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Bad bike; some books; I killed a man

I think something is wrong with bikey. Rather than driving smoothly in first, she sort of goes "hurr hurr hurr" and pulls unevenly unless I'm really revving. It's possible she was overheating, as I was driving around a labyrinthine business park at the time, going really slowly and staring about at all these buildings like DUDE EVERYTHING LOOKS THE SAME I'M NEVER GETTING OUT HERE, but I dunno.

I checked her oil, which is fine, pumped up the tyres and lubed the chain in the hope it randomly has something to do with those things instead, but if it persists when I head out again on Wednesday I think I'll be forking out money I do not really have for a garage visit. Sadness, I have it.

In other news, I decided to go against recommendation and read parts two and three of the Hunger Games trilogy.

I have to agree with the books' detractors: a lot of what makes Katniss so brilliant in the first book is diminished in these. She isn't as resourceful and she isn't as hellbent on survival, either - at least, not as cleverly. The personality traits that tripped her up before (her stubbornness, her weakness on the stage) seem overdone in this. There is no great sense of character progression, and the rut she languishes in annoyed me because she seems so unwilling to tackle it. She skives training; she relies on others and gives little back.

That said, I still enjoyed both books. In fact, I enjoyed Mockingjay immensely. I stayed up until five in the morning reading it, and then I was so pumped up on it afterward that I was awake until seven writing my own stuff.

Alright, Katniss isn't her brilliant self in either book, but a lot of that's down to Collins' commitment to the reality of oppression and violence. Katniss doesn't naturally think out of the box because she has been taught, like all of Panem, to keep her head down; she fears the Resistance because she has so many people to lose; and her experiences in the Hunger Games have scarred her deeply with PTSD and depression.

War is relentless in Mockingjay. People are killed; allies stoop lower and lower for vengeance. I don't want to spoil anything if anyone else has been as late to the party as me, but there's a scene down in the sewers that I thought was fantasy horror perfection. The final blow of the war forced me to stop reading and digest for a good fifteen minutes before I could push on. Collins really doesn't hold back: if something more dreadful could happen, it does.

I found the romance elements (I'm actually dead sketchy about calling them romance, if I'm honest. The boy trouble elements) neutered the finale, mind you. In fact, the way Katniss was jerked back out of the action to heal up in a bedroom while everyone else handled the fallout bothered me too. But, yeah, by the end of that book I did not feel she should have been with either of the love interests. I think it would have been braver to set her free of both of them. Alas, 'twas not so.

So: good for war and world building and oh-god-make-it-stop relentlessness. Maybe not so good if you're hoping for Katniss the survivalist.

Aaand, in further news, I hit a hella snag in my novel the other day. The sort of snag that is going to take me maybe a month to work around. The kind of snag that would be better described as a massive rip the size of Saturn. I was sufficiently crushed by this that I ended up physically sick, which was great.

Fortunately, the rigour of my 2k a day January took me to the toilet to vomit up my woes, then back to my desk, where I took out a completely different story, Shadow Ascending, read through its existing chapters, thought "hm", and promptly spat out a full plan for the rest of the story.

I am not good at planning. My novel sports the scars of this fact. For the vast majority of a story to just plop out of my head... that's just unheard of.

I'm writing it up properly now, and I've just reached the point where one of my characters dies. You know what? I haven't killed a character in ages. I'm so much out of practice that when I came to describe it I felt odd about the whole thing. I used to relish knocking characters off. This time I felt for them a bit.

Maybe I should just kill the character who forms the snag in my novel. Maybe that's a good way to deal with all problems I face in life.