when and how Katniss acts. Coin is very much the counter to Snow (hence her name) and they are both master manipulators. Snow was very subtle and underground about building power– he used poison and blackmail to gain his position. It looks like Coin is a little more devious: she states her intentions up front, but manages to twist things by following things exactly to the letter. She promised Katniss earlier to pardon the people on her list– but only those on the list. But she only has to pardon them if D13 wins– and there was nothing in the list that would prevent her from, say, putting them in a position during the attack to get killed dramatically.

      Makes it even more interesting– Snow told Katniss "we promised not to lie to each other" and to his (minor) credit, he didn't lie to her. Whereas Coin has done pretty much nothing but lie and withhold information.

    • Hanh says:

      I wouldn't say Coin is a useless commander though definitely a manipulator (which I don't see as a necessarily bad thing), and I can also see why it's so important to get Katniss to follow orders. That's pretty much how they do it in the real military. They break you, homogenize you, and turn you into one unit. Dealing with a rogue soldier in the heat of battle can be highly destructive to the team. Katniss needs to learn to trust her superiors and their judgment calls, hence, why Haymitch got so angry when she was in District 8. So far she's gotten lucky that her misdeeds have always worked in her favor, but in real life, it doesn't work that way. They wouldn't be on her case so badly if she wasn't constantly ignoring orders.

      And if you also remember, Katniss originally meant to go for the bow and arrows, which probably would've gotten her killed. The backpack just happened to be close by. Again, luck.

  9. pennylane27 says:

    I got nothing. My mind is blank, like it would be if I actually got involved in a war. I can't get past the horror that torture inspires in me. The same happened to me when Moody explains the Unforgivable Curses. And it's horrible for D13 to make Johanna relive her torture. I don't care if you needed to test her weaknesses. If they knew what her problem was, why let her do that test in the first place? Just make her understand she's not fit for battle in a less traumatic way, would you?

    And well, I kind of expected Peeta to make an appearance sooner or later. Plutarch is obsessed with getting the best propos possible, why would he or Coin doubt in sending a potential killer machine to Katniss?


    • Hanh says:

      Well if we're going by Johanna's personality, you couldn't convince her in anything less than a traumatic way. Unfortunate but had to be done to make her see she wasn't ready for it, seeing as that scenario is highly possible. And hey, maybe they thought she had overcome it seeing as she was able to push herself to train in the rain.

  10. Integrity1584 says:

    Can we all take a moment to comtemplate Plutarch? Even though he is an insensitive jerk who reminds me of a less-endearing version of Horace Slughorn I think his character is quite interesting.

    In CF, when I saw him with the Mockingjay watch and then at the end when he is clearly aiding with the rebellion I expected him to be some kind of fantastically badass super secret spy. Yet as we continue through Mockingjay, we see that this is not the case. He became Head Gamemaker due to his creativity with torture and murder as well as his ability to do it without regret and even with enjoyment. He doesn't seem to have changed in that respect, so why is he working to try to overthrow a system that allows him to do this?

    • Integrity1584 says:

      Continuing cause it was too long:

      I just can't quite put a finger on him, which (once again) adds to the realism of these books. People aren't always easy to categorize. In most books and movies, we are able to get a general sense of somone's caracterization within a short period of time which allows you to somewhat anticipate their actions and label them as "good guys", "bad guys", "comic relief" etc. Collins' complicated characterizations and situations allow her to repeatedly blindside us with plot twists.

      • Baz says:

        You know, I kind of love Plutarch. I mean, I wouldn't want to get dinner with him or take him to a party, but he's just so interesting as a character that I can't get enough of him.

        At first I thought in CF, when he showed Katniss the Mockingjay watch, that he was just showing solidarity to what she represented since the rebellion was beginning to form. When he admitted that he meant it to be a clue about the layout of the Games, it just made me think he was on her team (especially since it seems very unlikely that he gave any other Victors that same hint).

        Throughout this, he just seems willing to do whatever it takes to win this war, and what he does best is present the best visual about it. As a Gamemaker, he's learned first hand how powerful the visuals are. Really, you have to admit he's very good at it, even though he doesn't spare much thought for anybody's feelings.

        He became Head Gamemaker due to his creativity with torture and murder as well as his ability to do it without regret and even with enjoyment. He doesn't seem to have changed in that respect, so why is he working to try to overthrow a system that allows him to do this?
        I think that, just because you're good at something, doesn't mean you agree with it. As much as he enjoyed creating the Games for entertainment, I don't think he really agreed with why they were being done (to stifle a rebellion, to remind the districts that they're inferior) or with Snow in general. As good as Plutarch is with violence, as far as we know, he's never used it the way Snow has. Even if you like the Games and the violence and slaughtering of children, I still think it would be really hard to like Snow if you knew his true colors, and I think Plutarch knew about Snow for a long time. Also, I bet he thinks he can be a better President and actually unite the districts, and if the best way to do that was to unite with Coin and D13, then that's the route he's going to take.

    • anamardoll says:

      I agree that Plutarch is a very interesting character. I will admit that the first time through the books, I didn't hate him despite his overly insensitive nature; maybe I excused it because I saw him as another "Oblivious Effie" or maybe it's because all my angry feelings were reserved for D13.

      We've seen instances of people who have bucked the Capitol because of a crisis of conscience; see also Cinna and Portia. Maybe Plutarch is a much less sensitive version of those two: he disagrees with the murder of children, but he's still completely oblivious to people's feelings.

      Alternately, this could be a power play. Snow demonstrated that "Head Gamemaker" didn't mean you were any less likely to lose your head in a pinch; it's unclear to me whether Plutarch has more safety or security as a rebel in D13.

      Neither of these two scenarios seem to fit perfectly, though; this rebellion was INCREDIBLY risky and dangerous, and it's unclear what motivated Plutarch to take this much risk. MOAR BACKSTORY NEEDED. 😀

    • I find Plutarch very interesting as well. He has good intentions, but he seems completely oblivious to the terribleness of what he does.

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        Yeah, that's a good way to put it. He's oblivious, so wrapped up in his own privilege/life that he's just…unaware.

        • Any man so immensely proud of the creativity of the deathtraps he builds to kill children doesn't not know right from wrong; he just has such different definitions of them that he cannot fathom another way of looking at the world.

          I really like Plutarch in this book. My reaction is basically, Plutarch, how are you so awesome AND ALSO WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU.

    • adeline says:

      SLUGHORN! i knew he reminded me of someone. you are completely correct my dear sir/madam.

    • Ellie says:

      This is kind of random, but I love the fact that Plutarch began as 'The Guy Who Fell Into The Punch When Katniss Shot An Arrow At The Gamemakers' in THG; he was just a totally flat "filler" character who added humour at the time when he was mentioned in what, one sentence from Katniss? and was then promptly forgotten and never given a second thought. And now, we get to see who Plutarch is and know a whole lot more about him and he is actually has a role in the story-I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but I thought it was interesting… Plutarch has come a long way… (or at least our understanding of him has)

  11. Lady X says:

    I may or may not have had a utter key-smashing spazz attack when I read that Peeta was sent by Coin. Oh and Coin?WTF! Johanna!!! That was my initial reaction. Other than ” Collins,your a amazing writer!” Or “Stop reminding of WevWill Rock You,what with your rebellion aned what-not Collins!!!!”

    • Moxobee says:

      LOL! Great, now I’m picturing Katniss as Scaramouche, Peeta as Gazza, Coin as Killer Queen and Haymitch as Pop!

  12. ldwy says:

    Training and test was interesting, but I don't have too much to say. I feel like we sort of knew she would pass? The alternative in my brain was that she didn't and would sneak to the Capitol, maybe with Johanna like they joked. It totally makes sense that rigid, all rules D13 would perceive Katniss' weakness to be an inability to follow orders. This is where she's clashed with them over and over. And while I like her free-thinking, I don't really disagree with them-from what I know, you really do have to follow orders in war, you never know who knows more than you do. Of course, now I'm expecting Katniss won't be following orders.

    Oh god, this war is going to be one big Hunger Games.
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">
    I was wondering how Collins would make her propensity for writing terribly good terrible Hunger Games scenarios appear in this book. I mean, we knew Katniss' wasn't going back to the Hunger Games, but this doesn't feel forced or anything. It makes sense. It's sort of passive fighting…you know? The Capitol is good at coming up with these atrocities, and once they're in place they can sit back and relax somewhere safe. It's very like them. But how awful for the Victors who are now going into this. I like how Plutarch, although he won't talk about it, recognizes that this is basically what he's sending Finnick and Katniss into.

    Which brings me to poor, poor Johanna! I feel so bad for her. I mean, I get D13 needing to test your weakness, so that if that's what gets thrown at you in the war, they know you'll be okay. But it all comes together now! Johanna's aversion to water because it was used to torture her. How terrible. I HATE YOU CAPITOL. And this just makes it even sadder.
    "You two should go see her. You're as close to friends as she's got," says Haymitch.
    Not only has the Capitol taken Johanna's life, and physical well-being, sanity to some degree, sense of safety…she doesn't have any friends. There's no one left she cares about. Like she said in Catching Fire. She's really only just getting to know Finnick and Katniss.
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Sad,rain,cry,Stitch">

    But at least she's got them as friends now. I love that Katniss makes her a thing to have. It's sweet that she tries to find something reminiscent of Johanna's home. When she's got nothing, having a thing from a sort of friend must mean a lot to Johanna. Everyone needs friends.
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Pooh,Piglet,hug">

    Okay, I'm sorry. Leeg 1 and Leeg 2? In my mind they are Thing 1 and Thing 2. And nothing else. This is what they look like in my head.
    <img src="; border="0">

    Awful that the "special squad" is going to be just for show, essentially. They're some of the people who have the most to fight for! But I have a feeling Katniss will somehow break off and do her thing like she promised Johanna.

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

    • jennywildcat says:

      The Leeg sisters will forever in my mind have blue hair.

    • Wakfi says:

      Oh, good, I'm not the only one who saw them as Thing 1 and Thing 2! I'm not crazy!

      • ldwy says:

        Oh, certainly not crazy. I mean, it's horrifying to have two sisters introduced in a chapter and have one dead by the end, but that doesn't change it. They are Thing 1 and Thing 2 forever.

    • Saber says:

      She's really only just getting to know Finnick and Katniss.

      I'd disagree with this. She knew Finnick for years. They were both younger victors, so I guess they ended up hanging out. And he's probably the only one who'll put up with her.

    • liliaeth says:

      I think what makes the test interesting wasn't that 13 would see Katniss inability to follow orders as a weakness. But that Katniss herself recognized that they would do so and that she in return was able to let herself follow an order so she could pass.

  13. shortstack930 says:

    Poor Johanna 🙁

    And Plutarch is seriously like the worst type of person.

  14. theupsides says:

    Alice Pieszecki is the best part of this review. I APPROVE.

  15. It must really suck to live in the Capitol. "All right, time to go out in my pajamas and get some Honey Nut, hope I don't get SHOT IN THE BRAIN WITH METAL DARTS."

    • FlameRaven says:

      It sounded like the Capitol citizens had been evacuated, and this was a special defense grid that had been activated. They aren't gonna have the death traps on all the time.

  16. lisra says:

    And this is another bit of the many why I don't like Coin.

  17. HoopyFreud says:

    asdfk I have caught up with you. I started reading your reviews about a week ago (YOU ARE SO AWESOME BY THE WAY. YOU DESERVE ALL THE THINGS.) and you have seriously caused me to have laughing fits for MINUTES AT A TIME. TRUFAX. Also, this may be one of the coolest books ever I am now debating buying the series.

  18. mugglemomof2 says:

    Coin is up there with Snow at this point! You can't trust them at all!
    Anxiety on what is to come!!!!!!!!!

  19. FlameRaven says:

    Wow. We're heading into the Capitol already. It seems so soon!

    I do love this section of the book. We finally get into some action but it's no longer the scripted violence of the Games; it's more random and even more dangerous. And of course, now we've got Peeta and Gale and Katniss all together, but Katniss can't really depend on either of them, can she? Gale's motives have been called into question, and she doesn't have Peeta's support at all. The dynamic of the group suddenly becomes a lot more interesting.

    You are so not prepared. 😀

  20. Pk9 says:

    I'm gonna pat myself on the back here. Before MJ came out, one of the theories I read was that in keeping with the pattern of the previous books, there would be a return to the arena of some sort. I commented that I thought if that was the case, the Capitol might BE the arena. Booyeah!

    No idea what’s going on with Peeta. I’m pretty sure Peeta killing Katniss would be very bad for morale. But the Games just wouldn’t be complete without Peeta and Katniss in the arena!

    What did you all think of the section where Katniss talks about herself in the third person? I thought that was jarring from a narrative perspective.

    • ldwy says:

      I agree, that section really made me pause and pulled me out of the narrative.

    • monkeybutter says:

      She's done it before, and like the last time, I think she's being sardonic about Plutarch talking about her as if she wasn't present, and seeing only her commercial value and ignoring any personal feelings she might have about the situation. It could also be an acknowledgment that what Katniss shows on the surface is very different from what she's thinking, and that the rest of them are stupid not to see it. Sarcasm from Katniss just isn't that jarring to me; the sudden quick pace of the story once they get into the Capitol, especially Leeg 1 being introduced and killed within a few paragraphs, bothers me a lot more than Katniss's narrative oddity.

      • ldwy says:

        I agree with your interpretation of what Katniss as our narrator meant by it, and sarcasm is totally in character. But it did make me pause in my reading.

        I totally agree with you about Leeg 1, though. She was introduced and killed off in the same chapter!

      • Mauve_Avenger says:

        Yeah, third person was used when Katniss was in the arena with Beetee saying something like "I think what Katniss means is…"

        I mentioned it at the time, because it made much less sense for her to be sarcastic there than it does right now with Plutarch. Here it seemed pretty natural to me, though I think it would've been nice if Collins had used some italics in that sentence.

    • liliaeth says:

      I loved it, it seems very much like something I'd do in my head*g*

  21. RainaWeather says:

    Remember when Katniss said that people in district 7 must not bathe? And it was all funny and shit? And now we find out that Johanna has most likely been avoiding bathing because she's afriad of being immersed in water.

    • Puel says:

      Collins is really, really good at presenting characters who are acting a little off or gross, giving you enough space to get your judge on, and then making you feel like a total tool for judging them at all after she punches you in the stomach with MOAR HORRIBLE BACKSTORY.

      Seriously, did President Snow make Nice Things illegal in Panem?

    • Annalebanana says:

      And also how upset she was when she found out it was raining? This is literally freaking depressing. Why is everything so depressing? All of the characters have such tragic lives! Suzanne Collins, you are so amazing!

    • Mauve_Avenger says:

      I think my reaction to Katniss's comment on Johanna's fingernails ranged from a) disbelief that it was something Katniss would actually notice and think to remark on (especially given the circumstances) to b) "WTF, Katniss, she's giving you a pretty vital status update on your mentally ill sort-of-used-to-be friend and you're commenting on the state of her fingernails? Pretty sure you come from a district that's covered in coal dust. Also: way to stereotype, jerk."

      b) doesn't really affect the way I thought of the big reveal (given how I tend to think of Katniss as That Sort of Person anyway), but a) kind damped the satisfaction the reveal should've given. Instead of being "Katniss noticed something unusual about Johanna that turned out to be interesting," to me it felt like "Collins had Katniss notice something unusual about Johanna that turned out to be interesting."

      Then again, that could just be me and my increasing inability to see this book on anything but a meta level. It kinda feels like pretty much everyone else is commenting on the marionettes they're watching, but pretty much the only things I can see are the strings leading up to the puppeteer.


      • RainaWeather says:

        I know what you mean. A lot of things in the books I could see coming, but the comment about Johanna seemed like something Katniss would say so I didn't think too much about it. And I guess it didn't seem too strange that Johanna would skip a few baths.

  22. It really is amazing at how much Collins can cram into one chapter, isn't it? Part of me feels this was a bit rushed, but another part feels it's smart because no one really cares about the training part and it helps build a sense of urgency and you start thinking "wow, this is really it, isn't it?"

  23. theresa1128429 says:

    Assign Peeta to squad 451? or any squad at all for that matter? SCREW YOU COIN!!!
    And it was sweet of Katniss to bring my wifey a gift, but I have a better one…
    <img src=""&gt;

  24. Shanella says:

    Mark .. Mark … your banner is correct. You are not prepared.

  25. Brown JamieLeeCurtis says:

    Basically, when I discovered that Peeta was now Evil!Peeta, and then I discovered he was freaking COMING TO THE CAPITOL it was like my dreams of saucy!Peenis interaction had been replaced with the REALITY of angry!Peenis. And thus it reminded me of Troy, whose own dreams had been crushed. (SET PHASERS TO LOVE ME)[youtube UajEx7iU9-M youtube]

  26. Kaci says:

    Anything I say will be spoilery except that I, too, am sad Johanna couldn't come with 451.

  27. MadarFoxfire says:

    It was around this point where I just started going WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUCK over and over.

  28. tchemgrrl says:

    Oy. Way to turn a squad of awesome sharpshooters into nothing but a photo op, 13. Also, I just now saw Squad 451 in print (I've been listening to the book on tape) and noticed yet another fire reference. Squad better be burning that shit up.

    I think this was from the last chapter, but did the mention of how 13's getting food supplies in from other districts so soon after the talk about Bread and Circuses rub anyone else the wrong way? Is 13 just turning into the new Capitol? They haven't been inspiring much confidence otherwise, and hearing about presumably bombed-to-heck districts sending presumably much-needed food didn't help.

    • Mauve_Avenger says:

      It was in the last chapter. Greasy Sae mentioned (right before Peeta showed up, if I remember correctly) that the first shipment of food (beef from District 10) came in, which is why they were having beef stew.

      It didn't seem troublesome to me, because it'd be pretty necessary for food from one district to get sent to the others (because of the way industries are divided by district and the fact that some districts would be more damaged/needy than others), and there was no indication that the food was only getting shipped to District 13.

      Then again, there was no indication that it wasn't only getting shipped to District 13, either.

  29. Baz says:

    But if Coin sent Peeta here, she’s decided something else as well. That I’m of more use to her dead than alive.

    This is SO fucked up to me. I've had my suspicious about Coin ever since we first got to 13, but I sort of though it was just because I am absolutely terrified and against that sort of rigid conformity. I know she's never been great, but she's the President of a rebellion and presidents have to make really fucked up decisions sometimes that aren't always popular, but ultimately, they do what they think they should for the good of their people (that's me being idealistic, btw). I had some respect for Coin for being able to keep 13 afloat for however long she's been in charge and to be a decent rallying point for the rebellion. But this. This. Shivers down my spine and twitches of anger. At this point, everybody knows what Peeta has been brainwashed into doing. It's so obvious that he's unstable, possibly (probably?) to the point that he won't be able to take orders, so what good will he actually be to Squad 451? None, unless killing Katniss counts as good. I do not like where this is going AT ALL. I think this is as bad as something Snow would do. Coin is setting Katniss up to die while keeping her hands clean. Peeta is her poison, which is so much neater because she won't have to take any of the blame. FFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. Hotaru-hime says:

    This whole chapter gets blown to hell at the end with Peeta's appearance. It's concerning because of Coin's motive behind it. It feels like Coin is really setting herself up to be the next Snow, albeit a less decadent Snow.

  31. Harriet says:

    I remember reading the death of solider Leeg like OH SHIT I can't believe Collins killed her that quick and bluntly. Then Plutarchs comment about finding a replacement just left speechless (in my mind, I wasn't reading aloud) as I realised that the whole team is replaceable apart from Katniss because she is the Mockingjay. NO GALE! (Team Peeta but still … )
    However then she throws Peeta into the team which lead to another HOLY GJS'HS;GIEAGLH moment. NO KATNISS. It felt like Collins had took all my predictions for the book and went
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">
    On a completely unrelated side note I just have to share this song with you because Adele is so amazing and I'm not completely sure if she is well known in other countries. If you find a way to relate it to the trilogy for me that would be fantastic.
    [youtube qemWRToNYJY youtube]

  32. vampira2468 says:

    Love all the twists and turns

  33. Annalebanana says:

    First of all, I find it amazing on Collin's part, but all together depressing that they are going to be thrown into yet another "hunger games." It seems like no matter what they do, they will always just be a piece in someone else's games, twisted to their will and forced to "prove" that they are worthy to live. Sad faces forever.

    Second, when Johanna did not accept Katniss swearing on her own life and forced her to swear on her family's life, that was really powerful to me. People always accuse her of being selfish, but really all she does is to protect the people she cares most about. She doesn't even care about herself, and she would gladly give away her own life if it could only mean that everyone she cares about would be safe. We see this a lot in the books, like in volunteering for Prim, and wanting to run away with the people she cared about, and even now in going somewhere she probably thinks deep down is going to kill her in order to make everyone else safe. Katniss is probably the most caring person in these books, in my opinion. Peeta only cares about Katniss (well, he used to. Now he probably doesn't care about anyone) and Gale only cares about those who are on his side. GO TEAM KATNISS!

  34. Johnnemann says:

    There was a little throwaway line in this chapter, something about how they're no longer making her the Mockingjay, but just a regular soldier – they want to minimize her importance and also show that she's under District 13's command. (Similarly with the whole "taking orders" test, and maybe even making her jump through hoops to fight at all).

    It really stuck with me because I can't help but wonder whether they're worried about Katniss becoming a post-revolutionary leader, in competition with Coin and the way 13 wants to run things. There hasn't really been any discussion of the post-overthrow goals (at least not that Katniss or the reader has been privy to), and I wonder if they envision a new dictatorship, with 13 essentially taking the place of the Capitol. It's a pretty fascist place, and I can't see Coin transitioning to a happy anarchist commune after the fall of Snow (hah).

    It would be pretty awesome if Katniss came into her own as a fighter for freedom and democracy against first Snow then Coin, although I don't see it meshing with her personality at all. But now I am irresponsibly speculating based on a single line!

  35. Phoebe says:

    AAAHHHHHHHH the battle begins!!!!!!!!!!!!!! yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  36. Saber says:

    Love the pic! And yes, I think Must Have The Saddest Life Ever is a requirement for Victors.

  37. Mauve_Avenger says:

    I do think that they were probably friends, but I tend to wonder how much of Finnick's excitement over finding Johanna on the beach had to do with progress in Plutarch's plan, rather than just wanting to see her.

  38. nanodragora says:

    At the risk of spoiling the opportunity for a well thought-out reaction, as well as my reputation, I'm going to have to relate to you my immediate thoughts upon reading this review:


    Thank you for your time.

  39. adeline says:

    el dorado picture? A+.

  40. Jen says:

    There are so many points where I have the perfect website link. I might as well attach it now before I forget:

  41. Silverilly says:

    I think with that single incident Collins actually ripped my heart to shreds. Like, there are little heart pieces floating around my body right now, searching for a needle or something to SEW THEM BACK TOGETHER. I suspected something when she was so afraid of the rain, but . . . God. For me, the most upsetting part of the entire series so far.

    I think that I am probably messed up for wanting Snow’s death, but after all he’s done to these people, I DON’T CARE.
    Whoops. Sorry pacifism.

    Anyway, the Coin thing is really starting to fill me with a dread that can only be described through the music of The Who:

  42. eeshannon says:

    I was listening to the song "New Divide" by Linkin Park today, and to me it completely fits Katniss and Peeta's situation right now.
    The lyrics that really stood out to me, the ones that I feel esemble the book most are:

    I remembered black skies
    The lightning all around me
    I remembered each flash
    As time began to blur
    Like a startling sign
    That fate had finally found me

    So give me reason
    To prove me wrong
    To wash this memory clean

    Let it fill up to reach the truth and lies
    Across this new divide

    There was nothing inside
    But memories left abandoned
    There was no where to hide
    The ashes fell like snow
    And the ground caved in
    Between where we were standing

    And every loss and every lie
    And every truth that you deny
    And each regret and each goodbye
    Was a mistake too great to hide

    Is it just me or does anyone else think they mirror each other well? I'd like to hear some other people's views on this (:

  43. Simone says:

    I gotta say, I'm kind of surprised. Granted, I never *really* liked Plutarch, but I didn't hate him. And I don't get why everyone's talking about him enjoying other's suffering. I guess as a Gamemaker, it's pretty safe to assume that, but still. We never see any sadistic nature in him. And yes, he is extremely inconsiderate, but… I don't know. He did give up his cushy life in the Capitol for the rebellion. He risked everything he had for them. So, I never hated him.

    The same went for Coin, in the beginning. (Don't kill me yet.) Continued…

  44. theanagrace says:

    This is Mark, trying to hang on as shit gets more and more real.
    <img src=""&gt;

    Apparently, Mark is an adorable hamster, which makes my mental picture of him keysmashing so much more amusing.

  45. dani says:

    oh man i remember reading this and it just… D:

  46. iolchos says:

    AM I THE ONLY PERSON WHO THINKS THAT PLUTARCH IS HILARIOUS? I want to hi-five him like every five seconds. And most of the evil Capitol masterminds, actually, and Coin. Considering how AWFUL this book is the only real comic relief I can get is by laughing at how wretched it becomes. ENDLESS AMUSEMENT FUNTIMES ENSUE.

    So. Coin, Snow, and Plutarch need to have a tea party. This needs to happen yesterday. Snow will provide the flowers, Plutarch will provide the overdecorated biscuits and Coin will 'forget' to buy sugar for the tea (which will actually just be boiled water, no leaves) because THAT'S HOW THEY ROLL IN DISTRICT 13. But it's ok because Plutarch carries coffee packets in his shoes like they're secret rebel missives or some shit. And they can pow-wow on how to make Katniss's life miserable. And after he gets all of these ideas written down, Snow will poison the others. Why am I still talking.

    bus pass on highway to hell? yes I have it

  47. dolfairy173 says:

    Lots of people took the Squad 451 to mean another "on fire" reference, but I just thought it was a nod to another awesome anti-oppressive government book. I guess there are multiple levels of awesome to it 🙂

  48. Howlynn says:

    And just bombing the place from the safe sky in the invisible hovermobiles would be bad because — oh yeah Haymitch might want to drive and they could die of old age before getting there???? Bombs! Love them…..look at the big holes they make.

  49. ALynnJ42 says:

    Mark didn't mention this in the review but remember when Katniss put "The Pearl" in her pocket to prepare for battle? Like everyone who's mentioned it, I agree that it's totally a Chekov's gun. I either think that now that Peeta's with 451, he's gonna see it and all of his good memories are gonna flood back and/or when they get married the pearl is going to be the stone in her wedding ring (if rings are still part of the wedding tradition in Panem). Just to let everyone know, I have not finished Mockingjay so if these are correct theories I didn't mean for them to be spoilers.

  50. Hanh says:

    Guys, Leeg 2 was the one who died, although, they're both practically identical so guess it doesn't really matter.

  51. Hanh says:

    What? When did Finnick train and qualify for the battle? And as bad an idea as it is to have Peeta there, I'd say new Peeta seems much more suited to war combat than old Peeta. You just gotta hope he doesn't go berserk and start killing all the rebels, starting with Katniss. I'm curious how this dynamic will work out. I understand why Collins chose to leave Johanna out of the battle. That is too much badassery and simply not a fair fight.

    "It's your own fault for being so camera-ready," I tell Gale.
    And now Finnick strips down to his underwear right? RIGHT?

    I swear if that pearl is a Chekov's gun, I'm gonna punch something. It's just too much of a cop out to me.

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