In the fifth chapter of Mockingjay, we learn just how painful this is all going to be. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Mockingjay.
You know, I enjoy the multiple parallels Collins is drawing between these books and what’s happening now. What I don’t like is that Collins feels the need to spell them out for me. It reminds me of the first few Harry Potter novels, when Rowling summarized a lot of what had happened in the previous books. I mean, I’m not saying I have some sort of prophetic, intellectually-perfect mind. LET THESE REVIEWS ACT AS EVIDENCE OF HOW MUCH I MISS THE FIRST TIME AROUND. But this first paragraph is a bit too obvious for me.
Speaking of parallels, this is yet another long scene of Katniss being worked over for a public display. How she can stand this is a testament to her patience, because I certainly breezed through this section. It was interesting to see two parts of the trio without makeup or adornments in the way I was accustomed to, but Venia’s defense of Katniss was more important to me:
“Katniss is not going to hurt us,” she says quietly but firmly to Octavia. “Katniss did not even know we were here. Things will be better now.” Octavia gives a slight nod but doesn’t dare look me in the eye.
Well, it explains why they were so frightened by Katniss in the first place. It seems they believed she was responsible for their kidnapping, probably as an act of revenge.
Now I have a lumpy, jagged scar that ripples out over a space the size of an apple. Usually, my sleeve covers it, but the way Cinna’s Mockingjay costume is designed, the sleeves stop just above the elbow. It’s such a concern that Fulvia and Plutarch are called in to discuss it. I swear, the sight of it triggers Fulvia’s gag reflex. For someone who works with a Gamemaker, she’s awfully sensitive. But I guess she’s used to seeing unpleasant things only on a screen.
OK, GUYS. SERIOUSLY. MOVE ON. IT’S A SCAR. Isn’t she supposed to look gritty and grimy? I don’t get these people. Yet despite this, Katniss still agrees to accompany them to the dining hall, knowing the rest of the district is not going to be nice to them. They’re not, by the way.
The covert glances and quiet murmurs I usually evoke are nothing compared to the reaction brought on by the sight of my bizarre-looking prep team. The gaping mouths, the finger pointing, the exclamations.
UGH. Look, ok, they are weird and they’re from the EVIL OPPRESSOR ZONE. I understand this. BUT SHUT UP. Man, District 13 annoys me the more I learn about them.
It was nice, however, to spend some time with Gale and his family, since the vast majority of what we’ve even heard about them is through Katniss. Posy, Gale’s five-year-old sister, is the one who openly speaks to the trio. After asking if Octavia is sick because of her green skin, Katniss explains that it’s a fashion choice.
“It’s meant to be pretty,” whispers Octavia, and I can see the tears threatening to spill over her lashes.
Posy considers this and says matter-of-factly,” I think you’d be pretty in any color.
DOESN’T IT MAKE YOU WANT TO SOB FOREVER
UGH POSY FOR PRESIDENT. I’ve elected like half of this novel to be president, haven’t I?
Let’s get to some awe-inspiring badassery of the billionth degree, shall we? Since agreeing to be the Mockingjay, Katniss and Gale are now supposed to take Special Defense training deep below the surface. Beetee is apparently the one who’s supposed to start things off and I would be lying if I didn’t admit how excited I was to see him. I’m curious to know how he’s doing after all that happened in the arena.
When we ask for Beetee, we’re directed through the maze until we reach an enormous plate-glass window. Inside is the first beautiful thing I’ve seen in the District 13 compound: a replication of a meadow, filled with real trees and flowering plants, and alive with hummingbirds. Beetee sits motionless in a wheelcheer at the center of the meadow, watching a spring-green bird hover in midair as it sips nectar from a large orange blossom. His eyes follow the bird as it darts away, and he catches sight of us.
UM. OK. SO. BASICALLY MY FACE IS THIS RIGHT NOW.
These movies better do well because I NEED TO SEE THIS ON THE SCREEN. BASICALLY. HOLY SHIT.
Beetee explains that District 13 built this area in order to study hummingbirds, to examine the dynamics of their wings, though I suspect there’s also something immensely therapeutic in that place for Beetee. Bless his heart.
Though, Collins does take a moment to remind us of Beetee’s past:
I remember something I don’t like to think about. In preparation for the Quell, I saw a tape where Betee, who was still a boy, connected two wires that electrouted a pack of kids who were hunting him. The convulsing bodies, the grotesque expressions. Beetee, in the moments that led up to his victory in those long-ago Hunger Games, watched the others die. Not his fault. Only self-defense. We were all acting only in self-defense….
YEAH, YOU CAN’T MAKE ME HATE BEETEE, COLLINS. The dude rules. Still, it’s pretty distressing that these people will always have these thoughts running throughout their heads for the rest of their lives.
ANYWAY. MOVING ON. How weird was this bit?
“How’s Finnick doing?”
“He’s…he’s having concentration problems,” I answer. I don’t want to say he had a complete mental meltdown.
“Concentration problems, eh?” Beetee smiles grimly. “If you knew what Finnick’s been through the last few years, you’d know how remarkable it is he’s still with us at all. Tell him I’ve been working on a new trident for him, though, will you?”
I’m sorry, WHAT. WHAT. Oh, Collins, why do you have to drop such intriguing bits of information and then WAIT SO LONG TO COMPLETE THEM?
After a most ridiculous display of DOUBLE BOUTS OF SECURITY MEASURES, which…hold on. This line is brilliant and I can’t skip over it:
At the door of the armory, we encounter a second round of identification checks—as if my DNA might have changed in the time it took to walk twenty yards down the hallway—and are finally allowed to enter the weapons collection.
OH, KATNISS. You are a regular comedienne! PLZ QUIT YOUR DAY JOB.
Weapons! Lots of them! Everywhere! The armory is straight-up a chest of war: firearms, bows, launchers, ARMORED VEHICLES AND SHIT. YEAH.
Of course, Katniss is drawn to the archery section, where she sees some of the most complex bows imaginable. While Gale gets used to carrying a bow (Beetee says it would be more appropriate if he also carried one alongside Katniss), Beetee disappears to go fetch a very specific weapon for Katniss. He returns with that weapon and NEVER PREPARED.
Inside the case, on a bed of crushed maroon velvet, lies a stunning black bow. “Oh,” I whisper in admiration. I lift it carefully into the air to admire the exquisite balance, the elegant design, and the curve of the limbs that somehow suggests the wings of a bird extended in flight. There’s something else. I have to hold very still to make sure I’m not imagining it. No, the bow is alive in my hands. I press it against my cheek and feel the slight hum travel through the bones of my face. “What’s it doing? I ask.
“Saying hello,” explains Beetee with a grin. “It heard your voice.”
BEETEE, MAKE ALL THINGS FOREVER. Holy god, HOW IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE.
“You see, they wanted me to design a bow based purely on looks. As part of your costume, you know? But I kept thinking, What a waste. I mean, what if you do need it sometime? As more than a fashion accessory? So I left the outside simple, and left the inside to my imagination. Best explained in practice, though. Want to try those out?”
Beetee, I love you. I seriously do. You are a genius and you do wonderfully nice things for people. Oh, and he designed a bow that can shoot accurately over one hundred yards, and uses multicolored bows for various uses: sharpness, incendiary, explosive (!!!). Oh, and it’s all controlled by Katniss’s voice. Oh, and this will totally save her life later and I don’t care about how convenient it is because BEETEE YOU ARE THE BEST.
It seems Collins rushes through the next scene, as Katniss leaves Beetee and Gale and goes off to prepare for her first shoot on a soundstage, where they’ll be making the first video to be broadcasted to Panem. After being all dolled up in her outfit and made to look grimy enough to look gritty but not disgusting, Katniss makes her attempt at the single slogan they want her to repeat.
“People of Panem, we fight, we dare, we end our hunger for justice!”
Yes. It’s awful. Completely awful. I’m not even sure it makes grammatical sense. But Katniss gives a good ol’ try anway.
There’s dead silence on the set. It goes on. And on.
Finally, the intercom crackles and Haymitch’s acerbic laugh fills the studio. He contains himself just long enough to say, “And that, my friends, is how a revolution dies.”
OH MY GOD HAYMITCH!!!! <3333333333333333333