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Last time on the childmurder games, no one figured out how to be a conscientious objector and Katniss finally arrived at the site of the childmurder games.

we’re required to stand on our metal circles before the sound of a gong releases us. Step off before the minute is up, and land mines blow your legs off. 

Peeta. You want to show them they don't own you? There you go.

I'd take it. Especially if I looked around and found I was in the mace group.

Don't kids ever suicide here? It doesn't even have to be a "noble" gesture, aren't any of them just so scared from days of thinking about it, replaying all the games they've seen in their head, watching other kids mangle practice dummies, being told all the horrible ways people can die, five days of nothing but this, and they'd rather just end it when they're given the chance? And it isn't like they had no idea this would happen until now, this seems to be the standard setup so they've had plenty of time to think on it.

If the mines are strong enough, it may be a quicker death than jumping off the building. Just move and it's over, no time to fear while you fall.

They're all spread out around the Cornucopia, which is stuffed with supplies. There's also a few less valuable things around the area, so kids have a choice of going for the best in the center, grabbing something less valuable further out and then running, or simply making a break for it.

there in the mouth, I can see a tent pack that would protect from almost any sort of weather.

Uh, Katniss. Assuming a tent pack is a literal tent and not, like, a bag you pull over yourself, you really don't want that. I've used tents. They're big and it's really easy to get the jump on someone inside.

 If I had the guts to go in and fight for it against the other twenty-three tributes.

Why would everyone else go for it? Aside from what I just said about it not actually being that great, do you really think Rue's mentor told her to get into a death fight over a damn tent? Or the poor kid who has a crippled leg?

The calculation here should be about how many kids will immediately run, and if maybe you can grab something moderately good because the other kids will be going for the even worse stuff in the hopes of avoiding a fight, and also if someone's going to ignore the "fight over" part and jump straight to just regular fighting. There's a decent chance of no one going for the best thing because everyone assumes everyone else will go for it first.

We’re on a flat, open stretch of ground. A plain of hard-packed dirt. Behind the tributes across from me, I can see nothing, indicating either a steep downward slope or even cliff. To my right lies a lake. To my left and back, spars piney woods. 

This is decent. At least right here, they've eliminated a lot of variability. A kid familiar with this biome or bushcraft in general doesn't have much to work with, but there's enough there that anyone can work out the basics. You have two choices, the lake or the forest. The lack of slope means you don't know where to go for other water, the lack of cover means you can't stay at the lake.

But Katniss really, really wants stuff.

I call shenanigans. She's had to survive in a low-tech area. This might be impressive to her, but it shouldn't be necessary. Most of it should be things she's used to doing without. Let the kids who lived in an area with electricity waste time on the firestarter, she should know how to make a fire on her own.

I know that if I don’t get it, someone else will. 

She seems to be finally approaching something I said well earlier, that it isn't about personally winning, it's about surviving longer than everyone else. Unfortunately she's approaching it from the opposite direction, and her first impulse is to want to deny everyone else as much as possible so they'll be at a disadvantage.

the Career Tributes who survive the bloodbath will divide up most of these life-sustaining spoils.

Why would they divide it up?

For starters, the career tributes should want to kill each other most of all. They're the biggest threat to each other. Then there's the fact that they've been prepared for the murderdeath games, and should know that bloodbaths don't favor the skilled. They don't favor anyone. Plenty of them should have had it drummed in how to pick the best thing - ideally something where the value isn't obvious to the majority of the kids - and then go hide.

She sees a bow and arrows.

I’m fast. I can sprint faster than any of the girls in our school although a couple can beat me in distance races. But this forty-yard length, this is what I am built for.

Uh, Katniss? Your ability to outrun starving kids doesn't actually mean you're faster than kids raised for this who actually got fed regularly. More, even the book specifies "girls" here, and boys are usually faster. Boys are 50% of the people you're competing with, Katniss. You don't even have long legs, you're "naturally" short remember?

the question is how quickly can I get out of there? By the time I’ve scrambled up the packs and grabbed the weapons, others will have reached the horn, and one or two I might be able to pick off, but say there’s a dozen, at that close range, they could take me down with the spears and the clubs. Or their own powerful fists.

For starters, it turns out Katniss never has to wrestle with the idea of shooting people. Her first impulse is to get a murder weapon and she's immediately planning on shooting everyone near her instead of running off with it. She's only dissuaded by the fact she doesn't think she can get them all before someone kills her, not that she's going to be aiming at kids her age like they're a pack of rabid dogs.

If you've grabbed the weapons, why are you sticking around to "pick off" anyone? Just bolt in the direction that doesn't have other kids. If you get there first, no one else has a weapon. Avoid the really muscular kids who might be able to grab you and you'll be fine.

After all, they can't waste time on you. Anyone who attacks her is only going to get the bow, while other people are running off with the other stuff, and they're putting themselves at risk of a counterattack. Even if one of the huge kids grabs her, the smartest thing for the rest to do is use it as an opportunity to crack their head in.

Katniss acknowledges she won't be the only target - but I'm not sure she'd be a target at all, especially if she's grabbing something that's only of use to other archers rather than useful to anyone.

I’m betting many of the other tributes would pass up a smaller girl

Except for the other times, when Katniss says that the other tributes (inexplicably) try to kill the weak first. I mean, it makes sense to me, but this is from Katniss who says crying and looking weak mean you die first. The book is terribly inconsistent about how the games work.

even one who scored an eleven in training Haymitch has never seen me run. Maybe if he had he’d tell me to go for it.

Maybe if you were smart you would have mentioned this. Of course, maybe if he was smart he would have mentioned the whole run-for-it plan earlier and given you a chance to think and realize you should ask. You did have a lot on your mind, I guess it's understandable not think to ask at the time.

She sees Peeta shaking his head. Or she thinks he does, anyway.

 But the sun’s in my eyes, and while I’m puzzling over it the gong rings out.

For god's sake, book, this is our heroine.

He's shaking his head because she's positioning to sprint to the center. It's obvious. She could just as easily have been distracted by such things as "why does he give a fuck?", "is he actually right?" and "omg what if this is in fact an trick to put me at a disadvantage clearly he wants the stuff to himself" because Katniss' defining character trait so far has been her paranoia and struggle to understand his motives.

But anyway, the puzzling means she's not first to the center, so she's lost her chance with the bow. (Peeta's evil plan succeeds! Come on Katniss, you know you want to assume that.)

I’m so angry with Peeta for distracting me that I sprint in twenty yards to retrieve a bright orange backpack that could hold anything

Katniss, you are so very fucked. I will grant that this is in line with the person who loses her temper and shoots an arrow at the Hitler council's pig, and then yells "defiantly" about it, but you're sixteen years old, that person should not have lived to be sixteen.

Remember when you were talking about the forest and how it's full of deadly predators? And you said when you were a kid you ran back under the fence if you heard any weird sound, not "I did that, unless there was a really yummy looking apple or something I wanted"? Why are you doing something just because you're mad?

Unfortunately, another kid's gone for the same pack.

A boy, I think from District 9, reaches the pack at the same time I do and for a brief time we grapple for it

I think there's something interesting here.

This is the first thing the viewers see in the games - a bunch of kids fighting each other for basic supplies. It doesn't really lend itself well to humanizing them. One can understand why they act like this, but on an emotional level it makes them look like a bunch of animals, especially to people from the capital, who even the best supplies will seem like no big deal. Nothing about this makes you question the broader ethics of the games. Look, when you put them together the first thing they do is attack enough other over scraps! The people from the districts are just so vicious, aren't they? Not like real people at all.

But I don't think the text quite realizes that. It's just not very interested in examining Katniss' behavior, let alone what it means to others.

then he coughs, splattering my face with blood. I stagger back, repulsed by the warm, sticky spray. Then the boy slips to the ground. That’s when I see the knife in his back. 

This is good. While Katniss and this kid are fighting over stuff to survive their environment in the coming days, another kid is cutting down the competition.

This could be a lot better - a concrete example of the difference in attitude between the kids who didn't train for this (who just try to pull supplies from each other and are thinking of living) and those who did, who focus on killing each other instead. Unfortunately Katniss was just planning on shooting them full of arrows.

Already other tributes have reached the Cornucopia and are spreading out to attack. Yes, the girl from District 2, ten yards away, running toward me, one hand clutching a half-dozen knives. 

Why isn't she aiming at the other kids near the Cornucopia? Throwing knives, like arrows, are a distance weapon, she can pick people off while staying out of reach. Instead she's apparently running from the place that probably has more throwing knives (and the bow) leaving anyone to pick up those weapons and send something into her own back.

I guess you could argue for killing the kids who are about to flee so you don't have to chase them down later, but I think killing the kids who aren't armed yet but are about to be should be a higher priority.

All the general fear I’ve been feeling condenses into at immediate fear of this girl, this predator who might kill me in seconds.

You were planning on shooting her if you got there first. She's not a predator. She's a girl.

The girl throws but Katniss hears and gets her pack up to block the knife. I'm not sure you can react that fast once you hear the knife coming, but okay, whatever. Katniss makes it to the trees.

A grin crosses my face. Thanks for the knife, I think.

One throwing knife isn't a big deal. It's not like it's really usable as a regular knife, and if you miss you'll be unarmed and have alerted the other person you're there. It is, admittedly, a lot better than having no weapon, and if we accept that Katniss is inexplicably good at throwing knives as well as shooting, it will allow her to win fights if she's careful to only jump kids that are all alone.

She looks back.

About a dozen or so tributes are hacking away at one another at the horn. Several lie dead already on the ground.

So more than half of the kids in the childmurder games are already dead or fighting to the death.

I'd like to talk about Battle Royale, the manga I linked last chapter. In Battle Royale, the kids are each given a bag of supplies and a weapon. To get more supplies or a better weapon, you kill another kid and take their stuff. This prevents the problem of most of the kids getting into a huge fight and all dying at once.

I suppose this might make sense if you assume that this gorefest is really popular, but if so, why set it up so the kids can run off into the woods and enter into a long cat and mouse game? Why not put them in a literal arena and just watch them run around in circles murdering each other?

the knife — it’s a fine one with a long sharp blade, serrated near the handle, which will make it handy for sawing through things

THROWING KNIVES ARE DIFFERENT THAN REGULAR ONES

Okay. The capital has super magitech, maybe they design the knives so that they're are versatile as possible. Given they have magic detangler powers, making a really sharp blade that's also not brittle the way a throwing knife can't be might be possible. The kids will certainly need regular knives at some point and the people in charge likely want them to always have the option of throwing knives at each other. Precision manufacturing could probably let you make a serrated knife that was still properly balanced.

It would be nice if there was at least a reference to "it was just like the ones in training" instead of her listing off features like it was new. Even a really skilled thrower would need time to get used to a new knife before they could throw well, so giving the kids time to practice with exactly what they'll end up using is a good move from the gamerunner's perspective.

The woods begin to evolve, and the pines are intermixed with a variety of trees, some I recognize, some completely foreign to me.

Look for the ones that like water, Katniss. If you didn't learn from your years in the forest (and I will accept that because you probably weren't concerned with paying attention to which non-food tree grew in which area) this should have been in your crash course on not dying, right next to edible plants. You could even consider climbing a pine, they're often extremely tall compared to the other trees and you might get a good look around.

At one point, I hear a noise and pull my knife, thinking I may have to defend myself, but I’ve only startled a rabbit.

Throw the knife at the rabbit. You can drink blood.

...I'm not kidding, Katniss, didn't they cover this? You need water. It has water. Get on it. And when you're done you'll have something to eat as well.

The ground slopes down. I don’t particularly like this.

…! DOWN IS WHERE WATER IS. I KNOW THIS AND I DIDN'T JUST HAVE A CRASH COURSE IN BASIC NOT FUCKING DYING DURING THE CAMPING PART OF THE MURDERDEATH GAMES.

FUCKING HELL KATNISS WHEN YOU SAID EARLIER YOU COULDN'T TELL WHERE THE GROUND SLOPED I THOUGHT YOU MEANT YOU DIDN'T KNOW WHICH WAY TO GO FOR WATER, NOT THAT YOU WANTED TO GO UPHILL.

I want to be high, like in the hills around District 12, where I can see my enemies approaching. 

CLIMB A FUCKING TREE

I’m glad for the solitude, even though it’s an illusion, because I’m probably on-screen right now. Not consistently but off and on.

...so, I haven't been mentioning, but a couple times so far Katniss has described the video feed as cutting between people. Now, it seems like that's still in effect during the actual games.

Why? They have super technology, why can't they have more than one channel? The way to do this is to have a dedicated feed for each kid and then one more cutting around giving you the highlights. This only happens once a year, you want to milk it for everything it's got.

There are so many deaths to show the first day that a tribute trekking through the woods isn’t much to look at. But they’ll show me enough to let people know I’m alive, uninjured and on the move. One of the heaviest days of betting is the opening, when the initial casualties come in. 

So what was the point of that eleven you got?

The sponsors are going to look at how you're doing now, while the fellow kids are only able to work off the score they heard initially. You're better off with a zero and then a show of competence to indicate that was your plan all along.

Speaking of player knowledge, they tell the kids about a death by firing a cannon (?) for each kid. Katniss hears eleven, so there are only twelve people left for her to kill to win the games. This within a few hours. The pacing here is atrocious. And this is a yearly event, you'd think they'd want to draw it out as long as possible.

All of a sudden, I’m overwhelmed by the thought that Peeta may be already lost, bled white, collected, and in the process of being transported back to the Capitol

I can already see why people are complaining about romantic plot tumors in later books.

What about Rue, Katniss? The kid who reminds you of the sister who's the only person you care about in the world? You've spent all this time talking about how you think Peeta's going to kill you anyway, and really, she's the more vulnerable one.

I'd like to reference more kids in these situations but the book doesn't do much of a job introducing anyone. Off the top of my head, there's the District 1 girl who's pretty, a "monstrous" boy from District 2 I think, the red haired girl with a clever look, Rue, a huge boy from Rue's district named Thresh, and a kid with a bad leg. Might have forgotten another throwaway reference to another kid or two, but the only one with a face is Rue. It makes it incredibly clear the actual cast is going to be only a few kids, and that even of those, only a couple actually count as people.

In another of the oblique suicide references, Katniss wonders if Peeta might be better off killed early. Of course, she phrases this as being because he didn't think he could win, which is kind of true but missing the bigger point, that they're a bunch of kids competing to murder people and also, he's not going to win even if he did somehow think he would. At least so far the deaths seem to have been quick, so I guess the focus on not wanting to be killed makes sense. I still find it hard to let go of the horror of someone botching a kill, but they did get a minimum training and the weapons they're provided with are likely good at killing.

She takes a breather to check the pack. There's some basic food and supplies.

a half-gallon plastic bottle with a cap for carrying water that's bone dry.
No water. How hard would it have been for them to fill up the bottle?


Uh, Katniss.

You did just have basic survival training, right? What do you do when there's no water, and you don't know when you'll be getting water again, but you do have a container that can hold water?

Come on now.

It's been hot and I've sweat a lot. I do this at home, but there are always streams to drink from, or snow to melt if it should come to it.

...and therefore...?

The lake. The one I saw while I was waiting for the gong to sound. What if that's the only water source in the arena?

...and therefore...?

The lake is a full day's journey from where I sit now, a much harder journey with nothing to drink.

Jesus fucking Christ Katniss. Pee in the damn bottle.

Book, if you didn't want this to come up you shouldn't have given her a bottle and then made a big production about this.

If we didn't have Katniss spending three days on survival courses I would find this a lot more reasonable. It's quite possible this wouldn't occur to her on her own. But if water is often a major problem for the tributes, obvious stuff like this should be mentioned.

I'm about to panic when I remember the rabbit I startled earlier today. It has to drink, too. I just have to find out where.

Or you could just drink the rabbit like I mentioned earlier.

I realize there are some safety issues here but you're in a deathmatch, you have bigger things to worry about. Plus, they have magic science, I'm sure they can fix you up if you live.

I’m hungry, too, but I don’t dare break into my precious store of crackers and beef yet.

This...doesn't actually make that much sense. She has X numbers of calories on her. It's entirely possible someone might jump her any time and she'll lose the food. Plus, she's an experienced poacher. Her odds of getting food actually go up over time, as she can start making traps and the number of people she has to avoid while doing so will steadily decrease.

But whatever. Instead, she decides to eat pine bark.

Now, edible can mean different things. It's quite easy for something to not be toxic, but to not have enough calories for you to get anything out of it. Starving people (which Katniss' community is supposed to be) will eat anything just to fill their stomachs. And people getting their calories from a monotonous diet that probably doesn't have the proper vitamins (say, if you're all eating crappy grain) might also supplement their diet with food that doesn't have calories but does have trace vitamins they need. However, unless she's actually getting calories from doing this, it's a waste of her time.

A quick google doesn't get me answers on this one. It does, however, say pine bark is actually pretty good, the trick is to cook it. Raw pine bark is too fibrous. Possibly if you chew it a little to suck off the sap and then spit it out, or swallow with the minimum of chewing you're also still getting some bonus calories.

Since it's wetter food than crackers and dried beef, I could see her being motivated by her thirst to eat it instead of those.

(Also, she just used her "sharp" blade to cut into a resin-filled pine tree. That doesn't seem like a good use of resources...)

She hears some howling sounds that mean there might be dangerous animals about, but figures the most dangerous ones will be her fellow kids.

Those who fought it out at the Cornucopia will have food, an abundance of water from the lake, torches or flashlights, and weapons they’re itching to use.

...uh, I don't think the superkillers are going to be dumb enough to walk around with flashlights, let along torches. The light will attract everyone else's attention long before they get anywhere near. The scared kids can easily avoid it, and they're at risk of anyone smart stalking them and throwing a knife into their back.

And you know, even with flashlights you're not going to be able to move around.

I think people forget things sometimes.

I live in a town. It's not even a particularly large one. But when I look out my window, I can see fine. It's particularly dramatic during the winter, when the whole world looks like it's covered in a red wash, but even in the summer when there isn't snow everywhere I can walk around and see where I'm going. That's light pollution for you. And you don't really need to see all that well, because everything's nice and level. If you can see the basic shape of a road, you know it's there and flat and you can walk on it.

Out in a forest in the middle of nowhere? You need the flashlights aimed at your feet to walk. The ground isn't clear and you can't see anything without light.

And finally - this is just dumb. They've been trained their whole life for this, and no one bothered to tell them about pacing? Carelessness kills. Most of their advantage is in their training. Blundering about in the dark, where the playing field is a lot closer to level, is the worst thing they could do. If nothing else the situation is heavily weighted in favor of an ambusher rather than someone moving.

But whatever. She figures her best bet is to sleep in a tree.

Dunno about this. Part of the problem is I really can't picture this place very well. Personally, I'd say the best option is undergrowth because no one can check every bush. The fact of the matter is, we're monkeys and we tend to look up. But it's not really clear if the forest has much of that or if it's pretty clear. If it is, a tree probably is better.

I pick my tree carefully. A willow

IS A TREE THAT GROWS BY WATER

Look around. Start patting the ground, see if it's wet. Maybe there's a spring nearby or something. Especially since you say it's in the middle of a grove of other willows.

To avoid falling to her death, she ties herself down. Because this book hates continuity, she does not use any special knot for this. Her main worry is getting caught while she's defenseless - she'd be substantially less so if she didn't just tie herself in place with something she can't get out of in a hurry.

I’m actually viewing another screen, an enormous one that’s transported by of one of their disappearing hovercraft. 

This is stupid.

Look, they have cameras everywhere, right? Why not hook up a couple loudspeakers too? Announce the deaths. The translated version of Battle Royale, at least, did this, and it worked pretty well. In fact, it'd be a welcome reminder of the humans behind this.

She goes on to explain they don't show the actual deaths because that'd give survivors a clue about each others' abilities.

here in the arena, all we see are the same photographs they showed when they televised our training scores. Simple head shots. 

Not even corpses. Seriously, why did they bother with the massive screen of doom? Even if their magitech makes it incredibly light, the wind force...

The dead are not described, so that confirms it - the author only bothered thinking up characteristics for those she'd planned to matter. This book is painfully predictable.

Anyway, Katniss is surprised that one of the six trained kids is dead from the initial fight, because apparently that's extremely rare. This is stupid, the first deaths should be a mix of attacks of opportunity and people deliberately trying to take out the biggest threats, ie, the trained kids.

Her first thought is wondering if Peeta made it, but he has. She's relieved.

I tell myself again that if I get killed, his winning will benefit my mother and Prim the most. This is what I tell myself to explain the conflicting emotions that arise when I think of Peeta. 

So part of why I keep saying GALE HAD BETTER NOT BE HER BOYFRIEND BOOK is that this is a pet peeve of mine. I really, really hate most things where the character says she isn't interested but actually, unknown to her, she is.

I have seen this handled okay on occasion, but most of the time it trips my general hate for not listening to what the person's actually saying. Especially when the other characters are currently talking about it - it's a lot more tolerable for her to be unsure how she feels without the pressure.

(It's also better kept to romance stories, where there's enough time to properly set up a legitimate uncertainty, rather than what you generally get in things like this, which is girl says she's not interested, boy says he likes her, girl gives in.)

She's woken a few hours later by someone making a fire. There's a bit of RAEG, because setting a fire is dumb and will attract attention, and they've done it near her.

But eh, really. It's apparently "several hundred yards" off. The fire won't actually show her, because she's in a black sleeping bag tied to a black branch behind more black willow branches. And whoever shows up to kill the person who set the fire won't expect other people to be hanging out nearby.

See, someone who saw the fire would either kill the person and flee or flee. The only reason to stick around nearby is if you tied yourself into a tree like Katniss and don't want to risk traveling around at night to find a new spot. So they'll kill the kid and then keep moving, knowing anyone who might have been in the area originally would have gotten as far from the light as possible.

I lay smoldering in my bag for the next couple of hours really thinking that if I can get out of this tree, I won’t have the least problem taking out my new neighbor. My instinct has been to flee, not fight. But obviously this person’s a hazard. Stupid people are dangerous. And this one probably doesn’t have much in the way of weapons while I’ve got this excellent knife.

Well.

Let's check that back cover again.

If she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Pretty anticlimactic choice it's turned out to be. It isn't even weighing her survival against humanity or anything, it's weighing revenge for the irritation of being inconvenienced against humanity.

And Katniss, don't lie to yourself. Your first instinct has never been to flee. It's been murder. First you wanted the bow to shoot everyone. Now you're going to murder someone for absolutely no reason - you aren't thinking they might hear you and attack when you get down, you're thinking of going for them rather than the other way. The other, safer way, away from the beacon that's attracting other kids. Don't even try to rationalize it as that they're a danger to you, they aren't. Stupid people aren't dangerous, the people who murder them are. For all you know, someone was going in your direction and will get distracted by the fire so you'll live.

But nothing happens.

I’m beginning to think we — meaning the person whose death I’m now devising and me — we might actually have gone unnoticed.

Yes. The person whose death you're planning.

I suppose technically you haven't done what you were afraid of and forgotten they're people, because apparently you don't give a fuck.

Book, we are no longer spades. My hate is getting very, very platonic.

But then the trained kids show up.

I know it’s a girl now, I can tell by the pleading, the agonized scream that follows. Then there’s laughter and congratulations from several voices. 

So confirmation. The games are horrible and the deaths are far from painless. Suicide looks better by the minute.

(And we can now update our character sheet to include that there's another girl and she's introduced by Katniss talking about how dumb she is, then being horribly murdered.)

Someone cries out, “Twelve down and eleven to go!” which gets a round of appreciative hoots.

This is stupid.

They're working together, but they're still talking about the full kill count? Katniss immediately assumes it's the five trained kids, meaning it's not eleven to go, it's six and them. You don't cheer on reminders that you're going to have to kill each other, especially not reminders that bring up that you make up about half of those who need to be killed.

Also...

So they’re fighting in a pack. I’m not really surprised. Often alliances are formed in the early stages of the Games. The strong band together to hunt down the weak then, when the tension becomes too great, begin to turn on one another.

This makes about as much sense as the idea murdering people's kids makes them more docile.

You don't work together with the people who are probably going to kill you to take out the people who weren't any danger. The closest it should get is that you might get district alliances with the idea that, with the odds against either surviving being low, they might as well work together to see that their district wins.

The groups that should band together are the weak. The strong do not need to work with the strong, it's right there in the word. If you're going to ally yourself, you need either to be trained to work together (I could see the trained kids being taught to work with the other kid who'll be sacrificed to increase the odds of one of them winning) or to believe neither of you have much of a chance, so you have nothing much to gain by murdering them in their sleep.

I wonder if the victim is Rue but quickly dismiss the thought. She’s much too bright to be building a fire like that.

You know, Book, usually when I complain about protagonist-centered morality it's at least subtle. She just heard someone screaming as she was murdered and all she can think is it's okay because she's sure it's not the only girl who actually matters? And while I'd like to say this is mostly rationalization, the fact Katniss' internal narration is generally so detatched makes it hard to believe such excuses. So we're left with the implication that the girl deserved to die for being cold and lighting a fire.

Actually, I think that's a large part of my problem. It's first person narration, but there's little implication Katniss' narration is meant to be unreliable. Very little emotion comes through, so it's hard to excuse things by saying she's scared and not thinking clearly. I mean, to return to the bow incident, I can see a panicked kid wanting desperately to get the bow and then shoot at everyone because she's certain their first impulse is to kill her and if she can kill them first she's safe. But Katniss's narration feels too calculating. Even when she's making bad decisions, it just seems that, a bad decision, not one with an underpinning of emotional reasoning.

Then it gets worse. They back away from the body so it can be retrieved by the people in charge, but no one shows up. So they mangled her but didn't actually finish her off. She's still there, breathing.

Then there's the dramatic ending reveal that one of the voices belongs to Peeta. That really can't compete with what just happened to the girl, no matter how little attention the book pays to it.

Date: 2011-03-31 02:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ember-reignited.livejournal.com
Oh man the author really went there. She really went with "the other tributes are evil." Wow wow WOW.

Date: 2011-03-31 03:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ember-reignited.livejournal.com
Also that last bit makes me think of Lucki again.

Date: 2011-03-31 04:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
Part of why that showed up in Lucki as the major issue was that thinking like this is awful and the last thing people need is encouragement to do it more.

But yeah, the kids are all set up as just obstacles for Katniss, not people. It's okay to kill them because they're evil (because they killed the girl Katniss was going to kill for annoying her.)

Date: 2011-03-31 06:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ember-reignited.livejournal.com
And with how often it is encouraged, "IT WILL DESTROY THE WORLD" is a pretty commensurate counter-message.

In other news, I may have figured out why the strong kids band together to pick off the weak ones. The author got confused about what genre of YA she's writing. She thinks childmurder games would be like high school.

Date: 2011-03-31 11:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
...oh my god you're right, it's fucking high school bullshit. That explains so much of the next chapter.

Funny thing about Lucki, I got a review that still fell into the same trap, making it all about Lucki.

First of all, I'd like to say thank you for writing a story with such lovely characters. I enjoyed reading about most of them. My exception? Absol. Now, Lucki is an excellent deconstruction of the cliche pokemon trainers who always turn up smelling like roses, and just what kind of effect that trainer would have on their pokemon. But I was still rooting for her the entire time. She's a genuinely caring person, as shown in the ending, and though she has her flaws of naivete and insensitivity, I liked her the most out of every character in the story.

My problems were with the pokemon who 'knew better' and could see the damage she was doing to her pokemon by responding to them wrongly, but did nothing to help her. Vague hints do not real advice make - it just looked like they were taunting her. That Lucki didn't see something very wrong for herself makes her look extremely unobservant, but the 'wiser' pokemon (Absol in particular, as I recall) mean-spirited, hateful and entirely unsympathetic. Even after I understood what the tragedy of the story was supposed to be I was hoping for someone to come in and point out to absol just how much of an awful jerk it was.
Lucki is not the kind of person I would choose to raise such powerful, human-like beings as pokemon (the way you portray them, at any rate), but I think it's a bit of a shame that the story focussed on her personal flaws as opposed to the flaws in a system that would make her look like an ideal trainer, or the way those flaws impeded her pokemon training rather than stopping it entirely. Trust me, during this story, knowing what you meant to do with it? I was still rooting for Lucki.

I know it's not really my place to make recommendations, as a reviewer of a long-finished story, but I believe this would have been much more interesting if, aside from the tired old deconstructions of the cliche pokemon trainer, there had been a reconstruction to follow. The ending as you wrote it seems as though it's lacking something - a 'what's next,' I suppose. You're certainly talented enough to write something like that, since even while I was reading a story with a point that I didn't think you successfully pulled off, I couldn't just stop reading it. I actually found Lucki a more enjoyable read than your other stories (though the Unoriginality series, though which I heard of you, is still my favourite) because of the prose. You may like dark or tragic stories, but I liked the mostly light-hearted tone of this story more.


I think part of the problem was I didn't make it explicit that the solution to Lucki being a bad trainer is that Lucki needed to stop being a trainer, but the idea she's caring was boggling, as is the idea the early chapters are light-hearted. And the idea her pokemon are obligated to make her a better person instead of getting away from the person hurting them...ugh.

Date: 2011-03-31 11:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ember-reignited.livejournal.com
I actually found Lucki a more enjoyable read than your other stories ... because of the prose.

...are they BROKEN? Is there a literary form of Stockholm syndrome?

Date: 2011-03-31 11:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
I've always considered all of Serebii to be a classic example, so probably.

Admittedly, my usual stuff tends in the opposite direction prosewise, so they might just mean they dislike that more than getting a paragraph on what every pokemon looks like.

Date: 2011-03-31 06:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] actonthat.livejournal.com
This is just awful.

Date: 2011-03-31 11:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
Yup. It's a surprisingly common writing flaw - the author only bothers to develop a few characters, so only they count as people. Katniss isn't wishing death on a real person, just a plot device.

Date: 2011-03-31 08:30 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Wow, you're right, Katniss is just horrible in this. I think the "person whose death I'm devising" was supposed to be not-totally-serious or something? Regardless, yeah, the author should be ashamed for espousing such a self-centered message. I kind of feel embarrassed for liking the book at first. D:

By the way, what do you think Collins would think if she read this? Obviously the chances of her doing so are practically none, but it's still interesting to hypothesize.

Date: 2011-03-31 11:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
Oh, it probably was joking, but that only serves to switch over to why Katniss is so detached to think it's something to joke casually about.

Don't be - the issue with the writing style is it presents the situation like this. You've got to deliberately read against the narrative to notice the way things are being swept under the rug.

No idea what the author's response would be. A lot of authors blanket dismiss criticism, or she might say I'm reading unfairly, or that it's YA fiction and that's just how you write it.

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