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Last time on the childmurder games, Katniss murdered some people by wasp, but got stung a couple times herself. She managed to steal the bow and arrow off the corpse of one girl, then was told to run by Peeta as the hallucinations kicked in.

She's been huddled somewhere stuck in endless looping nightmares.

This is the nature of the tracker jacker venom, so carefully created to target the place where fear lives in your brain.

And so we return to evululz. Given the choice between making something that kills you in any of the many, many ways that can happen or making a carefully tailored poison to torture, the government picked inefficient torture.

Incidentally, it actually is possible to destroy that part of your brain and leave you insane. In fact, it's a relatively easy hack considering how devastating it is - you can do it with just a pattern of strobe lights. Another good option is the kind of neurotoxins you find in sea life - they work by making all the nerves fire off at once. Incredibly painful and if you survive you've blown out a chunk of your nervous system, as well as possibly torn apart your muscles. So if for some reason the government wanted to go with maiming and demoralization over direct murder, they could be doing so much better than some nightmares. About the only way the wasps work really is to ward sensitive areas where you're going to want to catch and interrogate anyone who stumbles in.

It eventually wears off. She's not sure how long she's been out, but she thinks more than a day has passed, maybe two. So she has no idea how many kids are left alive.

Then she says something interesting.

there was the boy from District 1, both tributes from District 2, and Peeta. Did they die from the stings? Certainly if they lived, their last days must have been as horrid as my own. 

See, she was easy prey while she was sick. I would personally assume she survived by chance - she apparently fell into a depression full of leaves and hasn't been moving much, so perhaps no one noticed her. But she assumes that either the trained kids died of the poison or they're alive - not that anyone else might have killed them while they were helpless. There were ten kids last time she was aware. Only three are trained ones.

Peeta! He saved my life! I think. Because by the time we met up, I couldn’t tell what was real and what the tracker jacker venom had caused me to imagine. But if he did, and my instincts tell me he did, what for?

Wow, that was hamhanded. Her "instincts" tell her he did, even though she has no idea why he would and so it makes more sense for her to think he didn't.

Is he simply working the Lover Boy angle he initiated at the interview? Or was he actually trying to protect me? And if he was, what was he doing with those Careers in the first place? None of it makes sense.

That was rather incoherent, book.

There has yet to be any explanation for why the star-crossed lovers thing has any practical value. The book is clearly trying to talk it up as one option and it just doesn't work because there's no reason to do it. Next, if he's trying to protect her, then that's why he's with the trained kids obviously. Sometimes YA does this so the reader can feel smug and superior to the character, but this is taking it to crazy levels.

I wonder what Gale made of the incident for a moment and then I push the whole thing out of my mind because for some reason Gale and Peeta do not coexist well together in my thoughts.


Anyway, she takes a break from dropping anvil-sized hints to talk about stuff that matters, like her new bow. She's thrilled.

If Cato broke through the trees right now, I wouldn’t flee, I’d shoot. I find I’m actually anticipating the moment with pleasure.

Yep, our winner.

Katniss goes on to say she's in bad shape.

The little padding I was able to put on by gorging myself during prep time in the Capitol is gone, plus several more pounds as well.

She goes on to say the only time she's been thinner was after her dad died.

This is one of the other weird things about the book. See, you can go a pretty long time without food. Katniss has been there less than a week at this point, and the last day or two were spent huddled in a ball that probably wasn't burning many calories.

A pound of wild rabbit meat is about 500 calories, and rabbits usually weigh four to five pounds. I'm not sure how many of that would be the internals she threw away (which would also likely be higher calorie per pound - seriously, such a dumb move), but assuming there's two pounds, that's 1000 calories worth. There have been diets that managed to keep people not only alive but active at under 1600 for adult men. Katniss is a small girl who's spent most of her life going hungry, so her system should be completely optimized for starvation at this point. She's repeatedly said she's at least fifty pounds smaller than the trained kids

Now, there's 3500 calories in a pound of fat. However, your body reacts to having to dig into fat stores by taking out muscle mass as well. A pound of that is 2500 more calories, and it's often a one-to-one loss. (Exercise, diet and lifestyle change this a lot, but we'll use that as a baseline.)

So: Three days of walking. At the end of the third day, she gets chased by fire and then up a tree, releases the wasps the next day. At most, two more days have passed - five days, two of which she spent not moving around. Sick people burn far fewer calories - coma patients, for the extreme, should only get 1000 calories a day.

So. Let's say the rabbit meat had 1000 calories. She also had some crackers (one cup worth of saltines is another 300, whole wheat a little over 400, - no way of knowing what kind she had). So we'll say 2350 calories. Checking a bunch of beef jerky, most of it's 80 calories per oz, so if she's got another half pound of that, it's another 650 calories. 2000 calories worth of food.

I have absolutely no idea how much Katniss weights, since she's supposedly small and thin, but we know she thinks 70 pounds is tiny. If not for that, I'd guess she weights under a hundred pounds, and the well-fed kids she keeps saying outweigh her are between 150 and 200 pounds. How much you weigh changes how many calories you need.

Let's say walking around for three days burned up a full 2000 calories, which I really doubt. She then has enough food on her to go one day. A pound of fat and pound of muscle give her another 6000 calories:

-4000 for the next two days
>2000 for the two days she spends unconscious. (1000 is for adults being well fed, not on minimum calories.)

So, two pounds gets her to now assuming she's burning calories like an adult American male whose system is running high because they've never gone hungry. If we estimate her calorie count is more like 1500, then she can make it the full three days on just her food and only dig into reserves for the two days sick. If we assume her system knows better than to eat muscle and it's just fat weight she's losing, that's even less - two pounds fat gives her 7000 calories, more than she needs. But somehow she's now "several" pounds lighter than she was to start, even though she gained some weight before this. Assuming she only gained a single pound and that several means only three, that's four pounds in five days - that's impossible.

(And this is without taking into account there should be enough stored glycogen in her system for her body to function the whole first day without digging into any stores. That would mean she'd only need 4000 or 3000 for two days of walking followed by 2000 for two days of sleeping.)

You can easily lose weight from water loss, but it doesn't matter much given she's got iodine and knows where water is. It's completely replaceable, she just needs to remember to drink more often, so there's no need to be melodramatic about it. Losing water weight would not be worthy of comparisons to the time she almost died of starvation.

In conclusion, this reads like it was written by someone who's never done more than skip a meal. Starvation takes a while. You do last longer if you weight more, but unless you're already skin and bones, you have enough on you to go for some time. And Katniss is not showing any signs of even the beginnings of starvation - she's not displaying lethargy and her mind is working fine.

But anyway. Katniss is also still in a lot of pain from the stings. She tries putting burn ointment on them, which is the first time by my estimation Katniss has made a good attempt at problem solving. It doesn't work, but then, that's how it usually goes.

My mother knew a treatment for them, some type of leaf that could draw out the poison, but she seldom had cause to use it, and I don’t even remember its name let alone its appearance.

Hey look, Mom matters...in absence because Katniss can't actually remember. And the Katniss-knows-nothing game continues, because Katniss supposedly was saw the entire book but apparently only ever read the ending sections her dad added in, because Katniss remembers absolutely nothing about it. Because boys hunt and girls heal, and the reason Katniss is allowed to do anything is by being an honorary boy.


So Katniss gets going to find water again. She manages to shoot a rabbit. After a mere hour of walking, she finds a stream. You know, one of those things that stretches from one point to another, meaning it covers a relatively large total area, and which can be heard at a distance by the found of flowing water?

Again, each problem is distinct - it comes up once, then it's solved, then it never really matters. She's still "in pain" from the stings, but only in the same way she was "in pain" from the burns - it doesn't stop her from doing anything. And she has no trouble finding water because that drama already happened.

Because Katniss has no concept of priorities, she then decides to take a bath, even though someone could arrive at any time and she might not be able to reach her stuff in time. She does have a concept of modesty, though, so she keeps her underclothes on. Because what matters isn't if you die, it's if you're naked when you're attacked.

But no one shows up. (And that's why it was a stream, because the author wanted her to be able to wash.) Apparently she still hasn't used up her store of dry food, so she eats some of that. (As the dry food is the least of the caloric input, it doesn't change the calculations I did above much.)

I’m traveling uphill now, which I prefer

No one in the world prefers to walk uphill. But Katniss decides to, because it's such a good idea to go up the stream to find some spring or something where it's trickling out of the rock rather than down to a pond or lake full of fish and edible plants. Clearly, she is talented in the delicate art of the forest.

She shoots a bird we're told is some sort of wild turkey. She decides to risk a fire as dusk approaches, hoping the smoke won't be too visible.

Despite the fact she's about to cook it right now, she once again cleans out the game rather than eating all those good parts.

Once the feathers are plucked, it’s no bigger than a chicken, but it’s plump and firm. 

...buh? Chickens have feathers too! If she means the featherless turkey is the size of a feathered chicken, she's fucking insane to make that comparison. If she means it's the same size as a plucked chicken, then it should be the same size with feathers as a feathered chicken, and so there wouldn't be any point to making a big deal about it being plucked.

Also, wild turkeys are big animals, okay? A very small turkey might be about the same as a very large fully grown meat chicken, but that's not a reasonable comparison. Especially because when would Katniss see a meat chicken, let alone a modern highly bred broiler type that can't live outside of factory farms raised to full size? (Again calories are a factor - for every pound a chicken gains, it takes more pounds of feed to put on the next pound, because the existing weight takes up energy.)

She then hears someone. It's Rue.

“You know, they’re not the only ones who can form alliances,” I say.

She rationalizes it as Rue's clearly pretty good at the following thing and she did help out with the wasps. But I'll just assume she's admitting things like fact Rue reminds her of her sister and give Katniss a decent-person point anyway.

Note, though - Katniss kills two animals right before getting a second person to feed. (And if you didn't note it, the book points it out: “Come on then, I’ve had two kills today.” ) This story is very, very predictable.

Because the book has no idea how to handle morality, Katniss is immediately rewarded. Rue knows the plant that helps with wasp stings. She starts chewing up some leaves into a paste, then sticks them on.

It’s as if the leaves are actually leaching the pain right out of the sting.

So, presumably the leaves have something to degrade the enzyme from the venom. Clearly, there's no general-purpose painkiller effect, because Rue has a bad burn on her arm. Katniss shares the burn ointment, earning another good person point.

Rue, it turns out, hasn't been sent anything, but Katniss says she's sure she will be as the games go on and people see how smart she is.

They agree to work together.

Of course, this kind of deal can only be temporary, but neither of us mentions that.

Oh god, Katniss, and you were doing so well.

Stop. Look around. I want you to think about this. The deal can be temporary in only two ways - if you mean that someone kills one of you, or if you mean one of you kills the other.

If you kill her. Are you willing to do that, to kill a twelve year old girl so you can live? Maybe the answer is yes, but jesus christ Katniss, this is something you should at least think about!

Rue continues to be awesome. She shares some roots she found that Katniss doesn't recognize, and says the bird is something called a groosling.

It's name time again. Groosling is probably grouse. (Or, less likely, goose (gosling = young goose) but in that case Katniss is even dumber for saying it looks like a turkey.) Why one animal would have a different name when everything else has the same name as normal I have no idea what the point of all this is - possibly it's as simple as a viewpoint thing. What Katniss knows has names we recognize, what she doesn't has names neither of us know.

Anyway, in an odd turn of events, Rue now enters into the misery-off as a strong contender. She's apparently never had a whole drumstick in her life, and when Katniss says she thought people in the agricultural district had plenty to eat, Rue says anyone who steals food gets whipped.

Eh. This is related to what I was saying about pigs. In an agricultural area, you're going to get food that's not worth the effort of transporting. Which isn't to say that they'd be well fed, but they should have a bit of slack, especially during growing seasons. Now, if they were growing a single crop, especially one that needed heavy processing (say, soybeans) this would be a lot easier to see, but if they're the ones producing all the food, nope. What happens when a plum's damaged or half crushed? When the crop's hit by a bug infestation? They might as well feed it to people. So they might be horribly fed some of the time, but they should have plenty of food at other times, even if it isn't high quality.

But the point is, Katniss is duly impressed by how sucky this is. Her district was more laid back and not into the whole whipping thing. Also, they didn't always go to school, it stopped at harvest time (which...doesn't make sense because like I just said, they're not producing just one crop - there's probably a big harvest in the fall, but there should be plenty of other times when they're harvesting a different crop. You know, why is there even school?)

I'm actually not sure what the point of this is. I guess just to make Rue more tragic. All communication seems to be part of the misery-offs, and it doesn't really tell us much about how these places function.

It’s interesting, hearing about her life. We have so little communication with anyone outside our district. In fact, I wonder if the Gamemakers are blocking out our conversation, because even though the information seems harmless, they don’t want people in different districts to know about one another.

Okay, so I can see that. Information is the enemy. But - if this kind of thing isn't allowed, then actual intermarriage must be completely impossible. How big are the districts? They're small enough it seems most people know each other. There should be problems with inbreeding.

They lay out their food.

She’s gathered quite a collection of roots, nuts, greens, and even some berries.

This is starting to make less sense. See, Katniss aced the edible plants test. They're in an area with a lot of plants Rue's familiar with that don't grow where Katniss is, but in that case, why didn't the edible plants station cover regional differences?

 Apart from the food, Rue has a small water skin, a homemade slingshot,


Okay, so I haven't been mentioning any offensive abilities of Rue's, because you need rubber to make a slingshot on your own and I figured either they hadn't provided a slingshot or she hadn't been able to grab it. But if she's got a slingshot she wins.

Step one: climb tree
Step two: grab acorn
Step three: aim for the eyes.

She has a ranged weapon and infinite ammo. She doesn't need killing force to kill people. She just needs enough force to damage their soft, squishy, easily hurt eyes. Blind people don't win murder games. And she can't be caught because she can climb better than anyone else, so it doesn't matter if she has bad aim, sooner or later she'll hit. AND BLIND PEOPLE DON'T WIN MURDER GAMES.

So Katniss shows her non-food supplies, and Rue says the "sunglasses" are actually night-vision goggles. That's a complete asspull. I'm too lazy to go back to see if there's some minor reference earlier to them not working that great, but electronics shouldn't look anything like plain sunglasses. Apparently these ones don't have an on switch or anything, they just start working once it gets dark. Whatever.

Poor Rue's been sleeping in trees in just her clothes, so Katniss says they can share the sleeping bag, which is nice.

But - it raises another point. Clothes are valuable. Why aren't people bothering to properly strip the bodies of dead tributes?

She asks Rue about what's happened. Rue says there's been no more deaths, just the two girls Katniss killed with the wasps. She also says that Peeta isn't at the trained kids' camp any longer, so Katniss probably didn't hallucinate him helping her.

If he did, it was all probably just part of his act. You know, to make people think he’s in love with me.”



Rue says she thinks he really is and Katniss doesn't believe her. Poor Katniss, don't you know the one thing strong female characters are always wrong about is ~*~*~love~*~*~?

Katniss tries out the glasses.

I can see everything from the leaves on the trees to a skunk strolling through the bushes a good fifty feet away. I could kill it from here if I had a mind to. 

Hey, that's good food. Why wouldn't you have a mind to shoot it? (Don't you dare say because you have enough food. Start eating properly and maybe you can gain back all that weight you've somehow lost.)

Also, further evidence to my theory that there's little to no actual cover wherever they are if she can see that far.

Rue says the trained kids have some glasses too, which begs the question of why they were running around with flashlights. Yes, they don't have enough for everyone, but you can be blinded by shining light into the eyes of someone wearing goggles like these, so you can't use both at once and the goggles are way better. Better to split the group and have one pair hunt at night and the other during the day. That'd also let them get sleep and guard their cache of food.

Katniss says Rue's strong because she can feed herself and the trained kids can't, Rue says it doesn't matter because they've got all the supplies.

“Say they didn’t. Say the supplies were gone. How long would they last?” I say. “I mean, it’s the Hunger Games, right?”

Yeah, about that.

Hunger has been a definite theme throughout this book. You can bet your life extra times for food. Katniss plays the odds when she hunts in the dangerous and prohibited forest. The weak kids are thin and have no reserves for the games, while the trained kids have been fed well. The reward for victory is food. And here, finding food is a crucial part of the games for Katniss. The book is full of hunger games.

But the point of the actual games? It's not hunger at all.

I started calling it the childmurder games out of frustration that the book seemed to be so determined to ignore that. But the fact is, the draw is murder and not hunger. The very fact we're told the trained kids were not taught to get food says that this is not supposed to be an issue, because if getting food had even moderate affects on survival ability, they'd be trained to do it. That's what being trained means.

So as a book title, Hunger Games works well. As a game name, it's bad. If they were just the Games, the book title would be quite clever, because hunger games is Katniss' whole life, and now she's about to turn the childmurder games into a hunger game as well. But the scene should be that she's changing the game, not that she, once again, is going along with exactly the way things are.

Date: 2011-04-04 04:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] maimh.livejournal.com
Hi, longtime lurker popping up.

I just saw the translated version in the local bookstore, and saw that Stephanie Meyer is quoted on the cover. I guess they do have the did-not-do-research thing in common.

Oh, and for some reason they changed Katniss name to Katuna, or somthing like that.

Date: 2011-04-05 12:07 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
You get to have two animals in a name for the price of one!

Date: 2011-04-05 02:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
Oh yeah, the back cover quotes on the book were...well.

You have Stephen King saying, "A violent, jarring, speed-rap of a novel that generates near-constant suspense. I couldn't stop reading." Aside from the fact I associate him with long, plodding books, it's not so much a speedy read as it is a book you can only read fast, since it doesn't hold up if you stop to pay attention and god knows there's nothing you need to pay attention to that'd slow you down. And the only suspense I felt was when I didn't expect just how predictable it was. Still, it's relatively accurate in content if not in degree.

Meyer says, "I was so obsessed with the book. The Hunger Games are amazing." Which is like an anti-rec, and tells us nothing, although I guess it does kind of foreshadow that there's a shitty romance in this.

Then some guy named John Green who's a NYT book reviewer says, "Brilliantly plotted and perfectly paced." Just on basis of alliteration that's probably a better line than anything in the whole book. This is why I don't get any books based on what professional reviewers say.

Does Katuna mean anything? Because it is mildly plot-relevant that she's named after the edible arrowhead plant, or at least it's the only time the naming has any internal rhyme or reason behind it.

Date: 2011-04-05 07:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] maimh.livejournal.com
Found out it is actually is Kattua they call her, and it still doesn't make sense, there is no flower or anything connected to that name as far as I can find, I checked the plant in question, but there is no alternative name for it in any nordic language that is even remotely close to Kattua.
And as far as I could see from flipping through the pages, all the other names was unchanged. I really don't know what the translater was thinking.

Date: 2011-04-05 07:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
Huh. That's weird.

In Ch4 there's a passage about the name.

In late summer, I was washing up in a pond when I noticed the plants growing around me. Tall with leaves like arrowheads. Blossoms with three white petals. I knelt down in the water, my fingers digging into the soft mud, and I pulled up handfuls of the roots. Small, bluish tubers that don’t look like much but boiled or baked are as good as any potato. “Katniss,” I said aloud. It’s the plant I was named for. And I heard my father’s voice joking, “As long as you can find yourself, you’ll never starve.”

That still all there in the translated version? I guess the translator might just have thought it was another made-up word.

Date: 2011-04-05 07:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] maimh.livejournal.com
Hmm, I will have to check the book next time I get across it, I really didn't have the time to look at it that much.

Date: 2011-04-05 08:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joyeuxnoel.livejournal.com
I just wanted to thank you for blogging this as you go. I just started reading the book and I've been reading it chapter by chapter, then reading over your thoughts. :)

Date: 2011-04-07 12:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com

I do feel I'm doing a disservice with my mauling - this book is really not meant to be read like this.

Date: 2011-04-07 02:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joyeuxnoel.livejournal.com
Nah, your comments aren't really that bad. Besides, I really love dystopias as a setting so seeing someone else compare it to the likes of Battle Royale and such is pretty nifty.

I will say, that I do give the book a few passes here and there, mostly due to the target audience. And also because of preference. I mean, if I wanted to read about more realistic wilderness survival I'd turn works more like "Hatchet" and whatnot.


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