Last time on the childmurder games, Peeta confessed he was in love with Katniss on live television, and we end part one. Now, on to Part II: The Games.
First, more non-game waffling chapter for some reason.
“Oh, that is a piece of bad luck,” says Caesar, and there’s a real edge of pain in his voice.
What? No. Fuck you, there is not. He is the interviewer for the childmurder games. Literally just ten minutes ago, he was assuring a little twelve year old girl whose qualifications were that she’s a fast runner that he’s sure she’ll do great in a twenty kid deathmatch.
Twenty-four kids a year. Forty years. He’s personally seen almost a thousand kids off to their deaths, and watched the games for god knows how many decades before that.
The crowd is murmuring in agreement, a few have even given agonized cries.
I will grudgingly give this.
Not, I think, for the reasons the book wants. I’m 90% sure this is just “hey look the main characters, let’s all care about them alone now”. But the Capital people have a very interesting relationship with the kids they’re going to watch die.
Last time, I was yelling about how Katniss’ bubbly “I’m just so happy to be here I love it” shit was giving them what they want. And that does seem to be how all the kids are presented. Rue does not stop at the reasonable “I can run really fast so it’ll be hard to kill me” but goes on to say not to count her out, like she thinks she has a chance. These are murder games. She doesn’t have a chance.
To confront that a person is being forced to be there would be to confront that they’re a person and that the Capital (and the citizens) are to blame for what’s happening. So the children act as if they want to do this. With that in mind, Katniss and Peeta are star-crossed lovers, who “circumstance” has conspired against. We’re back to passive voice. It just happened somehow. There’s no condemnation in Peeta’s statement. It’s not that he’s isn’t thrilled to be at the Capital with all you great folks, and he’s delighted, just delighted about the murderdeath games, it’s just the terrible bad luck of being in the same batch as his true love.
This is why, again, I think it would have made far more sense for the tribute to be an entirely voluntary thing. The Capital theoretically controls the whole economy (not that they seem to be doing much in that respect, but -). They set the coal miners’ wages. They set the prices of the goods that come in. It’s painfully easy to put them on starvation wages so the kids have to sign up for food. You could even get a nice banked system going, where parents can enter their kid for the tesserae before they’re actually eligible to be drawn, so that when the kid turns twelve and enters the first time, their name is already on twenty strips. The richer you are, the more years you’ll be able to just scrape by without having to enter your kid – or, if you don’t care, you’ll sign them up anyway to have a year without going hungry some nights. And when someone gets picked, they’ll say it was those people, who were greedy.
And then we have the fiction it’s all their choice. Hunger Games indeed.
Ceasar, the nice guy, asks if Katniss knew before now, and Peeta said she didn’t.
“Wouldn’t you love to pull her back out here and get a response?” Caesar asks the audience. The crowd screams assent. “Sadly, rules are rules, and Katniss Everdeen’s time has been spent.
Yeah, you can truly hear the “edge of real pain” in his voice.
Katniss looks up and
cannot avoid seeing that every screen is now dominated by a shot of Peeta and me, separated by a few feet that in the viewers’ heads can never be breached. Poor tragic us.
But she’s not buying it. This, of course, is another trick. I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be obvious here she’s being her usual mix of paranoid and delusional, but I think she’s got a real point. It’s just so damn convenient.
Now, I’d have second thoughts based on the issue of what does Peeta actually gain by doing this, but Katniss and the narrative are both in agreement that somehow, advertising your heart isn’t in the game nets you sponsors, and with that in mind it’s pretty suspicious. It is valid to wonder if he’s being manipulative her.
Peeta has only just stepped from his car when I slam my palms into his chest. He loses his balance and crashes into an ugly urn filled with fake flowers. The urn tips and shatters into hundreds of tiny pieces. Peeta lands in the shards, and blood immediately flows from his hands.
…I’m trying to picture this and having issues. She shoves his chest, so he’s falling backward. He hits the urn on the way down, and it doesn’t fall immediately, it tips and then falls over under its weight. It falls faster than he does, shatters, and then when he lands (backward) his hands are outstretched and hit the shards.
Forget earlier, this is way more transparently manipulative. Book, I am disapprove.
So Katniss starts screaming he had no right to say any of that. While I don’t condone her actions it’s pretty reasonable. She’s under heavy stress and she doesn’t need any more shit.
“What’s going on?” says Effie, a note of hysteria in her voice.
Today on word choice matters, don’t use the term “hysteria” if you already have a shitty track record with female characters. Other words to avoid include “shrill”.
Let’s do a quick recap again.
Mom: useless and weak.
Sister: sweet and innocent and weak
Effie: she’s fake and therefore must be hated
Mayor’s daughter: stupid privileged kid, forgiven because she gives away the pin to Katniss
Mombaker: THE MOST EVIL OF THE EVIL
Random stylist lady: fakes sympathy, insulting airhead
Other random stylist lady: friendlier airhead
Portia : is a nonperson, every idea is either joint or Cinna’s.
Red-haired slave: victim, sympathetic to Katniss
Dad: the source of all that’s good in the universe
Gale: singlehandedly keeping family afloat, awesome hunter, Katniss’ best friend
Bakerdad: generous trader, gives cookies, promises to care for useless weak sister
Peeta: gave starving Katniss food, been super helpful, surprisingly competent at the games, in love
Haymitch: super competent
Other other random stylist: effeminate asshole
Cinna: THE BESTEST MOST WONDERFULEST PERSON IN THE WHOLE WORLD
Caesar: I can’t even be sarcastic here. You saw it.
So in conclusion, for a non-Katniss girl to be decent she can’t have any agency whatsoever, and the only evil guy likes to put on lipstick.
Anyway Haymitch gets mad back and tells her this was good for her too.
He made you look desirable! And let’s face it, you can use all the help you can get in that department. You were about as romantic as dirt until he said he wanted you. Now they all do.
The prostitution subtext is rapidly approaching text. Mind, we were originally told that the sponsors bet on kids and gave help based on that, so I still don’t see why this would really help much.
Peeta sulks about how she’s just mad because of her boyfriend Gale, and Katniss says Gale isn’t her boyfriend. He’s damn well better not be, book, I have had enough of all platonic opposite-sex relationships secretly being sexual.
I’m torn now between thinking I’ve been used and thinking I’ve been given an edge. Haymitch is right. I survived my interview, but what was I really? A silly girl spinning in a sparkling, dress. Giggling. The only moment of any substance I hail was when I talked about Prim. Compare that with Thresh, his silent, deadly power, and I’m forgettable. Silly and sparkly and forgettable.
So she’s kind of seeing the problem, but she’s still avoiding the huge elephant in the room of how she was being silly and sparkly and giggly toward the people who are behind her imminent death.
Peeta is bleeding too heavily, and Portia leads him off for medical treatment. We start the cream and rose-petal soup without them. By the time we’ve finished, they’re back. Peeta’s hands are wrapped in bandages. I can’t help feeling guilty. Tomorrow we will be in the arena. He has done me a favor and I have answered with an injury. Will I never stop owing him?
Ooooooookay book this is getting squicky. It’s not like there aren’t enough issues with girls rejecting boys without piling on how she’s so mean and unreasonable to someone who’s such a nice guy.
They watch a replay of the video.
I seem frilly and shallow, twirling and giggling in my dress, although the others assure me I am charming.
You didn’t seem, you were. I could forgive the the twirl and giggle if there was any suggestion it was your plan. Or if you were characterized in such a way you honestly came across as terrified for your life instead of terrified of looking dumb in front of all the nice people.
And there I am, blushing and confused,made beautiful by Cinna’s hands, desirable by Peeta’s confession, tragic by circumstance, and by all accounts, unforgettable.
…this is a depressingly accurate summary of the book so far.
We’ve been told she’s a survivor, but so far her actions have been:
Be upset at Peeta being friendly
Chuck food out the window
Lose her temper and shoot the apple
Everything else she’s been coached into doing. She has done nothing to earn it. Even the talents she starts off with are things she learned either from her dad or Gale. The closest thing to initiative she’s displayed is reading her dad’s entries on edible plants on her own. And it’s not like there haven’t been plenty of instances where she could have made her own decision.
Tomorrow at dawn, we will be roused and prepared for the arena. The actual Games don’t start until ten because so many of the Capitol residents rise late.
That’s a lazy little random shorthand. If the people of the Capital are so decadent, what about the people who stay up all night and sleep during the day?
Plus, they have magic showers. I’m sure they have TiVo.
So Haymitch and Effie will be going off to sign sponsors now.
Cinna and Portia will travel with us to the very spot from which we will be launched into the arena.
…why? Do they need to make one last outfit?
Effie takes both of us by the hand and, with actual tears in her eyes, wishes us well. Thanks us for being the best tributes it has ever been her privilege to sponsor. And then, because it’s Effie and she’s apparently required by law to say something awful, she adds “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I finally get promoted to a decent district next year!”
It’s hard to imagine hating you more, book.
Then she kisses us each on the cheek and hurries out, overcome with either the emotional parting or the possible improvement of her fortunes.
<3 data-blogger-escaped-a=”” data-blogger-escaped-advice:=”” data-blogger-escaped-book.=”” data-blogger-escaped-gives=”” data-blogger-escaped-haymitch=”” data-blogger-escaped-i=”” data-blogger-escaped-last=”” data-blogger-escaped-of=”” data-blogger-escaped-them=”” data-blogger-escaped-too=”” data-blogger-escaped-word=”” data-blogger-escaped-you=””>“When the gong sounds, get the hell out of there. You’re neither of you up to the blood bath at the Cornucopia. Just clear out, put as much distance as you can between yourselves and the others, and find a source of water,” he says. “Got it?”
Well, that’s not bad advice I guess. But it seems like something he should have mentioned before now. They might have had time to do a crash course on how to find water, for one thing. At a couple points I get the sense this book could have used an extra edit to insert setup earlier in.
What he says at the end should be either summarizing what he’s already told them and/or something directly related to their nerves (everyone else will be scared too, if you act fast you’ll have the advantage.)
All that remains of the design-team’s efforts are the flames on my nails. I decide to keep them as reminder of who I am to the audience.
Glad your priorities are so in order.
Katniss, the girl who was on fire.
This phrase has popped up a few times already and the author clearly thinks it’s extremely clever. It’s not bad, but it’s not really worthy of this much repetition.
The writing of the book varies between serviceable to mildly bad, and this is one of the points that makes it obvious.
Personally, given she’s made a big deal of how each outfit is a different type of flame, I’d have gone with keeping a theme but varying the words. She’s first cloaked in flame, then she’s the sun (or maybe, given that’s the interview outfit, a small star), and now she has flames at her fingertips.
Though, on reflection, perhaps not. Trying to rework the writing just brings to mind that it’s actually quite weird how very much she cares about her outfit, to the point it’s defining her. It might work if Katniss’ reasoning for the Hunger Games was clearer – if she really did feel like she was helpless and was trying to remake herself to be someone who could win this, instead of (at least, so she claims) someone who doesn’t want to be here and hates the idea. Apolitical!Katniss, who is too scared to think about the morality and is just focused on somehow making it back to her sister, might act like that.
Hm. It occurs to me the author really shouldn’t have wasted all that time on how Prim’s going to be okay (she doesn’t need to take tesserae to feed herself, Gale’s made a deal to provide food, the baker promised to look after her, everyone apparently loves her). Because if Katniss believed that she had to get back for her sister’s sake, her complete refusal to think about the murder part would make sense. In Katniss’ experience, people aren’t reliable, only she is, and I can easily believe someone who loves her sister enough to die for her would love her enough to kill for her.
And that Katniss is the sort who might be grasping desperately for anything at all to give her strength.
It takes me about five seconds to realize I’ll never fall asleep. And I need sleep desperately because in the arena every moment I give in to fatigue will be an invitation to death.
I’d like to say this is reasonable, but she hasn’t had any sleeping issues the last several days. Also, the Capital should just dope them up on the final day to make sure they’re properly rested. You want the games to go on as long as possible before the kids first start napping. Dope the kids, then give them speed or something when it’s time to go to counteract it.
She starts worrying about what the arena will be, and what traps, and the other kids, and dammit Katniss you’ve only just started worrying about all this? She works herself up more and more.
I pace the floor, heart beating too fast, breathing too short. My room feels like a prison cell.
IT IS A PRISON CELL YOU MORON.
She decides to go to the roof and is glad to find the door’s open.
Perhaps someone forgot to close it, but it doesn’t matter. The energy field enclosing the roof prevents any desperate form of escape.
The book seems to only be willing to acknowledge suicide obliquely. Reading between the lines implies that suicide is a pretty good option compared to what’s about to happen…
And I’m not looking to escape, only to fill my lungs with air.
…but at the same time Katniss and the others never seriously consider it.
Peeta is up on the roof too and she says he should be sleeping.
“I didn’t want to miss the party. It’s for us, after all.”
That’s a pretty chilling line. The dissonance between their celebrity treatment and eventual fate hasn’t been handled well, but when it does work it’s extremely creepy.
They look at the people dancing below and keep talking. (You know, maybe that’s why the games start later, because there’s a late celebration? Because that’s not a rich decadent thing, Katniss, you yourself said people sleep late on the day of the reaping and you guys don’t even have a pre-reaping late night party.)
“Thinking about your family?” he asks.
“No,” I admit a bit guiltily.
Spite time. Her family isn’t in any danger, she is. Worrying about what she’s about to face isn’t anything to feel guilty about. She already sacrificed herself specifically so she wouldn’t need to think about them.
She sees his bandaged hands look bad and apologizes again.
“It doesn’t matter, Katniss,” he says. “I’ve never been a contender in these Games anyway.”
We’re halfway through the book and only now have we returned to the setup presented in the first chapter. I suppose you could justify a lot of this as them desperately trying to pretend they have a chance to avoid thinking about what’s next, but it’s still disappointing that this whole train of thought was kept out of sight until now, when there’s no time to go further with it.
Katniss, though, says he shouldn’t think that. He should. For one thing, he needs to decide what he’s going to do. Kids who stand no chance might want to try to hide as long as possible, delay the inevitable. For another, there’s a big choice here. The kids are fighting to survive. If you don’t think you’ll make it, should you still fight?
“Why not? It’s true. My best hope is to not disgrace myself
You’re going into the murderdeath games. You are not a willing participant. You do not support the government. Why do you care about “disgrace”? I guess I can sort of see it if he means breaking down and crying, and even then, I doubt it’s an uncommon feature of the games. It’s also just so damn petty under the circumstances.
“I don’t know how to say it exactly. Only . . . I want to die as myself. Does that make any sense?” he asks. I shake my head. How could he die as anyone but himself? “I don’t want them to change me in there. Turn me into some kind of monster that I’m not.”
…and yet, still no one has raised the possibility of not killing.
I bite my lip feeling inferior. While I’ve been ruminating on the availability of trees, Peeta has been struggling with how to maintain his identity. His purity of self.
Book. I may be hard on Katniss because she’s the main character and so has more chances to do something wrong, but I’ve also yelled at you every time you try to make one of the guys into a saint and I haven’t suddenly forgotten about this tendency of yours. No. Peeta has been flirting with the whole damn population of the Capital in the hopes of some sponsorships.
“Do you mean you won’t kill anyone?” I ask.
Thank you, Katniss. Finally, someone’s said it.
“No, when the time comes, I’m sure I’ll kill just like everybody else. I can’t go down without a fight.
Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to . . . to show the Capitol they don’t own me. That I’m more than just a piece in their Games,” says Peeta.
Not fighting, Peeta. Not fucking fighting is a good start.
Here’s what you could do if you wanted to show them they don’t own you – you could die. Kill yourself before anyone else does. I realize that’s hard, but Katniss is saying the place is trapped so there’s probably plenty of chances to die quickly. Failing that, you could fight defensively but not try to kill anyone yourself. There are six kids raised from birth to know how to win this, I’m sure even just hesitating will be enough for them to finish you off quickly.
Yeah, it’s hard. If you can’t go through with it, well, you’re a kid in a really terrible position, no one could blame you. But you could at least not fight to kill. That’s not so much to ask.
“But you’re not,” I say. “None of us are. That’s how the Games work.”
No one in the history of the games has tried passive resistance? Really?
No one’s ever jumped into the death trap for a quick death? No one’s ever used the super knife they were given to cut their own throat? No one’s just hidden and refused to fight?
“Okay, but within that framework, there’s still you, there’s still me,” he insists. “Don’t you see?”
I was complaining about protagonist centered morality before, but this has to take the cake. He’s just reduced the world down to them. Within that framework are all the kids, Peeta. Other kids are having to make the same choice as you right now.
Katniss isn’t much interested in moral debate, which I admit fits with the last nine chapters we’ve spent in her head. Peeta gets annoyed by this and the conversation goes downhill fast. Peeta snaps,
I mean, what else am I allowed to care about at this point?
…and so yeah, by saying there’s me and you, I think he literally means he cares about her within the framework of the games, not the greater moral issue of you’re going to be fucking killing people stop thinking with your dick.
The romance is really squicking me. The more obvious it gets he cares about her romantically, the less caring he looks, ironically. If he was a decent person, he’d care about someone other than the girl he had a crush on. Like Rue. Remember Rue? The scared twelve year old who has no chance at the games?
I suppose part of the problem is that they’ve had no real interaction before now, only compounded by how terribly they get along. I don’t feel he cares about her in the same way she cares about her sister – there’s this undercurrent that he’s trying to get her to care back, so it’s not selfless, and this is just not the time for that. Katniss saying everyone else can die as long as her sister’s okay would not be truly moral, but it’d be a better motivation than saying everyone can die as long as the person you’ve been crushing on from afar is okay.
“Look, if you want to spend the last hours of your life planning some noble death in the arena, that’s your choice. I want to spend mine in District Twelve.”
This should be the real issue, I think. Yet Peeta isn’t planning a noble death – or, I suppose, he is in the traditional sense of noble, the one that has nothing to do with right and everything to do with expected.
Nobility is the behavior the upper class values. And we know full well who that is in this world.
Then, because the book hadn’t filled its inexplicable quota on why Peeta is better than Katniss, she starts thinking about how she bets he’ll be a horrible person once the games actually start.
He’ll probably turn into one of those raging beast tributes, the kind who tries to eat someone’s heart after they’ve killed them. There was a guy like that a few years ago from District 6 called Titus. He went completely savage and the Gamemakers had to have him stunned with electric guns to collect the bodies of the players he’d killed before he ate them. There are no rules in the arena, but cannibalism doesn’t play well with the Capitol audience, so they tried to head it off.
The audience who liked the year kids had to beat each other to death with spiked maces, and were disappointed by merely watching them freeze to death instead of getting blood everywhere?
Also, the kids are not provided with food and they’re put down in an unknown location where there may not be animals or any plants they’re familiar with. Someone’s going to realize that the only thing they can be certain isn’t poisoned is each other.
There was some speculation that the avalanche that finally took Titus out was specifically engineered to ensure the victor was not a lunatic.
Okay, two quick things here:
a) the victor is going to be a lunatic. They are going to be a severely traumatized kid who’s just been through hell. This is what a winner of the game looks like.
b) doing something horrible under incredible stress does not make you permanently broken.
Cinna comes to me before dawn, gives me a simple shift to wear, and guides me to the roof.
Seriously, that’s it? Why is he even there?
the needle inserts the metal tracking device deep under the skin on the inside of my forearm. Now the Gamemakers will always be able to trace my whereabouts in the arena. Wouldn’t want to lose a tribute.
I assumed this would get injected into the back of her neck, as is customary. Since it isn’t – Katniss, you know how to use knives. As soon as you get down there, dig it out and run. What can they do to you? Kill you?
Katniss tries to stuff herself with breakfast. Her food obsession is slipping, and she doesn’t even mention what it is. More irritatingly, she makes no mention of drinking anything.
See originally, she mentioned she was stuffing herself to try to gain some weight before the games. The other issue, if Haymitch is right, will be water. So she should have been drinking as much water as possible this whole time, to flush toxins out and have a decent amount in her before she needs more.
This is what birds see. Only they’re free and safe. The very opposite of me.
This is such bad writing I felt like pointing it out. It’s not well put together mechanically, it’s trite, and it’s not only hitting me over the head with the point but doing so with a point that’s already been been covered.
The clothes arrive, with Cinna has no say in. Seriously, why is he here? He helps her dress because she can’t dress herself apparently, then gives her the pin.
“It barely cleared the review board. Some thought the pin could be used as a weapon, giving you an unfair advantage. But eventually, they let it through,” says Cinna.
This is stupid. They’re given actual weapons in the arena that are going to be far more effective. Hell, a big branch is more effective.
“They eliminated a ring from that District One girl, though. If you twisted the gemstone, a spike popped out. Poisoned one.
Fuck off book.
That’s stupid. District 1 is a career tribute area, so their kid already has the deck stacked for her. The addition of a tiny poisoned needle that only works in close quarters is not going to be a big deal, certainly not so much you’d risk trouble.
This seems to be more demonizing of the career set/District 1, who’s been the face of the careers. Katniss points them out originally as the popular favorites, then points out the girl again as the one in the sheer dress who she’s jealous of for being so pretty and sexy. Because who doesn’t want to sit next to a sixty+ guy in a see-through outfit while the cameras display you to your entire country? So lucky.
She claimed she had no knowledge the ring transformed
…and what would they have done otherwise? Refused to let her take part in the murderdeath games? This is stupid, there’s nothing worse they can do. The only person they’d punish for this are the people who gave her it, and you don’t accidentally make a poison needle ring. Either they kill them or they say that the district forfeited their rights and will get nothing even if their kid wins. Plus, the whole thing is televised, so they’d find out she had it once she tried to use it.
Also: wanting your kid to live isn’t immoral and assuming this is a fast acting poison, you can make a good case it’s more merciful than the way the games often go. Fuck, for all you know it’s there for her to kill herself with.
I turn down food but accept a glass of water that I take tiny sips of as we wait on a couch.
What? No. Drink as much as you can now.
Cinna sits with her until the end and tries to be comforting. You know, this would all work a lot better if he just said he was going along of his own free will, it’s distracting figuring out why a stylist would be there. It’d also have gone a long way to justify how we’re constantly being told he’s a great guy if we saw him doing something he explicitly has little or no personal gain in.
He tells her that if he was allowed to bet, he’d bet on her. That’s…nice, I guess. Why aren’t they allowed to bet? I really don’t see why the childmurder games have strict ethical rules on not letting people involved bet. Also, RUE IS A TWELVE YEAR OLD GIRL WHAT ABOUT HER? This is not a situation where Katniss has to do well to win, it’s a situation where everyone else has to do worse than Katniss. Rooting for Katniss is rooting for everyone else to die.
For a moment, my eyes are dazzled by the bright sunlight and I’m conscious only of a strong wind with the hopeful smell of pine trees.
So…she’s got exactly what she needed to win.
Book, it’s a bit hard to be impressed by her struggles if you keep making sure she gets every break imaginable.
Then I hear the legendary announcer, Claudius
Okay, Peeta and Katniss may be unrealistic names, but first Caesar and now Claudius? Why the fuck would people default to Roman-sounding names just because they started killing kids? Arg.
So this chapter pretty much exemplifies so close and yet so far. It finally, finally tries to address what’s actually going on, only to sidestep it.