Hunger Games Ch12

Last time on the childmurder games, eleven kids are killed and another girl is mutilated. Thank goodness Katniss was smart and tied herself to her sleeping tree so she stays in when startled!

I’m not kidding, the chapter honest to god starts with “Thank goodness”.

Katniss gets a glimpse of Peeta.

His face is swollen with bruises, there’s a bloody bandage on one arm, and from the sound of his gait he’s limping somewhat.

Huh. Sounds like they might have beaten him up but left him alive for now to carry their stuff or whatever on the basis he’s no danger, since I doubt he could really stop them from murdering him in that state.

I remember him shaking him his head, telling me not to go into the fight for the supplies, when all along, all along he’d planned to throw himself into the thick of things.

Katniss, you don’t know that. It’s possible they got the jump on him later on and decided to keep him around because he’s useful.

She then says she can forgive him going for the supplies, but…

This teaming up with the Career wolf pack to hunt down the rest of us. No one from District 12 would think of doing such a thing! Career tributes are overly vicious, arrogant, better fed, but only because they’re the Capitol’s lapdogs.

Yes, because when I think “gets their kids murdered on a yearly basis” I sure think “lapdog”.

Fuck you, Katniss. And fuck you too, Book, you’re the one making her think this.

What happened to the idea the class divide between townspeople and coal miners was just another trick of the capital? Do you really think what those districts have is anything compared to the capital? I mean, for starters, in the capital they don’t fucking murder your kids every year! And yes, it’s murdering their kids. If this was one district whose kid usually won, and if things weren’t set up with each district having to send two kids so they’re always losing at least one kid to the games, I could at least understand why people would think this.

But there are three districts and even if one wins, that means five other “career” kids die. Every. Year.

And vicious? Why are they vicious just because you don’t like them? Why would they be vicious instead of calculating? Vicious doesn’t win you games. And I’ve yet to see any actual examples of arrogance. Katniss, was it arrogant of you to assume these kids were your main competition and write off the rest of the players? Then why is it arrogant for them to assume the other trained kids are their main competition?

Finally, are you seriously saying it’s okay to hate people because they’re better fed than you? Because you seemed fine with the ENTIRE POPULATION OF THE CAPITAL.

The fact someone got a few more mouthfuls of food than you did is not the issue here. It isn’t right to hate them for it.

Universally, solidly hated by all but those from their own districts.

Everyone in this world is a horrible, horrible person.

Kids. Kids raised from birth with no choice in this, knowing that even if everything goes according to plan they have only a one in six chance of coming back alive. And the rest of you hate them for that, more than you hate the people who made them do it. Not only that, but you pull holier than thou shit because it’s obviously so much better for the victim to be some starving kid who doesn’t stand a chance.

So she’s horrified that Peeta would work with them, because clearly that’s a relevant priority here.

And Peeta had the gall to talk to me about disgrace?

By the way, the girl who last chapter was screaming in agony is still there, still not dead. That’s the girl Katniss was wishing death on, thinking about how she was going to kill. A decent person – even, honestly, a not so decent one – would be feeling horrible right now. Katniss has yet to actually think about it in any way.

Anyway, Peeta goes back to make sure the girl’s dead/kill her if she isn’t. Katniss thinks about how she hopes he’s killed, and that she’ll do it herself if she can.

When he leaves, the other kids talk about him behind his back. ( mentioned in the comments earlier that the kids are being treated like this is high school. It’s the only explanation for this wtfery here.) It’s about if they should kill him or not. Turns out they want him around in part because they’re hoping he can find Katniss, because clearly, Katniss is the only person who matters. They’re thinking Katniss might have been dumb enough to fall for the love thing and show up. They also think she’s an airhead, so again, not sure why they think it’s such a big deal to find her.

But they don’t know why Katniss has her eleven score (see, I said it was stupid to want a high score) meaning Peeta hasn’t told them. Given he has no reason to tell them no matter what his motives, this isn’t really news.

You know, this doesn’t even make sense. Why would the trained kids fuck up so badly on their kill? The one redeeming feature, such as it is, of training the kids is that they’ll kill cleanly, or at least relatively fast. I think this all just happened because the author wants an excuse for him to walk away so they can talk. Which only serves to make the book’s complete lack of caring about the maimed and now murdered girl look even worse.

It’s not even a good excuse. It would have worked fine to have them saying something along these lines to his face, because none of it’s any real secret. It would be painfully easy to write this section with the kids saying this stuff to him and then maybe we’d see some real sign of this claimed viciousness and arrogance on their part.

But finally, the kids leave.

The minute I hit the ground, I’m guaranteed a close-up.
The audience will have been beside themselves, knowing I was in the tree, that I overheard the Careers talking, that I discovered Peeta was with them. Until I work out exactly how I want to play that, I’d better at least act on top of things. Not perplexed. Certainly not confused or frightened.
No, I need to look one step ahead of the game.
So as I slide out of the foliage and into the dawn light, I pause a second, giving the cameras time to lock on me. Then I cock my head slightly to the side and give a knowing smile.

So, to win the game she has to put survival over humanity and life over love. Well, looks like she’s our winner for sure, then.

Anyway, she set snares last night and when she checks them she finds a rabbit in one.

In no time, I’ve cleaned and gutted the animal, leaving the head, feet, tail, skin, and innards, under a pile of leaves.

I swear, the author’s only research for this was looking at one page on field dressing.

Katniss. Let me list off parts of a rabbit you can’t eat:

Got that?

As for parts of a rabbit you shouldn’t eat unless you can cook it well, that’s the intestines. Not the “innards”. Whoever told you it’s a bad idea to eat liver was playing a very cruel prank on you.. The brain, tongue, eyes, heart, etc are all also perfectly edible. JFC no wonder you were starving all the time, you don’t have any idea what you’re doing.

And what the hell, why are you cutting off the feet? Even assuming you can’t get some scraps of meat off, what does it even matter? WHY ARE YOU WASTING TIME DOING THIS?

Finally, and perhaps more importantly – you’re an idiot for skinning it. You haven’t had any water for a day. You cook the meat in the skin to keep as much of the juice in as possible. Even assuming Katniss has never needed to do this for reasons of water, you get far more calories than if you let all the fat run off into the fire.

The point of field dressing is to preserve the raw meat as long as possible and make it easier to carry. Emptying out the internal cavity is done so the body cools faster, not because the lungs aren’t perfectly edible. If you’re going to eat it raw, you don’t bother, and if you’re going to cook it, again, you don’t bother.

I’m wishing for a fire — eating raw rabbit can give you rabbit fever, a lesson I learned the hard way

Rabbit fever is actually carried by a wide variety of animals. You can get it by breathing in blood or handling infected meat, as well as by drinking water contaminated by rabbit feces. Those sparkling mountain streams Katniss claims she normally drinks from? Full of rabbit shit. It’s also spread by ticks.(Incidentally, checking the liver would tell you if the rabbit was infected. Add this to the list of reasons you shouldn’t throw it out immediately.)

She remembers the dead girl’s fire and heads back to cook the meat. Since she has no way to wash her hands, that’s not going to do much to her chances of getting rabbit fever.

Incidentally, rabbit fever usually has an incubation period of three to five days, up to fourteen at most, and I’d personally assume her immune system is pretty tough since she’s likely eaten bad or infected food often. Considering she’s going to be dead in a day or two from lack of water and is already easier prey from her dehydration, she should really just eat the meat raw.

I’m glad for the cameras now. I want sponsors to see I can hunt, that I’m a good bet because I won’t be lured into traps as easily as the others will by hunger

I really wish there was some real explanation of how sponsoring works. It seems to be tied to betting, which would imply people help to keep their bet alive, but then in turn imply that people would want to spend the minimum amount of money to get the maximum return. So showing off how self-sufficient you are might just mean people don’t bother to give you money for stuff.

Also, if this is a regular thing – seriously, why aren’t they eating each other? Katniss obviously doesn’t have rabbit fever yet. Most problems with cannibalism are in the long term. In the short term, it’s an awesome idea because it’s a lot easier for us to tell if another person looks sick before we eat them.

I try and think of everything I know about finding water. It runs downhill, so, in fact, continuing down into this valley isn’t a bad thing.

Well. It only took you a day to remember that. Still, I suppose it’s something.

She finds some berries that resemble blueberries, but she doesn’t recognize them exactly.

So, one of the things I learned about blueberries is that you know that weird rough bit on the end, where the flowers attach? All berries that have that are edible. See how much more useful that is to know than simply trying to memorize plants? There are actually a wide variety of rules you can use to guess if something’s safe to eat.

I’m guessing this is some evil trick on the part of the Gamemakers.

Paranoid much? This is the childmurder games, they don’t want you to just eat the wrong thing and die. That’s boring.

the plant instructor in the Training Center made a point of telling us to avoid berries unless you were 100 percent sure they weren’t toxic.

No, that’s mushrooms.

See, the thing about mushrooms is that mushrooms don’t give a fuck about you. Recent genetic checks have shown that mushroom shape and composition have nothing to do with species relatedness, so you can’t use any sort of system for which kind are generally safe. Color, shape, texture and smell are often random. There are a couple species that do deliberately interact with us above-ground creatures, but for the most part, what’s in a mushroom is a random fungal cocktail. It’s why so many are hallucinogenic when that’s not actually a valid way to get people to stop eating you.

Furthermore – Katniss keeps acting like a first-world kid. If you happen to be wandering in the forest, yes, by all means don’t eat the random berries, and don’t eat the raw rabbit either. But right now she’s on her second day with no water and heavy exertion. She is going to drop dead quite soon, and sooner if anyone else comes across her because she can’t possibly fight back like this. If choice is “possibly poisonous berry” vs “definitely dying of dehydration”, eat the fucking berries. If there was some other cue, like a bitter smell when she broke it open or that she did taste it and it tasted bad, then this would make a bit more sense. Plus again, just throw your knife at one of those rabbits and drink the blood if you’re so worried the berries are poisonous. Even if you get rabbit fever three days from now, that’s three more days of not being dead. Rabbit fever isn’t even that dangerous, especially compared to the 100% mortality of dehydration.

She doesn’t find any water by nightfall. The next morning, she’s a mess. It occurs to her that if she did get sponsors, Haymitch can send her water.

You know, given Katniss is supposed to be super awesome at the whole surviving thing, I can’t imagine the other people are doing that much better. She guesses the trained kids are getting their water from the lake, but the rest of the kids are presumably hiding like Katniss. And watching kids collapse and die of dehydration doesn’t seem much more interesting than watching them freeze. Even if Katniss gets water in time, she’s just spent two days just wandering around not killing people, because she had to put looking for water as her highest priority.

If the point of this is to make them kill each other, you should put out enough supplies they won’t be so distracted.

But no water is forthcoming. Katniss is shocked. She “knows” Haymitch hates her (cry more, emo kid) but didn’t think he’d let her die. Abusing the tributes is bad.

Even Haymitch wouldn’t risk that, would he?

Well, you’re the one who’s been watching the Hunger Games for years. You tell me, how does it usually go?

This is a really common issue in worlds where there’s some unusual setup that the characters should be familiar with but readers aren’t. We have never seen how Haymitch handled the decade or two of tributes he’d had, but Katniss should have. She could be thinking now back to all the years kids didn’t get sent any help and wondering if it wasn’t that they had no sponsors, as she’d assumed, but because Haymitch refused to send anything.

So she wonders a bit more but she doesn’t really believe it.

He has, in fact, in his own unpleasant way, genuinely been trying to prepare me for this.

That’s a pretty good look at it. Katniss/the narration at large has generally been terrible at reacting to people sanely (Effie is EVUL, Cinna is THE MOST WONDERFULEST) but it’s been okay with Haymitch as long as we accept that, within the confines of this world, rampant alcoholism is classed as an indulgence and not a sign of a disorder.

But she wonders if it’s a message. And she figures it out – if he’s not sending water when she’s going to die in a few hours, she must be within a few hours walk of water.

That’s…well, a pretty amazing leap of faith.

Here’s an idea: instead of getting an empty water bottle, Katniss just had the dry food and supplies. She gets this far and asks for water. Haymitch sends something, but it’s empty.

That is a message. He’d be conserving money in a way that’s ridiculous if there isn’t any water around, but quite practical if there is.

So Katniss walks. And walks. And collapses.

My fingertips make small swirling patterns in the cool, slippery earth.

And she realizes it’s mud. Wow, that was convenient as fuck. Fall down a few feet earlier and she’d have just died.

So she crawls to water. Well aren’t we picky. Mud has water in it too, you know. For all you know you were just at a low point in the water table and there was no pond.

I get out my flask and fill it with water. I add what I remember to be the right number of drops of iodine for purifying it. The half an hour of waiting is agony, but I do it.

…you know, you can just drink the iodine straight off. It’s not the best idea, but if you’re too fucked up to stand you really don’t want to wait another half hour for water. This is honestly kind of like tension whiplash – she’s been going on and on about how she’s in pain and desperate and dying, but she’s still acting completely rationally. She should guzzle water, then remember the iodine and drink some in the hopes that’ll even it out.

Anyway, turns out no one at all died today. The only death yesterday was the one girl. So this really seems a bad setup – other kids probably did the same thing as Katniss and spread out looking for water, so they’re hard to find. They might even be out of reach of the other kids, who can only go so far before they’ll return to the lake to refill their water bottles.

By the time the anthem plays, I feel remarkably better. There are no faces tonight, no tributes died today. Tomorrow I’ll stay here, resting, camouflaging my backpack with mud, catching some of those little fish I saw as I sipped, digging up the roots of the pond lilies to make a nice meal.

This is what’s known as a hope spot. Despite seeing it a lot, I tend to keep falling for them because the direction of the story they suggest tends to be a more interesting one. Katniss has been terribly reactive so far. Giving her a chance to get on her feet would be nice. What does she do once she’s safely camouflaged and well fed? Does she go on the offensive? If she does, is she going after people she feels “deserve” it, or anyone? Or, with food in her belly and distance from the other kids, will she realize she’s been panicking and consider a different course of action.

A few hours later, the stampede of feet shakes me from slumber.

Turns out the gamemakers have finally decided that watching kids stumble around for water is boring, so they’ve lit a fire.

It’s dramatic and all, but all I can think is how lucky Katniss is they didn’t do it a little while earlier. The whole sequence is just too drawn out. If they’re bored enough for such drastic measures, they shouldn’t have put the only alternative source of water three day’s walk away from the starting point in the first place.

Unless possibly the saga of Katniss has been interesting enough they felt like holding off on the fire. Which actually it might be given they seem to have lit it right next to her when they finally did, but it still seems like a massive overreaction when Katniss was presumably going to get up tomorrow and go find people to murder. People who sat through her walking for hours don’t seem like the type to demand lighting everything on fire, you know?

But I’ll give the majority of the chapter a pass. Most of it has detail issues (no really, drink the blood) but as I said back at the beginning, the overall structure of the story is good, you just have to be willing to go along with the narrative’s claims various actions are the best thing to do. (Which interestingly, seem to display a marked unwillingness to make Katniss do anything gross. It occurs to me she hasn’t tried to eat any bugs either.)

The opening, though? No. That’s utterly fucked up.

One Comment

  1. CrazyEd says:

    Most problems with cannibalism are in the long term. In the short term, it’s an awesome idea

    From the same person who brought you “I never managed to poison myself” and “I sliced up a heart and ate it recently”…

    May I suggest a new tag-line for the site? Former Feral Child Screams As Young Adult Novels?

    This is the childmurder games, they don’t want you to just eat the wrong thing and die. That’s boring.

    … Well… about that…

    If the point of this is to make them kill each other, you should put out enough supplies they won’t be so distracted.

    Or just give them a basic survival kit, like Battle Royale did (if I recall correctly). Hell, they could’ve just filled up that canteen she got in her pack if the more interesting option you mentioned with Haymitch sending her an empty one didn’t occur to the author, but then they’d have nothing to pad the book out with and the Chapter Ending Cliffhanger would come too early.

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