Mark Reads ‘The Hunger Games’: Chapter 25

In the twenty-fifth chapter of The Hunger Games, there are few things in the world as fucked up as this. Seriously. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hunger Games.

I give up. I can’t handle this.

Muttations. No question about it. I’ve never seen these mutts, but they’re no natural-born animals. They resemble huge wolves, but what wolf lands and then balances easily on its hind legs? What wolf waves the rest of the pack forward with its front paw as though it had a wrist? These things I can see at a distance. Up close, I’m sure their more menacing attributes will be revealed.

Yeah, could they not. Like…yeah I don’t want to see these things at all.

Gamemakers, you are winning. I would seriously be dead already, but if not, I would definitely die right now.

My hands have just landed on the metal at the pointed tail of the Cornucopia when I remember I’m part of a team. He’s about fifteen yards behind me, hobbling as fast as he can, but the mutts are closing in on him fast.

I totally get that Katniss freaks out and runs immediately. WHICH OF US WOULDN’T DO THE SAME THING. I still laughed, though, when she was like, “OH OOPS MY PARTNER.” Best teammate ever, right right right?

Cato lies on his side at the very top of the horn, twenty feet above the ground, gasping to catch his breath as he gags over the edge. Now’s my chance to finish him off. I stop midway up the horn and load another arrow, but just as I’m about to let it fly, I hear Peeta cry out. I twist around and see he’s just reached the tail, and the mutts are right on his heels.

GOD DAMN IT. I WANTED CATO TO BE MURDERED. Mostly just so this can be over with because WHY IS THIS SO STRESSFUL. Oh my god.

Peeta starts up hampered by not only the leg but the knife in his hand. I shoot my arrow down the throat of the first mutt that places its paws on the metal. As it dies the creature lashes out, inadvertently opening gashes on a few of its companions. That’s when I get a look at the claws. For inches and clearly razor-sharp.

This is definitely the most frightening thing Collins created. I am in awe at this. You were all right. Was not at all prepared.

The mutts are beginning to assemble. As they join together, they raise up again to stand easily on their back legs giving them an eerily human quality. Each has a thick coat, some with fur that is straight and sleek, others curly, and the colors vary from jet black to what I can only describe as blond. There’s something else about them, something that makes the hair rise up on the back of my neck, but I can’t put my finger on it.

Might it be the fact that THESE MUTATED WOLVES ARE ASSEMBLING. That is what does it for me. So I take it back: This is now the most awful thing Collins has ever created.

For a moment it hangs there, and in that moment I realize what else unsettled me about the mutts. The green eyes glowering at me are unlike any dog or wolf, any canine I’ve ever seen. They are unmistakably human. And that revelation has barely registered when I notice the collar with the number 1 inlaid with jewels and the whole horrible thing hits me. The blonde hair, the green eyes, the number…it’s Glimmer.



The small one with the red coat and amber eyes…Foxface! And there, the ashen hair and hazel eyes of the boy from District 9 who died as we struggled for the backpack! And worst of all, the smallest mutt, with dark glossy fur, huge brown eyes and a collar that reads 11 in woven straw. Teeth bared in hatred. Rue…

I revoke my last statement. There is nothing in this book worse than this. I am appalled. Think about this: they killed their fellow tributes and now the Gamemakers designed it so that they have to kill them all over again.

Gamemakers are the worst. I am in shock.

“It’s them. It’s all of them. The others. Rue and Foxface and…all of the other tributes,” I choke out.

I hear Peeta’s gasp of recognition. “What did they do to them? You don’t think…those could be their real eyes?”

Their eyes are the least of my worries. What about their brains? Have they been given any of the real tributes memories? Have they been programmed to hate our faces particularly because we have survived and they were so callously murdered? And the ones we actually killed…do they believe they’re avenging their own deaths?

Massively, mega-screwed up. This is horrifying. Collins, I don’t know what possibly inspired you to create this…thing, but good lord. I am impressed.

As Peeta is grabbed by a mutt, Katniss is quickly overwhelmed by everything. She tries fighting off the mutts, but the action is simply too much. What does she focus on? What happens when Cato catches his breath? Is Peeta ok?

Cato stands before me, almost at the lip of the horn, holding Peeta in some kind of headlock, cutting off his air. Peeta’s clawing at Cato’s arm, but weakly, as if confused over whether it’s more important to breathe or try and stem the gush of blood from the gaping hole a mutt left in his calf.

Unbelievable. Collins continues to ramp up the action and the risk at the same time. I don’t think I’ve ever read so fast in my whole life; in fact, as soon as I finished this chapter, I immediately read it a second time, knowing I missed details.

Cato just laughs. “Shoot me and he goes down with me.”

He’s right. If I take him out and he falls to the mutts, Peeta is sure to die with him.

Cato, I am so full of rage. I hate you. Guys, where is that scene of the earth opening up and eating him? I need it right now.

Peeta’s lips are turning blue. If I don’t do something quickly, he’ll die of asphyxiation and then I’ll have lost him and Cato will probably use his body as a weapon against me. In fact, I’m sure this is Cato’s plan because while he’s stopped laughing, his lips are set in a triumphant smile.

Just awful, right? The extreme irony is that Peeta can win this game alongside Katniss, but Cato is preventing that from happening. WHAT A BIGOT.

But what happens next is possibly one of the more brilliant twists in the whole book, not just because it changes the characters, but it also affects our perception of the Games in a way that’s completely unexpected.

Peeta draws an X on the back of one of Cato’s hands and Katniss recognizes it as her chance: she draws back her bow and shoots an arrow into his hand. In this moment, Cato releases Peeta, who slams into him. He goes toppling off of the horn.

We hear him hit, the air leaving his body on impact, and then the mutts attack him. Peeta and I hold on to each other, waiting for the cannon, waiting for the cannon, waiting for the competition to finish, waiting to be released. But it doesn’t happen. Not yet. Because this is the climax of the Hunger Games, and the audience expects a show.

That show, though, is the moment I realize Collins has been planning this all along. We’ve been set up to hate Cato the entire time. He’s rude, ruthless, cruel, and desperate to cause pain. Yes, it’s in the context of the Games and we have no idea what he’s like outside of them, but we still grow to hate him for what he’s done.

And yet, as Cato fights the mutts, he delays the inevitable, as he uses the armor to his advantage as he tries to kill the mutts.

I don’t know how long it’s been, maybe an hour or so, when Cato hits the ground and we hear the mutts dragging him, dragging him back into the Cornucopia. Now they’ll finish him off, I think. But there’s still no cannon.

Night falls and the anthem plays and there’s no picture of Cato in the sky, only the faint moans coming through the metal beneath us. The icy air blowing across the plain reminds me that the Games are not over and may not be for who knows how long, and there is still no guarantee of victory.

So, I hated Cato. I begged for his death. And now I’m getting it, attached to a very Haneke-like twist: we have to read about him suffering for an entire night.

I feel awful that I ever hated him. Sure, he was an asshole in the Games, but who wasn’t? Ok, maybe not Rue or Foxface, but still. Wouldn’t you be an asshole to if you had to fight to survive.

Touche, Collins. I’m impressed.

The night stretches into what seems like infinity. I know I’ve complained a lot about Katpee just waiting around, but here it’s strangely suspenseful, despite that nothing happens for hours. HOURS. Fucking terrible.

The cold would be torture enough, but the real nightmare is listening to Cato, moaning, begging, and finally just whimpering as the mutts work away at him. After a very short time, I don’t care who he is or what he’s done, all I want is for his suffering to end.

You know who truly deserves our hate right now? The Gamemakers. THIS IS CONSIDERED ENTERTAINMENT. I know this is another culture, but who in Panem actually is entertained by all this?

Guess how long this lasts? ALL GODDAMN NIGHT. Until the sun comes up. That’s when Peeta convinces Katniss to user her last arrow (which is in Peeta’s tourniquet) to finally end the Games and put Cato out of his misery.

It takes a few moments to find Cato in the dim light, in the blood. Then the raw hunk of meat that used to be my enemy makes a sound, and I know where his mouth is. And I think the word he’s trying to say is please.

Pity, not vengeance, sends my arrow flying into his skull. Peeta pulls me back up, bow in hand, quiver empty.

“Did you get him?” he whispers.

The cannon fires in answer.

“Then we won, Katniss,” he says hollowly.

“Hurray for us,” I get out, but there’s no joy of victory in my voice.

I’m shocked. I expected to feel the slightest bit of exhilaration when Katniss won. Despite Peeta winning too, I feel dirty. As if I shouldn’t have read this and been entertained by it.

I feel fucking awful.

The mutts disappear into a hole in the plain, but after that, nothing happens. No anthem. No fanfare. No final announcement. The dread starts to fill inside my chest. Katpee have no idea why the Games haven’t closed and they decided to head towards the lake. A hovercraft picks up the remains of Cato, but nothing happens to our winning tributes.

As I stoop to pick it up, Claudius Templesmith’s voice booms into the arena.

“Greetings to the final contestants of the Seventy-fourth Hunger Games. The earlier revision has been revoked. Closer examination of the rule book has disclosed that only one winner may be allowed,” he says. “Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor.”

WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!!!!!

I wanted to start crying. Even reading this a third time while writing a review, it is like the very worst slap in the face. I feel betrayed and this book isn’t even real.

I wasn’t fucking prepared.

I stare at Peeta in disbelief as the truth sinks in. They never intended to let us both live. This has all been devised by the Gamemakers to guarantee the most dramatic showdown in history. And like a fool, I bought into it.

This is the most fucked up thing in Things That Are Fucked Up. I can’t. I just can’t.

The two of them almost immediately face off, though Peeta constantly insists that Katniss kill him. They argue frantically over who should die, both throwing down their weapons. Peeta ups the ante, though: He removes the bandage on his leg and begins bleeding to death.

“You’re not leaving me here alone,” I say. Because if he dies, I’ll never go home, not really. I’ll spend the rest of my life in this arena trying to think my way out.

That’s probably my favorite line in the whole book. Just so damning and disturbing.

But Katniss (and bless her for thinking of this) realizes there is actually a third option.

Yes, they have to have a victor. Without a victor, the whole thing would blow up in the Gamemakers’ faces. They’d have failed the Capitol. Might possibly even be executed, slowly and painfully while the cameras broadcast it to every screen in the country.

The greatest act of rebellion in the arena is one of self-identity, to make a choice outside of the system that is yours and yours alone.

Double suicide by eating nightlock.

I spread out my fingers, and the dark berries glisten in the sun. I give Peeta’s hand one last squeeze as a signal, as a good-bye, and we begin counting. “One.” Maybe I’m wrong “Two.” Maybe they don’t care if we both die. “Three!” It’s too late to change my mind. I lift my hand to my mouth, taking one last look at the world. The berries have just passed my lips when the trumpets begin to blare.

The frantic voice of Claudius Templesmith shouts above them. “Stop! Stop! Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to present the victors of the Seventy-fourth Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark! I give you—the tributes of District Twelve!”

I’m relieved. I can say that. And yet…I still feel completely terrible.

What the fuck, Collins.

About Mark Oshiro

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

350 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Hunger Games’: Chapter 25

  1. rowanlee says:

    Haha, Donna's face is EXACTLY how I felt reading this. "Wolves… with people's eyes? Um, sure, that's nice….". ILU, DONNA NOBLE

  2. bookling says:

    Mark, when you kept questioning how things work in the Games – like where the cameras are, how the Gamemakers control the elements and traps and things – I kept thing of the wolf Muttations in this chapter. You kind of just have to accept that the people in the Capitol have sufficiently advanced technology that they can do all these things, but you still wonder, is it really the other Tributes' eyes or brains or personalities in there? Personally, I don't think it was, I think they were just engineered to freak out the remaining Tributes, but it COULD be the dead kids and the fact that the Gamemakers would even use their likenesses that way is really disturbing. They keep using these kids for their own means even after death. Their families had to see that and wonder if, after they saw their child murdered, if the Gamemakers then mutilated and repurposed parts of their child's body. I think the message here is: the Capitol owns you. Even after the Games, even after death.

    • Moonie says:

      Well, the thing is- the remaining tributes are tired, hungry, injured, stressed…. they are pretty much at the lowest level of coherent thinking at the moment. Just because Katniss and Peeta were going OMG REAL EYES/BRAIN doesn't mean that it's actually trufax. It's very easy to jump to the worst conclusion when you're that beat up.

  3. MadarFoxfire says:


  4. The Queen of Harts says:

    I have been FREAKING OUT waiting for you to get to this chapter because it is SO INTENSE omg.

    “You’re not leaving me here alone,” I say. Because if he dies, I’ll never go home, not really. I’ll spend the rest of my life in this arena trying to think my way out.

    Seriously my favourite line in the entire book, too. It's a very powerful statement and I really love that Collins acknowledges how very, very traumatizing this whole thing is for Katniss and Peeta. This line has stuck with my months after reading, just kind of floating around my mind, making me think.

    Back to spazzing: DID WE NOT TELL YOU YOU WERE COMPLETELY UNPREPARED. Omg Mark I wanted to prepare you but that involved spoiling and it is Forbidden Amongst Our Kind, so I refrained but…gah I felt bad because I just knew that Collins would mind-fuck you with this insane chapter.

    I also read at warp-speed through this. It was chilling and so action-packed that I was literally getting an adrenaline rush just reading the damn thing. Seriously, I was all shaky and my hands were clamped on the book and I was quite literally sitting at the edge of my seat. It was some epic reading.

  5. 4and6forever says:

    Are the scary wolves gone yet? Is it safe to come out?
    When I first read the rule change where, it turns out, only one person can survive, I mentally kicked myself for not seeing it. When the 'rule change' was announced way back when, I totally didn't see them going back on their words, but now you just feel naive because you actually trusted them, this Capitol that kills kids for entertainment.
    But then you feel completely exhilerated when Katniss and Peeta do the double suicide (Sorry, but that just sounds like a really bad dance.), because so much can go wrong, but yet if it succeeds, we find ourselves in a new predicament; What the cost will be.
    And this is where I stop talking, because I need to save it for the next chapter.

  6. 4and6forever says:

    (In a continuation of my other comment.)
    Anyways, I feel as though the reason that Cato's death was so shocking was because we got what we wanted. He got ripped to shreds. His torture was prolonged. And it's because we never get the character death we want as readers that this is so shocking. We never got this brutal, vicious death for the 'antagonist' (I'm just going to call him that but I don't count him as the real antagonist, because now, with the berries thing, it seems as though the antagonist is actually the Capitol.) and so now that it happens, we feel sick that we ever wished that on another person, fictional or real. And it's shocking because we got what we wanted, but yet, we find that we don't actually want it. Brings a whole knew meaning to 'be careful what you wish for', huh?

  7. iolchos says:

    have been loving these reviews! I have to say, Cato's death and the mutts messed me up fierce. I don't know which one more: the idea that (whether or not true, it's presented) the tributes are chopped into pieces and used to create monsters, instead of sent home to their families, whole, for burial, was just unbearable. It's so cruel, so intensely cruel, and it inspires this horrible fear in the remaining living tributes, as well, of even people they used to love. Hats off to the Capitol for perversion, but gosh damn. And I think that Cato's death was one of the most difficult to bear in the book, despite him being who he was.

  8. Dannie. says:

    I didn't want Cato to die.

  9. Mauve_Avenger says:

    We even have biological precedent for the tracker jackers and the mockingjays. There are lots of species that have hallucinogenic poison (though among humans they're often used for more *recreational purposes*), and lyrebirds are famous for their ability to mimic almost any sound they hear. It's not unbelievable that even just the process of evolution would amp up their abilities to that level.

    For human-wolf hybrids to work, though, there'd have to be a huge overhaul of genetic code (wolves have 78 chromosomes, after all, and we only have 48).

    Lyrebird in action:
    [youtube mSB71jNq-yQ youtube]

  10. Karen says:

    FUCK MY LIFE. So I need to preface this comment by saying that snow (the meterological feature, not the president) is officially on my shitlist. I was flying home rom London to LA for the holidays and it was a nightmare and it took forever all because when it snows in London Heathrow becomes like Madagascar in pandemic. SHUT EVERYTHING DOWN. All of that to say: because of flight rescheduling and delays I missed being here on time for this chapter AND THAT MAKES ME SAD. Because this chapter is awesome. And though I know that by now everything that can be said probably has been said and no one will probably see this, I want to say my piece because after my harrowing travel experience, I DESERVE IT GODDAMNIT.


    Anyway, I think that in this chapter we see one of reasons of why the romance stuff isn't in the book for no reason. It ties back to what Peeta said earlier about not letting the Gamemakers change him. Choosing to die for love is how Peeta would have maintained his purity of self. He awsn't going to let the Games trn him into a heartless monster. If he died for Katniss sure it would have be a bit schmoopy, but it also would have been giving the Capitol the finger. He wasn't playing their game. And I think that's brilliant.

    The scene with Cato's death is so horrific. I mean, we spent the whole book disliking him and wanting him to die. But then when he does… it's just so awful. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. And Katniss and Peeta have to sit there and hear and watch it all happen. It's so gruesome and disgusting. Ugh. The Capitol is the WORST THING EVER.

    And I 100% agree that Katniss's line about how if she let Peeta die in the arena that she wouldn't really be able to ever leave is a brilliant line. She'd always be trying to think her way out. I think this maybe shows that Katniss has some awareness that Peeta has come to mean something to her. But I think that even more than that, it offers some insight into Haymitch. Is that why Haymitch is the way he is? He couldn't live with what he did, so he turned to drink?

  11. blessthechildren says:

    These creatures are the inferi of the HG world. The name of the Capitol's games is psychological warfare, and this is the next big thing in mental abuse.
    Recipe for a victor:
    1. force kids to grow up hungry and oppressed with a dash of misery
    2. feed the need for a better life until ripe and juicy
    3. force them to fight to the death in the arena at varying tempatures
    4. use the dead DNA of their opponenets to come back in monster form like a living nighmare of eternal guilt
    (use any number of flavors for variety: horror, pain, panic, remorse, etc.)
    5. take away the last hope they ever had and replace it with essence of despair
    6. glorify their sins and murders and garnish it with parsley of false victory
    7. force them to help another become a killer, knowing the kids will die in front of you, add salt for pain
    8. go home each year to sleep in the house you bought with blood, stew for years
    9. bake at a constant 100 degrees guilt until hollow and empty inside
    10. finish with the sweet release of death. Refrigerate leftovers.

    • FlameRaven says:

      Yep. Pretty much exactly this. I think I mentioned it in another chapter, but the Hunger Games fucks everyone up. Everyone. Dying may actually be the better thing, because if you win not only are you constantly reminded by your house what happened in the arena, but you have to coach two kids every year who are probably going to die too. Oh, and some other stuff that we'll see in later books.

  12. blessthechildren says:

    My thought is this:
    -They took the DNA of the dead tributes, focusing on the most recognizable parts: stature, eyes (windows to the soul), and hair color.
    -Then, they grew a "mutt" that was a cross between a wolf, each dead child, and then proceeded to tweak the DNA to give it the special claws, etc.
    -The capitol has essentially mastered splicing and such that has been featured in movies, only creepier. They are turning nature against itself. :<

  13. RaeLynn says:

    Reading this book I never hit a "I'm so not prepared" moment… everything was soooo.. obvious? I wasn't surprised, is all. As soon as Cato was running I said "mutations." (*yawn* since I was waiting for the gamemars to pull them together, I knew it would be something like that since they already used fire) As soon as she mentioned something odd about them I said "tributes" (since I knew they had to be creepy since they were mutts) and from the moment they entered the games, I knew they would make two people winners, setting it up for Katniss and Peeta, and then they'd do a whole romeo/juliet cliche thing. I guess I'm just jaded with the "WTF-NESS" and constant mind fucks from Harry Potter…

  14. notemily says:

    Best chapter in the book, I think. This is the one with all the images that stick with me from this book–Cato being slowly tortured to death, the mutts with the tributes' eyes, and Katniss and Peeta preparing to commit suicide by berry together. God, I love Katniss for figuring that out, and I love Collins for writing it this way.

    • iolchos says:

      this chapter = NIGHTMARES FOREVER

      honestly I think that the chapters of nothing happening worked really well as a build up to this because you're just not as prepared for the onslaught, the climax of action is really overhwleming

  15. Sheena says:

    Some of the lines in this chapter gave me chills like Kingsley's "The ministry has fallen. Scrimgeour is dead. They are coming." quote.
    There's more coming, Mark. And you're still not prepared. Not a spoiler, just a warning.

  16. amythis says:

    It’s been a few months since I’ve read this book, and I had almost no memories of the past few chapters. I kept thinking, “I hope Mark gets up to the muttations and the rule-switch soon.” I forgot they were in the same chapter.

    THG is probably about halfway on the continuum between HP and Twilight, between “Must read it many times in my lifetime” and “You’d have to pay me millions to read the series again.” I like THG in sort of a junk-foody way. It satisfies me at the moment, but it apparently doesn’t stay with me. (I still have the third book to read.)

    That said, these blogs are still kind of fun, Katpee and Peeniss and death-chart esp. I do miss the automatic comment reply notification of Buzznet, but this site is otherwise an improvement.

  17. karadudz says:

    Even though we were built up to hate Cato in this chapter seeing/hearing/reading him suffer… all i felt was how much I hated the Games.

    I mean sure without the games we wouldn't have to read about it but MAN IT'S TOO INTENSE!

    Just the fact that people watch this for entertainment purposes EVERY YEAR? That's just cruel.

    I always wondered, do the districts still watch the Games even when both their district tributes have died? Or are they just all forced to watch the show?

    • mugglemomof2 says:

      It is implies that they are forced to watch the games through to the end regardless if their tributes are still alive or not

  18. lisra says:

    Just started the book yesterday and just read the chapter…

    I actually threw up my hands and covered my face at the revelation. This is HORRIBLE. I tip my hat to Collins for creating something so utterly disturbing and frightening.

    The game makers and their masters deserve death and pain. So much. SO Much.

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