Hunger Games Ch7

My slumbers are filled with disturbing dreams. The face of the redheaded girl intertwines with gory images from earlier Hunger Games

Yeah, about that.

Why do they watch the games? They seem to be watching them at a private television in their homes, so there’s no one there to force them to watch. And Katniss didn’t believe she’d be picked and didn’t think she had any chance if she was picked, so watching to pick up tips doesn’t work.

The only possibility is watching in the hope your district wins, which is horrible. You’re still watching kids murder each other. The other district’s kids are just as innocent as your own.

When I’m dried and moisturized with lotion

This is actually pretty dumb.

Katniss presumably has pretty tough skin and callouses. Those are good. You don’t want to start softening up your skin right before the murderdeath games.

A young man, an Avox, stands at attention by the spread.

So it seems like yes, all the servants are Avox, whatever the fuck that word means.

How many traitors can they possibly have? I suppose if they’re taking all the rebels from all the districts, they might manage to get enough, but from what Katniss said it seems they’re specifically rebels from the capital itself, and come on, how many of those can there be?

Plus, doesn’t that kind of go against the idea people in the capital have no idea how much life sucks? Your sister getting her tongue cut out and kept as a slave because she ran off with her boyfriend is not really conductive to happiness.

Possibly they’re only in special areas like this one, but from a writing perspective, the only place we see is here so we can’t tell that. And Effie certainly seemed familiar with them.

It makes me irritated that Peeta is wearing exactly the same outfit I am. I need to say something to Cinna. This twins act is going to blow up in out faces once the Games begin.

Stop being so melodramatic, Katniss.

I get that she’s unhappy about trying to be friends with someone she’s going to be in a deathmatch with. But simply dressing the same and not being outright hostile is not a big deal. And it’s not going to be a big deal – at most, not wanting to kill each other means going their separate ways and getting picked off by other kids. Katniss has been clear that neither is expected to survive and that the trained kids are going to kill them.

If it was anyone but Cinna, I might be tempted to ignore him. But after last night’s triumph, I don’t have a lot of room to criticize his choices.

All he did was put you in a black outfit and then light you on fire. He’s done nothing to suggest he’s a brilliant strategist. You know who probably knows shit? Effie.

Haymitch asks if they want to be couched separately (so they can keep their talents hidden from each other) and if they have any skills, and we get a long, nauseating bit where they both talk about how they’re useless but the other one is so skilled.

“She’s excellent,” says Peeta. “My father buys her squirrels. He always comments on how the arrows never pierce the body. She hits every one in the eye.

No, book. Just no. Do you have any idea how small a squirrel’s eye is? And it’s not like she has a fancy bow and arrow, she’s got a handmade bow and a bunch of equally handmade arrows. There are limits to skill.

If the arrows have arrowheads – and they should, since she’s shooting dogs and deer – then they won’t even fit in a squirrel’s eye. I guess if she’s using wooden arrows with firehardened points it might be possible, but then it’s pretty hard to believe she’s killing large animals with them..

town families usually eat expensive butcher meat. Beef and chicken and horse.

…okay, so we’re told the peacekeepers, the enforcers of the government, are desperate enough for fresh meat they’re buying it on the black market. But town families are eating butcher meat. Seriously, how the hell does this economy work? Where is the money coming from?

(Also – what? Beef comes from cows, which we’ve seen none of, only goats. Goats are also perfectly good meat animals. And we’ve also seen pigs. So the animals the people are eating, according to Katniss, are all the ones that aren’t actually present in the town.)

So she starts insisting he’ll do great because he’s really strong.

“There’s always hand-to-hand combat. All you need is to come up with a knife, and you’ll at least stand a chance. If I get jumped, I’m dead!” I can hear my voice rising in anger.
“But you won’t! You’ll be living up in some tree eating raw squirrels and picking off people with arrows.

I think we’re supposed to think they’re both underestimating their own strengths here, but I’m going with Peeta here.

Hand-to-hand is not going to win you a deathmatch with twenty-four people. Even if he wins the first time, he’ll almost certainly get hurt. And every time he gets hurt, he’ll be a bit worse at it the next time, and get hurt worse. Even if he was the strongest of the kids, and we know he’s not, he’d get taken down eventually.

Bow and arrow in a tree? That’s the winning move. There’s a reason we invented bows, and it’s because they’re awesome. Now, Katniss does have a point that she only has a chance if she has access to bows and decent cover to hide in, while Peeta’s strengths are more general, but he’s hardly the strongest of the kids, so if it comes down to strength vs strength he’s going to die, and he has no other skill, so if it doesn’t he’s also doomed.

You know what my mother said to me when she came to say good-bye, as if to cheer me up, she says maybe District Twelve will finally have a winner. Then I realized, she didn’t mean me, she meant you!” bursts out Peeta.
“Oh, she meant you,” I say with a wave of dismissal.
“She said, ‘She’s a survivor, that one.’ She is,” says Peeta.
That pulls me up short. Did his mother really say that about me? Did she rate me over her son? I see the pain in Peeta’s eyes and know he isn’t lying.

God. Fucking. Dammit.

(This is even worse than it first sounds, because remember, only one kid lives, so being glad Katniss will win means being glad about Peeta’s death.)

But also, the exceptionalism is just bad writing. The book says Katniss is the underdog here, but it can’t help but keep saying that actually she’s awesome and special.

I forget where, but someone was mentioning this with Harry Potter. See, in the first book we’re told that Griffindor hasn’t won the cup in ages, and then they lose all those house points so Slytherin’s beating them at that too. Then at the end Harry manages to win both. That’s a perfectly good arc. Unfortunately it’s book one of seven. Harry and Griffindor keep winning the cup and the house competition every year. Slytherin fails over and over again. Within a couple books, it’s hard to see Slytherin as anything but underdogs, which is probably were part of the dissonance and Slytherinfen come from. If you want to portray your character as nobly winning despite everything stacked against them, you have to give their opponents something to stack.

And – from the sounds of it, lots of kids are starving and desperate in her area. Last year’s tributes were explicitly both starving poor kids. Why is Katniss, specifically, a “survivor”? Why is what she’s gone through treated like it’s some amazing thing, and not business as usual? Again the book falls down by making everything protagonist centered. All the evil the government commits seems only to matter in how it affects Katniss, not the horrible things it does to everyone.

“People will help you in the arena. They’ll be tripping over each other to sponsor you.”
“No more than you,” I say.
Peeta rolls his eyes at Haymitch. “She has no idea. The effect she can have.” He runs his fingernail along the wood grain in the table, refusing to look at me.
What on earth does he mean? People help me? When we were dying of starvation, no one helped me! No one except Peeta. Once I had something to barter with, things changed. I’m a tough trader. Or am I? What effect do I have? That I’m weak and needy? Is he suggesting that I got good deals because people pitied me? I try to think if this is true. Perhaps some of the merchants were a little generous in their trades, but I always attributed that to their long-standing relationship with my father.


No, people didn’t. We know because the one point she needed help most, Peeta was the only one to give it. Being generous once she has something is not the same as helping her when she had nothing.

Next, what the fuck is the book saying here? That she actually couldn’t provide for her family? Because as has been repeated over and over, they were still hungry much of the time. So if she’s been getting help, then on her own merit things would have been even worse. So on the one hand we’re being told she’s an awesome hunter and survivor, but on the other that she’s only got this far because people were all being nice to her.

Finally – why her, anyway? What about the kids who are even worse off than she is, the kids who starve or are abused in the orphanage? Why is Katness special?

(Also, note her dad showing up again. If people did help, she’s sure it was because of her respected dead dad, not that anyone cared about her still-living mom.)

Anyway, Haymitch says to Peeta that physical strength is important too, which I really doubt.

The thing is, there are very few situations were there are a lot of completely equal ways to accomplish the same thing. It’s why actual weaponry is classed by time period, because changes are generally innovations that render the older style obsolete.

This is bad, newbie level writing. I know because I’ve done it. If you have no real idea how well anything works, you’ll just list off possibilities without any ability to figure out what would actually be more effective. Do some research, dammit!

At most, the fact the Hunger Games are televised games means that the people in charge probably try to mix things up enough that there’s no obvious winning strategy, but there should still be a few broad tendencies. For example, if you have ranged weapons and cover, you pretty much win unless the other kids have shields or armor. They might do something where they give varying quality equipment, so the bows are inaccurate while the knives are awesome, but if they’re trying to keep things balanced they’ll probably do something to offset the strength advantage too. And all balance should do is reduce it to several ways to win, not a ton, because there’s a lot of stuff that’s just never going to work as well.

I mean, if you want to look at something like this, the actual gladiatorial games had specialized weapon styles and they paid attention to balance issues to keep the fights interesting.

You go to group training. Spend the time trying to learn something you don’t know. Throw a spear. Swing a mace. Learn to tie a decent knot. Save showing what you’re best at until your private sessions.


I am far from an expert at weapons, but a mace?

A mace is a club. It’s a big, heavy club. Most of medieval use of maces was against people covered in sheets of armor, and it was often used from horseback where a sword was hard to aim and more likely to get stuck. And seriously, it’s heavy. You can’t just learn to swing a mace, you need to build up the muscle to do it. Even if Peeta’s strong, I’d bet he doesn’t have the right set of muscles for waving a mace around.

And he doesn’t need a mace. A normal human being will go down just fine if you pick up a big enough stick and smash it into their head.

Now, a spear is better – although throwing? Kind of dumb. I mean, distance is great here, but you have to think of ammunition here. You throw that spear and you’re defenseless. Even if you’re a crack shot, if there’s anyone else there, they can kill you before you retrieve it. No, you want to learn to use a spear in closer combat, because the reach should let you keep your opponent at bay and kill them without getting injured yourself. A spear is a perfectly good defensive staff that has a nice pointy bit on it. Don’t throw that away.

Details aside, the basics of what he’s saying are okay here – try to get a quick crash course in what you don’t know anything about, rather than practice what you’re already good at. It’s just it’s framed badly, with the focus being on not letting the others know your talent rather than that this is the best way to pick up skills, and instead of listing stuff you can legitimately benefit from a crash course in them, he says maces and throwing spears. Knots are the only reasonable thing there.

If they have to learn a weapon, I’d suggest knives just because from the sounds of it, knives are common. They also don’t require a ton of strength. You won’t really be able to get good at knife fighting, but they won’t be hampered as badly by lack of built up muscle, and at least learning will give them a chance at predicting their opponent’s moves. It’s going to come up, so if you’re preparing, prepare for that.

Peeta’s strong, so he should really learn to use a staff. It’s heavy, it’s a good defensive weapon and he’d be able to hit hard with it. Like knives, it’s a pretty easy weapon to come across – even if they don’t give you one, easy to improvise one.

But anyway, the idea of this is good…

…but it’s not really anything special. The author’s still running on general knowledge that anyone should be able to think of. There should be far better strategies by this point.. The games have been going on for 74 years at this point, the psychological arms race has had a long time to develop.

I mean, just off the top of my head – Katniss is good at throwing knives. So a good idea would be to spend a lot of time practicing her knife throwing, like that’s her only offensive skill and she’s desperately trying to get it up to professional level. She won’t do that well, but she’s from a district that always loses, so no one’s going to be surprised that she’s not that great at it. There, now they think they know what she can do, and won’t be expecting the arrows. Just sticking to what you know nothing about makes it obvious you’re trying to hide your skills.

And the last thing you want is someone to be paranoid like Katniss and assume the fact you’re not advertising how tough you are means you’re really, really tough and then decide to take you out first.

“One last thing. In public, I want you by each other’s side every minute,” says Haymitch. We both start to object, but Haymitch slams his hand on the table. “Every minute! It’s not open for discussion! You agreed to do as I said! You will be together, you will appear amiable to each other.

This is like the plot of a bad shipping fanfic.

Anyway, Katniss doesn’t like this.

at some point, we’re going to have to knock it off and accept we’re bitter adversaries.

This is just so inconsistent. Early on, she makes this huge deal about it being a death sentence and that no one from their district has won in years. Yet she keeps acting like she and Peeta are directly competing, even though they’re almost certainly both going to die and probably early on by other people.

The angst here is ridiculous, no matter what the situation is she’s finding a way to say it’s the worst possible way it could go.

I hear Peeta’s voice in my head. She has no idea. The effect she can have. Obviously meant to demean me. Right? but a tiny part of me wonders if this was a compliment. That he meant I was appealing in some way. It’s weird, how much he’s noticed me. Like the attention he’s paid to my hunting. And apparently, I have not been as oblivious to him as I imagined, either.

…even bad fanfic is better at it than this.

When Atala begins to read down the list of the skill stations, my eyes can’t help flitting around to the other tributes. It’s the first time we’ve been assembled, on level ground, in simple clothes. My heart sinks. Almost all of the boys and at least half of the girls are bigger than I am, even though many of the tributes have never been fed properly. You can see it in their bones, their skin, the hollow look in their eyes. I may be smaller naturally, but overall my family’s resourcefulness has given me an edge in that area. I stand straight, and while I’m thin, I’m strong. The meat and plants from the woods combined with the exertion it took to get them have given me a healthier body than most of those I see around me.

Paragraphing fail. Her heart sinks, yet half the paragraph is about how she’s got the advantage.

Also, come on. She’s sixteen and the games go to eighteen, and she’s been drinking goat milk and eating rabbit, while lots of these kids are probably from families where the grain ration is their main source of food. I don’t buy that most of them are bigger than she is. It’s not just hunger, there’s also malnutrition to consider, which is more than just “a healthier body”.

And no “I may be smaller naturally” nonsense. Malnourishment isn’t being fashionably thin. It’s being stunted because you can’t grow. Katniss should be stunted because we’re told she’s been starving at times, and most of the kids should be even worse off. The only kids who should be at their natural height are the ones raised for it and maybe a couple unlucky town kids like Peeta. If Katniss is well fed enough to be “healthy” she should be among the tallest of the slum kids, and we know slum kids make up the majority of tributes.

I also seriously doubt the other kids haven’t been working hard physically, just because hungry people generally don’t laze about when there’s pennies to earn and things to steal.

(Also, LOL at “family’s” resourcefulness when she’s only talking about her dad.)

Speaking of those trained kids, it’s time to pay attention to them.

The exceptions are the kids from the wealthier districts, the volunteers, the ones who have been fed and trained throughout their lives for this moment. The tributes from 1, 2, and 4 traditionally have this look about them. It’s technically against the rules to train tributes before they reach the Capitol but it happens every year. In District 12, we call them the Career Tributes, or just the Careers. And like as not, the winner will be one of them.

No, book.

They’re kids. They’re kids going into a death match. It’s not wrong to want your kid to have a chance in the mandatory death match, and it’s not wrong to want a winner so that all the other kids can have decent food for once. Shut the fuck up about how it’s technically against the rules to do this, you don’t care about rules when it’s Katniss poaching and there’s no point to that rule so it’s clearly just there to show how unfair this is.

It’s hardly more moral to do what her district is and just leave it for the weak and untrained to die. And it isn’t like they wanted to come here and murder people. Not only is this mandatory, but they were raised their whole life for this, so they never even had a choice.

It’s not their fault.

I see nothing but contempt in the glances of the Career Tributes. Each must have fifty to a hundred pounds on me. They project arrogance and brutality.

I think the projecting is being done by you, Katniss.

Fifty to a hundred pounds? You’re short and thin, that doesn’t take much to outweigh you. And what do you mean by contempt? That they’re sizing you up and seeing you’re weaker, like you just did to those other kids last paragraph?

I mean, I can see Katniss being scared of them, but the narration really doesn’t seem like it’s going for unreliable when she says this stuff. Next line is they head straight for the deadliest-looking weapons in the gym and handle them with ease which I’m pretty sure is supposed to be objective.

What does deadliest-looking even mean? The knife and spear? Those really are the most deadly options. It’s obvious we’re supposed to think they’re vicious, but most of the scary looking weapons wouldn’t be much use in the fight, and learning to use freaky esoteric stuff is dumb when the odds are against any particular game having them around.

I look around at the Career Tributes who are showing off, clearly trying to intimidate the field. Then at the others, the underfed, the incompetent, shakily having their first lessons with a knife or an ax.

Well, it’s nice to see some sympathy from her, although it’d be nice if it didn’t take such an us-vs-them situation to provoke it.

It’s also just kind of unsettling how she’s focusing on the Career Tributes and not the people starving children and running the childmurder games. I realize they’re the bigger immediate threat, but the demonization is bothering.

So they decide to avoid the weapons entirely and go try knots.

We cross to an empty station where the trainer seems pleased to have students. You get the feeling that the knot-tying class is not the Hunger games hot spot. When he realizes Iknow something about snares, he shows us a simple, excellent trap that will leave a human competitor dangling by a leg from a tree.

Why is no one else doing this?

So, there are three districts that raise kids for this. Six out of twenty-four. The other eighteen are untrained. They are not going to win a straight up fight, so their best bet is a trap and then killing whoever they caught. Why didn’t any of the other mentors explain this? Are they all similarly drunk because of the unlikelihood of beating the trained kids, and unlike Katniss and Peeta, the other kids didn’t get lucky and convince the asshole to bother giving them a word of advice?

What’s particularly irritating here is how unearned it is. Katniss is a poacher. She should be smart enough to think that she has a better chance setting traps and go for the less sensational stations of her own volition.

You could even say this part is televised, and the people usually encourage the kids to focus on the actual fighting options because it plays better with the audience. Then it’s Katniss making the right choice in opposition to the kind of bad advice that’s gotten kids killed in the past, rather than Katniss lucking into being told the right thing to do because we’re told people think she’s talented enough to warrant their effort.

We concentrate on this one skill for an hour until both of us have mastered it.

…that’s all it takes? Everyone should learn this, not just so they can do it but so they have a chance of avoiding walking into it. I’m just going to assume all the trained kids already know it, but the other kids should learn.

They go on to learn about camouflage and Peeta tells her that back home he used to do the cake icing.

He means the ones they display in the windows. Fancy cakes with flowers and pretty things painted in frosting.

Seriously, how does this economy work? Who’s buying this? We’re even told sugar is really rare, how do they have enough to make frosting flowers?

I mean, assuming anyone can pay for this in the first place, you don’t just make them on a whim. I really doubt they have the preservatives to keep stuff fresh, and they certainly have no refrigeration, so it’d only be specially commissioned cakes. If they’re putting up displays, they should be mock-ups, not actual cakes. And there really isn’t much point in a display since it’s not like people can buy from anyone else. If they want a birthday cake, there’s only one baker.

So the next three days pass with Peeta and I going quietly from station to station. We do pick up some valuable skills, from starting fires, to knife throwing, to making shelter.


Stop being a stupid city kid, Katniss.

You already know how to start fires. Your house is heated by one. You said back when you were a starving kid you scavenged branches for the fire at home once the coal ran out, so it’s not like you just don’t know how to do it with wood either. To say nothing of all the time you were out hunting in the forest.

You also know how to throw knives. You threw one very well and explained it with some nonsense about how sometimes when you shot an animal your arrow didn’t finish it off so you’d throw a knife into it, because apparently the idea you could shoot more than once is beyond you. And if you didn’t, it’s a really hard skill and you’re not going to be able to just pick it up.

You know damn well how to make shelter, you’ve gone out in the woods a lot and I’m sure it’s rained on you at least a couple times along the way.

Despite Haymitch’s order to appear mediocre, Peeta excels in hand-to-hand combat, and I sweep the edible plants test without blinking an eye.

Yeah hand-to-hand is another thing you don’t just pick up. “Does decently” is the best Peeta can really hope for here. He does know wrestling, but there’s a pretty big gap there.

And Katniss, no one cares you know about edible plants. If it was poisonous plants at least you might potentially be using that knowledge to kill someone by coating your knives in sap or something, so they should watch out, but edible, no.

The Gamemakers appeared early on the first day.

Ah, see, there we go. That should be the reason the kids are trying out weapons, they should be told that it’s important to impress these guys and that they want to see fighting.

sometimes wandering about to watch us, jotting down notes, other times eating at the endless banquet that has been set for them, ignoring the lot of us. But they do seem to be keeping their eye on the District 12 tributes. Several times I’ve looked up to find one fixated on me.

Why do you do this, book.

There is such a good story here, about a scared kid in a horrible situation. But you’re too busy showing off how special she is. Why do they even care? All they know about her is that she got lit on fire. I’m assuming these guys care about the actual fighting stuff, where she hasn’t done anything to distinguish herself. But somehow they just know she’s special.

Worse, in showing how everyone thinks she’s special, you’re ignoring the part where THESE ARE HORRIBLE PEOPLE TAKING PART IN THE CHILDMURDER GAMES.

The Career Tributes tend to gather rowdily around one table, as if to prove their superiority, that they have no fear of one another and consider the rest of us beneath notice.

Or maybe they’re trying to get an edge by finding out something about each other because as you yourself said, one of them is the most likely winner. It doesn’t have to be that they’re a bunch of arrogant bastards who think you’re nothing before them, but simply that they have a limited amount of time and they have to pay attention to the most likely threat.

Stop demonizing your fellow victims.

Anyway, she and Peeta are trying to play at being nice, which for some reason is some huge chore she wants sympathy for.

“Did I ever tell you about the time I was chased by a bear?” I ask.
“No, but it sounds fascinating,” says Peeta.
I try and animate my face as I recall the event, a true story, in which I’d foolishly challenged a black bear over the rights to a beehive

a) why didn’t you shoot it and get both bear and beehive
b) it’s a black bear, Katniss, they’re really not that dangerous. I’m just going to assume you were twelve at the time or something.
c) why didn’t you just let it piss off the bees and then try to scavenge what was left?
d) hey, bees! Why aren’t people keeping beehives if sugar is scarce? Haven’t heard any mention of it.

On day two, the little twelve year old starts following them around.

I find it kind of forced that she’d somehow decide they weren’t scary when everyone else is, but it may be that since they’re pretending to be friends they’re the only ones who are acting friendly at all and she’s really desperate.

Her name is Rue. Look, if you name your kid fucking Rue, you have only yourself to blame when she ends up in the childmurder games at age twelve to die horribly.

In case we didn’t get it:

I bite my lip. Rue is a small yellow flower that grows in the Meadow. Rue. Primrose. Neither of them could tip the scale at seventy pounds soaking wet.

Yes, yes.

Also, seventy pounds? That puts her in the bottom percentile for kids her age, if kids her age were American. Once again, this distopic government is really failing to properly oppress things. That is not the size of a kid who’s spent most of her life malnourished in a place where death by starvation is common. That’s about how much I weighted at her age.

And it can’t be that she represents a well-fed kid, because Katniss is making a huge deal about how tiny and delicate she is and how she doesn’t even look twelve, she looks ten. So she should look smaller than normal in a place where the majority of kids aren’t getting fed right.


“What can we do about it?” I ask him, more harshly than I intended.
“Nothing to do,” he says back. “Just making conversation.”

Uh, no.

Here’s what you could do. You could tell the scared little kid you that you won’t kill her. Seriously, go tell her this. Hell, even if you’re planning to kill her you should still tell her this, she can at least spend the few remaining days of her life a little less scared.

Dammit, Katniss, stop being so spineless and DO SOMETHING. You can’t do anything that actually matters but you can at least try.

Now that I know she’s there, it’s hard to ignore the child. She slips up and joins us at different stations.

So stop ignoring her!

She can hit the target every time with a slingshot. But what is a slingshot against a 220-pound male with a sword?

Is that a trick question? I’m pretty sure the answer is “victory”. Seriously, what the hell Katniss. Do they not have books where you’re from. This is literally one of the oldest stories around.

Ranged weapons are fucking awesome. Swords suck.

I don’t even know what the book is trying to do here, the details are completely divorced from how we’re being told to feel.

Anyway, Haymitch is totally sober now and doing a great job of micromanaging, because that’s completely how alcoholism works. Unfortunately Katniss is contractually obligated to always be upset about whatever’s happening.

Full of endless directions about what we should do and not do in training. Peeta is more patient, but I become fed up and surly.

You have three days to learn everything you possibly can. You should be desperate for direction, not whiny.

When we finally escape to bed on the second night, Peeta mumbles, “Someone ought to get Haymitch a drink.”
I make a sound that is somewhere between a snort and a laugh. Then catch myself. It’s messing with my mind too much, trying to keep straight when we’re supposedly friends and when we’re not. At least when we get into the arena, I’ll know where we stand. “Don’t. Don’t let’s pretend when there’s no one around.”
“All right, Katniss,” he says tiredly. After that, we only talk in front of people.

See, this is just not a plausible characterization.

There’s actually a really good reason for her not to want to get attached, because she knows he’s going to die soon. But instead it’s just melodramatic nonsense about how soon they’ll be enemies. And it’s so damn obvious that he’s either legitimately friendly or he’s trying to pretend to the point of convincing her, not just going along with Haymitch’s suggestion.

On day three they have to perform for the gamemasters privately, and show off their abilities.

Katniss tells us As usual, District 12 is slated to go last.

The book’s done this a couple times, where it’s implied District 12 is the worst off of all of them. It’s honestly really distracting. It’s like the basic setup of childmurder games and mass starvation isn’t good enough, her district has to win the misery-off.

They’ve been here too long, the Gamemakers. Sat through twenty-three other demonstrations. Had too much to wine, most of them. Want more than anything to go home.

It’s like everything has to be the exception, either the best or the worst. So her district is usually ignored because they’ve gotten bored by now, what does this add? All it’s doing is making this artificial division between her district and the others that are in equally bad positions.

I take my initial position and skewer the dummy right through the heart. Then I sever the rope that holds the sandbag for boxing, and the bag splits open as it slams to the ground. Without pausing, I shoulder-roll forward, come up on one knee, and send an arrow into one of the hanging lights high above the gymnasium floor. A shower of sparks bursts from the fixture.
It’s excellent shooting. I turn to the Gamemakers. A few are nodding approval, but the majority of them are fixated on a roast pig that has just arrived at their banquet table.

The idea they’re paying attention to the food has come up before. Why the fuck do they care? They live in a world where you can press a button and get anything you want. If they wanted roast pig they could have buttonpressed five minutes ago. This is trying to show them as decadent gluttons, but they shouldn’t care about that either.

Suddenly I am furious, that with my life on the line, they don’t even have the decency to pay attention to me. That I’m being upstaged by a dead pig. My heart starts to pound, I can feel my face burning. Without thinking, I pull an arrow from my quiver and send it straight at the Gamemakers’ table. I hear shouts of alarm as people stumble back. The arrow skewers the apple in the pig’s mouth and pins it to the wall behind it. Everyone stares at me in disbelief.
“Thank you for your consideration,” I say. Then I give a slight bow and walk straight toward the exit without being dismissed.

Okay, so this works. The main problem I have is the story it works in is a different story. This kind of thing would work if she was trying to get hired to the guard, or something else where the issue is that she’s awesome and it’s unfair they aren’t paying attention.

But, you know, childmurder games.

The random indignities are, in context, just a distraction. The issue is not that they’re not recognizing how cool she is and her amazing ability isn’t properly lauded. Making a big deal about how unfair it is they’re not paying attention is missing the point, which is that every last person in the room is evil.


  1. Eva Rinaldi says:
    The number one thing that bugged me when I read the Hunger Games was why doesn’t every district train “careers?”

    Having volunteers for the games means that the other children can be guaranteed not to be chosen that year, so if you have a volunteer each year everyone can take out as much tesserae as they want without being afraid, plus with a volunteer, you can surreptitiously train them so they stand more of a chance of winning and getting more food for the district, especially if all the volunteers are 18 year olds. If they are raised with the knowledge that they may die in the games but their willingness to compete gives them a chance to make things better for everyone they know and gain a lot of advantages for their families by being the special “chosen” one. Volunteer for the Hunger Games, your little sister gets that apprenticeship she needs, your dad always gets the expensive medicine he needs to live, etc. It doesn’t fully beat the system, but every time there’s an oppressive system people generally set out to game it and I’m surprised every district isn’t doing their best to do so if they get a huge advantage from it.

    1. Farla says:
      Because individualism and personal talent are heroic, and collectivism and gaming the system are evil. Might also involve something like the Inverse Ninja Law, where the trained kids are the evil mooks because there’s a bunch of them, while Katniss is the product of a string of improbable circumstances and therefore individual.
    2. It struck me as odd because there are already kids at the orphanage who no one seems to care about, why aren’t those kids the ones getting their names tossed in for tesserae and while the kids with families are protected? It’s a natural human response and it could have provided some actual interesting tension between the Seam kids who are constantly at risk of losing their parents versus the merchant/town folk who face relatively little risk.
      1. Farla says:
        It’s possible the evil government won’t let orphans take out tesserae at all, given Katniss says those kids are starving. Failing that, people’s guess that the tesserae is limited to self+family members mean you can’t enter orphans extra times no matter how much you want to.

        Although come to think of it, that should just lead to a lot of people not reporting deaths. If your parents both die, you’re better off supporting yourself with three grain shares you’ll have all to yourself, and the rest of the community is better off because you’ll be trading your surplus for other goods and so there’s more food total in the economy.

        1. I don’t know. Katniss constantly wails about how no one ever helps each other and everyone’s starving, yet they have money to support an orphanage? I get the kids are being abused, but why do they have an orphanage at all? Why aren’t the kids shuffled off to the coal mines like so many other children have historically? Which of course brings us to: why do these kids need an education at all? They’re destitute. Why are they mining coal at all? Coal burns dirty. Capitol is a magitech society, why aren’t they fracking? Or mining uranium for a nuclear reactor? If anything, coal would provide the outer districts with more resources to rebel and Capitol doesn’t seem interested in providing them with stable energy supply.

          The worldbuilding is just so lazy and very poorly thought out.

          1. Farla says:
            Hm. I guess you could say that there’s practical value to doing the bare minimum to keep kids alive, but on the other hand, it seems like there’s plenty of non-orphans also on the verge of death from starvation.

            Simplest answer is they’re working the kids to death doing, say, laundry, but we hear no mention of kids doing any sign of work while laundry apparently pays a living wage for an adult, so clearly the kids are’t being used for unskilled labor.

  2. Stereophonic Aftershock says:
    I’m enjoying this spork so far, and I don’t have much to say, but this:

    ‘So it seems like yes, all the servants are Avox, whatever the fuck that word means.’

    I thought that the word Avox was quite clever if it was intentional because ‘vox’ is Latin for ‘voice’ while ‘a’ as a prefix means ‘without’. So Avox would translate to ‘without voice’.

    1. Farla says:
      But that’s not how people name things! I could forgive the faux Rome thing if this was a fantasy story and it was the translation convention, but not for the supposed future.
      1. Stereophonic Aftershock says:
        I would be able to forgive it more if the Latin names and words were more consistent, which is why I find the names glaring. It could easily be down to the naming techniques, hence the parallels, but for me the reason why it doesn’t work is because all of the other names are either the equivalent of a bad fanfic writer trying to come up with foreign names without going by proper conventions, or just don’t fit with the other names- so we’ve got the people in the Capitol with the obvious Latin names, but then there’s Peeta which… doesn’t even work as a modern day version of real life.

        Katniss, that I can see as a name, seeing as naming naming girls after plants is common anyway. Gale, that’s a nice name for a boy. Madge, Primrose, Hazel, all of the names like that are fine.

        But then there’s Peeta, Effie Trinket (who’s name basically means that she’s a well-spoken ornament of little value…right…) and pretty much half of the Catching Fire tributes. That’s what gets me about the naming.

        1. Nerem says:
          You’d probably ‘like’ the Safehold series. The author I think was trying to show a ‘linguistics drift’, but for some reason it only effects people’s names. And it mostly involves replacing most of the vowels with ‘y’s. Like Calyb.


          But names of places are all in perfect English.

  3. I find it so weird that the author looks down her nose at the sling, but I guess it’s because she’s from a part of America where it’s considered a child’s toy instead of a weapon. Still, in the murderdeath games, it’s actually a much better option than the bow. I’m surprised Katniss never learned to use one (I’m actually not) given that it’s still the child’s weapon of choice in most third world countries. The sling and slingshot are still used today in the United States to introduce children to hunting. Unlike the bow, they can be used to safely hunt small game. It’s a fabulous weapon for living under a dictatorship. It’s easy to hide unlike the bow, the ammunition for it is plentiful and requires no specialized preparation unlike the bow, and doesn’t require constant specialized care to remain functional unlike the bow. Rue can fold her sling up, hide it in her pocket, and smuggle that bad boy right into the Hunger Games itself without anyone the wiser.

    By comparison: the bow is a great weapon so long as it has ammunition, however in a prolonged conflict with a limited ability to get more arrows (or even retrieve them) it begins to lose some of it’s weight. Knife throwing is an even more useless skill because all you end up doing is wasting a perfectly good knife or worse ceding that knife to your enemy. Either way, once the knife leaves your hand, you’ve no longer got it.

    I’d actually think the controllers of the Hunger Games would shy away from knife fighting because it’s quick, easy, and difficult to visually follow. Comparatively, a staff combat is easy to teach and more visually interesting to watch. But I suppose all this would rely on an author with a better grasp of the concepts at work in their story instead of grasping at what worked for Rome.

    1. Farla says:
      Yeah, I suggest it later, but the bow is more aristocratic while the sling is the peasant’s weapon, so here we are.

      Given they habitually start off the murderfest by killing half the participants in a chaotic jumble that even an actual movie couldn’t make interesting or easy to follow, I think we can conclude no one involved in the games has any idea of what they’re going.

      1. Katniss must have the best and be the most special, even when it makes no sense!
  4. Sean says:
    Swords don’t suck. Arrows aren’t as deadly as we would like to think, they hurt but they aren’t going stop a charging enemy or kill anyone quickly. People keep fighting, hell some people don’t even notice, when they get shot by small caliber bullets! Stones from a sling are worse because they don’t penetrate. The human adrenaline response is a glorious thing. At a certain point all you can do is break the guy’s body because his mind is made up, ‘You die.’ That’s what a sword is good for, you can’t hold a weapon if your fingers or your arm has been cut off.
    1. Farla says:
      Arrows are more deadly than bullets. Slings are are even worse. A sling doesn’t need to penetrate your skull. If it hits, the stuff in the area turns to jelly and your bone cracks in half.

      Even if arrows and swords were equivalent on the ground, Katniss can climb far faster and much higher than they can. Even if arrows never actually killed people and only hurt, getting hit by one almost guarantees infection – Katniss can get that up to absolutely guarantees by sticking the arrowheads in dirt or shit. All she has to do is shoot people with her arrows from a tree and they will die before she does.

      1. Sean says:
        You are (correctly) assuming that she will be in a forest but at this point she (and the reader) doesn’t know that. She could be going to a tundra or a desert where their is a lot of open ground for a pissed off killer to be charging her. Even if she poisons her arrows that’s still a very slow death. If she does stay in the tree what’s to say the Gamekeepers won’t simply burn down the forest? Watching a girl kill waves of enemies from her perch isn’t exactly compelling. The real world parallel are boxers who focus on defense in a fight, they get less matches then boxer’s who are more aggressive because they are less entertaining to watch.
        1. Farla says:
          If she’s on completely open ground, she still does better than someone with a sword, because she gets to shoot them first while they have to cover a reasonable distance to try to harm her. This is why crossbows were such a big deal in warfare. Katniss is supposedly able to shoot through the eye of a squirrel. She’ll kill at least one of them before anyone reaches her.

          If she does stay in the tree what’s to say the Gamekeepers won’t simply burn down the forest? Watching a girl kill waves of enemies from her perch isn’t exactly compelling.

          If you’re arguing that having an advantage is boring, then the show should be designed to give an overwhelming advantage to no one and Katniss’ constant wailing that she is at a disadvantage somehow and everything is stacked against her still can’t apply. It’s also contradicted by everything she’s said about the games: that they’ve done extremely boring games in the past and that the trained kids almost always win and do so in the same pattern each time. The idea of gamemakers micromanaging things is only suggested once, in getting rid of a problem player, and it got backlash, suggesting they’re not supposed to deliberately mess with things.

          1. Sean says:
            That is not why crossbows were a big deal. Crossbows were like guns, easy to train a mass group of people on them. Even after the crossbow was invented and mass produced/used cavalry charges and massed infantry were still the call of the day. Crossbows and even later Longbows of Robin Hood fame were used to blot out the sky not for precision shots.

            However, I will concede that the normal rules of combat don’t apply to uber-special main character. However, she does say earlier that she had to finish off her kills with a knife and nothing in the book suggests that the squirrels were moving when she pierced the eyes. It doesn’t take into effect that her arm would be wobbling from the adrenaline ruining her hand-eye coordination. Nor does it account for the mental block on killing another person (she does eventually kill one person in combat but that was a reflex).

            But for the layman, you are not going completely incapacitate a man with a single arrow unless you strike him in the face and that is a hell of a shot that people train for years and can’t pull off. Besides, it takes like twenty minutes to learn how to kill with a sword. Killing is different than sword-fighting.

            I guess that is the problem with my arguments, I’m not taking into account that the book takes place in Suzanne Collin’s head.

            1. Number27 says:
              A spear is just as easy to use as a crossbow and costs a hell of a lot less. Crossbows let you do the “mass of untrained dudes” thing at range. The “at range” part was the big deal.
            2. Farla says:
              But for the layman, you are not going completely incapacitate a man with a single arrow

              No, because you won’t hit at all because it’s a skilled weapon. I don’t see what that has to do with Katniss, who is repeatedly stated to have extremely good aim and hits every target she tries for including moving ones. It’s like saying swordfighting sucks because the swords are heavy and a layman doesn’t have the muscles. People who have never used a weapon aren’t very good at it??? How incredibly relevant to the point.

              1. Sean says:
                There are hundreds of thousands of people who are skilled at using weapons. They can hit any target they want repeatedly over and over. They are everyone from soldiers to police officers to world champion shooters. I see now that outside the military or police these aren’t people you would call ‘laymen.’

                My apology, that was my fault.

                But the people I mentioned, people who are paid to shoot and are required to go on the range every month or so, couldn’t consistently accomplish what you are asking. Granted, they are using guns but that just reinforces the point because guns are very easy to aim as compared to bows.

                In combat, all of those people miss. A lot. Most police officers can barely hit a suspect at 5 feet on the street. Countless rounds of ammunition were expended in Iraq and Afghanistan because in combat people miss at surprisingly close ranges. On a range or in a hunting stand it is very easy to make shots because the pressure is minimal. When a maniac with a sword or some other weapon is charging at you it gets a little more difficult to aim.

                Here’s an example you can try. Take any video game with a bow in it. I’ll use the example Farcry 3. It has a bow and it has an enemy in it that will dose himself in flame and charge you. I guarantee that an expert at the game couldn’t make that shot every time from the safety of a game controller.

                That kind of accuracy is a hollywood myth or the result of years of combat experience, not range shooting or hunting game, but combat. Meanwhile, a sword is very intuitive; swing and stab as hard as you can and avoid hitting the bone.

              2. Farla says:
                Unbelievable amounts of ammunition are spent because a) people aim up and b) this problem is so damn pervasive that the military has flat out given up and switched to training people to use “suppressive fire” or “just blanket the area with bullets and don’t think about it”. It’s the modern version of the fact soldiers in years past closed their eyes and turned their faces away rather than aim to make the resulting deaths on God’s conscience rather than theirs.

                If you’d like to argue that Katniss’ exact level of impossible shots is ridiculous, yes, I say as much. But if we’re going to get realism into it, Katniss’ main problem shooting humans should be the natural human disinclination for shooting humans, and that doesn’t hold her back either.

                In the story, Katniss’ bow is the winning move. In actual reality as opposed to the world of swords being ultra cool, a bow is still the winning move. Bows are really hard to make and really hard to learn, and the only reason we kept using them is they’re also really good at killing people without getting yourself killed.

                Therefore, it is stupid either way for the book to pretend Katniss is at a huge disadvantage the whole time. Even the book has to admit it given it makes her spend half the games without a bow and then almost immediately switches her problem to “keep Peeta alive and find people to kill.”

              3. Sean says:
                But that isn’t what you’ve been arguing. You’ve been saying that a ranged weapon is the end all solution. You even say that all Rue has to do is ‘aim at the eyes’ in your review of a later chapter. Its the same logic as a zombie movie where they tell the kid “just aim at the head” and he can magically do it.

                The only reason I’m being so persistent is that by spreading that myth, you are harming police officers and the role they play in today’s society. What we see today is that officers are being crucified by the media because they follow that ‘suppression fire’ doctrine. Just open the nightly news after a cop shoots someone and the anchors express complete disbelief/outrage that officers fired 17 times. It’s maddening. Granted, the courts generally exonerate them but its still very hard on the families and the officer who just shot someone.

                That’s a generalization don’t apply that to every case….

                Also, I hate to ruin your world view but plenty of people can pull the trigger and not worry about it. People who can “other” people easily are in high demand, especially among sniper/scouts. In fact, a lot of medals given out during war are from when the recipient actually starts aiming and killing while everyone else is spraying.

                And just to cover my bases, society will always have a place for these people. Saying that violence never works is a wonderful idiom but its just not true.

                Maybe Katniss is one of those closeted killers. She was just waiting for the system to give her a chance to kill without repercussions? Indeed, a lot of people who find that they can do it either become criminals( most of the stupid ones without self-control do this) or find a place to do it legally (Most of the smart ones become police or military). Though I doubt Collins would put that in a YA book so bluntly. She would still miss a lot though because of the adrenaline response, killer instinct or no, the same adrenaline responses that saved our ancestors from tigers makes us shitty marksmen in the clutch.

              4. Farla says:
                Now is an unusually shitty time to talk about how hard it is being a cop and having people mad at you before the courts inevitably clear you of any wrongdoing and rule that the victim totally fell on all those bullets himself.

                Also, I hate to ruin your world view but plenty of people can pull the trigger and not worry about it. People who can “other” people easily are in high demand

                Do you not see the contradiction here.

                The reason they’re in high demand is because they’re rare and most people aim high until it’s very slowly and painfully beaten out of them. When I was in middle school one of my teachers was a great shot and the army wanted him to be a sniper, but he refused on the basis of bullet statistics: snipers actually hit their targets while regular soldiers could shoot all the time and not hit anyone because they weren’t usually called on to aim.

                If plenty of people could do it, there wouldn’t be demand for people who could do it, because we’d have enough.

                If you’re arguing that it is entirely possible, statistically, that Katniss is in the don’t give a fuck category, why yes, I do call her a sociopath over and over and over and over in these reviews, thank you for noticing.

                She would still miss a lot though because of the adrenaline response, killer instinct or no, the same adrenaline responses that saved our ancestors from tigers makes us shitty marksmen in the clutch.

                Unlike swords which make you a superhero. Are you thinking that when I say “winning move” I mean it generates a force field and then makes icecream and puppies rain down on you or something?

              5. Sean says:
                Yes, because a sword is much easier to use when you are in an adrenaline response. Because the bow is not the winning move, sarcasm or no.

                Flailing around with a sword is a much better choice then flailing around with a bow. At least with the sword when your mind is stuck in a loop you are slicing bits of your attacker off. With a bow, you are slapping them with a comparatively brittle piece of layered wood. That, while chunks could be broken off into the enemies body, it isn’t going to stop them in the same way.

                It’s not a matter of morality either. It’s that your hands are going to be shaking. It’s that all you are going to be able to hear is a monsoon in your ears. It’s the terrifying realization that “OMG, he’s got a weapon and is charging at me. Why the fuck won’t my hands stop shaking! I can’t get the bow to steady!”

                Hell, some officers (and this is hard to watch but they show it to almost all officers) get stuck yelling, “put the gun down. Put the gun down.” then they get shot and then their mind starts working but it’s too late.

                Meanwhile, a knife or a sword is designed to be used in a frenzied “kill, kill, kill.” mentality.

                I put ‘That’s a generalization don’t apply that to every case….’ because of the recent protests. Also, ‘fell on the bullets’ is completely ignoring anything I said in the above post.

                You also have to remember that psychologist put the number of people who can “other” at anywhere from 1% to 20% of the population. In America only about .5% of the population is in the military. That’s still a lot of people to fill up the slots if we initiate a draft. Which, at the height of WW2, was 12% of the population in the military.

              6. Farla says:
                Meanwhile, a knife or a sword is designed to be used in a frenzied “kill, kill, kill.” mentality.

                Nope. A sword is designed to be a sharp piece of metal because that was the limit of our technology at the time. You know why you don’t see guns outfitted with bayonets these days? It’s not because a knife on a stick stopped being useful, it’s because officers ordered bayonet charge after bayonet charge, yet when every time you look at the guns afterward, the barrels are destroyed because the soldiers picked clubbing their opponents over stabbing them. (This is why we now try to make guns to withstand clubbing someone, because you can’t make people stop picking club over stab.) Convincing people to stab someone is even harder than convincing someone to shoot someone. Convincing them to club someone in the head is relatively easy but ineffective.

                Sure, if you’re flailing wildly, you’re better off with the knife, but if you’re flailing widely you are fucked either way so who cares. You’re also not going to close the distance, because you’re terrified, so even if the arrow-user misses a couple shots, you’re in no position to take advantage of it.

                (This is all irrelevant because Katniss turned out to be the sort of person who doesn’t panic at all and loves shooting and stabbing people, so even if swords had no problem and bows could sometimes, they don’t for her. She’s still in a great position and needs to stop whining about how everything is stacked against her.)

                That’s still a lot of people to fill up the slots if we initiate a draft.

                Not really, because the military doesn’t want everyone – a proportion of whatever number of psychos we have are too young/old/sick for the draft, a bunch more are in jail, some are just too unbalanced. And what you really want is the sweet spot of willing to murder the people you point to but not willing to murder the people you don’t, which is incredibly difficult.

              7. Sean says:
                My main problem isn’t that Katniss is using the bow. My main problem is that line “Ranged weapons are fucking awesome. Swords suck”

                What I am trying to get at the skill of shooting is hard. Especially in the clutch when a hostile is charging you with a weapon. Bows take skill and in combat they require a finesse that is hard to keep when you are in an adrenaline response. The only way to acquire that finesse is to be inoculated over time to it.

                The regular guys don’t have the skill and damn sure don’t have the finesse. Katniss has the skill and she’s the protagonist so she automatically gets the finesse. My main problem is that sweeping generalization. It is far to simple to be true.

              8. Farla says:
                Oh, so the problem is just reading comp. Let me amend my statement.

                “Ranged weapons by someone who can actually use them are fucking awesome. Swords suck”

                I thought that was understood given it’s a huge plot point that some people do in fact train to win these thing and yet the trained kids learn to throw axes instead.

              9. Sean says:
                Except, you didn’t imply that because in a later post you tell Rue to do the exact same thing with her sling.
              10. Farla says:
                No shit, because Rue can jump between trees so you can’t even pin her down. See also above, where I say the only way Katniss could possibly be more overpowered is if she could do that too.
              11. SpoonyViking says:
                “Meanwhile, a sword is very intuitive; swing and stab as hard as you can and avoid hitting the bone.”

                I’d like to address only this specific point, if neither one of you minds. Basically, it seems you’ve bought into the myth that swords are the best weapons ever. It’s true they’re awesome weapons for single
                combat, but in most combat situations, they’re generally not the best choice.

                Also, wielding a sword is intuitive, but PROPERLY wielding a sword isn’t. It takes skill to employ a sword’s weight, balance and cutting edge to the point they’re actually effective; otherwise, you’re basically just wielding an iron club. And even if the wielder IS skilled enough to properly wield their sword, there’s still the issue of range, which shouldn’t be underestimated.

                Take a look at the weaponry of most armies during the Antiquity and the Middle Ages, they tended to be variations of: a spear, to kill your enemies at range; sometimes, a shorter spear or a dart, for killing one enemy at an even greater range; and a short sword or long knife, for killing enemies at really close range, if they managed to get past the spear’s reach. Long swords were usually only wielded by cavalry, or for single combat.

              12. Sean says:
                A little quoted phenomenon is that large infantry formations, such those used by the hoplites, also makes use of that aim above the enemy thing. Mass formation combat is very confusing and it’s mostly just stab at the people in front of us. There is much less guilt involved.

                Also we are not talking about mass infantry, we are talking about one on one combat most of the time. While Katniss could channel her inner sociopath and asocially hunt the other contestants one by one. If she fights the pack of careers, she’ll probably go down after being swarmed. A sword is very versatile and she would be better able to stop the much faster and better fed careers if she has a weapon that she can use in close range as opposed to the almost long range bow

                It’s entirely possible that she could “kite,” for lack of a better term, the pack but she’ll still be surrounded quickly. Firing a bow on the move is hard, never minding the adrenaline response. Personally, I would chose a spear myself but a sword is easier to learn in the day or two she has to train.

              13. SpoonyViking says:
                “Also we are not talking about mass infantry, we are talking about one on one combat most of the time.”

                In which case, firing at people from a distance is still preferable to going into melee with them.

                “If she fights the pack of careers, she’ll probably go down after being swarmed.”

                ANYONE will go down after being swarmed, regardless of whether they have a sword or not. IF they’re highly skilled and athletic, they might be able to break off the pursuers into smaller groups and kill them one by one, but that’s not an easy thing to do by any means. And firing at your enemies from range is still preferable, since it can prevent you from being swarmed in the first place.

              14. Sean says:
                Yeah, anything other then 1v1 maybe 1v2 you’re done. And for Katniss, she should have the bow. But for Peeta, Rue and the rest of us, we won’t have the skill. Two days on a range is not enough time to figure out how to shoot a bow much less at other people.

                There is no guarantee that joe schmoe will be able to hit anything. Katniss has practice and protagonist syndrome on her side so it’s almost assured. For the rest of us, at any amount of range past maybe thirty yards, bow accuracy is laughable. So now you’ve missed and you have maybe another shot before your target sees you or runs away. Once the enemy starts closing then adrenaline kicks in and accuracy is laughable.

                At least with the sword or some other close range weapon, you can swing it wildly to keep the enemy from closing.

                Bows are great in theory. On the field it’s a whole other story. So while joe schmoe will pick up a bow, he won’t hit anything and will die to the crazy bastard with a knife who will close and kill you in a frenzy.

              15. Farla says:
                Bows are great in theory. On the field it’s a whole other story.

                Unless you know how to use it, which Katniss does.

                Are you seriously arguing something isn’t a good weapon as long as no one knows how to use it in the first place?

              16. Sean says:
                Yes, because I wasn’t talking about Katniss. I was talking about joe schmoe.
              17. Farla says:
                Because you think the conversation is about that for some reason? No one gives a shit about joe schmoe, because he, like everyone else who doesn’t know how to fight, is dead.
              18. Farla says:
                It’s entirely possible that she could “kite,” for lack of a better term, the pack but she’ll still be surrounded quickly.

                SHE CAN CLIMB.

                We even see her successfully escaping the pack when she doesn’t have a bow just by climbing. The only possible way she could be better suited for this challenge is if she was also able to hop between trees like Rue. As soon as she gets the bow, the only thing anyone else can do is hide and hope to set traps that’ll get her while she stalks them, but oh wait, she’s super great at setting traps too!

                What are you even arguing? That someone in a different environment than she’s in will only be able to kill a couple members of a group (all of whom are willing to suicide-charge her in the hopes one of them will succeed, because they’re apparently videogame AI) as opposed to maybe one if she had a sword (because being significantly stronger and heavier totally doesn’t give the careers an advantage there, no, it’s the bow that is at a huge disadvantage if the person a hundred feet away weights more than you), therefore the bow isn’t the objectively better weapon?

              19. Sean says:
                She did climb. And do you know what saved her? Magic bees.

                Even if she had the bow she would be surrounded and they would siege the tree waiting for her come down. They would starve her out. Because they aren’t video game AI they would retreat and watch. What happens then is that Katniss has to eventually come down.

                She would have to strike a balance between waiting for it to be just her and the careers or actively hunting which she can’t do from sitting in the tree the entire time. Becuase if it comes down to only her and the pack, they are going to wait for her to starve.

              20. Farla says:
                Even if she had the bow she would be surrounded and they would siege the tree waiting for her come down. They would starve her out.

                How do they do this without being shot?

                No wait, I actually don’t care since I assume you’ll just repeat that adrenaline makes bows disintegrate. Instead, write a fanfic battle of how ~*~swords~*~ let you beat people from a tree instead, because they are magic. It can be made of mithral or adamantine or whatever.

              21. Sean says:
                The same thing every siege in history has done. They would retreat beyond the enemy’s range and watch. A siege isn’t about a kill count ,its about time and numbers. And the Careers would have the numbers and all the time in the world.


              22. SpoonyViking says:
                If they’ve retreated beyond the range of a bow, they’re so far away she can just run away and find a different hiding spot. And if they try to pursue, she’ll have such a huge advantage in terms of range it’s conceivable she could kill at least a few of them before she needs to run away.

                This wouldn’t be a typical siege. It would be the equivalent of an army composed entirely of infantry troops trying to lay siege to a garrison of archers.

              23. Sean says:
                I’m going to bow out. I thought we were having a civil discussion but that was apparently lost in translation. I’m sorry that I have worn your nerves a little thin. I apologize and I wish you a good day.
              24. Passerby says:
                I think the problem happened when the comparison with bows and swords happened. Bow are ranged, therefore work at a distance. Sword are melee, therefore work up close. A smart fighter would have both melee and ranged, so it’s somewhat silly to argue which one is best. Is a shield better then a sword? That’s silly to say, since they serve different purposes. So too with bows and swords. One cannot compare them that way.
                (Of course, I still think pole arms are the best melee in theory.)
  5. Pretty Boy says:
    Returning to the Hunger Games so that I can fill a fic prompt with fewer plot holes than the book (I’m not the best at spotting my own holes, but fingers crossed) and this whole section is driving me mad for so many reasons.

    One of them is the thing about how they’re not allowed to fight each other and have to fight a trainer. Is there actually anything in place to stop them from just launching at another tribute? For that matter, is there anything anti-suicide in place in the training area? This book only ever brings up suicide when it’s an impossibility, like when a force field was stopping them from jumping off a roof or whatever. But this room is full of weapons that they can use to kill themselves if they’re really determined to do it, and that’s if you ignore the fact that they can kill themselves with a knife they pick up from the dinner table. Must have some decent knives if Katniss can use one for magical knife throwing powers, right? Or they could drown themselves in the shower, I guess.

    I think I remember why this series made me crazy now.

    1. Farla says:
      There’s absolutely nothing in canon to explain that one directly. Katniss even mentions one trained kid tried to sneak a hidden weapon in without a word about any fallout, so by canon, they’ll just try to stop you from doing so but there’s no known punishment. Possibly the kids are worried about annoying the gamemakers, who can make it so all the fun stuff is aimed at you.

      Going by what Book 2 says about victors being punished if they don’t do whatever the capital wants, I think your best bet is that if you attack another tribute, your family pays for it somehow. Alternatively, there is nothing in place and all that happens is the trainers pull you apart.

      Suicide may be hard to successfully pull off when they have doctors right there, so it may be you need to splatter yourself to be sure it’ll work. I think the no jumping thing might also work better if we assume your family is punished and they just draft a new person, so anyone thinking about it for more than a second knows it’s a bad idea and the suicide attempts are all spur of the moment things like suddenly jumping off an edge from the stress. Anyone thinking it through would just use the bombs at the start of the games.

      1. Pretty Boy says:
        You’re definitely right about using the mines, I guess. In thinking about this I got accused of overthinking it, but I seriously think that Collins has not properly thought through the suicide thing. She only brings it up when it’s definitely a possibility. Seriously, have the games NEVER had an instance of successful suicide?

        The idea that their family would be punished and another tribute drafted is a good one. If only Collins ever mentioned anything outside of Katniss’ calculated plans to murder innocent children. *sigh*

  6. Ellie says:
    I have to disagree with the point you made about Rue’s weight. Tbh I don’t think 70 lbs must be “well-fed” weight for some 12-year-olds, depending on height
    I’m ~5′ and when I was around 70 lbs I was sent to the ER due to heart problems because of my low weight
    1. Ellie says:
      Oh, nvm, Rue is supposed to be 12 instead of 15ish. That makes sense. Nice review btw, I like how your criticism is always biting and well-deserved.
  7. the thousand lakes says:
    Black bears: still pretty dangerous, particularly if you come up on one unexpectedly. The reasons black bears aren’t as dangerous as strict carnivore or a larger bear is that they’re less aggressive and tend to avoid humans, so it’s pretty easy to take preventative measures, like securing your smellables and making some noise as you travel. Even so, they do kill people, and just stumbling into one is not good, especially if it’s eating or with cubs. They won’t seek you out like a cougar or dog pack might, but it’s still wise to be cautious around bears.

    Why Hunger Games animals are all inexplicable murder machines and no one figured out that pelts are useful is another discussion entirely.

  8. CrazyEd says:

    I am far from an expert at weapons, but a mace?

    Most medieval maces were actually on par with one-handed swords, weight-wise. They were just also shorter and had more of that weight towards the percussive part. But that’s not why the mace is a bad idea. I’d argue against the usefulness of trying to learn enough of any melee weapon to be useful in only a few days, but like you said, while there’s a lot of strategy in using a mace in formal medieval combat… against an unarmoured and possibly unarmed foe, there’s not much strategy. Endurance is the biggest factor, and it doesn’t like much energy to brain an untrained opponent. Using a mace against an untrained enemy with no armour and probably no weapon would go just about as easily as you’d expect, and for the trained enemies (the career tributes), you’re not going to learn enough in the time allotted to be useful.

    But you could say the same about a sword. If you’re facing someone without armour or defensive training, just sticking them with the pointy end is enough. Imagine back to when you were stick-fighting as a kid. Imagine how many times you would’ve died if a sufficiently strong whack to the side would’ve opened up your belly and made your intestines fall out. People can fight on with grave injuries, but the amount of time they can can vary greatly, and blunt force injuries are generally on the lower side of that spectrum. While getting your skull caved in is pretty bad, having your shoulder broken by a mace will do very little to kill you by itself, but having your arm cut off will cause you to bleed out in a short amount of time.

    Now, a spear is better – although throwing? Kind of dumb.

    Agreed, with the caveat to my previous statement that, as far as melee weapons go, you could actually probably get the most use out of three or four days of training with a spear. A mace is kind of a self-explanatory weapon as far as the basics go, but learning the proper way to hold, point, and thrust a spear makes it a much faster weapon due to the fact that a small movement at the back of a spear has a huge effect on the tip of the spear.

    Like knives, it’s a pretty easy weapon to come across – even if they don’t give you one, easy to improvise one.

    There’s also a great deal of spear fighting that carries over perfectly to staff fighting (getting jabbed with the tip of a staff can still bloody hurt), and worst comes to worse, he can make a crude spear just by sharpening a stick. Pretty much everything you would learn wielding a spear can be applied to staff fighting.

    It’s technically against the rules to train tributes before they reach the Capitol but it happens every year.

    I can’t remember, do the books ever even give the barest bit of justification for why these three districts get away with training tributes, or is it just because they win more so they get more leeway so they break the rules so they win more? I assume the Capitol turns a blind eye to it, but… then why isn’t everyone else taking advantage of that? Having 24 trained kids would make for a more interesting match than having six trained kids slaughtering the other eighteen, so it can’t just be that the Capitol doesn’t care so long as it’s only a few…


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