Starts off extraordinarily well, doesn’t maintain it.
[Fear was when your fingers had grown so stiff and raw to hold a needle, unable to mend the tears in your clothes and shield yourself from the cold’s bite on your reddened skin.]
I think you mean “too stiff” or something similar, and you probably don’t need the final bit about reddened skin.
Well, that was an impressively hellish backstory. I like the idea of her standards being so skewed that she views fearing the games as a sign of weakness and luxury, although it makes me wonder what she has to motivate her to fight the capitol, when from her point of view their current state of existence is so good compared to how she grew up.
Very, very creepy to see the start of the career mindset. I like how you describe the change and you manage to make the eventual gameshow nature of it make sense.
And rather ironic that Mexican Spanish is now the language kept as a reminder of freedom.
[ we die for the district’s freedom,” She recited]
Should be “she”, no capitals.
Hm. I quite like the explosion – it’s nice to see the rebellion isn’t forgotten and people haven’t settled into acceptance yet. It was hard to follow all the characters, though – you introduce a lot of them and fast, so who’s who is kind of a muddle, and it’d have helped if there was a pause to list everyone. And it seems hard to believe that there’s been such a sudden change of opinions that the career kids are already devoted to the capitol. If anything, I’d have expected the issue to be that some of them realize they can get an advantage by killing people now – at least, so long as the capitol doesn’t just get replacements.
You don’t need the comma.
I’m surprised they didn’t take away the pills when he was done with them given they were trying to ration them. And given morphine hallucinations are rare, I’d be concerned it was a combination of that and something they’re all breathing. I doubt they’d know things for certain, but if you’re in a poisoned area and one person’s gone weird, it seems like you should be wary even if there’s one possible explanation. And the eulogy is a clever one.
I’m not sure I really get what Mags’ investment is. From the first chapter I just don’t get the sense she really has any idea of what the better, peacekeeper-free world would even look like. The arguments she’s making are those of an idealist, but otherwise she’s established as quite the opposite. [“Because seeing your loved ones thrashed bloody is so much less traumatizing than seeing a stranger shot!” Mags snapped back sarcastically.] from someone who thinks it’s silly to fear being chosen for a murder game? Neither of those things seem like something that’d upset her. It seems like if she’s willing to keep opposing the capitol it’s because she’s so numb to violence that she can endure either sight and keep on fighting, not because she views them as some great outrage.
Not sure of the POV switch either. Constantine was mostly interesting so far to me because he’s aloof enough it’s not immediately obvious quite where he stands and someone insulated and pro-capitol seemed different. But now you’ve shown him helping his friend save an abused kid so he’s a ridiculously good guy (how would that even be possible? There must be a database of every kid or else the reaping wouldn’t work properly, how can someone move a kid between families without it being found out almost immediately?).
[ sense of directions ]
[careful not to let the filthy young man’s attire, his graceless posture or his stench affect her manners. Yet she couldn’t help taking such pathetic looking rebels as a personal offense. It hurt to see such beings share the label true soldiers like her father had worn to the death.]
It really seems weird that this is what she’d care about, as well as having such a strong beauty=goodness thing going on when she describes everything Constantine does. Here’s someone who’d rather live in filth and poison than obeying the capitol, and her response is to think less of him for it? Her life is comparatively great because she and her family, like the rest of the district populations, work for their oppressors. How pretty did her family look while they were trapped on the island?
[Mags bristled, feeling her cheeks burn with anger. How could he, beardless so barely older than them, be so condescending? The rebellion had been about freedom and justice, not about feeling superior to the rest of humanity!
And here she is being hypocritical seconds later. At least he has a reason to think less of them – generally people on the capitol’s trains would be there because they’re working for the capitol, she didn’t say anything to indicate they’re for the mandatory oppression games. She comes off as terrible the whole conversation rather than righteous, like she’s just trying to score points and puff herself up as the real, proper sort of rebel.
Then it resolves with Constantine stepping in because he was grabbing for her scarf and chivalry demands he protect women from coarse men “molesting” them. I’m really hoping there’s some backlash soon for his noble bullshit.
Now she’s trying to get out of killing a peacekeeper. If she can’t even kill an already doomed guy who works for her enemy and if anything will probably just be tortured longer if she refuses, how did she expect to hunt down innocent children for the capitol’s entertainment on the off-chance it inspired her district to be slightly less awful than the worst of the careers? And how on earth can she support the rebellion which involves killing lots of people like him and getting lots of other people killed trying to do so?
[Mags latched on a circumspect-looking Constantine’s arm, feeling she would punch the shorter tribute if her hands were not occupied. She was the daughter of soldiers, soldiers with blood on their hands, but sullying one’s hand to indulge the cruelty of others was unspeakable.]
She’s really quite the fainting violet.
[“It would have been hypocritical to feel good about myself for not killing a man who would have simply been tortured longer before being killed. He’d never have escaped. Our survival is worth more than a condemned innocent’s life. ]
I’d like to be happy at least one of them is practical, but since when is he innocent? The peacekeepers are soldiers and they’re fighting a war. It’s one thing to be disgusted by their treatment of him, but they seem to all agree he shouldn’t have been harmed at all.
[ but mother has been teaching how to listen]
Mother’s used as a name and should be capitalized as such, and it should be “teaching me”.
Not sure what to think of the dreams, they seem to be going prophetic/meaningful for some reason.
[Fife: an european medieval transverse flute
Chican: from chicane, deceit]
Ugh. Why would people know the word for a specific flute? Why would the manyfaced character’s last name happen to say that about her – really, why would anyone want that as a last name?
Interesting to see the culture clash with the old plays, though I’m surprised they still have a concept of “politically correct”. I suppose the phrase might easily outlast the original meaning, or perhaps maybe it’s still a thing in Panem’s government among capitol citizens and their media?
[“Any questions that would not compromise my people’s safety?”
Mags tensed, finding the woman’s attitude rather predatory.]
It’s weird how she seems so set to assume the worst of their motives. They’re horrendously vulnerable to the capitol – sure, they’re dug in, but all the missiles have to do is collapse the tunnels on top of them. And these are three random kids, ones picked for a fight to the death who might well be able to bargain for their freedom with information about surviving rebels. And yet not wanting to answer a question about precisely where they’re getting the food they live off of is predatory?
…and now Mags is going off on the poor woman for not constantly announcing their existence so the capitol can kill them all. Where does she get the idea a bunch of people living in poisoned ruins whose greatest resource is books and barely have clothes on their backs have “the ability, the resources and the strength to do it”? And more, Chickaree’s right, we know the District Three people do know there’s people still there surviving and could go join them if they wanted. What more is she supposed to do to spread the word?
[The aristocratic boy’s eyes were hooded as he looked away. “If peacekeepers are stupid enough to obey an order to storm this stronghold, their deaths won’t be a great loss.”]
I really don’t get the impression the peacekeepers get to decide if they feel like following orders. If he’s going to rationalize it, it’d make more sense to just say no one would order it because he’s got an inflated idea of how smart the commanders are.
Your dialogue this chapter’s rather wonky – a lot of capitalizing after it when you shouldn’t, and some periods in place of commas.
[Mags wondered why all these people in age of reproducing didn’t, or if they did, where the children and teenagers were. There were over two thousand rebels, yet the Citadel could house ten times more, maybe a hundred times more. ]
I don’t understand why it doesn’t occur to her that maybe they can’t support any more than they have.
This place seems to be just a mini-Thirteen, right down to the characters assuming the worst about even the more innocuous things. The most likely explanation for why people don’t talk much isn’t that they’re being crushed down to make obedient cogs, it’s that they don’t trust her.
Maybe I’m really jaded, but I’m just…not seeing why cannibalism is an unspeakable horror. It must have happened a lot during the war itself when people starved. Four especially should be familiar with it because it’s the kind of thing that happens when you’re out in a boat and things go wrong. And it’s the sort of thing that likely would have happened on the island Mags was marooned on. It’s definitely pretty disturbing that there’s packs of cannibals running around the ruins, but that’s mostly because regularly eating people implies either a degree of choice (and by implication that the people involved are pretty crazy) or that things are far, far more desperate out there than anyone admitted. (Regardless, the neck shouldn’t look “bitten”. Human jaws struggle to get through meat and certainly aren’t going to get through a spinal column, and you’d starve to death eating raw meat anyway. The whole thing sounds more like some weird ritual.)
But going right from that to cleanse with fire isn’t exactly any saner.
So – these people won’t kill the scavengers because they’re related, although if they care so much you think they’d try to feed them. But apparently they think it’s perfectly moral to hand strangers grenades and tell them to do whatever they feel is right. And somehow Mags who’s jumped on everything else doesn’t point out they’re being cowards here, or to accuse them of lying when they said people could come and join earlier.
[handed them two maps of the nine levels of the sewer]
What? That should be one of their biggest secrets! They don’t even like people giving up information like what district they were born in and they’re okay handing something that the capitol could use to easily wipe them out to strangers?
[“So people are kicked out of the Citadel for some reason and resort to cannibalism. Cool. Do you think we’ll make some sense of this before we die?” Fife wondered.]
I’d go with the Citadel doesn’t have the resources to sustain a larger population, the area beyond is a wasteland, they apparently think it’s more moral to exile people to die slowly than to just kill them. The only unclear bit is whether or not people are actually trapped in Three’s dead area or if they could head for greener pastures. The fact they stay would imply the first but the fact the Citadel has people from other areas means the scavengers should be able to get out too.
…and now they find the place is already on fire. That seems really, really bad after the repeated mentions that lighting a fire is a bad idea, and even if somehow it won’t head down a level to where they are it should be sucking up all their oxygen. How are they so calm about this? Fires spread.
[Most people were bland and interchangeable. The aristocratic boy had no desire to waste time interacting with them and failed to see why some insisted there was a value to every life. ]
So his objection to cannibalism really does just boil down to that it’s gross. He could just as easily be going off to genocide people for eating bugs.
[A scavenger of remarkable ugliness bounced out of the darkness, badly concealing a limp.]
She’s ugly and crippled, so she must be evil.
And yes. Despite being a preteen, she’s a psychotic monster. I suppose since we’re only in Constantine’s head this time there’s no way to tell for certain that neither of the others feel the slightest sense of sympathy at a pathetic, crippled child raised in such horrible circumstances, but there’s no sign of it. And despite it not making sense, apparently their culture revolves around hunting down people for food.
And now we learn Constantine has a deranged girlfriend back home who he’s fine with killing people, but naturally she’s pretty.
[ I expect my readers not to take what my characters say as gospel. It would be dreadfully boring if they all had politely correct mainstream beliefs.]
The problem from my view has more to do with how very much they seem to agree with little evidence that’s meant to highlight some sort of cultural aspect of Panem. Like how absolutely everyone trusts Constantine because he’s pretty, for a minor issue. Not everyone likes the pretty aristocrat – some people should feel threatened by it or resent him for it.
[“In twenty minutes, I’m using those grenades.” Constantine mouthed as Chase pushed them towards the exit.
Mags hoped she could hold that long. This was wrong on so many levels.]
So now the other group is saying they’re not responsible for all the cannibalism either, it’s a few bad apples, and also full of kids and people who seem coherent and aren’t trying to bite their faces off, but apparently she’s forgotten she said earlier it’d be wrong to kill everyone just because of a couple people’s crimes. But I guess it’s fine because the fact they said only a couple crazies actually murder people is a lie based on…the fact there were murders? For that matter, given their group’s sheer disgust at these people’s very appearance, it seems increasingly plausible for them to be eating the dead and the people who are trying to kill them first.
The issue with her friend seems forced – what she’s actually going, going around peacekeepers and capitol regulation to help people out, seems something even the bitterest rebel would approve of. I can see a con artist thinking it was a better idea to slant things further, but not why her friend never just told the truth before now. She wouldn’t even have had to say the details.
[“If we were in the Capitol, these could very well be the real Games. No canons, no arena but the Capitol is watching,” Mags whispered.]
Huh. I had been thinking it’d have been interesting for the games that year to have just been following the kids trying to reach the capitol through a wasteland. And that’d explain how much insanity is packed into so tight a space and the horror-movie-cliche of deformed cannibal sewer people. But they seem to be assuming the area they’re in is real, as are the rebels.
It is a great explanation for the dreams and I’m glad the answer wasn’t psychic powers after all.
[Behind her grin, a part of Fife despaired at the bubbling attachment warming her heart at the sight of the other two tributes. She swallowed back tears. If these were a twisted version of the Games, only one would win.]
…but if it isn’t, then they’d get to the capitol and then enter into the games where only one could win, so it’s not like that changes anything.
I’m really curious how things can possibly get from here to Victor Mags, given she’s been incredibly open about rebel sympathies the whole time.
So – they get a piece of paper claiming the capitol isn’t able to track them exactly and just noticed they hit some key words, and it doesn’t occur to worry that maybe they’re broadcasting every word they say?
Eugh, so two of the girls don’t get to wear clothes for their interview but it’s okay Constantine is leering and shaming them for that because Mags thinks they’re jerks.
[ She knew that she was making allowances for Constantine now that she actually was fond of him, but she had much more respect for people who were unpleasant in order to honor promises made to their relatives than for people who whined about their tragic bad luck and expected to be comforted by tributes who were equally doomed. ]
And where do the people who were trying to be sympathetic to others fall?
Her character is making less sense to me by the chapter. At this point the closest thing she has to a consistent character is that she’s an unbelievable hypocrite who judges everyone as scum unless they’re a pretty guy. She won’t kill an actual peacekeeper, a job that as far as I can tell you have to choose, but fights to restrain herself from immediately lighting an entire community on fire because she doesn’t like their leader. She thinks the people actually free from the capitol should be launching a suicidal rebellion but it’s fine that she and her family do nothing.
[“There was a target on Mirabelle’s bosom,” she said.
Lila’s voice was rich with anger and scorn. “You’d defend that jerk and speak ill of the dead?”
Mags’ eyes flashed. “The dead deserve to be remembered as they were, good and bad. People’s mistakes do not vanish with their death. Constantine was maybe the one truly honest speaker that night.]
So she was defending him a moment ago as just playing the game and trying to get a rise out of people for the sake of winning which is somehow a virtue, but now apparently no, he was just being honest about the fact he’s a horrible piece of shit and I guess that’s a virtue, and also I guess the fact Mirabelle was forced to wear a humiliating outfit is her fault. And from the trip into his head we know he’s okay with his friends murdering innocent people for fun if they want to.
What is she even fighting for? Loyalty to her family and their one version of rebellion? No one else seems to be good enough to deserve freedom or even basic respect from her. All she seems to care about beyond that is how pretty someone is and if they have a dick.
Yeah, I’ve pretty much lost track of this story or why I should care about them.
The opening was interesting and the initial setup great. And I really do like the memory wipe reveal, it’s quite clever and the twist of the dreams was great. The more you develop the characters, though, the more insane they ended up being. Constantine’s psychology is beyond me – he jumps from someone who’s just not too interested in most people to a psychopath and back constantly, there’s nothing human when you directly write his thought processes. He just does stuff because he does stuff. Fife is the only one who works decently, and she’s pretty over the top for a tribute, making them super-anything seems like it’s missing the point of this being made up mostly of random kids. And Mags started off well and fell off a cliff. Nothing about her makes sense from bit to bit by now, the only consistent thing is thinking Constantine is hot and judging everyone by if they’re pretty. She keeps insisting that it’s important to treat people as people, but it seems she only does that so she can be extra outraged when those people don’t live up to her standards and extra sure murdering all of them is a good idea. I have absolutely no idea how much of her viewpoint you endorse and how much is supposed to be her being flawed and I stopped caring a while ago because regardless she’s way too horrible for me to want to read about her as a hero. Every chapter I have less understanding of what her actual goals are or why she supports the rebellion when she has more sympathy for a peacekeeper than she does the rebels or tributes and seems to be disgusted by every suggestion of human weakness she actually sees even as she uses hypothetical human weakness to defend the justness of rebellion. The arguments between characters are impossible to follow, it’s mostly just Mags yelling indignantly at people based on stuff that only barely connects with what they actually said.
Everything from the cannibals on is just too over the top to really take seriously. If you want a crazy villainous group, having them be radical separatists who murder anyone who comes from the districts would have done fine, you didn’t need to have an ugly crippled girl cackling about how she’s going to get the best bites now. And knowing they’re bugged and this is part of the games I can’t figure out why they’re still messing around with the rebels.
And the whole trust thing makes no sense either for characters whose goal has always been to get to the capitol to go plan a game where they have to murder each other.
There’s just no sense the people here are people. Fife’s external change on a dime personality is more consistent and understandable than the inside of their heads, their thought process makes no sense at all to me.