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Last time on the Hunger Games, Katniss decided to change things up and turn them into the Hunger Games, and I complain of titling fail.

Katniss says Rue clearly trusts her, because the kid passes out as soon as she crawls into the sleeping bag. Or she could just be exhausted, as we're five days into the childmurder games and she's been huddling in a tree with no more protection than her clothing each night.

Nor do I have any misgivings about her, as I take no particular precautions. If she’d wanted me dead, all she would have had to do was disap­pear from that tree without pointing out the tracker jacker nest. 

Katniss is very, very bad at this.

By pointing out the nest, Rue got two of the most dangerous kids killed and temporarily crippled another three. One of those kids who died had a bow and arrow, the only weapon that's a serious threat to her since she's jumping around in trees to avoid people. Now is a perfectly good time to kill Katniss, especially since she's shown she's good with bows as well. See, you should always focus on taking out the greatest threats first. Rue had no chance against the inexplicable pack of trained kids, but she might be able to kill Katniss.

Actually, probably not by a knife in the back. Katniss trusts Rue about plants. Find something full of cyanide and say it'll help if she chews it. The bitterness means it's medicine!

Anyway, because the book really hates the idea of us thinking Katniss is actually at a disadvantage...

Traditionally, the Career tributes’ strategy is to get hold of all the food early on and work from there. The years when they have not protected it well — one year a pack of hideous reptiles destroyed it, another a Gamemakers’ flood washed it away — those are usually the years that tributes from other districts have won. 

So, remember what I said last time? If this is really a big deal, the kids should be trained to get food of their own. If nothing else, as Gale said to Katniss, it's all hunting. That girl who never misses with her throwing knives shouldn't have too much trouble getting rabbit and turkeylike-thing-we're-calling-groosling.

The trained kids are built up as this huge force, yet they only win if everything goes a particular way. It's not simply that they did worse those years, they usually all lose. And Katniss says it's because they've never gone hungry.

What sort of training did these kids get that didn't include how to survive in a harsh environment?

(Plus...if things are that predictable without otherwise, why don't the people in charge regularly do something to destroy the stores, instead of just twice?)

But Katniss is too tired to plan further.

and the warmth of Rue at my side, her head cradled on my shoulder, have given me a sense of security. I realize, for the first time, how very lonely I’ve been in the arena. 

Yeah it sure would've been nice to actually see her being lonely, instead of just saying she sure was before but isn't now.

She finds out what Rue knows about the camp. They've been leaving a District 3 kid as a guard for some reason. District 3 is also not a career district, but Katniss has no indignant rant for this.

Rue and Katniss bond some more.

And I come to know Rue, the oldest of six kids, fiercely protective of her siblings, who gives her rations to the younger ones, who forages in the meadows in a district where the Peacekeepers are far less obliging than ours. Rue, who when you ask her what she loves most in the world, replies, of all things, “Music.”

Gee I wonder where this is going.

But there is a point to her liking music. Rue can sing to mockingjays and get them to repeat her songs. When it's time to quit she sings a particular song so everyone in the orchard will hear. She also loves Katniss' pin - which Katniss, once again, had completely forgotten about.

Katniss offers her the pin and earns another good person point for it.

The book will have none of my grudging like and promptly ruins this.

“Oh, no,” says Rue, closing my fingers back over the pin. “I like to see it on you. 

Never ever do this, people. Do not have the other character say that the main character is just so special and important they must have all the things. Rue goes on to say that her having the pin is why she knew she could trust Katniss, which...what? I was theorizing it was because they were the only friendly-acting tributes and so the least scary, but instead Rue just knew Katniss was nice, even though it was a pin she keeps forgetting everywhere.

We get a bit more of the plan. Rue is going to run off and light campfires, presumably to attract the other kids, and they'll meet up later. She says she'll sing to the mockingjays if she can't get back, so Katniss will know she's okay. It doesn't occur to her to have a second song for OH FUCK SOMETHING'S WRONG BLEEDING OUT HERE KATNISS which, when it comes to communication, is probably more useful.

“Are there many mockingjays here?” I ask.
“Haven’t you seen them? They’ve got nests everywhere,” she says. I have to admit I haven’t noticed.

Katniss: Worst. Hunter. Ever.

They split up and Katniss finally starts thinking about what's going on.

I turn and head back to the stream, feeling somehow worried. About Rue being killed, about Rue not being killed and the two of us being left for last, about leaving Rue alone, about leaving Prim alone back home. No, Prim has my mother and Gale and a baker who has promised she won’t go hungry. Rue has only me.

Good, Katniss. We're nearing two thirds into the book, and it really shouldn't have taken you this long, but you're finally addressing important points. The bit about what succeeding means - the two of you being the last left alive - is particularly awful to contemplate.

So...what should you do?

Once I reach the stream, I have only to follow it downhill to 

Or I guess we could just drop the entire line of thought and get back to your plan to kill people.

She decides to spend some time wondering in circles about Peeta instead.

I struggle again to remember that moment over Glimmer’s body, when he burst through the trees. But just the fact that he was sparkling leads me to doubt everything that happened.

While the bar is admittedly low, I will say the romance in this is certainly less squicky than Twilight.

Hunger Games: At Least It's Not Fucking Twilight.

So yeah, she eventually gets to somewhere where she can spy on the kids.

There are four tributes. The boy from District 1, Cato and the girl from District 2, and a scrawny, ashen-skinned boy who must be from District 3. He made almost no impression on me at all during our time in the Capitol. I can remember almost nothing about him, not his costume, not his training score, not his interview.

Okay, this kind of works. I've been complaining about the way the narrative seems to know who to care about, so having someone be important without getting highlighted in advance is nice.

Weirdly, though, instead of taking the time to start paying attention to him Katniss keeps talking about how blah he is, and the weird way the text and metatext overlap gets obvious again.

Even now, as he sits there fiddling with some kind of plastic box, he’s easily ignored in the presence of his large and domineering companions.

Um, that might be a death box, you should probably pay attention. I mean, they have magic science at the capital, you know.

But she has no idea why the kids left him alive. They're also all injured.

Even from here, I can see the large swollen lumps on their bodies. They must not have had the sense to remove the stingers, or if they did, not known about the leaves that healed them. 

Okay, first off? Removing the stingers is normal behavior. I don't know why the book keeps telling us to be impressed Katniss figured out that pulling the thing stuck in you out was a good idea. All first aid stuff I know of usually makes a big deal of when not to pull something out, because it's the first thing people will do otherwise. Next, again, trained kids, why weren't they trained to handle this? The games normally go on for a while.

Katniss is similarly confused by the way they've arranged the supplies. Most of it's in a big pile, but some is scattered around, and it's all covered by netting.

My guess is the pyramid is booby-trapped in some manner. I think of concealed pits, descending nets, a thread that when broken sends a poisonous dart into your heart. Really, the possibilities are endless.

If they could rig that stuff up, they could catch rabbits fine and they wouldn't be totally dependent on the food in the first place.

So then they see one of Rue's fires and decide to set out. They argue about if they should take guard-kid.

“He’s coming. We need him in the woods, and his job’s done here anyway. No one can touch those supplies,” says Cato.

None of this makes sense.

The whole point of the trained kids being scary is that they totally outclass the regular ones, so why would they need him? Plus, he's going to be the first to turn on them because he knows he has no chance otherwise.

Next, if his job's done, then he's not useful, now is he? And this is the childmurder games.

...So I'd like to talk about how much I love Battle Royale some more. I didn't realize until reading this just how very much better it was.

See, in Battle Royale, the kids can do whatever they please during their childmurder games. While, once again, I appreciate the lack of rape and the fact the torture seems inadvertent and off camera and I feel like I'm tempting fate every time I mention this, it made a lot more sense. You can see how some teenage boys would form groups to go on rape and murder sprees to do all they can in the time they have left, knowing that odds are none of them will make it to the finish so they might as well enjoy what they can. And how other kids would work together with the intent of at least not being the victims of psychopaths. And some psychopaths would still work together with their friends for protection so the other psychopaths don't get them. This delays the flashpoint when a group would start to think that, since only one can survive, they should kill first. It helped that there was a much larger starting population (fifty, if I remember) and that they didn't lose half their members in a staged bloodbath on the first day. (There were also generally a lot more varied reactions, my favorite being the bunch of girls who all hid together since they were doomed anyway, so why not, closely followed by the kid who decided to blow up the people in charge.)

Most of this wouldn't work with the book's setup, but that means she needed to do something else to explain how the kids are working together.

One option is a point system. Getting rewards (for your district or yourself) per death would be a good motivator, as also make the whole "career" thing make sense. Training up two kids every year for something you have, at best, a one in six change of winning, is going to be pretty hard. But if the rewards for killing the rest of the kids are relatively big, then it makes a lot more sense. There could also be bonuses for surviving each day, or a ranking system where if you die, say, tenth, your district gets more than if you were the first to die. (Or all survivors get a bonus with each death.) There could also be daily awards based on who the viewers like best, which would then explain how Katniss thinks being stoic and/or witty is somehow improving her chances of survival.

All these things would encourage kids to take part even if they had no chance of actually winning, because it stops being such an all or nothing affair. It would also discourage suicides.

Anyway. The other kids leave and then the fox-faced girl appears, or Foxface as Katniss calls her. I'm going to stick with my epithet, thanks.

The fox-faced girl hops around on a weird path, grabs some food and then retraces her steps. Katniss is impressed.

 I was right about the girl, too. How wily is she to have discovered this path into the food and to be able to replicate it so neatly?

It's actually a bit weird - Katniss uses a lot of animal words with the girl. She creeps, she scampers, she squeals. And she doesn't talk about her the way you would someone using human reasoning.

Here's how she discovered the path to the food, Katniss: she watched. She's probably been hiding here or nearby for days. She probably stole some stuff the first night when the trained kids were moving in a pack, but since the wasps she's been waiting because the District 3 boy has been left on guard. Then, when they set up the trap, she remembered the trigger points and figured out the best way through.

She isn't "wily" and didn't "discover". She's "smart" and "figured it out".

Anyway, Katniss realizes what the trap is with a bit more thought. It's the mines from earlier. See, District 3 is the factories that make everything from TVs to explosives.

 The land mines were disabled after the sixty seconds we stood on the plates, but the boy from District 3 must have managed to reactivate them. I’ve never seen anyone in the Games do that. I bet it came as a shock even to the Gamemakers.

Book. Stop with the exceptions. It's okay to have a character actually know what she's talking about.

More - the mines are a standard affair. If District 3 is good with gadgets, this plan should have occurred to them a good while ago. They'd have taught kids to do it. So that's a plot hole. But even if it wasn't, piling coincidence on coincidence is just not a good idea. If stuff keeps happening that's never happened before, well, eh. So what? It'll just get resolved by something else that's never happened before, which in turn gets fixed by something else that's never happened before...

Also, from the sounds of it, the mines are disabled remotely, so it'd have been easy to turn them back on remotely if they didn't like this plan.

(Incidentally, I think there's an editing incongruity here. It's not clear if the kids can turn the mines on and off. The girl's behavior makes most sense if they can, because her hopping implies she's not sure how wide the safe areas are, and it seems unlikely the trained kids would be willing to travel such a dangerous route, but if there's a clear path to walk she should be strolling through. The box the kid is fiddling with might do it. But it's not clear where the remote piece would come from, and there's a big difference between digging up mines and flipping a switch so they're armed again and assembling something from scratch to hack it.)

The mines are extremely sensitive and extremely powerful.

 One year, a girl dropped her token, a small wooden ball, while she was at her plate, and they literally had to scrape bits of her off the ground.

That's...actually not very scary. Before, Katniss was just saying it'd blow your legs off, which is ambiguous. But if it paints you across the landscape, that's about as instant a death as you can hope for. Assuming there's some sort of punishment for obviously suicidal behavior, "accidentally dropping a token" should be a common thing.

Katniss tries to figure out how to set off the mines. She figures that getting a chain reaction going will be tough because they're probably spaced to avoid that. But there's a bag of apples.

The first arrow tears through the side of the bag near the top, leaving a split in the burlap. The second widens it to a gaping hole. I can see the first apple teetering when I let the third arrow go, catching the torn flap of burlap and ripping it from the bag.

You know, I don't know much about archery, so I'm not sure exactly how possible this is. But it doesn't feel particularly plausible, and given no research has been done for anything else I'm going to assume she's just making stuff up here as well.

There's a tip buried in there. If you do a good job of researching things, if you do need to stretch things at a particular point readers will be more likely to give you it. The more obvious breaks in reality, the less slack you get.

But her super arrow skills cause the apples to fall. The resulting explosion blows her backward, and we end the chapter.

Next chapter picks up with her knocked on her back. You know, people don't really get how explosions work sometimes. See, the blast that is blowing apart a building doesn't magically not blow you apart just because it's made of air. It also tends to be extremely hot, so it'll burn your skin.

 I manage to shield my face with my arms as shattered bits of matter, some of it burning, rain down around me. 

Furthermore, stuff isn't raining down on you, it's being propelled by the same blast that hit you, ie, hitting at the same time. Some will rain down afterward because some got shot up and not sideways, but that only happens after the shrapnel is shoved through your face.

But Katniss does get hurt. Her ears are damaged. She's deaf and her sense of balance is gone.

Boy, it's sure convenient she just got her wasp stings fixed in time for this newest issue. And we can probably assume nothing new will happen until her hearing comes back, so we know her hearing must come back so the next thing can happen.

One ear is actually bleeding, which means she probably blew out the eardrum. She won't be able to heal that on her own, but eh, the capital has magic science and Katniss' has clearly picked survival and life over being a decent person, so she'll win.

Anyway, she can still crawl okay, so she crawls off back to her hiding place.

While she's doing this, a few more mines go off. These single mines are still enough to knock her over while crawling, so the force of the first blast should have blown her face off. In fact, if a single mine can do this, wouldn't a single tribute stepping off their plate and triggering the mines result in everyone dying, as nearby kids got knocked over, triggering more mines, which then knock over kids near them...

I’m reminded of those last few kernels that burst when Prim and I pop corn over the fire at home.

Wait, they still have corn? Why is she eating the unknown tesserae grain, corn is the best staple crop in America. They should be eating cornmeal if there's still corn. I was willing to grant the lack of sugar on the assumption that maple trees may have bought it, but you can make corn into sugar too.

I mean, I guess it's possible there was so much change in climate and destruction of the land that it's no longer possible to grown corn except in small areas, so it can't be a staple good. But then why would it be shipped anywhere but the capital, and even if it was, why would Katniss have blown the food budget on it after all the STARVING STARVING STARVING stuff?

there’s Cato, barreling onto the plain, soon followed by his companions. His rage is so extreme it might be comical — so people really do tear out their hair and beat the ground with their fists 

It's funny because Katniss has just done something that means he has a good chance of dying! And this upsets him!

But it's aimed at her and Katniss is kind of helpless, so she's mostly just scared.

I’m glad my hiding place makes it impossible for the cameras to get a close shot of me because I’m biting my nails like there’s no tomorrow.

This is random, but it's actually kind of bugging me that Katniss keeps talking about chewing her nails when she's nervous. I mean, it is a thing people do, but if you're really panicking, a better distraction is biting your thumb itself, because it hurts when you do that.

Cato has finished the first phase of his tantrum and takes out his anger on the smoking remains by kicking open various containers. The other tributes are poking around in the mess, looking for anything to salvage, but there’s nothing. 

...there are containers left to kick open, but there's nothing at all to salvage inside?

Anyway, Cato decides to blame the District 3 kid for setting the mines so they'd atomize the food if they went off, so he kills him. Of course, the kid is also no longer useful to them in any way and it's the childmurder games, so I'm not sure why the book has to explain this as just because he's mad.

I can see the muscles ripple in Cato’s arms as he sharply jerks the boy’s head to the side.
It’s that quick. The death of the boy from District 3.

You know, I think part of my problem is that the author keeps making a big deal about sudden death, where as I'm more focused on the horrible pain thing. Snapping the kid's neck is a quick death, much like stepping on the mines. Compared to the screaming girl on the first night, it's not that bad at all.

I'd like to complain about Katniss' total lack of fuck-giving here, since she obviously didn't think that what she did would make them kill the boy and usually people react badly when their actions inadvertently get people killed, but she's been talking constantly about how she wants to shoot people dead herself so it's not really surprising.

They assume whoever did this died in the explosion, so they don't go anywhere and wait for night instead.

They show the boy from District 3. They show the boy from District 10, who must have died this morning. Then the seal reappears. So, now they know. The bomber survived. 

...so, no one else is playing the childmurder games but the career kids? Even assuming that the untrained kids can't take on any of the trained kids, are none of them attacking each other? Because that's actually pretty interesting. Katniss has shown no such scruples, but Rue helped her and it seems everyone else is going on the principle of live and let live.

It's not completely altruistic, of course. The more kids around, the more likely the trained kids will stalk them rather than you. But it's still a huge step up from Katniss, who wants to kill someone for being cold.

You're probably sick of Battle Royale, but honestly, lots of manga do this better. By jumping between characters we would get to see how things are going for others. By implication, things aren't going exactly the same for them as they are for Katniss, and it's more than simply that they're not doing anything interesting. Even in manga that sticks to a single viewpoint, they're far more aware of what the other characters are doing - they'd run into other people, and they'd see others meeting up. In sum, what the other people are doing would matter, while here it's really just that the author doesn't give a fuck. Like with the forest ecosystem making no sense and only existing for Katniss to interact with, the kids are scenery. The non-trained kids are just there as a morbid counter to show how serious things are.

 I can see Cato and the girl from District 2 put on their night-vision glasses. The boy from District 1 ignites a tree branch for a torch, illuminating the grim determination on all their faces. 

Seconds later, the two with night vision goggles double over screaming as their eyes are seared by the light. Seriously it doesn't work like that.

Also, I thought they had flashlights.

Also torches don't work like that. Yo can't just light a branch and call it a day.

Then all three of them head off to hunt, even though the torch means anyone will see them coming a mile off and nullifies the advantage the goggles give them.

Fearing the smell of meat will draw unwanted predators — fresh blood is bad enough — I make a good meal out of the greens and roots and berries Rue and I gathered today.

Um, seriously? The meat will draw predators so it's better to keep it in your bag and continue carrying it around? Also, berries and greens aren't particularly filling, and most roots need to be cooked to give most of their energy. It's not going to be a good meal.

So there's eight kids left, only three of which are the trained kids.

Although from what Cato said, Peeta’s on his way out. Not that Cato is the final word on anything. Didn’t he just lose his entire stash of supplies?

Book, I know I can't expect subtlety, but can I at least get the illusion of suspense? Please?

Since roosting overnight in a tree isn’t sensible anyway, I scoop out a hollow under the bushes and cover myself with leaves and pine needles. I’m still freezing. 

God damn you are whiny Katniss. Burying yourself in leaves is a perfectly valid way of keeping warm. More, I refuse to believe it's just too cold for this to work, because you survived two days lying in a pile of leaves that you hadn't even covered yourself properly with, and probably did it with a fever. If it was that cold, you'd have died.

I begin to have more sympathy for the girl from District 8 that lit the fire that first night.

Considering she was horribly killed, it's about fucking time you felt some sympathy.

When Katniss wakes up, she hears noise and realizes her ear is working again.

The fox-faced girl has come to see what's up. I'm a bit confused why she didn't check out the explosion yesterday, since there was a good while until night, but whatever.

She’s smarter than the Careers, actually finding a few useful items in the ashes. A metal pot. A knife blade. 

What sort of trained kid doesn't know a pot is useful?

That's like, survival 101. You cook everything in a pot so nothing runs off into the fire. The only disadvantage, and it's a minor one, is that it's harder to do what Katniss is doing and carry around the cooked food afterward, and that can be fixed by recooking anything you didn't eat over the fire, as most of the runoff will already be in the broth.

And considering the main use of knives is throwing them, the blade should be obviously useful to the kids.

I’m perplexed by her amusement until I realize that with the Careers’ stores eliminated, she might actually stand a chance. Just like the rest of us.

Hm, maybe.

On the other hand, it seems like she was doing pretty well for herself the way things are. The loss of weapons is surely no loss to her, but the food is. Assuming the food wasn't blown up, the trained kids would keep picking off the rest of the untrained kids for a bit, then eventually turn on each other. I expect the District 3 kid would be the first to go, or possibly they'd turn on each other first because they think he's no harm and then he'd try to kill the survivor. Whatever happens, they certainly won't be guarding the food. She just has to wait it out. If she times it right, she can make off with the final store of food so they'll end up hungry first.

I guess it depends on how stealthy the girl is. Someone like Rue could pull it off, but she may not have as much faith in her ability to keep avoiding the trained kids. Still, her defining feature is cleverness, so I'd expect her to be good at it.

Basically, I don't buy it. She had a really good thing here. She knows the way through the mines and there's no other guard now. The loss of supplies would need to be catastrophic to the trained kids to make it worth it, and there's still the other five kids to consider.

It crosses my mind to reveal myself and enlist her as a second ally against that pack. But I rule it out. There’s something about that sly grin that makes me sure that befriending Foxface would ultimately get me a knife in the back. 

Oh fuck you Katniss.

See what I mean about not talking about her like she's a person. She just doesn't look trustworthy. Also, it's all her fault that Katniss won't trust her.

There is definitely reason to be worried about allying. "That pack" is now only three kids, and Katniss has said that the advantage shifts to the untrained kids like the rest of them with the food gone, so their common enemy is no longer such a threat. They lack a strong motive to ally.

And, of course, the kids can never ally longterm because only one can win, and they're down to eight, so two third of the kids are already dead. Remember, Katniss was saying earlier that her alliance with Rue can never be more than temporary, and also that Rue is no threat to her, so on some level she was thinking about killing Rue when it came down to it. So this girl has good reason to stab Katniss in the back, because very soon, Katniss is going to decide to shoot her in the back.

But instead Katniss talks about this girl as if she's just psychotic. There's also a return of the reliable narrator issue, namely, there's no suggestion this is Katniss' paranoia speaking. Katniss has good reason to be nervous, and it would also be quite understandable for her to say the girl might not be dangerous but that she doesn't want to take the chance. Instead, kids who happen to resemble foxes are foxes, and can't be trusted.

With that in mind, this might be an excellent time to shoot her.

See? I really don't think it's fair to talk about how the other girl might attack you when your impulse is to kill her.

Luckily for the girl, she hears something and runs off before Katniss can kill her. Katniss isn't sure what it is but figures if she's running it's probably a good idea to leave as well. I actually like this a lot, since like trying burn ointment on her wounds or eating the food Rue gathered, it's very human behavior. We naturally work best in groups and we're extremely trusting of cues from other humans.

She heads back to the stream to meet up with Rue, eating more of whatever the fuck the groosling is. Yeah, that's really bugging me. If everything had altered names it'd be one thing, but so far everything else kept their names, even more obscure alternate terms like katniss.

 I shoot two fish, easy pickings in this slow-moving stream, and go ahead and eat one raw even though I’ve just had the groosling. 

How fucking hard is it to do basic research?

I would find eating raw fish completely reasonable if she hadn't made a huge deal about not eating raw rabbit, especially since the raw rabbit was when she was dying of dehydration. But if she's worried about rabbit fever she should be worried about all the stuff carried in wild fish.

Also I'm not sure what she means by even though she's just had something. This is really basic predator behavior - you eat as much as you can when food is abundant. If the fish are easy pickings and she's fine about eating them, she should eat as much as possible now. Instead, she saves the second fish for Rue and doesn't shoot any more.

I can’t adjust to deafness in the ear. It makes me feel off-balanced and defenseless to my left. Blind even. My head keeps turning to the injured side, as my right ear tries to compensate for the wall of nothingness where yesterday there was a constant flow of information. 

Uh. People who are deaf in one ear compensate well enough. Her hearing is definitely going to be impaired, but wall of nothingness is rather over the top here.

She reaches the meeting point but there's no Rue. Katniss starts rationalizing it as okay.

She’s probably just being cautious about making her way back. I wish she’d hurry, because I don’t want to hang around here too long. I want to spend the afternoon traveling to higher ground, hunting as we go. But there’s nothing really for me to do but wait.

She can jump around between trees and none of the other kids have a bow. She shouldn't have trouble making her way back. This is legit panic time, but I guess Katniss holding the idiot ball here is supposed to heighten suspense, or maybe make it more shocking when we realize something's wrong.

Katniss decides to eat the second fish, since it won't last long anyway. It's fine, since

 it should be easy enough to spear a few more for Rue. 

Katniss does not take this to its logical conclusion and catch more to eat herself.

Despite the groosling and the fish, my stomach’s growling


She decides to give in and eat more, because she's lost a lot of weight so far, so she eats some nuts. Fish! Right there! Full of delicious fish-oily goodness! If you want to stop losing weight you need to eat extra food. If you can get enough fish maybe you can even start gaining some again.

Katniss' ongoing refusal to eat her stored food might be a sign of food hording, which is a common psychological affect of starvation. Unfortunately for that theory, she doesn't distinguish between storied food and perishable food. Now, it'd be possible for her to be treating known food sources as a cache of food that'll spoil if she removes it, except that Katniss has shown absolutely no sign of remembering locations so far. This stream is the third source of water she's found and the first she's made much effort to return to. No mention has been made of remembering where berry bushes or roots are. So that excuse doesn't fly. And besides, it's not at all how she was acting back in the first chapter, where she collected as much as she could. So now she's dipping into her stored food rather than eating more fish in defiance of both sense and psychology.

She's also not drinking much water, for even less reason. She is right next to the stream. She should be drinking her water and refilling it to try to rehydrate. Rationing water makes some sense when she's traveling around, but it makes anti-sense right now.

But Katniss ignores my logic in favor of nuts. She finishes off her food and stays in the tree.

But it’s a hollow day, and even with all that I start daydreaming about food. 

Katniss, like any sane person literally a couple feet away from easily available food, stays put and emos about it instead. Truly, a stunning portrayal of psychological depth.

Hours pass and Katniss realizes Rue isn't showing up. She scatters some mint leaves in case Rue appears while she's gone, since Rue knows Katniss gathered some but there are none close by, then goes to check the third fire Rue was supposed to set.

I know something has gone amiss. The wood has been neatly arranged, expertly interspersed with tinder, but it has never been lit. Rue set up the fire but never made it back here. Somewhere between the second column of smoke I spied before I blew up the supplies and this point, she ran into trouble.

Katniss, do you have no concept of moderation? Either you're totally chill about something that's really worrying, or you're losing it over something with a perfectly reasonable explanation.

Isn't it possible that she heard the explosion and figured the third fire wasn't needed? The fact she's not back is the damning part, not that she didn't light an unnecessary fire.

She starts panicking about what if she didn't hear the cannon shot because her ears were too messed up.

No, I refuse to believe it. There could be a hundred other explanations. She could have lost her way. Run into a pack of predators or another tribute, like Thresh, and had to hide. Whatever happened, I’m almost certain she’s stuck out there, somewhere between the second fire and the unlit one at my feet. Something is keeping her up a tree.

But she can jump between trees. It's like the second thing she did here. You even remarked on how it was probably where her high score came from.

Anyway, Katniss figures that she can find whatever's keeping Rue by heading toward the other fire. This makes sense. As she starts traveling, she hears Rue's everything-is-fine song from some mockingjays (hey, remember when Katniss was having hearing problems? Because the book doesn't. Guess we're ready for the next injury.) and grins, because the birds don't carry a song long so she must be nearby.

So, obviously, that's when Rue starts screaming.

And now I’m running, knowing this may be a trap, knowing the three Careers may be poised to attack me, but I can’t help myself. 

Katniss is actually being a decent person here. She starts shouting in the hopes they'll abandon Rue in favor of heading toward her.

When I break into the clearing, she’s on the ground, hopelessly entangled in a net. She just has time to reach her hand through the mesh and say my name before the spear enters her body.

Well. So much for Rue.

This confuses me. I guess we're supposed to forget about Rue's squirrel skills and so she must have been traveling on the ground. But even then, was she only just now caught, or has she been trapped for some time but too scared to make a sound? Because a net is not really the kind of trap you can leave people in for long periods when a lot of them are carrying knives. I think maybe the idea is she was caught and singing to the birds in the hope Katniss would come toward her, but she's singing her "stay where you are, I'm fine, I'll meet up in a little while" song, but it makes no sense that she'd just happen to have some other issue keeping her away and then only now stumble into a trap right when Katniss is nearby.

It's also terribly convenient. Leaving Rue alive until near the end raises real issues, because only one can actually leave. More, once the remaining trained kids realize Rue and she are working together, the odds of Rue getting a similarly painful death as the one they'll give Katniss increase, plus if they avoid fights and try to keep playing as long as possible so they don't have to kill each other, the gamemakers will start sending terrible things at them, so then there's the issue of mercy killing. And if Katniss manages to kill almost everyone else, should she kill herself for Rue? And what about Rue's district and family? Rue's the first of six kids in a district people are hungry enough to steal food despite regular whippings for the crime, while Prim has several people who've all promised to keep her from starving.

But Rue is feminine and therefore her role in this drama is quite firmly the sainted victim.

As an aside, let's consider the concept of fridging. Fridging is generally broken into two parts - the casual maiming or killing of female characters compared to males, and the use of it as a motivating force for the main character, who's usually male. The term originally comes to us from comics, from a superhero coming home to find his girlfriend dismembered and stuffed into his fridge. The fact women are usually the motivator and men the motivated are two separate issues. Making it one girl motivated by another girl's death improves the situation by allowing women into the role of hero, but doesn't address that the role of designated victim is still female as well. And all women in this book are either victims, evil, or Katniss, so it doesn't get a good-writing exception here.

TLDR of course Rue's a young girl and of course she's killed to upset the main character. Victimhood is a feminine trait and Rue was coded very, very feminine.
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April 2011

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