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[personal profile] farla
My slumbers are filled with disturbing dreams. The face of the redheaded girl intertwines with gory images from earlier Hunger Games

Yeah, about that.

Why do they watch the games? They seem to be watching them at a private television in their homes, so there's no one there to force them to watch. And Katniss didn't believe she'd be picked and didn't think she had any chance if she was picked, so watching to pick up tips doesn't work.

The only possibility is watching in the hope your district wins, which is horrible. You're still watching kids murder each other. The other district’s kids are just as innocent as your own.

When I’m dried and moisturized with lotion

This is actually pretty dumb.

Katniss presumably has pretty tough skin and callouses. Those are good. You don't want to start softening up your skin right before the murderdeath games.

 A young man, an Avox, stands at attention by the spread. 

So it seems like yes, all the servants are Avox, whatever the fuck that word means.

How many traitors can they possibly have? I suppose if they're taking all the rebels from all the districts, they might manage to get enough, but from what Katniss said it seems they're specifically rebels from the capital itself, and come on, how many of those can there be?

Plus, doesn't that kind of go against the idea people in the capital have no idea how much life sucks? Your sister getting her tongue cut out and kept as a slave because she ran off with her boyfriend is not really conductive to happiness.

Possibly they're only in special areas like this one, but from a writing perspective, the only place we see is here so we can't tell that. And Effie certainly seemed familiar with them.

It makes me irritated that Peeta is wearing exactly the same outfit I am. I need to say something to Cinna. This twins act is going to blow up in out faces once the Games begin.

Stop being so melodramatic, Katniss.

I get that she's unhappy about trying to be friends with someone she's going to be in a deathmatch with. But simply dressing the same and not being outright hostile is not a big deal. And it's not going to be a big deal - at most, not wanting to kill each other means going their separate ways and getting picked off by other kids. Katniss has been clear that neither is expected to survive and that the trained kids are going to kill them.

 If it was anyone but Cinna, I might be tempted to ignore him. But after last night’s triumph, I don’t have a lot of room to criticize his choices.

All he did was put you in a black outfit and then light you on fire. He's done nothing to suggest he's a brilliant strategist. You know who probably knows shit? Effie.

Haymitch asks if they want to be couched separately (so they can keep their talents hidden from each other) and if they have any skills, and we get a long, nauseating bit where they both talk about how they're useless but the other one is so skilled.

“She’s excellent,” says Peeta. “My father buys her squirrels. He always comments on how the arrows never pierce the body. She hits every one in the eye.

No, book. Just no. Do you have any idea how small a squirrel's eye is? And it's not like she has a fancy bow and arrow, she's got a handmade bow and a bunch of equally handmade arrows. There are limits to skill.

If the arrows have arrowheads - and they should, since she's shooting dogs and deer - then they won't even fit in a squirrel's eye. I guess if she's using wooden arrows with firehardened points it might be possible, but then it's pretty hard to believe she's killing large animals with them..

town families usually eat expensive butcher meat. Beef and chicken and horse.

...okay, so we're told the peacekeepers, the enforcers of the government, are desperate enough for fresh meat they're buying it on the black market. But town families are eating butcher meat. Seriously, how the hell does this economy work? Where is the money coming from?

(Also - what? Beef comes from cows, which we've seen none of, only goats. Goats are also perfectly good meat animals. And we've also seen pigs. So the animals the people are eating, according to Katniss, are all the ones that aren't actually present in the town.)

So she starts insisting he'll do great because he's really strong.

“There’s always hand-to-hand combat. All you need is to come up with a knife, and you’ll at least stand a chance. If I get jumped, I’m dead!” I can hear my voice rising in anger.
“But you won’t! You’ll be living up in some tree eating raw squirrels and picking off people with arrows. 


I think we're supposed to think they're both underestimating their own strengths here, but I'm going with Peeta here.

Hand-to-hand is not going to win you a deathmatch with twenty-four people. Even if he wins the first time, he'll almost certainly get hurt. And every time he gets hurt, he'll be a bit worse at it the next time, and get hurt worse. Even if he was the strongest of the kids, and we know he's not, he'd get taken down eventually.

Bow and arrow in a tree? That's the winning move. There's a reason we invented bows, and it's because they're awesome. Now, Katniss does have a point that she only has a chance if she has access to bows and decent cover to hide in, while Peeta's strengths are more general, but he's hardly the strongest of the kids, so if it comes down to strength vs strength he's going to die, and he has no other skill, so if it doesn't he's also doomed.

You know what my mother said to me when she came to say good-bye, as if to cheer me up, she says maybe District Twelve will finally have a winner. Then I realized, she didn’t mean me, she meant you!” bursts out Peeta.
“Oh, she meant you,” I say with a wave of dismissal.
“She said, ‘She’s a survivor, that one.’ She is,” says Peeta.
That pulls me up short. Did his mother really say that about me? Did she rate me over her son? I see the pain in Peeta’s eyes and know he isn’t lying.


God. Fucking. Dammit.

(This is even worse than it first sounds, because remember, only one kid lives, so being glad Katniss will win means being glad about Peeta's death.)

But also, the exceptionalism is just bad writing. The book says Katniss is the underdog here, but it can't help but keep saying that actually she's awesome and special.

I forget where, but someone was mentioning this with Harry Potter. See, in the first book we're told that Griffindor hasn't won the cup in ages, and then they lose all those house points so Slytherin's beating them at that too. Then at the end Harry manages to win both. That's a perfectly good arc. Unfortunately it's book one of seven. Harry and Griffindor keep winning the cup and the house competition every year. Slytherin fails over and over again. Within a couple books, it's hard to see Slytherin as anything but underdogs, which is probably were part of the dissonance and Slytherinfen come from. If you want to portray your character as nobly winning despite everything stacked against them, you have to give their opponents something to stack.

And - from the sounds of it, lots of kids are starving and desperate in her area. Last year's tributes were explicitly both starving poor kids. Why is Katniss, specifically, a "survivor"? Why is what she's gone through treated like it's some amazing thing, and not business as usual? Again the book falls down by making everything protagonist centered. All the evil the government commits seems only to matter in how it affects Katniss, not the horrible things it does to everyone.

“People will help you in the arena. They’ll be tripping over each other to sponsor you.”
“No more than you,” I say.
Peeta rolls his eyes at Haymitch. “She has no idea. The effect she can have.” He runs his fingernail along the wood grain in the table, refusing to look at me.
What on earth does he mean? People help me? When we were dying of starvation, no one helped me! No one except Peeta. Once I had something to barter with, things changed. I’m a tough trader. Or am I? What effect do I have? That I’m weak and needy? Is he suggesting that I got good deals because people pitied me? I try to think if this is true. Perhaps some of the merchants were a little generous in their trades, but I always attributed that to their long-standing relationship with my father.


What.

No, people didn't. We know because the one point she needed help most, Peeta was the only one to give it. Being generous once she has something is not the same as helping her when she had nothing.

Next, what the fuck is the book saying here? That she actually couldn't provide for her family? Because as has been repeated over and over, they were still hungry much of the time. So if she's been getting help, then on her own merit things would have been even worse. So on the one hand we're being told she's an awesome hunter and survivor, but on the other that she's only got this far because people were all being nice to her.

Finally - why her, anyway? What about the kids who are even worse off than she is, the kids who starve or are abused in the orphanage? Why is Katness special?

(Also, note her dad showing up again. If people did help, she's sure it was because of her respected dead dad, not that anyone cared about her still-living mom.)

Anyway, Haymitch says to Peeta that physical strength is important too, which I really doubt.

The thing is, there are very few situations were there are a lot of completely equal ways to accomplish the same thing. It's why actual weaponry is classed by time period, because changes are generally innovations that render the older style obsolete.

This is bad, newbie level writing. I know because I've done it. If you have no real idea how well anything works, you'll just list off possibilities without any ability to figure out what would actually be more effective. Do some research, dammit!

At most, the fact the Hunger Games are televised games means that the people in charge probably try to mix things up enough that there's no obvious winning strategy, but there should still be a few broad tendencies. For example, if you have ranged weapons and cover, you pretty much win unless the other kids have shields or armor. They might do something where they give varying quality equipment, so the bows are inaccurate while the knives are awesome, but if they're trying to keep things balanced they'll probably do something to offset the strength advantage too. And all balance should do is reduce it to several ways to win, not a ton, because there's a lot of stuff that's just never going to work as well.

I mean, if you want to look at something like this, the actual gladiatorial games had specialized weapon styles and they paid attention to balance issues to keep the fights interesting.

You go to group training. Spend the time trying to learn something you don’t know. Throw a spear. Swing a mace. Learn to tie a decent knot. Save showing what you’re best at until your private sessions.

Okay.

I am far from an expert at weapons, but a mace?

A mace is a club. It's a big, heavy club. Most of medieval use of maces was against people covered in sheets of armor, and it was often used from horseback where a sword was hard to aim and more likely to get stuck. And seriously, it's heavy. You can't just learn to swing a mace, you need to build up the muscle to do it. Even if Peeta's strong, I'd bet he doesn't have the right set of muscles for waving a mace around.

And he doesn't need a mace. A normal human being will go down just fine if you pick up a big enough stick and smash it into their head.

Now, a spear is better - although throwing? Kind of dumb. I mean, distance is great here, but you have to think of ammunition here. You throw that spear and you're defenseless. Even if you're a crack shot, if there's anyone else there, they can kill you before you retrieve it. No, you want to learn to use a spear in closer combat, because the reach should let you keep your opponent at bay and kill them without getting injured yourself. A spear is a perfectly good defensive staff that has a nice pointy bit on it. Don't throw that away.

Details aside, the basics of what he's saying are okay here - try to get a quick crash course in what you don't know anything about, rather than practice what you're already good at. It's just it's framed badly, with the focus being on not letting the others know your talent rather than that this is the best way to pick up skills, and instead of listing stuff you can legitimately benefit from a crash course in them, he says maces and throwing spears. Knots are the only reasonable thing there.

If they have to learn a weapon, I'd suggest knives just because from the sounds of it, knives are common. They also don't require a ton of strength. You won't really be able to get good at knife fighting, but they won't be hampered as badly by lack of built up muscle, and at least learning will give them a chance at predicting their opponent's moves. It's going to come up, so if you're preparing, prepare for that.

Peeta's strong, so he should really learn to use a staff. It's heavy, it's a good defensive weapon and he'd be able to hit hard with it. Like knives, it's a pretty easy weapon to come across - even if they don't give you one, easy to improvise one.

But anyway, the idea of this is good...

...but it's not really anything special. The author's still running on general knowledge that anyone should be able to think of. There should be far better strategies by this point.. The games have been going on for 74 years at this point, the psychological arms race has had a long time to develop.

I mean, just off the top of my head - Katniss is good at throwing knives. So a good idea would be to spend a lot of time practicing her knife throwing, like that's her only offensive skill and she's desperately trying to get it up to professional level. She won't do that well, but she's from a district that always loses, so no one's going to be surprised that she's not that great at it. There, now they think they know what she can do, and won't be expecting the arrows. Just sticking to what you know nothing about makes it obvious you're trying to hide your skills.

And the last thing you want is someone to be paranoid like Katniss and assume the fact you're not advertising how tough you are means you're really, really tough and then decide to take you out first.

“One last thing. In public, I want you by each other’s side every minute,” says Haymitch. We both start to object, but Haymitch slams his hand on the table. “Every minute! It’s not open for discussion! You agreed to do as I said! You will be together, you will appear amiable to each other. 

This is like the plot of a bad shipping fanfic.

Anyway, Katniss doesn't like this.

at some point, we’re going to have to knock it off and accept we’re bitter adversaries.

This is just so inconsistent. Early on, she makes this huge deal about it being a death sentence and that no one from their district has won in years. Yet she keeps acting like she and Peeta are directly competing, even though they're almost certainly both going to die and probably early on by other people.

The angst here is ridiculous, no matter what the situation is she's finding a way to say it's the worst possible way it could go.

I hear Peeta’s voice in my head. She has no idea. The effect she can have. Obviously meant to demean me. Right? but a tiny part of me wonders if this was a compliment. That he meant I was appealing in some way. It’s weird, how much he’s noticed me. Like the attention he’s paid to my hunting. And apparently, I have not been as oblivious to him as I imagined, either.

...even bad fanfic is better at it than this.

When Atala begins to read down the list of the skill stations, my eyes can’t help flitting around to the other tributes. It’s the first time we’ve been assembled, on level ground, in simple clothes. My heart sinks. Almost all of the boys and at least half of the girls are bigger than I am, even though many of the tributes have never been fed properly. You can see it in their bones, their skin, the hollow look in their eyes. I may be smaller naturally, but overall my family’s resourcefulness has given me an edge in that area. I stand straight, and while I’m thin, I’m strong. The meat and plants from the woods combined with the exertion it took to get them have given me a healthier body than most of those I see around me.

Paragraphing fail. Her heart sinks, yet half the paragraph is about how she's got the advantage.

Also, come on. She's sixteen and the games go to eighteen, and she's been drinking goat milk and eating rabbit, while lots of these kids are probably from families where the grain ration is their main source of food. I don't buy that most of them are bigger than she is. It's not just hunger, there's also malnutrition to consider, which is more than just "a healthier body".

And no "I may be smaller naturally" nonsense. Malnourishment isn't being fashionably thin. It's being stunted because you can't grow. Katniss should be stunted because we're told she's been starving at times, and most of the kids should be even worse off. The only kids who should be at their natural height are the ones raised for it and maybe a couple unlucky town kids like Peeta. If Katniss is well fed enough to be "healthy" she should be among the tallest of the slum kids, and we know slum kids make up the majority of tributes.

I also seriously doubt the other kids haven't been working hard physically, just because hungry people generally don't laze about when there's pennies to earn and things to steal.

(Also, LOL at "family's" resourcefulness when she's only talking about her dad.)

Speaking of those trained kids, it's time to pay attention to them.

The exceptions are the kids from the wealthier districts, the volunteers, the ones who have been fed and trained throughout their lives for this moment. The tributes from 1, 2, and 4 traditionally have this look about them. It’s technically against the rules to train tributes before they reach the Capitol but it happens every year. In District 12, we call them the Career Tributes, or just the Careers. And like as not, the winner will be one of them.

No, book.

They're kids. They're kids going into a death match. It's not wrong to want your kid to have a chance in the mandatory death match, and it's not wrong to want a winner so that all the other kids can have decent food for once. Shut the fuck up about how it's technically against the rules to do this, you don't care about rules when it's Katniss poaching and there's no point to that rule so it's clearly just there to show how unfair this is.

It's hardly more moral to do what her district is and just leave it for the weak and untrained to die. And it isn't like they wanted to come here and murder people. Not only is this mandatory, but they were raised their whole life for this, so they never even had a choice.

It's not their fault.

I see nothing but contempt in the glances of the Career Tributes. Each must have fifty to a hundred pounds on me. They project arrogance and brutality.

I think the projecting is being done by you, Katniss.

Fifty to a hundred pounds? You're short and thin, that doesn't take much to outweigh you. And what do you mean by contempt? That they're sizing you up and seeing you're weaker, like you just did to those other kids last paragraph?

I mean, I can see Katniss being scared of them, but the narration really doesn't seem like it's going for unreliable when she says this stuff. Next line is they head straight for the deadliest-looking weapons in the gym and handle them with ease which I'm pretty sure is supposed to be objective.

What does deadliest-looking even mean? The knife and spear? Those really are the most deadly options. It's obvious we're supposed to think they're vicious, but most of the scary looking weapons wouldn't be much use in the fight, and learning to use freaky esoteric stuff is dumb when the odds are against any particular game having them around.

I look around at the Career Tributes who are showing off, clearly trying to intimidate the field. Then at the others, the underfed, the incompetent, shakily having their first lessons with a knife or an ax.

Well, it's nice to see some sympathy from her, although it'd be nice if it didn't take such an us-vs-them situation to provoke it.

It's also just kind of unsettling how she's focusing on the Career Tributes and not the people starving children and running the childmurder games. I realize they're the bigger immediate threat, but the demonization is bothering.

So they decide to avoid the weapons entirely and go try knots.

We cross to an empty station where the trainer seems pleased to have students. You get the feeling that the knot-tying class is not the Hunger games hot spot. When he realizes Iknow something about snares, he shows us a simple, excellent trap that will leave a human competitor dangling by a leg from a tree. 

Why is no one else doing this?

So, there are three districts that raise kids for this. Six out of twenty-four. The other eighteen are untrained. They are not going to win a straight up fight, so their best bet is a trap and then killing whoever they caught. Why didn't any of the other mentors explain this? Are they all similarly drunk because of the unlikelihood of beating the trained kids, and unlike Katniss and Peeta, the other kids didn't get lucky and convince the asshole to bother giving them a word of advice?

What's particularly irritating here is how unearned it is. Katniss is a poacher. She should be smart enough to think that she has a better chance setting traps and go for the less sensational stations of her own volition.

You could even say this part is televised, and the people usually encourage the kids to focus on the actual fighting options because it plays better with the audience. Then it's Katniss making the right choice in opposition to the kind of bad advice that's gotten kids killed in the past, rather than Katniss lucking into being told the right thing to do because we're told people think she's talented enough to warrant their effort.

We concentrate on this one skill for an hour until both of us have mastered it. 

...that's all it takes? Everyone should learn this, not just so they can do it but so they have a chance of avoiding walking into it. I'm just going to assume all the trained kids already know it, but the other kids should learn.

They go on to learn about camouflage and Peeta tells her that back home he used to do the cake icing.

He means the ones they display in the windows. Fancy cakes with flowers and pretty things painted in frosting.

Seriously, how does this economy work? Who's buying this? We're even told sugar is really rare, how do they have enough to make frosting flowers?

I mean, assuming anyone can pay for this in the first place, you don't just make them on a whim. I really doubt they have the preservatives to keep stuff fresh, and they certainly have no refrigeration, so it'd only be specially commissioned cakes. If they're putting up displays, they should be mock-ups, not actual cakes. And there really isn't much point in a display since it's not like people can buy from anyone else. If they want a birthday cake, there's only one baker.

So the next three days pass with Peeta and I going quietly from station to station. We do pick up some valuable skills, from starting fires, to knife throwing, to making shelter. 

FFFFFFFFFFFFFF-

Stop being a stupid city kid, Katniss.

You already know how to start fires. Your house is heated by one. You said back when you were a starving kid you scavenged branches for the fire at home once the coal ran out, so it's not like you just don't know how to do it with wood either. To say nothing of all the time you were out hunting in the forest.

You also know how to throw knives. You threw one very well and explained it with some nonsense about how sometimes when you shot an animal your arrow didn't finish it off so you'd throw a knife into it, because apparently the idea you could shoot more than once is beyond you. And if you didn't, it's a really hard skill and you're not going to be able to just pick it up.

You know damn well how to make shelter, you've gone out in the woods a lot and I'm sure it's rained on you at least a couple times along the way.

Despite Haymitch’s order to appear mediocre, Peeta excels in hand-to-hand combat, and I sweep the edible plants test without blinking an eye.

Yeah hand-to-hand is another thing you don't just pick up. "Does decently" is the best Peeta can really hope for here. He does know wrestling, but there's a pretty big gap there.

And Katniss, no one cares you know about edible plants. If it was poisonous plants at least you might potentially be using that knowledge to kill someone by coating your knives in sap or something, so they should watch out, but edible, no.

The Gamemakers appeared early on the first day. 

Ah, see, there we go. That should be the reason the kids are trying out weapons, they should be told that it's important to impress these guys and that they want to see fighting.

sometimes wandering about to watch us, jotting down notes, other times eating at the endless banquet that has been set for them, ignoring the lot of us. But they do seem to be keeping their eye on the District 12 tributes. Several times I’ve looked up to find one fixated on me. 

Why do you do this, book.

There is such a good story here, about a scared kid in a horrible situation. But you're too busy showing off how special she is. Why do they even care? All they know about her is that she got lit on fire. I'm assuming these guys care about the actual fighting stuff, where she hasn't done anything to distinguish herself. But somehow they just know she's special.

Worse, in showing how everyone thinks she's special, you're ignoring the part where THESE ARE HORRIBLE PEOPLE TAKING PART IN THE CHILDMURDER GAMES.

The Career Tributes tend to gather rowdily around one table, as if to prove their superiority, that they have no fear of one another and consider the rest of us beneath notice.

Or maybe they're trying to get an edge by finding out something about each other because as you yourself said, one of them is the most likely winner. It doesn't have to be that they're a bunch of arrogant bastards who think you're nothing before them, but simply that they have a limited amount of time and they have to pay attention to the most likely threat.

Stop demonizing your fellow victims.

Anyway, she and Peeta are trying to play at being nice, which for some reason is some huge chore she wants sympathy for.

“Did I ever tell you about the time I was chased by a bear?” I ask.
“No, but it sounds fascinating,” says Peeta.
I try and animate my face as I recall the event, a true story, in which I’d foolishly challenged a black bear over the rights to a beehive


a) why didn't you shoot it and get both bear and beehive
b) it's a black bear, Katniss, they're really not that dangerous. I'm just going to assume you were twelve at the time or something.
c) why didn't you just let it piss off the bees and then try to scavenge what was left?
d) hey, bees! Why aren't people keeping beehives if sugar is scarce? Haven't heard any mention of it.

On day two, the little twelve year old starts following them around.

I find it kind of forced that she'd somehow decide they weren't scary when everyone else is, but it may be that since they're pretending to be friends they're the only ones who are acting friendly at all and she's really desperate.

Her name is Rue. Look, if you name your kid fucking Rue, you have only yourself to blame when she ends up in the childmurder games at age twelve to die horribly.

In case we didn't get it:

I bite my lip. Rue is a small yellow flower that grows in the Meadow. Rue. Primrose. Neither of them could tip the scale at seventy pounds soaking wet.

Yes, yes.

Also, seventy pounds? That puts her in the bottom percentile for kids her age, if kids her age were American. Once again, this distopic government is really failing to properly oppress things. That is not the size of a kid who's spent most of her life malnourished in a place where death by starvation is common. That's about how much I weighted at her age.

And it can't be that she represents a well-fed kid, because Katniss is making a huge deal about how tiny and delicate she is and how she doesn't even look twelve, she looks ten. So she should look smaller than normal in a place where the majority of kids aren't getting fed right.

Research.

“What can we do about it?” I ask him, more harshly than I intended.
“Nothing to do,” he says back. “Just making conversation.”


Uh, no.

Here's what you could do. You could tell the scared little kid you that you won't kill her. Seriously, go tell her this. Hell, even if you're planning to kill her you should still tell her this, she can at least spend the few remaining days of her life a little less scared.

Dammit, Katniss, stop being so spineless and DO SOMETHING. You can't do anything that actually matters but you can at least try.

Now that I know she’s there, it’s hard to ignore the child. She slips up and joins us at different stations. 

So stop ignoring her!

She can hit the target every time with a slingshot. But what is a slingshot against a 220-pound male with a sword?

Is that a trick question? I'm pretty sure the answer is "victory". Seriously, what the hell Katniss. Do they not have books where you're from. This is literally one of the oldest stories around.

Ranged weapons are fucking awesome. Swords suck.

I don't even know what the book is trying to do here, the details are completely divorced from how we're being told to feel.

Anyway, Haymitch is totally sober now and doing a great job of micromanaging, because that's completely how alcoholism works. Unfortunately Katniss is contractually obligated to always be upset about whatever's happening.

 Full of endless directions about what we should do and not do in training. Peeta is more patient, but I become fed up and surly.

You have three days to learn everything you possibly can. You should be desperate for direction, not whiny.

When we finally escape to bed on the second night, Peeta mumbles, “Someone ought to get Haymitch a drink.”
I make a sound that is somewhere between a snort and a laugh. Then catch myself. It’s messing with my mind too much, trying to keep straight when we’re supposedly friends and when we’re not. At least when we get into the arena, I’ll know where we stand. “Don’t. Don’t let’s pretend when there’s no one around.”
“All right, Katniss,” he says tiredly. After that, we only talk in front of people.


See, this is just not a plausible characterization.

There's actually a really good reason for her not to want to get attached, because she knows he's going to die soon. But instead it's just melodramatic nonsense about how soon they'll be enemies. And it's so damn obvious that he's either legitimately friendly or he's trying to pretend to the point of convincing her, not just going along with Haymitch's suggestion.

On day three they have to perform for the gamemasters privately, and show off their abilities.

Katniss tells us As usual, District 12 is slated to go last.

The book's done this a couple times, where it's implied District 12 is the worst off of all of them. It's honestly really distracting. It's like the basic setup of childmurder games and mass starvation isn't good enough, her district has to win the misery-off.

They’ve been here too long, the Gamemakers. Sat through twenty-three other demonstrations. Had too much to wine, most of them. Want more than anything to go home.

It's like everything has to be the exception, either the best or the worst. So her district is usually ignored because they've gotten bored by now, what does this add? All it's doing is making this artificial division between her district and the others that are in equally bad positions.

I take my initial position and skewer the dummy right through the heart. Then I sever the rope that holds the sandbag for boxing, and the bag splits open as it slams to the ground. Without pausing, I shoulder-roll forward, come up on one knee, and send an arrow into one of the hanging lights high above the gymnasium floor. A shower of sparks bursts from the fixture.
It’s excellent shooting. I turn to the Gamemakers. A few are nodding approval, but the majority of them are fixated on a roast pig that has just arrived at their banquet table.


The idea they're paying attention to the food has come up before. Why the fuck do they care? They live in a world where you can press a button and get anything you want. If they wanted roast pig they could have buttonpressed five minutes ago. This is trying to show them as decadent gluttons, but they shouldn't care about that either.

Suddenly I am furious, that with my life on the line, they don’t even have the decency to pay attention to me. That I’m being upstaged by a dead pig. My heart starts to pound, I can feel my face burning. Without thinking, I pull an arrow from my quiver and send it straight at the Gamemakers’ table. I hear shouts of alarm as people stumble back. The arrow skewers the apple in the pig’s mouth and pins it to the wall behind it. Everyone stares at me in disbelief.
“Thank you for your consideration,” I say. Then I give a slight bow and walk straight toward the exit without being dismissed.


Okay, so this works. The main problem I have is the story it works in is a different story. This kind of thing would work if she was trying to get hired to the guard, or something else where the issue is that she's awesome and it's unfair they aren't paying attention.

But, you know, childmurder games.

The random indignities are, in context, just a distraction. The issue is not that they're not recognizing how cool she is and her amazing ability isn't properly lauded. Making a big deal about how unfair it is they're not paying attention is missing the point, which is that every last person in the room is evil.

Date: 2011-03-28 04:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ember-reignited.livejournal.com
Farla, I have a message from Coz. I was talking about these reviews with her and mentioned off-handedly that you were the one behind the carapace high school AU.

She instantly went into all-caps and demanded I "TELL [YOU] TO FINISH IT."

(Also this book is just depressing me because it's such a waste of a perfectly good dystopian scenario.)

Date: 2011-03-28 05:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
>.> I was wondering if she was badfic!anon. So I guess I am succeedfailing?

The problem is the cast! The horrible cast!

I can smush together the Intermission cast and the Derse cast okay, but where do the Exiles go?! I think I wrote myself into a corner with WV when I made Snowman president, but then he can't be president anyway because Slick would shiv him like halfway onto stage to give his acceptance speech, and anyway WV being puppet-leader fanon started to depress me post Rise Up because he was actually a really great leader doing it for a reason, and also what the hell is PM doing? She's obviously around being :/ at Dersites and their stupid shit but she's not just like one of WQ's attendants and what is mail to the school setting??? I know it's supposed to be badfic but I'm not wedging her in as someone's girlfriend.

(The book is giving me so much new appreciation for Battle Royale. It wasn't perfect and oh god so much gore but it wasn't afraid of its own premise.)

Date: 2011-03-28 05:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] conceptofzero.livejournal.com
THE BADFIC ANON IS ALWAYS MEEEEE. I enjoyed that story SO MUCH and you hit that perfect stride with badfic where it's deliciously cliche and over the top, but still actually readable and enjoyable.

but yes, the exiles are hard to fit in, espeically if you don't want to go down a depressing path. they pretty much end up either corrupt or stuck in background positions where they're away from the antics of everyone else. but! PM could still be a parcel mistress! maybe her parents run the local post office, and since most schools do have a PO box, she could take the school's mail over for them every morning, and then just get in a habit of delivering it to the classrooms/the student council! then she can still be herself without having to be crowbared in as a girlfriend.

Date: 2011-03-28 06:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
Hm maybe, at least in the mornings, and maybe notes and stuff other times? I kind of spent my own school years doing my best to ignore my surroundings so it's hard to think of what stuff was going on. She does seem like the bright and early type.

Date: 2011-03-29 02:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] conceptofzero.livejournal.com
Mornings for sure, then she can still attend class while also being her postal lady self. You can always have the intercom breakdown so PM occasionally delivers important messages to see the principal in person (and then Slick can interact directly with her if you want to get some dialogue going between them). And it is badfic so you're allowed to cheese it in order to make it work for you! As long as it isn't completely impossible and you make it seem convincing, you can get away with most anything.

Date: 2011-03-29 03:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
! Of course the intercom would break down, they're all high strung and violent and way more skilled than actual high school students and have ridiculous grudges.

That works perfectly.

Date: 2011-03-28 10:39 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Knives will spin if you throw them unless they're weighted correctly. While throwing an ordinary hunting knife at someone can still be plenty damaging, it can be pretty inaccurate as well, and you have a good chance of the knife spinning at the wrong time and hitting them with the hilt... which should probably bruise at least.

If they're practicing knife-throwing, I wonder if they'll be given properly weighted throwing knives or some sort of ranged weapons once the game starts. I don't really see the point in training them in it, unless that's the case. If not, in a realistic world, that slingshot girl is going to slaughter every single person.

Date: 2011-03-28 03:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
For the sake of my sanity, I'm assuming Katniss is using proper throwing knives that she inherited from her dad, along with training in how to use them, and just didn't specify because to her they're normal. They're almost certainly going to get decent weapons once the games starts because it's just more interesting...even still I think the slingshot is the winning move, because infinite ammunition. The other weapons have to be retrieved after use, which makes you vulnerable, and are easily lost or damaged. Unless the Hunger Games are extremely quick affairs, that's going to end up mattering.

Date: 2011-03-28 04:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] actonthat.livejournal.com
Is that a trick question? I'm pretty sure the answer is "victory". Seriously, what the hell Katniss. Do they not have books where you're from. This is literally one of the oldest stories around.

Is this terrible, terrible foreshadowing, or is the author an idiot? How could anyone make this mistake?

Date: 2011-03-28 06:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
I think the mistake is thinking of a slingshot as a kid's toy and assuming no one would be dumb enough to let kids run around with something dangerous, so it must be harmless.

On the other hand, it's one of the weapons they provide for the childmurder games, so the very fact it's there should mean they think the kids will kill each other with it in an interesting manner.

Date: 2011-03-28 04:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] simon-alexander.livejournal.com
Katniss is reminding me more and more about this Pokemon Sue I saw once. I think she was the younger sister of an Officer Jenny and was all super awesome YET was not as awesome as Jenny and so you should pity the poor girl. If memory serves me, an actual part from the story is when the Sue brings home a 100 on some test and her parents say "Well Jenny would have gotten extra points."

Katniss has all this advantage going for her, but she's NATURALLY SMALL and FROM THE WORST DISTRICT, YOU MUST FEEL SORRY FOR HER!!!1

I. Can't.

Date: 2011-03-28 06:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
That was a fun fic. You know, I really think fanfic is good for this kind of thing, because it lets you recognize things when they show up in less blatant forms.

NATURALLY SMALL as opposed to UNNATURALLY SMALL FROM STARVATION LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. Oh Katniss, truly your suffering is more important than anyone else.

Wait, wait, back up a minute.

Date: 2011-03-28 10:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ember-reignited.livejournal.com
She shot the rich people's dinner and pinned it to a wall.

The tributes have a clear line of fire from the practice arena to the sponsors. You're telling me they have guards against suicide-by-jumping-off-the-hotel, but not against the much more attractive suicide-by-taking-the-evil-bastards-down-with-you? How has that not happened?

I mean think about it, it doesn't take very special circumstances for that to easily and obviously be the best option available. You've given up hope for yourself. You're decent with ranged weapons, even just throwing knives. You're the weaker of your District's two tributes, and therefore not the best hope for your family and friends (or maybe you're an orphan who has no family and friends). Maybe you're almost as scared of killing the other (younger?) kids as you are of dying, maybe you aren't even sure you can do that. And you really, really hate these sick fucks.

What are they going to do? Kill you? Ha! Torture you? Not likely, since everyone seems so set on pretending the games aren't punitive. And even if they do, can it be worse than who-knows-how-long of fear and exhaustion and exposure and soul-crippling guilt?

Re: Wait, wait, back up a minute.

Date: 2011-03-28 10:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
Even worse, Katniss just found out what they do to people. They cut out your tongue and make you serve food. She is seriously picking "murder children for their amusement and then die" over "murder them and then be a slave cleaning the rooms".

The answer is, of course, Katniss doesn't hate them. Why? I don't know.

This could be a really good deconstruction of how the people a society oppresses often end up supporting those same things, except Katniss is on record as thinking the games are terrible. If they'd all been brainwashed into thinking they deserved this and that it was a great honor to get the chance to earn food for their district, it would make so much more sense.

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