Books

Scars (Or Lack Thereof)

As we wait for the Blu-Ray/DVD release of Mockingjay Part 2, there are some more BTS featurette clips to tide us over in the meantime. One of the clips shows the work makeup designer Ve Neill and her team did for the movie.

No doubt Katniss has a rough time in Mockingjay Part 2, and the makeup team did a great job making the neck and chest bruising very believable. And it sounds like the team went to a lot of effort on the burn makeup as well. Only those burns (and the inevitable scars) barely made it on screen, and we think that was a mistake.

Don’t get us wrong. We didn’t WANT to see more damage done to our favorite character really. Our poor girl is strangled, shot, and then the massively burned, and it’s awful that she endures that. But the physical hurt she experiences is a part of the Mockingjay journey, and part of the lesson of Mockingjay. We were disappointed at how Katniss’s injuries were glossed over, because it took weight out of the story’s message.

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First of all the fire completely misses her face, in an “amazing” stroke of Hollywood luck. Then there’s the magical Capitol burn medicine that seems to fix everything in a flash (to be fair on that point, we don’t know how long Katniss is in the hospital, but the movie’s quick cuts make the recovery FEEL too quick). Was the burn makeup deemed too intense to be given more than a few seconds of screen time? What was behind the decision to make Katniss look physically well so fast?

Beyond the magic of the complete burn recovery, the moment that really seemed out of place was when she returns back to 12, goes hunting and Katniss’s gorgeous hair is blowing in the wind. She looks beautiful. She looks physically healthy. But accelerating her physical recovery SO MUCH faster than her mental one was a change from the book that felt a little too much like Hollywood being afraid to show a woman with physical imperfections. After 2 hours of trauma, suddenly seeing “shampoo commercial Katniss” took me completely out of the movie.

We love it when Katniss is allowed to look real. No wonder critics and fans alike thought the Buttercup scene was great. Give us the slobbery ugly cry! That looks like a real person in despair, and Jennifer Lawrence OWNS that scene. After all that Katniss physically goes through, no one expects her to look perfect. (And if they do, screw them).

We love you, scars and all, Katniss

JJ

 

 

Visualizing Panem Post-Movies

Now that the entire Hunger Games series has been adapted to film, I’ve been taking stock in how these movies have impacted how I think about the book series. I’ll come right out with it and say it – while I LOVE SO MUCH about the movies, they will never top the books for me. There are some creative choices in the movies that I will adamantly reject forever and try to forget (mainly some parts of The Hunger Games movie and some scenes from the last 25 minutes of Mockingjay Part 2). Hmm, that sounds like fodder for a post, but for a later date.

On the other hand, there are some parts of these movies where everything fell into place and just was so RIGHT that it’s taken over how I visualize certain characters or scenes when I now re-read the books.

Right from the Start: Snow and Coin

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From first casting announcements of both Donald Sutherland and Julianne Moore, I felt really good about how these characters would translate to screen. They look the part and inhabit those roles in a way that fits so well with how I’ve imagined the characters. Donald Sutherland owns Snow so much for me now that I get chills when hearing his voiceover work on orange juice or airline commercials. President Snow wants me to drink orange juice. Yes, sir! I remember being surprised how sympathetic Coin was in Mockingjay Part 1, but it seemed very right for the progression of the character, and how she would have been without the framing of Katniss’s “unreliable narrator” perspective.

Oh. My. Finnick

Finnick cfFor those around the fandom in Catching Fire casting days, you remember what a BIG FREAKING DEAL this was. Lots of names thrown around to play Finnick. Lots of fan favorites. And Sam Claflin, a relative unknown (outside of roles in Snow White & the Huntsman and a Pirates of the Caribbean movie) was chosen. We had time to “get to know him” pre-CF. He was delightful on Twitter. Set photos leaked that were very promising. There was that Capitol Portrait with the pirate look. And then we saw him in the movie and YAY, IT WORKED.  He was Finnick. He is how I see Finnick now. Bravo.

Awesome Surprises From Smaller Roles: Paylor and Jackson

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One of the great, wonderful surprises of the Mockingjay movies was the development of these two characters, who I honestly never paid much attention to, at least during my first reading of the books. So Patina Miller and Michelle Forbes had the benefit of a cleaner slate to build these characters. And build them they did. They project authentic power and leadership so well that you don’t question the news that Paylor will be president, or Jackson’s role in Squad 451 in the slightest. When I re-read Mockingjay, I see those actresses in full costume. They ARE those characters now for me, and it’s enriched the reading experience.

An Interesting Mix: Effie and Haymitch

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The overly bright, colorful world of the Capitol in Suzanne Collins books is intentional. You have to admit though, that the Candy-Land-on-acid-type buildings would have been too distracting to deal with on screen so the “Capitol color” is restricted mostly to the people, not buildings. But with the costume, makeup, and hair styling of Effie, the team really nailed it, and Elizabeth Banks surely took charge of making that character her own. I think the decision to add Effie to District 13 was a good decision for Mockingjay Part 1, but still think Book!Effie follows a more realistic path for that character. I love how Elizabeth Banks gave the character more heart, but I don’t see Effie really changing that dramatically so quickly. In terms of how I visualize the character though, it’s all Elizabeth Banks in her full Capitol glory. Kudos to her and the design team for the creativity and transformation.

Then we come to Haymitch, who I always though of as more “Seam” in looks with darker hair and complexion, more damaged, more dirty, more foul, and much more drunk than we see in the movies. Regrettably, the movies give us a PG-version of Haymitch. Sure, you see him drinking, and his mockery and wit is there, but he’s nowhere near the abrasive drunk he is in the books.  I would have loved to see Woody Harrelson given full reign to make the character more rough. All of that being said, when I read the books, my mind sees Woody Harrelson and that blond wig. Somehow, he’s convinced my brain. He is Haymitch. The mind does what it wants. It’s interesting that this happened, considering this next part.

The Big Three: Love You Guys SO MUCH, but…

What about Katniss, Peeta and Gale? Jennifer Lawrence did a phenomenal job with Katniss. She grabbed hold of that character and owned the performance throughout the four movies. So much so that her voice is very much Katniss’s voice to me. I feel the same way about Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth (well at least 90% for Liam, but he got better as the movies went along). For all the wonderful ways they inhabited these roles, my mind still can’t (or won’t) adapt. The way I perceive these three in my mind’s eye when reading the books is much different. The cast is perhaps too physically beautiful, too Hollywood, and for Katniss and Gale, yes, too much of northwestern European ancestry to cancel out how I’ve always imagined the three. It’s nothing against the actors, because those are things they can’t change and these were movies with certain expectations of super-Hollywood-esque attractiveness from the leads.  Katniss and Peeta especially remain murky visual concepts in my head, and I’m fine with that. It’s probably better that way for the two characters who I love the most.

Movies – they mess with your head in unexpected ways.

JJ

 

Victor’s Village Hunger Games Holiday Gift Guide 2015

The final Hunger Games movie is out, but our hunger for cool Hunger Games merch is far from over. As in previous years, we’re back with our holiday gift guide with ideas for The Hunger Games lovers in your life… or to add to your own wish list!

The Hunger Games Funko POP! Figures

Funko POP! figures are our favorite collectibles of all the collectibles out there, so we’re in love with The Hunger Games collection! It covers all of Katniss’ major moments in four different figurines, plus Peeta, Effie, and President Snow! Was there ever a better desk decoration?

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Minimalist Poster Print by GreaterGeek

Besides having an excellent shop name, GreaterGeek also has stellar minimalist posters. This “Hope” poster offers up style, a favorite quote, and a pop of color!

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Peeta’s Necklace

Mockingjay symbols are thrown around all willy-nilly these days. Peeta’s necklace is an adorable choice for people who sometimes have to be a little quieter about their love for the series in everyday life. Fellow fans will get it and love it, but your strict boss will just think it’s a cute pendant.

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THG Color Changing Mug by MugDesignStudio

We’re a sucker for these color changing mugs. They’re deceptive: Plan black with a cold beverage, but revealing a great design with your morning coffee or tea to perk up the day!

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Mrs. Mellark Apron

We will forever associate The Boy With The Bread with our baking projects, though ours are way more haphazard. Now that the whole world knows the canon Katniss/Peeta ending (sorry not sorry, Team Gale!), why not celebrate your love for the character WHILE baking?!

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 score

We recognize that we live in a Wild Wild West in which nobody buys music anymore, but this isn’t any old music. The Mockingjay Part 2 score is lovely, intense, and emotional. It will help fans through their major ending feels. Plus, it’s got that original version of ‘Deep In The Meadow’ that we all covet!

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Little Moments We’re Thankful For in Mockingjay Part 2

Now that the second week of release is here, we’ve had time (and multiple viewings) to digest more of our thoughts and emotions about Mockingjay Part 2. We’ve seen a lot of discussion about the BIG moments in the movie – from the craziness of the pods, mutts, Finnick’s death, “Stay with me… Always,” epilogue, etc, but it’s some of the little moments that stick with us too.  Sure, there are some little things we wish had been done differently, but we’ll focus on the positive today, with our favorite little moments from the book we’re thankful (and a little amazed) actually made the cut of the movie. We’re still full of Thanksgiving spirit, so we’ll go with it.

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“I’m planning for you to have a long life”

Boggs is a character that you fall a little more in love with upon each reading of Mockingjay. He’s an overall good dude, and time and again he’s there for Katniss. He sees her as a person, not a symbol or a pawn, but a brave young woman who’s had WAY more than her fair share of sacrifice, and his support of her warms our heart. I’ve always loved this exchange between Boggs and Katniss in the books. It serves a narrative purpose of explaining Coin’s ominous intentions, but also just reinforces Boggs’ loyalty to her. Considering Boggs leaves us way too soon, we’re glad he at least got this nice moment.

Pollux and Castor when they first go underground

It was wonderful to have Pollux’s backstory fleshed out a little, and the support Castor gives his brother as he starts to get a little panicky at all the revived memories of being underground was so sweet. (Funny how they give us these moments just before a character is about to die, huh?) But it was well done to reinforce the bond between these brothers, and we loved to see it.

“You’re a painter, you’re a baker…”

Much has been written about this discussion between Peeta, Katniss, and the squad. It’s our introduction to “Real or not real,” and the movie could have just left it at the favorite color discussion and moved on. But we got the gift of the painter, baker, windows open, double knotted shoelaces, unsweetened tea of details that shows just how much Katniss was paying attention to Peeta Mellark all this time. The mundane details that she knows about him reinforces how close they became before the Quarter Quell. This is a moment for the book fans and we’re forever grateful for it, film pacing be damned!

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Tigris’s small smile when Katniss reveals her mission to kill Snow

It wasn’t a long scene, but they took the time for Katniss to recognize Tigris as an ex-stylist from the Games. The horror of Tigris’s transformation is evident when she shares that Snow didn’t think she was “pretty enough” after all the disfigurement she inevitably went through to try to meet his unobtainable continued favor. Her tiny smile when Katniss shares her plan to kill Snow is another moment we’re glad made the cut. We already knew that among Capitol elites, Snow’s friendship was fickle, but this was a reinforcement that no one was safe under his regime.

What other small moments in the film stood out to you?

JJ

 

 

 

 

The Hunger Games: The Reunion

So something weird happened last night: I went to my 10 year high school reunion. YES I AM OLD. I accept this and you should too. Moving on!

It turns out the reunion situation was pretty similar to what I expected (read: fairly lackluster), but it got me thinking about the people I reunited with and how, inevitably, some of them exist in every crowd.

For instance, I was convinced to go thanks to the Effie Trinket-esque friend. The girl who still has lots of lovely memories from back in the day and remains largely positive, determined to see us take advantage of the fun promised by this event. “Its’ going to be a big, big day!” And once we got there, she was a total champ.

Naturally, it got me thinking where the rest of the characters would fall if they met in a function hall ten years later.

Still never mastered how to smile!

Still never mastered how to smile!

For instance, Gale would probably be the best dressed guy in the room. He’d make polite small talk with the girls he missed out on in high school. But ultimately, he’d have a few too many drinks, viciously insult one of those said girls and get her all upset, reminding everyone that he’s still kind of a dick.

Katniss sits at her table while almost everyone else kind of flutters around the room. She sticks with the people she knows best, but chats with anyone who comes over to say hi. She gets a little alarmed if anyone is too enthusiastic, because nobody cares about how you’re doing that much. Moderate alcohol consumption and avoiding eye contact is key to surviving the night.

Peeta is also looking decent, but in a more basic way than any of the other men. He’s friendlier than Katniss, but still sticks by her side for most of the night. Your single friends lament the fact that he’s still with “that girl he’s been dating forever” with a twinge of jealousy. Also, he gives the awkward welcome speech.

The “Oh hell he better have a ride home” guy

Haymitch is in ripped jeans and a t-shirt, drunk to the nth degree about 20 minutes arrival. He greets everyone as if they’re his best friend, even relative strangers. Upon seeing friendly faces, he thanks them for being one of the fellow “normals” to show up in comparison to the more popular folks from back in the day (P.S. That happened) and by the end of the night, he’s flashing everyone as they try to say goodbye (P.P.S. Also happened).

Annie Odair (Cresta? Cresta-Odair? WE DON’T EVEN KNOW) is there as well. She’s smartly dressed, a bit shy, but so lovely. She’s the person everyone hasn’t fully kept in touch with but is still a total joy to see. For a few seconds that the other characters catch up on news about her kiddo and life, a reunion feels like an actual reunion and not a giant puddle of awkward.

Plutarch is the guy who’s forcing everyone to take pictures, because the memories. And the Instagram account. Everyone knows he’s in not way a ruler of Panem, but he’s sure gonna act like it. He’s a little too slick for his own good and a lot of attendees roll their eyes when he turns away.

There are probably dozens of mostly nameless others involved in this reunion– Gale’s family and Katniss’ mom and several residents from both District 12 and District 13. If it were an actual Hunger Games reunion, we’d have this:

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Plus, with more people, you could probably repeat this formula several times over!

Or Just Leave For A Bar After 2 Hours. That Worked Too!
The Girl With The Pearl

The Hunger Games Disaster Theme Park

It’s been a looming threat for a long time, but as of last week, it became a reality in America: The Hunger Games theme park is being developed.

We’re not even close to the biggest Hunger Games superfans out there, but we think we’re not too shabby. We run a website dedicated to The Hunger Games and its fans, travel to premieres and big events in the fandom, buy some of the merch, discuss the promotional releases, occasionally chat on a podcast about the series, and generally pour our fangirl feels all over the Internet. Though we don’t always love every single morsel that comes out of the franchise, we’re big freaking fans!

So does that mean we want to see a theme park?

NO. FUCK TO THE NO.

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There are few words to describe what a moronic idea this is, guys! The foundation for a Hunger Games theme park is:
A) Making entertainment out of desolation, poverty, and children being forced to murder each other, desensitizing visitors to violence and the world’s struggles in the ways that Suzanne Collins was trying to warn us against.
B) Yet another attempt to hype the Capitol glam, willfully ignorant to the fact that the lush Capitol lifestyles are a harsh criticism of the way the rich often manipulate and undervalue human rights.
C) A combination of both A and B.

We understand that Lionsgate owns the rights and can milk this cash cow however they want– which they will, lest they be forced to create something new and original to intrigue audiences instead– but really, this just proves how utterly shameless they are. This is not Harry Potter or Star Wars. There is no magic, there is no adventure in space. This franchise is focused around slaughter, human rights violations, and the need to stop it. This is not a fucking theme park topic!

For goodness sake, the negligent, terrible Capitol citizens even turn the arenas into theme parks IN THE BOOKS. Suzanne Collins literally put a warning against this shit in the source material!

A spokesperson for theme park developer Avatron is defending their decision to be involved, of course:
“There are so many positives about these movies, starting with the fact that she’s an empowered young woman.”

And we agree with that. But please, do tell us how you’re going to tell build a theme park with the “empowered young woman” theme alone without the terror, war, murder, torture, or political corruption also involved. Pretty, pretty freaking please. We’d bet you our life savings that someone is going to try to dress us up as Effie Trinket and just– No thank you. Because you’re missing the entire damn point.

There’s still a little hope: Lionsgate needs financing for these parks. Hopefully, people will realize that this is not actually a good investment and it won’t come to fruition, at least here in the US. That is how much we’re against this.

Go home, Lionsgate. You’re drunk.

“They Say The Food Is Excellent”,
The Girl With The Pearl

The World of the Hunger Games!

The World of the Hunger Games is pretty rich for a three book (and four movie) series. Lots of characters and places and undiscovered stories. Also, fun merch!

Like these adorable Funko Pop! Figures.

funko pop hunger games

The Katniss Everdeen one – yeah, I’m trusting the USPS to bring that safely to my house next week. The Peeta one will probably be a necessary purchase at some point as well.

Cuteness aside, we’re seeing a continuing theme lately with Hunger Games stuff. Instead of it being branded THE HUNGER GAMES, it’s branded THE WORLD OF THE HUNGER GAMES.

Whether it’s the Funko Pop! items,katniss funko

Or advertisements for the Hunger Games Exhibition.

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Or the 2016 World of the Hunger Games calendar.

Hunger Games 2016 calendar

No, this wording isn’t just simple coincidence. It’s a deliberate transition of the HUNGER GAMES brand from simply being three books adapted into movies to the development of a larger world that can be mined for years to come. It’s a big (largely profitable) trend in Hollywood, so no surprise that it’s happening here. Next November, (in THG’s relinquished weekend slot) we’ll see the first of the Harry Potter prequels come to screen. It will be interesting to see how this movie does without Harry being the star of the show, just as it will be interesting to see how THE WORLD OF THE HUNGER GAMES transitions from being about Katniss’s journey, to other stories in Panem.

When will development of the next Hunger Games movie be announced? Six months? One year? Two? Place your bets now.

JJ

Those Unquenchable Mockingjays

Before the debut of the FOR PRIM “trailer” on Wednesday morning, another Mockingjay Part 2 poster was released via Jennifer Lawrence’s Facebook page.

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Again we have the red Mockingjay outfit, which we still don’t believe will be in the actual film, but is merely for these in-universe propaganda promotional pieces. The red makes for a bolder visual statement, but as a practical matter, we see the use of the red as a way to differentiate the Mockingjay Part 1 and 2 marketing pieces. Thinking back to May when the first promotional items for Part 2 came out with the Sisters poster or just the Effie image, a common complaint was that it looked just like Mockingjay Part 1 stuff. By making the suit red, they’ve instantly been able to make things seem “new” without being really new while creating a sense of continuity between the two films. Having her standing in profile reminds us of the first character posters for the Hunger Games. Much has changed for Katniss, but much remains the same.

The new element of this poster is the inclusion of a “real” mockingjay resting precariously on her shoulder (don’t fall off, little buddy!). Maybe he’s positioned like that because he’s about to fly away again – Mockingjays are busy creatures after all. We suppose it’s more interesting to have him with Katniss than just her by her lonesome, and he’s not sticking awkwardly out of her neck, so we’re grateful for that.

tom haverford artThis poster overall harkens back to Catching Fire’s “The Sun Persists in Rising” poster that had mixed reviews back in the day. As personal “confession,” I’m looking at the “Sun Persists” poster right now because I have it hanging in my living room. I know it gets criticism for a lot of reasons (the pose is too Pocahontas/Lion King/you name it) but I like it for three reasons: the tagline, the clouds, and overall color scheme. (The color scheme is PERFECT for my living room decor). “The sun persists in rising so I make myself stand,” is from the beginning of Catching Fire and fits with the overall look of the poster, and what Katniss has to do throughout the book/movie. It’s also nicely relevant to anyone’s life – you may go through great struggles in life but you have to continue on and face the days as they come. It’s a more “artistic” poster, and with all ART we all feel different things looking at it.

This new poster is in the same LOOK GUYS, THIS IS ART category.  It also has the same cloud motif and obscure book quote tagline. So sure, the clouds and colors are nice but that book quote is a WEIRD choice. Yes, we know it’s from the passage in Mockingjay after the parachute fire bombs go off.

Real or not real? I am on fire. The balls of flame that erupted from the parachutes shot over the barricades, through the snowy air, and landed in the crowd. I was just turning away when one caught me, ran its tongue up the back of my body, and transformed me into something new. A creature as unquenchable as the sun.

The only reason we can think of for including this quote is that it’s meant to be paired with the FOR PRIM trailer. The trailer is all about bringing you the #feels about the moment when Prim dies and Katniss’s devastation from that loss. How does that moment of Katniss becoming a “fire mutt” and subsequent limbo between life and death relate to this poster? We’re struggling with the choice.

This is not the final poster though, just as FOR PRIM is not the final trailer. These are extras, so at least it’s something new to talk about.

Wonder if this poster will be the cover of Tim Palen’s $850 ULTIMATE Hunger Games photography book?

JJ

Snapping The Mockingjay

Yes, we’ve already complained about how we’re already over the SnapChat element of the Mockingjay Part 2 campaign. And honestly, that still stands! We will take one website reveal of images over twenty 10-second snaps ANY DAY. But today was kind of an exception!

Over the course of the week, the MockingjayPt2 Snapchat has been running various contests to celebrate the five-year anniversary of the Mockingjay novel. Today, fans were tasked with drawing their own version of the Mockingjay cover.

This contest proved something we already knew: The world has waaaayyyy too much time on its hands!

But also, somebody get these kiddos a real art-based program to mess around on, because some of them are pretty good!

CNbiJ3BWoAABAMR CNcS1QfWgAA_ssX unnamed (1)

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We’re Snapchat amateurs, at best. We can barely manage to add short spurts of text to our snaps. Our drawn in hearts and smiley faces are lopsided like it’s nobody’s business. Yet these damn users created in tact shapes and shading!

Seriously, how long do you have to spend drawing with one finger to get that good at it?! Maybe they just have natural skillz that we don’t. Let’s hope it’s that and not the rabid dependency on the app!

My Mockingjay Would Look Like Tic-Tac-Toe Gone Wrong,
The Girl With The Pearl

Going Back For The Cat (Or Dog)

So today we’re going to get serious because we work out all our feelings by relating them to books!

This is an apology to a fictional character– more specifically, Primrose Everdeen.

At the Mockingjay Part 2 panel at Comic-Con, Conan O’Brien joked with Willow Shields, saying “I was so mad at you when you went back for the cat!” And mostly, our reaction was “Well.. duh.” It was a rash, irresponsible move made by a young girl who’s almost too sensitive for this world. Buttercup was an adult cat and hell, cats don’t even live that long. Why would anyone risk anything for a cat?! Katniss, while we loves her sister, thinks she’s an overly sentimental piece of work when it comes to this issue and audiences kinda do too.

Well, I’m sorry, Prim. It’s unfair to judge you because I really do understand.

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This picture is roughly 17 years, 8 months old. I’m 10-years-old– hence the bad hair, fashion, etc. The puppy here is Jake, my family’s Jack Russell Terrier who died of old age this past Sunday, four days before my 28th birthday. He was the best dog ever… though perhaps I’m biased.

And truthfully, I totally would’ve gone back from him in an emergency situation.

It’s not that uncommon. In scary situations, people rescue their pets. They sometimes get injured or even die themselves in the attempt. To some, that just sounds crazy, but not to me. I don’t consider myself all too sentimental, but pets become an important part of your life in a way that most humans don’t even. They’re a furry ball of friendship, playfulness, and companionship without an ounce of judgment. And dammit, we all need some of that! So risking it all for our animal friends makes sense.

It’s silly to think of the continuum of the story after the final chapter (but before the epilogue) because everything is just head canon from that point on, but we can’t even imagine how Katniss felt when Buttercup finally went. We see the two forming a bond over the loss of Prim at the end of Mockingjay, and I’d like to believe that they stuck together and learned to love each other. That means that things would be rough for Katniss not just because she lost a pet, but because that pet was one of the few things she had that linked back to her sister. And urgh… we can’t even.

Though the most minor of minor characters in The Hunger Games, Buttercup makes a major impact on the plot and the characters’ emotional wellbeing, which says something big. So we get it, Prim. And really, you’re awesome for doing it.

And Without That, There’d Be No Buttercup: Evil Overlord Fanon Memes,
The Girl With The Pearl