Age of the Geek, Baby (lorax) wrote,
Age of the Geek, Baby

Books and Games

Herein lies the second of my "mostly written up and shoved in shovebox to post later" posts. This one is mostly about books and gaming.

The upside of the health crap is that I've had a lot of time to read. I've read a lo of fic, because I am a dork, but I also tore through all three Hunger Games novels. (Note, I have a goodreads account, but no clue how to use it yet really.)

Firstly, I realize that I am probably not at all rational on the topic of these books. In my family, I grew up on three kinds of movies: Mel Brooks, Arnold Schwarzenegger (referred to in our house as Schwarzenbagel), and Period Dramas. The first two were from my dad, who loves all things Action Movie and sci-fi, the last from my mom.

Growing up though, there were some movies I could QUOTE. Mel Brooks movies, and Arnold movies were some of them. I saw Running Man when I was too young to probably reasonably be watching it as often as I actually did, but I WATCHED THE HELL out of that movie.

I've always loved post-apocalyptic stuff, and dystopian stories and all of that, so the super-violent, game-show-esque set up of that movie appealing to wee!Dena. (I also loved Logan's Run, and watched that a million times, so yes. I was a weird child.) Which pretty much meant I was destined to love the Hunger Games.

The world built is an equal mix of horrifying and fascinating. Collins' writing style is incredibly jarring, and can be grating because of it, but it always feels like that jarring style has a PURPOSE, because it makes the action scenes feel very immediate. Which is something I can't help but appreciate in a writer, because when I write, I struggle like CRAZY with action scenes. My habit of being too fond of passive voice works against me. Collins does an awesome job of creating tension, which makes me very forgiving of her flaws.

I also may be in the minority, I have no idea, but I really LIKED that she didn't make her narrator incredibly likable. Unlike Smeyer with Twilight, it felt like an actual narrative choice to make Katniss not that sympathetic right off the bat, rather than a writer creating a reader proxy through the laziest methods ever. Katniss' hang ups and bitterness were VERY understandable, but it still didn't make for a character who was easy to love from the start. As you go through the horrors of Katniss' life, you slowly come to understand her more and more, and it makes the girl you knew at the start of the books become more meaningful, when you see the girl at the finish.

They are far from FLAWLESS books, and frankly I have no earthly idea how they're going to FILM them without making them an R rating, because they are SERIOUSLY FUCKED UP VIOLENT, but I did really enjoy them, in a "holy shit, this is awful" way, which is kind of frequently my favorite kind of story anyway. My favorite characters were the side characters (Cinna, Haymitch, Effie, Johanna, Finnick, etc), but I did come to really like Katniss as well.

I'm also preemptively pissed off about the casting of the movie. ALL WHITE LEADS, REALLY? BAH. Casting Katniss as white means that Prim will also be cast as white. (Which isn't nonsensical, given Katniss looks like her dad, and Prim like her mom, but still.) Casting Gale as white means the brief glimpses we get of his family will be all white. . . Bah. WHY? I can see the reasoning they'll use for casting Gale as white when Katniss is white (they're said to look alike enough to be related), but that doesn't explain the choice in the FIRST DAMN PLACE. They cast an excellent actress, but she's too old. (I understand aging her up a little, given child labor laws, but considering there will be THREE of these and she's already old enough that they'd have to say Katniss is at the top of the Hunger Games eligibility going into the first book unless they bork up the Tribute system, I just don't like the choice.) The little girl they cast is Rue is ADORABLE, and I'm hoping she'll be amazing, but it feels like tokenism at this point, and it bugs me.

I loved that within the books, the story doesn't progress along lines that I expected. In some ways it does of course, but in many of the details and plot progression, I was genuinely shocked and eager to see what came next. The main love triangle issue that seems to divide the fandom was. . . really not something I cared too much about? I think Katniss ending up with Peeta makes perfect sense though. She and Gale were alike, and much as they made a flawless team at times, they would also fuel one another's weaknesses. Peeta came form a different perspective and brought something different to her life. I also don't think Katniss necessarily CHOSE Peeta. Gale was taken out of the picture, and she felt relief but honestly I read that as relief that she was no longer being ASKED to choose as easily as it could have been relief that she didn't have to tell him. And without Gale there to complicate things, Peeta and her had time to heal and grow into something more natural together. Removing Gale from the scenario was, in some ways, an easy out, but the progression still made sense to me. I'm not shippy about either of them, but was satisfied with the conclusion to the romance aspect, and VERY satisfied with the completion of the bigger storylines. I was genuinely broken up by some of the character deaths, which I think is telling in a story with as MANY of them as this one had.

So yeah, if bleak YA is your thing, then read the Hunger Games, totally worth it.

In between excessive naptimes, I did finish my first playthrough of Dragon Age II. I haven't played any more since my first play through, given most of my time at home is spent sleeping. (SO TIRED ALL THE TIME.) But I remain kind of obsessed with it, and the world and characters. I sort of want to go poke around for a fandom, but I'm afraid of all the Sue-fic that must come with writing Hawke or the Warden with various companions. (I know there's an RP on IJ that I keep eying too, but it looks like it's pretty established and thus intimidating. Plus I'm not joining anything else until I regularly feel less like death.)

Still. The desire for Varric, Fenris, and Isabela fic is strong. (Also Alistair, Morrigan, Anders, and SHALE. ILU SHALE.) In the end, I kind of LIKED that the storyline was so tightly focused on Kirkwall. Having a sense of time and change was nice. (Though I think there should have been some more OBVIOUS physical change. Hello, Fenris, clean up your damn house. You live there for how many years and there's still BODIES?) I do think there should still have been some more variety in the areas, and a field trip away or two in the span of the game's timeline. (Other than the Deep Roads, of course.)

Varric is mah favorite companion. I ended up not romancing ANYONE because Fenris was continually pissy about my siding with mages, and Merrill was pissed about me not helping her with her mirror, and my Hawke thought Anders and Justice were too much of a crazycakes combo for him, and Isabela split.

My favorite companion storyline I think was hooking Aveline up with Donnick, which was ADORABLE. I've seen a lot of people who were touched by the Leandra storyline, but I was sort of meh on it. I think I've just seen that plot device - the Frankenstein-assembled-bride thing - too many times. So I think in terms of long-term storylines, that was my least favorite, or at least the emotional payoff was less than what I think they wanted it to be.

I liked that the mage-templar showdown came to a head, but I was. . . a little disappointed with it? It's hard to articulate, but I think my main problem was that there was NO major mage character, aside from Bethany, who my Hawke didn't see for the majority of the game, who DIDN'T turn to blood magic and go nuts. I understand WHY they had Orsino do so, but I would have preferred to have one who was an example that could be pointed to as a mage who wasn't completely nuts. (Again, yes, Bethany, but someone else.)

I also didn't like using the statue for Meredith to go nuts. Again, it made perfect sense, and it was foreshadowed, but I think the natural tension between the Templars and the Mages was such that it didn't NEED the deus ex machina of crazy. And it would have made more sense and actually had a deeper impact if it had just been zealotry run amuck instead of MAGIC STATUE MADE HER CRAZY.

Quibbles aside though, I did really enjoy it. I squeed at the cameos from Origins characters, and was genuinely interested in the backstories of the companions, and in what was happening in the city. I loved that there IS no moral high ground or middle path, half the time. I also liked that the conversation choices started shifting to echo the choices you made earlier. (A snarky Hawke got more consistently snarky options, even when picking the nice one.)

Also my Hawke wasn't white-white, but he was light enough that I thought that Bethany/Carver/Leandra were all white, but after fixing some monitor display issues, and restarting the origin story again with a much darker Hawke, just to see if it fixed a bug I had the first time, I realized that the family characters all changed to be in line with the skin tone and such of the Hawke you made, so I was wrong about that, and am happy to have been wrong about it. (I'd still have wished for a chance for a non-human Hawke, but I'm over being disappointed by it.)

I was also pleasantly surprised by the fact that the game ran better on my compy, which still runs XP, than Origins did. I liked the redesign on the Quanari and the elves (though I hated the way Fenris would stand, and shift his weight weirdly at rest, it always looked like he had to pee, or had stepped in something.) I also have an inappropriate crush on the head Quanari dude. (His voice is sexy, I can't help it.) I DO still wish that there were more body model options, so that not EVERY human female has gravity defying boobs and you could have some more variety. I was irritated by the cleavage on Leandra, and Flameth. (I didn't mind Flameth having an upgrade to badass, but she didn't need the cleavage window.) I really, really wished Isabela had pants. (I totally don't mind sexy, but I want PRACTICAL sexy.)

I do want to play through again, with a different Origins import to get some differences there, and try with a mage!Hawke, and actually give the romance options a shot. I'm not sure when I'll get to it, but sometime!

This entry was originally posted at dreamwidth, and has comment count unavailable comments.

Tags: book talk, fandom - dragon age, fandom - the hunger games, gaming talk

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