(Note: blog posts may be few and far between for the next while as I recover from an injury)
Remember how I spent the entire last post complaining about how it makes no god damn sense for the rebels to be able to attack the palace over and over again? WELL,
The attack was so inconsequential, according to the king, that it barely warranted notice.
ANY ATTACK ON THE PALACE WARRANTS NOTICE
It’s like there’s some alternate universe version of this story where the rebels are repeatedly attacking and raiding locations around the capital city, which would be much more believable, and then at the last minute there was a hasty editing job to change it so they’re constantly attacking the palace itself.
I learned that for every dozen people I saw in the palace, there were a hundred or more behind them.
How big is this place? The descriptions make it seem like a decently sized mansion of the sort that an A-list actor would live in, whereas hundreds of staff members would point more toward a huge government building like the White House, which serves as much more than just an official residence.
The cooks and laundresses I knew about, but there were also people whose sole job was to keep the windows clean. It took a solid week for the team to get them all done, by the end of which the dust would find its way past the palace walls and cling to the clean glass, and they’d have to be washed all over again.
…are we supposed to find it surprising that there are people employed to clean windows, and that this is a job that needs to be done repeatedly? Because neither of those two facts is at all surprising.
There’s a long, baffling conversation between Maxon and America where Maxon suggests that they need some kind of signal to indicate to each other that one of them wants to speak to the other. I’m not sure why he feels this way, since he can waltz into her room any time he wants (he does it at the start of this conversation).
I looked in the mirror. I still looked like me. It was the prettiest version of myself I’d seen so far, but I knew that face. Ever since my name had been drawn, I’d feared I would become something unrecognizable—covered in layers of makeup and so hung down with jewelry that I’d have to dig out of it for weeks to find myself again. So far, I was still America.
Apart from moping about Aspen–which she hasn’t actually done all that much since her first night panic attack–this is basically the entirety of America’s character arc and internal conflict: vague, generic worry that her time at the palace is going to change her in some nebulous way. It’s not very compelling.
I would have watched a little longer, but Silvia, in all her glory, came to escort me into place.
I just about managed to remember who this side character is, unlike all the rest of them (she’s the Effie Trinket-esque woman who tells the Selected what to do).
“You may sit anywhere you like. So you know, most of the girls have already claimed the front row.” She looked sorry for me, as if she were delivering bad news.
“Oh, thank you,” I said, and went happily to take a seat in the back.
At every opportunity, this book avoids conflict and tension.
America got Selected, but (barring her odd freak out that one time) isn’t actually all that bothered by it.
She has to appear in front of cameras and interact with throngs of fans, but it turns out she’s totally a natural at it, to the extent that she doesn’t even realize how awesome she is.
She has no privacy and loses most of her independence, down to being dressed by other people, but she’s more or less entirely blase about it.
She kicked Prince Maxon in the groin, but there were no consequences and if anything it brought them closer together.
Rebels “attack” the palace, but they just throw some shit at the windows and then leave at the first sign of resistance.
And then we have smaller events like this, where more or less everything goes the way America wants it to. She’s rarely forced to do something she finds frightening or uncomfortable, and when she does, it invariably turns out fine. All of this makes the book a total snooze-fest to read.
Her dress was a brilliant yellow. With her blond hair and sun-kissed skin, she looked like she was radiating light into the room.
“Marlee, I love that dress. You look fantastic!”
I really can’t wait for Marlee to get un-Selected so the book can stop pretending anyone except America actually has a chance at winning.
Just in front of us, Amy turned around.
There were several girls in seductive reds and lively greens, but no one else in blue. Olivia had gone so far as to wear orange. I’d admit that I didn’t know that much about fashion, but Marlee and I both agreed that someone should have intervened on her behalf. The color made her skin look kind of green.
It’s been made pretty clear that America’s maids are the ones choosing all of her outfits for her, so I don’t know why she’s judging other girls’ fashion choices, unless the book decided to retcon itself so she’d have a chance to be superior to someone.
Many of the announcements tied into the rebels, placing blame for certain things on their shoulders. The roads being built in Sumner were behind schedule because of the rebels, and the number of local officers in Atlin was down because they’d been sent to help with a rebel-caused disturbance in St. George. I had no idea either of those things had happened.
This sounds like a move right out of the autocrat’s playbook: constantly invoke the specter of an outside enemy who you can blame all of your administration’s shortcomings (or even natural disasters) on. Communist governments were particularly fond of it– if you’ve read Animal Farm, the running plot point where every problem on the farm is blamed on Snowball (the Trotsky analogue) is a satire of this.
Actually now that I think about it, maybe there is a good explanation for how the rebels keep managing to gain access to the palace, and why they conveniently never manage to kill anyone important or do anything else that would cause serious damage…
And then, as if he had appeared out of thin air, Gavril was walking on set after being introduced by the Master of Events.
Who is Gavril again
I felt the little beads of sweat pooling on my temple. Sit here and look nice… I could do that. But answer questions?
You’ve already done that a bunch of times and had no issue.
Even when the book does try to go for tension, it totally falls flat.
Just before Gavril’s microphone reached Maxon’s face, I caught his eye and gave him a wink. That tiny action was enough to make him smile.
Nope these characters totally aren’t going to end up together, America is just in the competition for the money. Wouldn’t it be ever so shocking if that turned out not to be the case?
“So she’s still with us, then?” Gavril looked over at the collection of girls, grinning widely, and then returned to face his prince.
“Oh, yes. She’s still here,” Maxon said, not letting his eyes wander from Gavril’s face. “And I plan on keeping her here for quite a while.”
DRAMATIC CHAPTER ENDING
It’s not entirely clear that America realizes Maxon is talking about her here. Then I started wondering if we’re meant to realize that it’s her; if we are, then that seems like a bad idea since characters not figuring out things out at the same time as the reader is one of the most frustrating things a book can do.