Hunger Games Ch26

Last time on the childmurder games, the childmurder games concluded with a whimper.

And now the post-game shenanigans.


The hovercraft materializes overhead and two ladders drop, only there’s no way I’m letting go of Peeta. I keep one arm around him as I help him up, and we each place a foot on the first rung of the ladder.

This is another little bit where their relationship works. She’s helping and concerned about him, not having forced makeouts.

Peeta passes out when they get him into the hovercraft and the doctors grab him so he won’t die.

for a moment I forget we’re out of the Games and I see the doctors as just one more threat, one more pack of mutts designed to kill him.

This seems silly. Katniss just never seems that out of control at any point in the games, so her suddenly switching to crazy now comes off as forced. I guess this is sort of a casual retconning, and if you go with it, it works.

Petrified, I lunge for him, but I’m caught and thrust back into another room, and a glass door seals between us. I pound on the glass, screaming my head off. Everyone ignores me except for some Capitol attendant who appears behind me and offers me a beverage.

This is a bit better, but again, the level of it still seems forced, especially when it’s a glass door and she can see fine rather than Peeta disappearing out of view.

Icy cold, filled with orange juice, a straw with a frilly white collar. How wrong it looks in my bloody, filthy hand with its dirt-caked nails and scars. My mouth waters at the smell, but I place it carefully on the floor, not trusting anything so clean and pretty.

Yeah this is just laying it on way too thick. A bit more restraint would have been nice, as the flow of this is decent, it’s the over the topness that’s an issue.

The doctors are frantic. Eh, really? It’s just a bit of blood loss. They have magic science, I’m sure they can handle some blood transfusions.

Katniss thinks about how normally she runs and hides when someone’s injured, and how she couldn’t understand how family members could stay.

How often I’ve seen them, ringed around our kitchen table and I thought, Why don’t they leave? Why do they stay to watch?
And now I know. It’s because you have no choice.

Uh but some people do leave and often people can’t watch and I’m not sure it’s really fair to say those people just didn’t really love their family member. Most of the time the reason they stay in the area is so they’ll know if anything happens or are on hand to comfort the person/be with them when they die, which doesn’t apply here.

Wild eyes, hollow cheeks, my hair in a tangled mat. Rabid. Feral. Mad.

So Katniss has repeatedly said her hair is braided and even washed and rebraided it. So this seems more melodrama.

Also does anyone else think it’s a bit weird that not only tangled hair but hollow cheeks somehow mean insane and frothing?

Then they land and they’re taking Peeta away so she starts trying to break through the glass again, and Katniss I know I complained about your lack of reaction before but suddenly going OOC is not an improvement. You’re lucid enough to be commenting on your appearance, trying using the power of human speech or just generally calming down a bit.

She thinks she sees Effie for a second but someone knocks her out finally. I’m not sure why they even waited so long.

Katniss wakes up with tubes of her own in her and she’s strapped down to a bed. Okay, now is time for thrashing and screaming. But I guess there’s still plenty of dope in her system because she just looks at her now neatly manicured nails and silky skin, and then she realizes her hearing is fixed, and then she starts trying to get loose but luckily that’s when the red-haired victim girl arrives because it’s always, always her.

I mean I guess you could say that maybe she’s volunteering for duty with Katniss, but letting the traitors who hate you organize their own schedule is yet another incredibly stupid thing. And if the capital knows Katniss likes her it’d make more sense for her to disappear.

Katniss asks if Peeta made it.

She gives me a nod, and as she slips a spoon into my hand, I feel the pressure of friendship.

I think this is supposed to be part of the everyone loves Katniss thing, but I really think it’s that Katniss is desperate for any friend and even more desperate to believe she’s not hated by the girl.

Katniss really doesn’t have much in the way of friends, if you think about it. At home she’s got Gale and the only other person who’s decent to her is Cinna.

Her breakfast is just a bit of broth and applesauce, and she realizes she feels like she hasn’t eaten in quite some time and must have been out a while. She explains that there’s normally a several day lag between the games ending and the winner being presented, which I guess addresses the issue of that Battle Royale page somewhat.

so that they can put the starving, wounded, mess of a person back together again

But the point of the page wasn’t that the girl was hungry or injured, it was that she had cracked. They can stitch someone back up, but but I’m not sure how much they can do about the mental trauma. Luckily Katniss doesn’t seem to have any.

She decides she wants out and starts wiggling, so someone hits the dope button and she’s knocked out again.

This repeats for a while and she thinks she hears someone from her district yelling and feels like someone’s watching over her, and eh so what? Anyway, eventually she wakes up and she’s no longer tied down or anything.

I start to sit up but am arrested by the sight of my hands. The skin’s perfection, smooth and glowing. Not only are the scars from the arena gone, but those accumulated over years of hunting have vanished without a trace. My forehead feels like satin, and when I try to find the burn on my calf, there’s nothing.

Stop being a sue, Katniss.

You know what’d have been a nice way to deal with this? Body horror. All these parts of her life are gone. And they probably wouldn’t stop there, her skin is a different color because they bleached/tanned it in accordance with fashion, her hair is curled or straight when it shouldn’t be, etc. I don’t even have that many scars, and if I woke up to them being gone I would not be happy about it.

Lying at the foot of the bed is an outfit that makes me flinch. It’s what all of us tributes wore in the arena. I stare at it as if it had teeth

Hey, kind of good way to show she really is still affected by what happened.

I’m dressed in less than a minute

Or not.

Also, going back to my point about mental trauma, even if Katniss is a sociopath who can just shrug this off, plenty of kids are going to have breakdowns here. If the idea is having someone presentable, she should either be doped to the gills first or they should go the easy route of removing everything that reminds kids of the arena so they can start repressing everything.

She leaves her room and calls for Peeta.

I hear my name in response, but it’s not his voice. It’s a voice that provokes first irritation and then eagerness. Effie.

God damn it book.

She rushes over to hug Haymitch.

Effie’s somewhat teary and keeps patting my hair and talking about how she told everyone we were pearls.

God damn it book.

Look, the “character development” here is “Effie’s perky and should be hated” going to “Effie’s perky but she’s basically a small stupid child so I guess we make allowances”.

She asks about Peeta.

“He’s fine. Only they want to do your reunion live on air at the ceremony,” says Haymitch.
“Oh. That’s all,” I say. The awful moment of thinking Peeta’s dead again passes. “I guess I’d want to see that myself.”

Oh my god Katniss stop being such a sociopath. You don’t even make an interesting one. Did you not hear what he just said! They won’t let you see someone you care about because they want to watch it themselves.

Katniss has a flash of oh hey, everyone but us is dead, and it makes her feel slightly bad.

This is not how to write characters.

When the elevator doors open, Venia, Flavius, and Octavia engulf me, talking so quickly and ecstatically I can’t make out their words. The sentiment is clear though. They are truly thrilled to see me and I’m happy to see them, too, although not like I was to see Cinna. It’s more in the way one might be glad to see an affectionate trio of pets at the end of a particularly difficult day.

Those are the people who did the original body waxing and stuff. They got dehumanized then so this isn’t really anything new, but the way she keeps making people not responsible for their actions really bothers me.

They’re impressed because apparently she got a “full body polish” which by implication I guess even they don’t have.

But when I look at my naked body in the mirror, all I can see is how skinny I am. I mean, I’m sure I was worse when I came out of the arena, but I can easily count my ribs.

…you couldn’t count your ribs before? Look, I realize society has many unreasonable standards for women, and I’m not going to say you’re fat if you can’t count ribs, but you aren’t exactly starving either.

They chatter so continuously that I barely have to reply, which is good, since I don’t feel very talkative. It’s funny, because even though they’re rattling on about the Games, it’s all about where they were or what they were doing or how they felt when a specific event occurred. “I was still in bed!” “I had just had my eyebrows dyed!” “I swear I nearly fainted!” Everything is about them, not the dying boys and girls in the arena.

Hey, it’s more how-people-function fail.

So hey everyone, what were you doing on 9/11?

SHUT THE FUCK UP IT”S NOT ABOUT YOU HOW DARE YOU REMEMBER ANYTHING ABOUT WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN YOUR LIFE CLEARLY YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT ALL THE PEOPLE WHO DIED.

See it turns out that when something major, especially something traumatic, happens, your brain figures it’s a good idea to pay really close attention to what’s going on around you. In contrast, how many people remember what they were doing when they found out somebody won American Idol? In this case, chattering about events would actually imply they were just viewers. Their behavior here implies they’re actually surprisingly affected by the games in a way that’s not quite in line with their enjoyment, although it does have a certain overlap with people watching horror movies.

Ironically, this kind of reaction-policing is what I’d expect from the capital people, who haven’t been in bad situations and so don’t realize how people react. Katniss, in contrast, should know. She should remember exactly where she was when she found out her dad died, for example. She should have seen a lot of conversation for the next several days about where were you when you heard. She’d probably see a lot of other “inappropriate” grieving, with some of the people blaming anyone and everyone for what happened, some people acting like nothing had happened, etc.

We don’t wallow around in the Games this way in District 12. We grit our teeth and watch because we must and try to get back to business as soon as possible when they’re over.

Yeah that’s really not how it goes. Does she seriously expect the families of the people whose kids are there don’t remember what happened when their kid was murdered on television?

To keep from hating the prep team, I effectively tune out most of what they’re saying.

WHY? If it’s a reason to hate them, hate them. If it isn’t, why do you have to tune it out?

Anyway then CINNA THE MOST WONDERFULEST PERSON IN THE WORLD arrives with her new dress.

I immediately notice the padding over my breasts, adding curves that hunger has stolen from my body. My hands go to my chest and I frown.

>Implying Katniss had curves before.

Starvation: not actually that hot. It’d be entirely possible Katniss hadn’t even hit puberty, honestly. I was sort of tempted to mention how she was yet another heroine somehow running around without a period, but she may have never had one, and even if she started puberty at age eleven she’s not going to have a huge chest.

And what exactly is wrong with the padding, exactly? God knows it’s not that you don’t want them covering up what happened to you, so I can only assume it’s more fake pretty is evil stuff.

“But the Gamemakers wanted to alter you surgically. Haymitch had a huge fight with them over it. This was the compromise.”

Pumping her full of the fat she lost isn’t exactly altering surgically, and I assume with magic science it’s all the same.

Also even with magic science, breast surgery is pretty major and I don’t think she’d recover from it that fast.

Also Katniss seems to be treating this as “oh ew fake pretty, glad I dodged that” and not OH MY GOD THEY WERE GOING TO DO MAJOR SURGERY TO CHANGE MY BODY WITHOUT ME EVEN KNOWING SERIOUSLY THAT’S FUCKED UP.

Katniss is too busy being pleased with her dress, of course.

I am still the “girl on fire.” The sheer fabric softly glows. Even the slight movement in the air sends a ripple up my body. By comparison, the chariot costume seems garish, the interview dress too contrived. In this dress, I give the illusion of wearing candlelight.

But those other people, man, how screwed up are their priorities, right? Right?

Without heels, you can see my true stature. I look, very simply, like a girl. A young one. Fourteen at the most. Innocent.

I’m not sure what’s creepier here, that they’re dressing her to look like a little kid or that the bit about “true stature” implies she normally looks infantile without deliberate manipulation in the other direction.

So now Peeta’s a pedo too. (No, that it’s a slight age difference doesn’t change she apparently barely even looks teenaged. And it’s even worse, because there’s no way in hell that in her district fourteen year olds have done more than just start puberty.) Hey book, can you make this more fucked up? I bet you can.

She asks about it and he says he figured Peeta would like it, which thank god she says means he’s implying it’s for the capital’s sake for some reason.

Anyway, they’re doing the ceremony slightly differently this time and it doesn’t much matter, and then Haymitch looks her over and says she should give him a hug.

Thankfully we again dodge creepy and it’s so he can tell her not to fuck up.

You’re in trouble. Word is the Capitol’s furious about you showing them up in the arena. The one thing they can’t stand is being laughed at and they’re the joke of Panem

This seems like the same as the flower business. What she did was not actually that shocking and awesome. If they hadn’t been promised they could go together, and pulled this of their own accord, maybe. But they were told they could and the suicide after was obviously a spur of the moment decision.

Your only defense can be you were so madly in love you weren’t responsible for your actions.

I can’t imagine anyone could care why she did something that’s causing them shit, she’s still fucked things up for them.

It’s so much worse than being hunted in the arena. There, I could only die. End of story. But out here Prim, my mother, Gale, the people of District 12, everyone I care about back home could be punished if I can’t pull off the girl-driven-crazy-by-love scenario Haymitch has suggested.

Katniss, there was absolutely nothing stopping them from carpet bombing your district when you were in the arena either, and that didn’t stop you from your occasional gesture of unimpressive defiance.

Funny, in the arena, when I poured out those berries, I was only thinking of outsmarting the Gamemakers, not how my actions would reflect on the Capitol. But the Hunger Games are their weapon and you are not supposed to be able to defeat it.

Book.

Shut up about how special her act of not particularly defiant defiance was. I was advocating suicide this entire time, back when it actually mattered.

But what was it Haymitch said when I asked if he had told Peeta the situation? That he had to pretend to be desperately in love?
“Don’t have to. He’s already there.”
Already thinking ahead of me in the Games again and well aware of the danger we’re in? Or . . . already desperately in love? I don’t know.

GOD FUCKING DAMN IT HOW MANY TIMES CAN YOU FIGURE OUT THE SAME FUCKING THING DO YOU HAVE SOME SORT OF ROMANCE-SPECIFIC MEMORY DISORDER THIS SUBPLOT IS DEAD STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT

Once again she says she has no time to think about it.

And right now, the most dangerous part of the Hunger Games is about to begin.

And once again there’s the nonsensical insistence that THIS is the worst thing ever. No it’s not. If they’re pissed off, they’ll kill you or cut out your tongue. There were way worse things that happened during the games, some of which you did to other people.

6 Comments

  1. You know, this almost could have worked for me if she’d actually killed Peeta. If only because then the audience would feel the horrible sensation of being lied to, the Gamesmakers would have been fooled and thrown that entire provision in for nothing, and the whole “star-crossed lovers” thing had been exposed as the sham it was.

    As it stands, the whole book is just incredibly anti-climactic. Also, lol at Katniss trying to present this part of the Hunger Games as the most dangerous.

    1. Farla says:
      I don’t know if they’d have cared – the Hunger Games are all about people betraying each other – two kids have to go from every district, but only one can live, the trained kids join in a pack and then turn on each other, etc.

      Now, Katniss killing him halfway through instead of joining up with him – that might’ve caused a splash, if she had a good reason for it.

  2. Zephyr says:
    Speaking of body horror, have you read this: http://archiveofourown.org/works/579573/chapters/1040090 , by any chance? It’s a Disney/Hunger Games fusion fic, focusing mainly on Mulan & Kida. Mulan’s twin brother is chosen and she takes his place as the male tribute because she’s more likely to survive, and there’s a beautifully horrific part later on when the Capitol find out about it. They can’t reveal that she’s actually a girl because then people would know someone tricked the Gamemakers, so they surgically alter her body to match their story.
    1. Pretty Boy says:
      This sounds like exactly the kind of thing I’d like reading. Thanks for sharing.
  3. CrazyEd says:

    Everything is about them, not the dying boys and girls in the arena.

    Katniss is awfully judge-y about this considering the worst part about a boy being torn apart by genetically modified monster wolves for an entire night was that she was really cold while she listened to his screams of agony.

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