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Last time on the murderdeath games, Katniss wanders around for some time until she finds water. Then, forest fire.



Burning branches crack from trees and fall in showers of sparks at my feet.

Uh. Pretty sure once the fire reaches you, you're kind of already dead. Also, the animals should have started moving at smoke, not waited for the fire to show up.

All I can do is follow the others, the rabbits and deer and I even spot a wild dog pack shooting through the woods. I trust their sense of direction because their instincts are sharper than mine.

Yes, because animals never die in forest fires.

You can't outrun a forest fire. I mean it. Worse, Katniss is heading uphill, where the fire will be going faster. She is doing all this when the POND OF WATER is right next to her.

The flames that bear down on me have an unnatural height, a uniformity that marks them as human-made, machine-made, Gamemaker-made. 

This almost works.

Forest fires are not really survivable. Your options are: find a large body of water, find a small body of water, find an open area, make an open area with a firebreak, and bury yourself in the ground. Your odds of surviving decrease severely with each option.

So, some sort of fire-generating machines moving slowly enough the kids can actually escape makes sense.

Unfortunately, it doesn't matter how it was made. She's said the trees are on fire. And she's in a pine forest. Which is basically like regular forest, if someone dumped lighter fluid on everything. Oh, and it's extremely dry.

The source of the flame is irrelevant, the fire should have caught.

The audience in the Capitol will be getting bored, claiming that these Games are verging on dullness. This is the one thing the Games must not do.

...The way there's no clear responsibility for anyone is just bizarre. Who's to blame for the games? Katniss has repeatedly characterized the capital as being made up of oblivious airheads who just don't think about what's going on. But the gamemakers aren't in charge either, they're slaves to the will of the population. This kind of thing doesn't just happen. Someone makes it happen.

There is the Career pack and then there are the rest of us, probably spread far and thin across the arena. This fire is designed to flush us out, to drive us together. 

If they gave a damn, why did they set it up so the kids would have to spread out so far?

See, if I was setting this up, I'd plant food and water at regular intervals, and have more varied terrain. So there's plenty around, but the odds of another kid being there is good too. And there's enough cover that you have to actually look around carefully, instead of just walking until you find it.

Katniss collapses behind a rock to throw up, then drink some water, then she takes a bit of a breather, and seriously, how slow is this fire moving?

She remembers the nice pond.

 Would there be any way I could travel parallel to the fire and work my way back there, to a source of water at least?

Running straight away at top speed won't let you escape a wildfire, and here Katniss is somehow able to contemplate going at an angle because it's so slow.

Right as she's considering how to best put this impossible plan into play, a fireball shoots at her.

Book. I am trying to be fair here. I am assuming you were not written with the greatest of foresight.

But this is so fucking stupid.

If the viewers wanted to see kids go through horrible death traps, then why a deathmatch? Seriously, just put them in a trapped maze and see how far they get. The point of making kids kill each other is to see kids kill each other. Either that's what the people want, so you shouldn't be throwing fireballs, or it's not, so you shouldn't be doing the deathmatch thing.

 The fireball hits a tree off to my left, engulfing it in flames.

And not only are they fireballs, they're insta-death fireballs. Personally, I read the whole section as deliberately missing her, because if they wanted her dead she'd be dead. But it still doesn't address the issue that if this is what people want to see, what was up with the last three days?

She seems to get out of range, but then one clips her, lighting her leg on fire. She grabs the burnt cloth, burning her hand as well. We get a repeat of the girl on fire line.

Perhaps, Cinna’s beautiful costumes have even brought on this particular torture for me. I know he couldn’t have foreseen this, must be hurting for me because, in fact, I believe he cares about me. 

CINNA: THE BESTEST MOST WONDERFULEST PERSON IN THE WORLD.

Anyway, she figures she's safe for some reason, forgetting she just thought that seconds ago. She reminds the reader that the real point of the games is murdering each other.

mostly, they manipulate us into confronting one another face-to-face. Which means, if I am no longer being fired at, there is at least one other tribute close at hand.

That kind of makes sense. But it would make a lot more if they were herded by something a little less flashy than fireballs.

So she just starts limping along blindly, and in so much pain she's barely aware of her surroundings.

I’m so weary I don’t even notice I’m in the pool until I’m ankle-deep. 

What.

So three days of searching to find one, and she literally walks into another one.

 I plunge my hands into the shallow water and feel instant relief. Isn’t that what my mother always says? The first treatment for a burn is cold water? That it draws out the heat? But she means minor burns. 

She continues to ramble like a moron. She's sixteen years old. Her house and food is cooked by actual fucking fire. How the fuck did she never figure out you put burns in water? Why is she struggling with this concept? She goes on to ramble that if it works for minor burns, clearly that means major burns like her leg are completely different, despite the fact that this is the exact opposite of how human reasoning works. At no point does she figure out that cold numbs pain.

I try to recall all I know about burns. They are common injuries in the Seam where we cook and heat our homes with coal. 

THEN WHY DON'T YOU KNOW ABOUT BURNS

This is a really annoying thing I see a lot. It's like for some reason authors have the idea that their character actually knowing things is bad, they need to be uncertain about everything and just happen to be right.

She goes on to talk about how she'd seen a badly burned leg once and been so horrified she had to run off and hide while her mom dealt with it.

What’s funny was, Prim, who’s scared of her own shadow, stayed and helped. 

Eh. This is a really cliché setup.

No, everyone isn't necessarily strong in their own way. A lot of people who are squeamish about hunting are squeamish about injuries. And a lot of people who hunt aren't squeamish about injuries. I'm really sick of the standard divide. But of course Katniss can't handle healing and Prim can, healing is feminine and Katniss (as the only assertive character) is only allowed masculine traits, and a big deal must be made of how this means she fails at the female counterpart. Really, she's lucky she can cook.

My mother says healers are born, not made.

Nope, definitely made.

I can’t show weakness at this injury. Not if I want help. Pity does not get you aid. Admiration at your refusal to give in does. 

How the fuck does this work?

Okay, so, the sponsors support whoever they expect to win, because they bet on you. So naturally the best way to get aid is to act like you'll win without it, and you don't need them to give you money for them to win their bet? Also, acting like you're in love will get you money somehow.

Except for a few black marks, it’s relatively unscathed. My jacket’s another matter. Stinking and scorched, at least a foot of the back beyond repair. I cut off the damaged area

...why bother? You're not winning based on neatness. If anything, the irregularity might help your camouflage.

She falls asleep by the pool, but she's found. Luckily, she hears their approach and bolts away. With her leg injured she can't outrun them, so she gets up a tree.

She figures they'll still get her. But then she realizes they weigh more than her.

 There’s a reason it’s me and not Gale who ventures up to pluck the highest fruit, or rob the most remote bird nests. I must weigh at least fifty or sixty pounds less than the smallest Career.

On the other hand, she's got all her stuff with her, adding to her weight, while they can leave theirs on the ground, and they don't have to get all the way up, just close enough to peg her with a throwing knife.

Now I smile. “How’s everything with you?” I call down cheerfully.
This takes them aback, but I know the crowd will love it.
“Well enough,” says the boy from District 2. “Yourself?”
“It’s been a bit warm for my taste,” I say. I can almost hear the laughter from the Capitol. 


Why. Just why.

So one of the boys is going to go up. A girl offers him the bow and arrows, but he says he'll use his sword. No. Throwing knives. This isn't hard.

The girl with the arrows, Glimmer I hear someone call her — ugh, the names the people in District 1 give their children are so ridiculous — 

Note this is the second time Katniss has specifically noticed the District 1 girl to bitch about something completely irrelevant. What the hell book.

So, the girl climbs up as high as she can go, then stops.

She tries to shoot me and it’s immediately evident that she’s incompetent with a bow.

a) so why's she not using throwing knives then?
b) WHY THE FUCK IS SHE INCOMPETENT WITH A BOW?

A bow is an awesome weapon. It's the winning move here. These kids were trained specifically for the games, they should be crack shots.

The only way this even begins to make sense is if bows aren't usually used. In that case, the reason the bow is there this time is because Katniss used it and the gamemakers put it in for her. I actually wouldn't find that too unreasonable in itself - if they're not usually around, then it makes sense for kids to not be trained to use them, but if a kid happened to know for some other reason and showed it off, it might be amusing to provide it for her. The problem is that there's no reason for them not to be provided normally, unless it's because they break the game, in which case they shouldn't have given Katniss one...

See, if she was really good at a sling this whole fuckery could be avoided.

So, the girl misses and Katniss grabs the arrow.

 I wave it teasingly above her head, as if this was the sole purpose of retrieving it, when actually I mean to use it if I ever get the chance. I could kill them, everyone of them, if those silver weapons were in my hands.

...so yeah. Our winner.

The Careers regroup on the ground and I can hear them growling conspiratorially among themselves, furious I have made them look foolish. But twilight has arrived and their window of attack on me is closing.

START A FIRE.

Even if they were somehow too stupid to figure out the person in the wooden tree could be hurt by smoke and fire, there was just a whole fire to clue them in. They're still coughing and hoarse from the flames earlier. Katniss is trapped in place and heat rises.

Instead, Peeta tells them they might as well give up and wait until morning, and once night falls Katniss ties herself to a branch again.

But then she sees someone watching her from another tree. Rue is there, unnoticed by everyone, and she points at something.

Okay, decent cliffhanger here. I'm suspicious of Rue deciding to expose herself to Katniss, when Katniss utterly failed the numerous chances she had to make friends with the kid, but hey, she doesn't know about Katniss' psychopathic tendencies, while the trained kids are an obvious threat.

Anyway, this was a decent chapter. Most of the focus was on Katniss actually doing things. The flaws were largely consistency ones, but the actual ride of events worked well. You just have to go with the way the book claims reality works.

Date: 2011-04-02 07:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] actonthat.livejournal.com
I think Katniss may be a terrible person.

I don't understand what her position on this whole situation is. She calls out to taunt people who want her dead, despite being very injured and having no mode of escape so, okay, she's just an idiot. But the reason she does it is that she wants to showboat for the crowd, which makes her complicit in all of this and, further, she seems to be enjoying it. Are we still supposed to be on her side? I mean, I'm not rooting for her death quite yet, but I'd much rather be following Peeta or Rue around; they seem more dynamic.

I also don't understand this sponsorship thing. Is it that the more sponsors one gets, to more help one gets from the outside? IE, they want to keep favorites alive? That's the only way her hamming it up makes any sense, but it's still weird and creepy or her to do.

Date: 2011-04-02 08:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ember-reignited.livejournal.com
Peeta is irritating too, though. Basically he just wants to DIE LIKE A MAN with MANLY HONOR and also PROTECT THE GIRL HE INEXPLICABLY LOVES and I have seen that story often enough, thanks. Rue could be cool, though, especially if she "turned out to be a little murder machine" like Farla explained she really should be. I mean it seems like a story about kids being forced to kill each other... should be about kids being forced to kill each other, if that makes any sense.

Date: 2011-04-02 09:10 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I've read these books and even before Farla pointed out these flaws I really wanted to follow the story of Foxface, the sly red haired girl. He story, and even her character, goes mostly unnoticed, so I'm curious as to how she fared for most of the games.

Also, to Farla, Effie, despite the book treating her like shit, is admired by most of the fandom. Just thought you'd be interested.

Date: 2011-04-03 03:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
Yeah, that's another way Battle Royale is better, this is the sort of story that really works better switching between people.

Really? Poked my head into FFN for the very first fics written, and hit Effie bashing right off. I guess the fandom could have improved.

Date: 2011-04-03 06:25 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
... I find that troubling. I've spoken with quite a few members of the fandom and every single one I spoke to loved Effie. Then again, I was on deviantart, not FF. Even so, I find that frustrating since Effie isn't a terrible person at all. She's just doing her job and she really is in a tough position, as later revealed in the series. What happens to her is just downright shocking. I found it even more bothersome than what happened to Cinna. Nevertheless, I give Effie props for just simply BEING.

Anyone else up for Effie destroying the capitol single handedly with a piece of string, a coat hanger, and a mango? I know I'd love that ending to the story so much more. <3

Date: 2011-04-03 06:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
Presumably things change with later books, then. I only looked at the ones in the very back of the category, before the next book came out. The fanfics were a mix of shipfic and stories about the Hunger Games written almost identically to the book, right down to EFFIE AND HER WIG WE HATES HER WE DOES.

Date: 2011-04-02 11:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] actonthat.livejournal.com
I actually wrote "Peet or Rue," deleted Peeta, and then added him back, only because even if he himself is annoying, what seems to have happened to him to far (he's a slave, basically) is more interesting than whatever Katniss is attempting to do.

Date: 2011-04-03 03:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
Mm, that's a point. I don't much like Peeta, but what's happening with him is definitely more interesting than Katniss walking around looking for water.

Date: 2011-04-03 03:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
Peeta would be a better character if he picked one or the other. They've both been done, of course, but they can work. But acting with honor and acting to protect someone else aren't really compatible here.

Also, if he didn't come off as kind of a creep. That would help.

Date: 2011-04-03 02:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] purplekitte.livejournal.com
I think I would quite enjoy a Peeta POV where he had to make hard choices and decided to give up all honor and humanity for the single goal of getting Katniss out alive. Putting aside that I can't understand why anyone would be in love with her and they've almost never spoken in their lives, it would be an interesting take on selfishness.

Admittedly, it's on the same vein of how Katniss could be better if she ever actually faced any of the moral dilemmas she should be struggling with.

Protagonists as bad people

Date: 2011-04-02 11:16 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
tl;dr version: It'd be cool if Katniss was a terrible person, but the author isn't writing well enough to make it work/doesn't even realise she's portraying her badly.


Hm... There are plenty of protagonists who are horrible people, like Humbert from Lolita, Alucard from Hellsing, Revy from Black Lagoon, or from V for Vendetta (the comic, not the movie). However, they're not nearly as irritating to watch/read/listen to.

I think maybe this is because you're never really told they're good people outside of their own narrative. Also, since the author is aware that they're not good people, they don't center the work's morality around the protagonist, making everyone condone and praise the protagonist's actions. Perhaps there are people on the protagonist's side who are worth rooting for, or maybe there's a good cause that he/she's helping incidentally, and while you may not empathize with the protagonist, the people he's helping are what keep you from downright rooting for the villains. Maybe it could be because the villain is that *worse*.

The last reason, I find, is the one that's commonly written the most poorly. It could be often in this case, the writer isn't even aware that the protagonist they're writing is not sympathetic. It could also be because when two sides are morally reprehensible then you really don't have much to cling to and you stop caring about the story. It could be because by making everyone else immoral, the protagonist loses that interesting sociopathic streak that set him/her apart from the rest of the cast, and isn't "special" enough to care about anymore - just a gritty character in an equally gritty world.

Anyway, Suzanne Collins probably finds most of Katniss' actions/thoughts justified somehow, *doesn't* see Katniss as being a bad person and then goes on to write the book's world in a way that makes Katniss right about everything. This just makes Katniss irritatingly sueish instead of interestingly abhorrent yet somehow relatable.

I mean, a lot of Katniss' actions reek of some sort of antisocial personality disorder, but not consistently and not realistically. She calmly sits in a tree, thoughtfully considering killing a girl down beneath her who is posing no threat, who other people will almost certainly come by to kill at any moment, just because she's annoyed. While this could be interesting if this was a character trait of hers that was acknowledged by the rest of the world, it isn't. The book seems rather focused on how awesome she is, or how tragic it is that other people don't see how awesome she is. Also love interest.

Re: Protagonists as bad people

Date: 2011-04-02 11:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] actonthat.livejournal.com
I think you took that sentence way, way too seriously.

What I was getting at was: "Suzanne Collins probably finds most of Katniss' actions/thoughts justified somehow, *doesn't* see Katniss as being a bad person and then goes on to write the book's world in a way that makes Katniss right about everything. This just makes Katniss irritatingly sueish instead of interestingly abhorrent yet somehow relatable."

Not that having a protagonist who's a bad person when it's purposeful is some kind of issue. I think it's pretty obvious Katniss' fuckery isn't on purpose.

Re: Protagonists as bad people

Date: 2011-04-03 12:06 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I was just musing to myself. It's interesting to think why something like that does or doesn't work at least.

Re: Protagonists as bad people

Date: 2011-04-03 03:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
Eh...I don't know.

The thing is, it's just too easy to write a dead fish character. After all, it's all just words, and it's easy for the writer to remain detached. she pretty much has the personality disorder of bad writing - she doesn't act like a normal person, but neither are her actions in proper line with any actual psychosis.

Even if the author wasn't warping the world for her, it's just not a particularly interesting angle to take. There's a lot of variety of bad people, just as there are good ones. Simply being a jerk isn't necessarily something interesting.

Re: Protagonists as bad people

Date: 2011-04-03 05:15 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I probably just have a thing for protagonists that are jerks who are also seriously fucked up in the head.

I want to be Arya from A Song of Ice and Fire when I grow up. Because she is a crazy sociopath with major issues and also awesome.

Re: Protagonists as bad people

Date: 2011-04-03 04:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
I like them as well, but it can definitely be done badly. Certainly I've seen failed experiments in badfic often enough.

Arya is like the polar opposite of Katniss. She's a little ball of trauma who, despite how desperate the situations she keeps getting into are and the fact she's learned over and over again she can't afford to think of anyone but herself if she wants to live, can't stop herself from trying to help friends and work in a group. She's being trained to be a sociopath, but she's still got her wolf.

Date: 2011-04-03 03:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
Yeah, I've been trying to figure that out too. The actual explanation is that people give money to support the person they think will win, so they'll win the bet. But the way it's treated seems to be a straight-up popularity contest. If that was actually stated, the way Katniss behaves would be a lot more understandable.

Date: 2011-04-03 02:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] actonthat.livejournal.com
I don't know if this is just me being dense, but... does she benefit from sponsors in any way? Does her district? Why does it matter to her if people place bets on her?

Date: 2011-04-03 04:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
The explanation is the people who place bets also give her money. Haymitch can use that to buy things for her, like a bottle of water or medicine. But to make it confusing, she acts as if the way it works is a straight popularity contest - she has to act witty and like she's in no pain, even if there's no reason for people to send her money if they think she's doing fine without it, and even if being a smartass has nothing to do with ability to win.

Date: 2011-04-03 04:14 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Repeat after me; Rue, Foxface, and the crippled boy are the best characters so far. If you don't agree, then you must love Katniss.

Honestly, why does the book make it seem as if arrows are rare? A girl who's decent with flying daggers should ta least be slightly useful with a bow. I mean, isn't it all about hand-eye coordination? Oh well, I'm bored with archery anyway.

Date: 2011-04-03 04:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
Arrows are pretty easily manufactured, too.

Bows are pretty different than knives. Actually, what I find weird is that she's trying to use the bow anyway. If she's skilled at weapons in general, she'd know she can't use a bow with no skill, and being able to shoot an arrow anywhere near Katniss while in a tree herself isn't exactly easy. So, she's had some training, and yet not enough to be actually skilled. But why bother partially learning a weapon? It just doesn't work.

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