NaNo Day 22: CATCHING FIRE Movie Reaction

I’m warning you ahead of time: THIS IS FULL OF SPOILERS. I’m not going to white it out because if you haven’t read Catching Fire yet and therefore don’t know what the plot’s like, that’s your fault more than mine. But also, if you don’t want to be spoiled about the changes from page to screen, don’t read on, because that’s going to be a focus of this reaction post.

(If you want a faster take on reactions, here’s a link to the video Hannah, our friend Emily, and I made last night right after the movie.)

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Where do I begin.

I. LOVED. THIS. MOVIE.

If something was weak in The Hunger Games, they made sure to make it strong in this one. At first I was sad when they ditched old director Gary Ross for Francis Lawrence, but oh my gosh, Lawrence went above and beyond with Catching Fire. He took the movie in a direction I don’t think Ross would have, and I’m so glad he did. The cinematography was beautiful and he used just enough shaky cam to harken back to The Hunger Games, and THE SPECIAL EFFECTS!

The fake fire actually looked like they tried a little on it this time. The fog was thoroughly and appropriately frightening (and a whole lot scarier than it was in the book–I actually didn’t want to continue watching that scene partway through because it was so freaky, which means that it was also really well done). The monkeys were incredible, and I loved how they portrayed the force fields. A lot more money must have been spent on special effects this time ’round.

The entire cast shines in Catching Fire. I wasn’t even all that annoyed with Liam Hemsworth, who I thought was terrible in the first one. (His accent has improved so much! Still not quite there, but not so awful that I noticed it every time he spoke.) Every once in a while one of the actors did something or said a line in a certain way that didn’t quite work for me, but I mean, that’s always going to happen, so no big deal.

Individually, Jennifer Lawrence is, well, Jennifer Lawrence. There were a couple times when I thought Katniss should have shown how she was confused more, while Jen just sort of stood there and frowned into the distance (all she had to do was furrow her brow a little! come on). Overall, though, she is Jennifer. Lawrence. Fantastic job. She brings so much depth to the character in just the fact that she is so subtle about the majority of her acting (and then sometimes she makes faces like the one in the elevator when Joanna strips naked, and you’re reminded that this is also the girl who regularly talks about bodily functions in interviews, here). I can’t wait to see how she handles Katniss’s emotional journey in the next two films, because girl. can. act.

Josh Hutcherson‘s Peeta was SO MUCH BETTER in this one than in The Hunger Games, primarily because we actually got to SEE him this time. We got Peeta’s sarcasm and self-deprecating humor, and you could really see how much he cares about Katniss. (Also: I don’t know how they did it, but he seemed taller in this one. Or at least not-quite-as-short-in-comparison-with-Katniss.)

Sam Claflin is FANTASTIC as Finnick. I was a little bit scared going in to see how he’d do, but he was great. His accent was wonderful and he very much embodies Finnick’s vibe. I’m worried about how attached we’re all going to get to him in Mockingjay Parts 1 + 2.

Love the rest of the new cast members as well. They did a good job of making you fall in love with these new tributes in a short period of time. Whereas with the last movie you weren’t really supposed to like any of the tributes outside of Katniss, Peeta, and Rue, this time the moviemakers work for you to fall in love with or at least respect all of the others, which makes the entire thing so much more disgusting and heartbreaking. When I went to see The Hunger Games at midnight, there were a few moments when one of the antagonist-type tributes died and everybody cheered and applauded, just like the Capitol citizens. There’s none of that this time. The only cheers and applause in my theater were for when people rebelled against the Capitol. They took the theme of “remember who the real enemy is” to heart while making this. Good for them.

Great performances by the supporting cast, as usual, especially Donald Sutherland (Snow), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Plutarch) Elizabeth Banks (Effie), Stanley Tucci (Caesar), and Woody Harrelson (Haymitch). When Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) gets beaten to death–oh my gosh. I sobbed. That was such a well-paced scene, and exactly how I pictured it in the book, especially with Katniss then being thrust up into the arena right afterward.

Loved getting to see some of the old tributes again. The moment when Katniss goes all PTSD and thinks she’s shot Marvel again is chilling, not to mention seeing the projections of the tributes–seeming so alive up there above their grieving families–during the Victory Tour. It broke my heart. And RUE’S FAMILY. Did anyone else notice how it’s just her mother and younger siblings, because her father rebelled during the last movie and therefore, more than likely, is dead at this point? Just thinking through that made it so much worse. That family has lost so much.

For everything they cut, it was interesting that they added a character for this film–President Snow’s granddaughter, played by Erika Bierman. She was barely in the movie but was very good at being a sort of foil to Snow’s hatred for Katniss; she loves the Girl on Fire for the exact reasons her grandfather hates her. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with her character in Mockingjay. I’m hoping we get some juxtaposition between her and Prim.

Why was Buttercup so different? Like I get that you probably can’t get the same cat again, but at least try to make it LOOK like the same cat, you know? (HG Buttercup is black and white; this one is an orange tabby.) (Also, I was looking for pictures of the cats from both movies to prove that this is a real thing and I’m not just crazy for thinking they changed cats, and this popped up. I understand them wanting to make the cat look the way he’s supposed to in the books, but at the same time–you already messed it up, so why not embrace your mistake rather than trying to backtrack when it’s already too late? Weird.)

Catching Fire overall is very true to the book. Of course they left some things out (primarily: a lot of the stuff from the beginning chapters of the book, the way the mockingjay symbol has spread throughout the Capitol as a fashion symbol, Plutarch Heavensbee’s watch, and the bread in the arena). I think the movie functioned fine without all of it, though, and looking back on it I’m actually sort of glad they left out the mockingjay watch, because in the context of the film it would have been too obvious. In books, you can lay little clues like that and keep them muddled under layers of other storylines going on. In movies, because you can’t have Katniss’s here-and-now thoughts distracting you from the actual meaning behind something, every little thing seems much more deliberate and therefore easier to figure out.

Catching Fire really hits its stride once we reach the reaping. Ahead of that I thought a lot of the pacing was dodgy. Either a scene was too short or too long, half the time. But the pacing from the reaping, out, is perfect.

One of my very few disappointments with the movie was that they never watched any of the old Hunger Games, so we never got to see how Haymitch won the Games. I adore that scene in the book, and while the movie works fine without it, it still would have been nice.

One of my favorite lines is Effie explaining the new training center, because in the book that isn’t a thing–the training center and apartment and all that are the same ones throughout the entire trilogy. So I’m glad they chose to explain it instead of just doing it and leaving us to be confused. (And Effie’s line about “An entire room of mahogany” or whatever! What a great throwaway comment to use as an Easter Egg for fans.)

When Katniss hangs the dummy of Seneca Crane and she takes the time to paint on the beard–I practically had to stuff my fist in my mouth to keep from laughing, because nobody else in my theater did at that point, but wow. What a great detail.

The arena is gorgeous, and it’s because of that fact, in part, that it’s so horrible. Watching the trailers I kept thinking that it was such a beautiful location, it would be hard to be scared of it watching the movie. Nope. That place is basically scary as all get out and I was ready to get out the moment we arrived. I’m going to see this in IMAX next week and I don’t know how I’m going to handle it, because it’s going to be terrifying.

I was a little bit annoyed at first that we didn’t get to see an of the reactions back in the districts during the Games the way we got to in The Hunger Games, but at the same time I think NOT being able to see what was going on there was important for how the overall arc of this story played out.

One thing I’m a little, tiny bit iffy on is the fact that we got to see Peeta fight other tributes. He probably fights a bit in the book and I just don’t remember it, but it would have been nice if they’d made more of the point that Peeta is the only decent victor and the only one who probably cares more for others than he does about his own survival, since that’s such an important part to bring back in Mockingjay.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the musical score. They tried to remain very true to the score from the first movie, only the feel of this movie is so different from The Hunger Games, so it didn’t work as effectively as a score should. Not terrible, but it did pull me out of the movie every once in a while.

The only things they left out I was really disappointed about were Cinna’s line about channeling his emotions into his work so that he doesn’t hurt anyone but himself and the fact that they never mentioned the baby again after the initial announcement in the Capitol. There were several instances when Peeta or Joanna or Finnick easily could have just let an off-hand comment slide about Katniss being pregnant, like in the book, but none of them ever did it. If you aren’t going to keep up the charade, what’s the point in starting it to begin with? Both of these things–Cinna’s line and the pregnancy–would have been so easy to include, I don’t know why they didn’t.

Lol at the pictures they chose for the locket. Aren’t those promotional shots from The Hunger Games, made to look old-timey? Effie gets the locket for Peeta, which means that it’s made in the Capitol. The Capitol has uber technology. Let’s think this one through, shall we?

I cried so much throughout this movie. Just every little thing set me off. I don’t know if it’s because I’m really stressed out about stuff right now, so I’m kind of high-strung anyway, or because the movie really is that good. But I cried SO. MUCH. There were more than a few points when just everyone in the theater was sobbing. Bring tissues if you don’t want to snot all over your neighbor.

There’s so much more kissing in this movie than last time! I was really annoyed in The Hunger Games when they were like, “Oh, yeah, we’re going to up the romantic elements!” AND THEN THERE WAS LIKE ONE GOOD KISS PERIOD. Rest assured, this one makes up for that deficit. (It’s hilarious when Katniss kisses Peeta right after Finnick gets his heart restarted because you can see a little bit of slobber action going on. This is great just because the cast talks so much about a take for that scene when there was spit hanging out everywhere and it’s like, “Yup. I can see how that happened.”)

Remind me to write a wildly popular novel set in Hawaii someday, so they’ll make a movie about it and I can hang out on set all day. What lucky ducks, getting to shoot there.

The costumes are magnificent. Some of them aren’t true to the books, but I love the interpretations. The wedding dress is gorgeous despite the fact that it doesn’t resemble the one from the books at all. It’s also interesting how they did the tribute uniforms different this time around–last time, the colors were different depending on district. This time they were all identical. Underlying message from Plutarch Heavensbee?

A couple random little things that they changed that don’t really matter, but are worth mentioning: The countdown only goes for ten seconds instead of sixty. Peeta can swim (and, apparently, fight in water). When Mags walks into the fog, Finnick freaks out about it rather than just going along with it more, like he does in the book (I partway like this, partway don’t–it’s nice to see how much he cares for Mags, but at the same time it made me question how much this interpretation of Finnick knows about what’s going on).

Loved the change in how the Peacekeepers take over District Twelve. When they bag the old Head Peacekeeper as he’s welcoming Thread to 12, it was so well-done. Great moment. (I feel like such a terrible person applauding their ability to portray evil in this film, but seriously, WELL DONE.)

When Katniss shoots the arrow into the force field at the end and then Snow goes storming out to find Plutarch and he isn’t in the control room, I threw my fist in the air like, “YES! You two have been talking about moves and counter-moves this entire time, and YOU JUST REALIZED YOU’VE BEEN PLAYED, SUCKAAA.” We never got to appreciate the full effect of Plutarch’s betrayal to the Capitol in the book, so that has to be one of my favorite moments in the movie.

The end with the hovercraft and Gale telling Katniss what happened to 12 is really powerful. It doesn’t pack quite as big of a punch as the ending in the book does, but it’s still fantastic. (And YAY FOR ACTUALLY FOLLOWING THE PROPER ENDING THIS TIME!)

While I’m here, on the topic of splitting Mockingjay into two films: A lot of people are upset about this, and I’ll admit, I am a bit too. I was a lot more, though, when they first announced it. This is because I recently saw an interview in which they talked about this decision–and remember how the Mockingjay book has kind of bad pacing, and the ending is rushed and confusing, and you see very little of what’s actually going on since you’re stuck in Katniss’s head? Yeah. Apparently they’re planning on trying to fix all of that for the movies. Which makes me hope doing two Mockingjay films isn’t entirely just a matter of getting more money out of fans and following the trend Harry Potter started, but also about just giving us a better, fuller experience.

Gahhh, I feel like I’m forgetting half the stuff I want to say, which is sad seeing as this post is getting insanely long. But this movie is SOOO GOOD! Let me leave off by saying: Go see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It is leaps and bounds better than The Hunger Games and was well-worth the year and a half wait since that one. The script is great, the cast is outstanding, the cinematography won’t make you throw up from dizziness, and it’s just. Wow. So good. It is sad and terrible and wrenching and funny and scary and beautiful and all the things I wanted out of this film.

When I gave The Hunger Games 4 out of 5 stars, I was being nice. This one, without a doubt, deserves its 4.5. I cannot wait to see it (and bawl my eyes out throughout it) again.

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Read my Hunger Games Movie Reaction here.

Find more information on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire here.

Buy tickets to go see the movie here. (Because, you know, you should. YOU REALLY REALLY SHOULD.)

Oh, and here’s a link to Jen and Josh being adorable. In case you weren’t already in love with them.

day 22

 

~Julia

NaNo Day 21: Excuses, Excuses

This day last year, I won NaNoWriMo 2012. I was way ahead of schedule, the writing was easy, and it honestly didn’t affect my life that much.

I’ve done fifty thousand words in the month of November twice before. The first time it was a challenge because, well, it was the first time. The second time was a challenge because it was freshman year of college and people had warned me not to compete in NaNoWriMo because November’s such a nasty month for college students (and never tell me I can’t do something, because then I need to do it).

Maybe I read and slept a little less, and sure I wrote in class a lot more (I still don’t know how I managed to four-point fall semester 2012), but all in all, NaNoWriMo was easy.

Enter this year: Third year in a row doing fifty thousand words. Same number of credit hours as last year, and a whole lot less pressure to perform well in my classes. I only have class three. days. a week. Yet NaNoWriMo is insanely difficult this year.

Maybe it’s because this year is a “been there, done that” situation. I’ve proven that I can do NaNo in college already, so I’m not as motivated. That happened junior year of high school too–I just barely made it to my goal of 25k by the end of the month.

Maybe it’s because Thanksgiving is so late this year, so I haven’t had my chance to write my brains out over the break from school yet, and I probably won’t even get to do that once the break does come around next week, because I have to do a project and write my genetics term paper during it (my prof assigned both a major project and our freaking term paper to be due the day we get back from break–not cool, genetics prof, not cool).

Maybe it’s because my homework level has exploded. I’m barreling my way through internship and study abroad applications; figuring out whether or not to double major or do a minor or find a part-time job on top of writing and critiquing and conference planning. I’m writing and editing short story after short story in order to be ready for my college’s winter writing competitions and lit mag submissions that are all due in a couple weeks.

Or maybe it’s because of everything I’ve been through in the past year. While I guess you can say this is true every year, I’m a much different person, now, as a sophomore, than I was as a freshman. And that’s primarily because of writing. I basically sprinted through writing from NaNoWriMo senior year of high school through September of this year. During that time I wrote two novels, lots of short stories and songs and poems, won contests, got published in anthologies and lit mags, and from February of this year through September, I spent countless hours revising Cadence.

That novel basically became the meaning of my life this summer–during July and August, I worked on it ten or twelve hours a day, six days a week, sometimes more. Then in September I was done and I didn’t know what to do with myself anymore.

I have been so in the mode of Cadence for so long that it’s strange to suddenly be completely out of that universe and the heads of those characters, and thrust into new ones. And as much as I love The End Where I Begin, it’s taking some getting used to.

So: NaNoWriMo is hard this year. A lot harder than usual. But you know what else? My very first year doing NaNoWriMo, I competed in the Young Writers Program, which meant that I could choose my own word count to shoot for during the month. I chose 25,000 words, and I didn’t begin writing that novel at all until the evening of November 21st. And I still finished on time despite that obstacle.

I have won NaNoWriMo every year since freshman year of high school. This is my sixth year competing.

Sure, things are a little harder than usual this year. And maybe (probably) I won’t finish on the schedule I set up for myself. But I’m not giving up–I’m going to keep pushing through.

And I will have 50,000 words written by the end of November.

day 21Thanks for the smiley of encouragement, Hannah.

~Julia

PS. LESS THAN TWELVE HOURS UNTIL CATCHING FIRE!!!!! AHHHHHHHH! MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOR!!!

PPS. Happy day-after-your-birthday to one of my best friends in the world, Tatiana! She is brilliant and the snarkiest of snark monkeys. She hasn’t posted in a while, but you should check out her blog here anyway.

PPPS. BUT SERIOUSLY OHMYGOSH CATCHING FIREEEEE! I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S FINALLY HEREEEE! WAHHHHHH!!!!!!!

NaNo Day 18: Movies I’m Excited to See

Well, I didn’t make 5k yesterday, but I did get a few thousand words written, so my total’s now up to 31,000. And although I have a nice chunk of homework to do today, I’m hoping to get some writing done in between assignments. We’ll see how that goes.

Meanwhile, rather than revolving around classes, my writing schedule this week focuses on what’s happening Thursday night. AKA The Hunger Games: Catching Fire comes out and I’m about to pee myself small dog-style out of excitement, so I’m trying to get a lot of my writing done earlier in the week so that I can relax and enjoy the movie later on.

Catching Fire isn’t the only movie releasing soon that I’m psyched about reaching theaters, though. I give you: Movies I’m Excited to See

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The Book Thief

While normally I prefer to read a book before I see its film adaption, I’m actually really hoping to see the movie version of this one first. Because I feel like spending a couple hours on a sad film that’ll let me in on all the sad plot twists of the story, first, will help me prepare for trying to get through the novel later. (Yes. I know the novel is incredible. But I also know it’s going to make me cry really hard, and I want to be prepared for that.)

This movie has already released in some markets, but won’t release here in Michigan until November 23nd. Maybe. It’s been really complicated trying to get release information, since it’s apparently already out in the rest of the country but not at all in this state.

*****

Frozen

I’m purposely avoiding learning too much about this movie right now because I’d rather be surprised than disappointed when I see it, but from what I’ve heard it’s supposed to be the best animated film since The Lion King? Okay. I’ll take it for a spin.

This movie releases in the United States on November 27th.

*****

Saving Mr. Banks

Apparently a lot of people have not heard about this movie yet. If you have not heard about it, please watch the trailer and fall in love with it. (I’m not a big Mary Poppins fan, but this looks like such a unique story, and kudos to Disney for telling it, even though I’m sure they’ve cleaned it up a bit to end in their favor.) (If you’ve heard the back story of how the movie came to be made, it’s also incredible.)

This movie releases in the United States on December 20th.

*****

Divergent

I’m getting a little bit very nervous for this movie, because I haven’t been huge on a lot of the promotional materials they’ve released so far. But I’m hoping it’ll turn out as good as the book after all. (If you want to know why this trailer makes me antsy about the film, Christina of polandbananasbooks on Youtube describes my thoughts perfectly.)

This movie releases in the United States on March 21st, 2014.

*****

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Let’s be honest. I’ll just watch anything with Jennifer Lawrence in it.

This movie releases in the United States on May 23rd, 2014.

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Of course there are a few other movies I’m excited for too (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, TFiOS, etc), but we’re yet to get trailers for those, unfortunately.

What movies are you excited for that are coming out soon? Do you have any suggestions for things I should see?

day 18

 

~Julia

NaNo Day 15: Whoa, We’re Halfway There

Happy halfway through NaNoWriMo! (Whoa, livin’ on a prayer.)

Snapshot_20131115_15

Yesterday was an interesting day for writing, because I did it just sort of all over the place (including during my social science class at one point–shhh, don’t tell my prof). I ended up handwriting four pages in the afternoon (during the soc class, of all times), which didn’t turn out well because I then spent about an hour just staring at my notebook thinking about how little I wanted to try to decipher my handwriting when it came time to type it.

Nonetheless, I managed to get my 2k done yesterday, so I’m now up to just over 26,000 words. WHICH MEANS I’M HALFWAY DONE!

Snapshot_20131115_14(Did you know that people who frequently post selfies online are more likely to be single? Explains so much.)

My goal for today, according to my schedule, is to get another 2k words done. However, I’m probably not going to have as much time to write on Sunday as I’d planned, so I’m going to have to try to get a little ahead, if possible. Which’ll be interesting, since I might be going to see The Book Thief tonight and movies, you know, take time. (Once this semester’s over, I need to break out of my this-book-is-too-depressing-for-me hamster ball and finally get around to finishing that, because I’ve been carrying The Book Thief around with me since high school and I’m still only on like page 30. Because seriously. This book is about to have ALL the feels, and I don’t know how I’m going to handle that.)

Less than a week until The Hunger Games: Catching Fire!!!!!

How’s everyone doing halfway through NaNoWriMo?

day 15

~Julia

Wordy Wednesday (“The End Where I Begin, Chapter One”)

First off: The Divergent trailer premiered today. React accordingly. (I’ve watched it five times already. It’s not my favorite trailer ever, and I’m worried how much people who haven’t read the book will be able to get out of it, but it’s got me excited nonetheless.)

Second: I’m currently in the midst of my final re-read of Catching Fire before the movie comes out next week, and OHMYGOSH I am both terrified and overwhelmingly excited to see this on the big screen. I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself next Thursday.

Third: This week’s Wordy Wednesday is an excerpt from my NaNo, The End Where I Begin. (Note: Gillian’s name has been changed to Amelia since I posted the plot blurb I just linked to with the title.) (Also note: I know this is really rough and probably more than a bit cliche, so keep in mind that this is just a first draft, por favor. I’m sure it’ll get better with revisions.) (Also also note: I realize some of the names, like Mrs. Prudent, are ridiculous. Please bear with me until I find better ones.) (Also also also note: The number of these asides right now is getting even more ridiculous than the names. Sorry ’bout that.)

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Chapter One

            The stares begin in English class, the day of the Recruitment Assembly. The most important day of the year for students in the Fifth Reality. My desk is situated in the second to last row of the low, wide room, two from the left, in the perfect position to simultaneously take notes on Mrs. Prudent’s lesson about Thoreau and share exasperated looks with Amelia.

She sits to my right, with her legs crossed and pencil tapping against the edge of her desk, black hair held back in a long, straight ponytail that sways in time with the beat. She glances at me out the corner of her eye, then glues her gaze to the black board again. I frown, but she doesn’t answer the question the look shoots at her.

“Excuse me, class, give me just one moment.” Mrs. Prudent teeters to her desk and yanks a tissue from the box. As she blows her nose, twenty two pairs of eyes turn to take me in. The girls shiver; the boys snicker. I swear despite their reactions, we are not five years old.

Amelia’s pencil stops tapping and she leans over the aisle in a manner that would appear cautiously conspiratorial if it weren’t for the onlookers.

 “What’s this about the Ram coming for you during the Recruitment Assembly this afternoon?” Her voice quivers a little, whether from excitement or disgust I can’t tell. Her European accent turns the sentence down at the end, even more dramatic than her scowl.

I roll my eyes at the students waiting with bated breath to hear my reply and lean towards Amelia as well. “I don’t know.” Her brown eyes widen, accentuated by the thick streaks of black crayon around them. “All I’ve heard is that she’s planning to beat the snot out of me. No idea if it’s true or not. But do you truly think even the Ram would be gutsy enough to go after someone at the Recruitment Assembly of all places?”

“I don’t know, it’s not like she’s exactly—”

Mrs. Prudent clears her throat at the front of the room, a long, low sound like a cat hacking up a hairball. “Miss Anderson, Miss Dylan? Do you have something you would like to share with the rest of us?”

The rest of the students already know what we were talking about—the entire student body of New Capital High has probably heard the rumor by now. But my classmates have all turned back to the chalk board, backs straight, eyes barely even flicking to take in my paled cheeks and the way my fingers have clenched into a death grip around my pencil, so I don’t say a word.

Amelia composes herself enough to flash Mrs. Prudent one of her infamous, daughter-of-a-representative smiles. “No, ma’am. We were just discussing how especially interesting the lesson has been today.”

Mrs. Prudent doesn’t fall for the words, but the smile thaws her scowl. “All right. Just don’t make a habit of speaking out of turn in my class, or I’ll have to report you to Principal Scully.”

A few of the students around us—the ones who like the safe distance from learning the back of the room provides—hide snorts behind their hands. Mrs. Prudent has said the same thing to Amelia at least once a week since the semester began. Thank God that girl always has a way of getting us out of trouble.

Amelia doesn’t smile like she’s pleased with herself, the way she normally would. Instead she turns back to me with her lower lip sucked into her mouth, thin eyebrows so low her mascaraed eyelashes brush against them. She lifts her shoulders in a question. I nod.

I’m fine, the action says. I’m not worried about Ramsey.

But Amelia knows me, which means that she knows why the pounding of my heart is visible straight through my uniform and my knuckles are white around my pencil.

Ramsey Carp has been suspended probably more times than the rest of New Capital High combined, just since this semester began. Ramsey Carp has a history of landing her victims in the hospital with bruised kidneys and shattered wrists. Ramsey Carp hates me more than anyone else in the Fifth Reality—and today, my name and hers have begun passing lips in the same breath for the first time since last school year.

Chalk squeaks across the black board as Mrs. Prudent writes quotes from our text book, and pencils whisper across paper in reaction. Amelia doesn’t take her eyes off me as I spin my Identiband around my left wrist once, twice, three times. A nervous habit.

Out the corner of my eye, I make sure the bracelet is still lit the same green as an old-fashioned traffic light, as it always is. It’s stupid, because that’s the only color an Identiband can be, but sometimes I still check. It’s been a nervous habit since my first confrontation with Ramsey. All she did was twist my wrist, then, leaving her fingerprints as bruises. I’m sure, if she does attack me during the Recruitment Assembly, she’ll give me much worse now.

I spin the thick wristband two more times, then lace my fingers and place my hands on my desk. I nod to Amelia to say, I’m okay. I swear.

I wish it were true. I wish I were the sort of person who didn’t have to worry about my old best friend giving me a black eye in front of the recruiting officers from the Clinic. But I stopped being that girl four months ago.

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65

day 13

~Julia