Reviews for Finnick Loves Blank
The Sophisticated Shut In chapter 35 . 2/8
Cassandra! I felt neutral towards her most of the fic (I think pity was the kindest feeling I could muster) but in this chapter she shot up in my estimation. Like Finnick himself, she's playing a role to survive in the Capitol, and I feel really bad for falling for it. When underneath it all she's just a ball of rage and neediness who feels as alone and coerced as he does, and who will never get what she really wants. Snow can buy her the attentions of as many handsome young men as he wants, but he can't ever bring back her father - and I doubt he would ever want, doubt he even regrets what he did, which makes his actions all the more hollow and awful. Poor Cassandra.

This epilogue worked really well to tie up any loose ends and take us forward to the events of Catching Fire. Finnick is still suffering, and his suffering is acute enough that you can see how it would drive him to join the rebellion, but there are glimmers of hope that stop it being too depressing an ending. We get to see him take a degree of power back, in the realization that he can use the secrets he earns. And we see him start to form tenuous alliances with discontented Capitolites, that add to the sense of a wider rebellion simmering. (I like to believe Pallindra and Cassandra became covert members of the underground, even if it means they were probably executed or disappeared during the events of Mockingjay.)

This story was fantastic. Probably THE definite Finnick and Annie story, and definitely one I'll be saving to my Kindle to read again. (Which is really the highest praise I can give anything.) It deserves all of its 500 reviews and more. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Good luck with your novel! If it's anything like this, it'll be amazing.
The Sophisticated Shut In chapter 34 . 2/8
Oh, this chapter was beautiful. So many things that were just the essence of this ship: the brokenness and the hope they can heal each other and the cruelty of knowing they'll be torn apart. But they won't ever be separated, not really. Snow can try as hard as he likes, but it isn't in his power to separate Finnick and Annie - ironically, it's everything he's done to them that will keep them together. Finnick has been used so badly he yearns for something genuine - and will go to any lengths to keep it once he has it. Annie has been so damaged by the Games that she understands what it is to lose control, and will fight even harder to hold onto the things Snow tried to take from her, whether it be the ocean or her family or Finnick Odair.
The Sophisticated Shut In chapter 33 . 2/8
That last review was me, sorry. I got signed out and didn't notice. At least it went through okay.

I knew Derek was a dog! Called it! ;)

Annie's family are adorable (I have a special soft spot in my heart for the baby brother who wanted to take on the Capitol to get her back) but as I suspected, they're not exactly what she needs to recover. They love her, absolutely, but they love the old Annie, and it's obvious this new one scares them a little, even if they're wise enough to hide their shock from her. I never even considered that they might actually buy into the propaganda image of Annie the well-adjusted Victor, but it makes sense. Obviously they have never really seen an alternate story, and they WANT to believe she's coping. It still hurts to see her mother struggling to look at her though. In case she gives away how upset she is.

On a lighter note (and one which gives me continuing hope for her recovery) I love seeing Annie's wicked side come into play at the train station. There's a pleasing irony in the fact that she is taking what the Capitol have done to her (driving her mad) and using it to deprive them of what they want (Finnick). Take that, Snow!

And of course it isn't just Annie who has to battle family-related demons on her return home. Finnick's punch was well-overdue, and I know it's wrong, but a part of me was happy to see him turn his back on his mother too. Her attempts to continue defending herself, when she offered him up for death, were awful. I know it's probably the only way she can live with herself, and it's clear she does love Finnick in her own way, but she's asking way too much if she thinks their relationship can ever be repaired. I would be extremely surprised.

Finnick instinctively going to Mags's house choked me up. It doesn't matter how many years pass, I guess - part of him will always be that lost young man who doesn't know how to adjust to life outside the arena. Maybe that's true of every Victor, and only another Victor can understand.
Guest chapter 32 . 2/6
Poor Annie. She has to go back to her family, dragging the weight of everything she's done and everything she's been through since she saw them last, and she has to do it alone. I never thought about the fact that mags would be staying behind in the capitol too, but it makes sense, and it's understandable that Annie would feel abandoned. Finnick is so convinced her family will be able to nurse her back to health, but I think Annie is right : as hard as they try, they won't ever understand the experience of being a Victor. It's just so far beyond their worldview. She really does need Finnick or Mags to help her cope, and it's cruel that she gets neither. It's doubly cruel that this is the moment, when Annie is at her weakest, that she learns the horrible truth about Finnick and the capitol. But it's a real testament to her character that she chooses to focus on his pain rather than hers. Maybe it's not even conscious, maybe it's her coping mechanism. After all, she did the same thing with Otto. She was at her strongest and most together in the arena when she HAD to be strong for someone who was falling apart. It fits with the theme of Finnick discovering different forms of strength. (His observation is about mags but it fits Annie too.) Watching his pride crumble as he realizes the expression in Annie's eyes isn't pity, its love . . . . Aw.

But at least everything is out on the table now, and Finnick and Annie can start to take their first tentative steps towards a relationship!
The Sophisticated Shut In chapter 31 . 2/2
This is one of my favorite chapters in this entire fic. Maybe my favorite. The tension is so high between Finnick and Snow, and you have the latter's voice and mode of thinking down perfectly. And then you include these wonderful images, like the statues of victors in Snow's mansion, and how they remind Finnick of chess pieces in the president's game. Or the rose Snow is pruning shearing in two like a forked tongue when he gets irritated. And then you top it all off with these heartbreaking character moments, like protective!Mags, and lonely young Finnick being naive enough to think the Capitol would fill the emptiness in him, and modern day Finnick wondering what the hell he is doing, ruining one girl to save another.

But at least he has protection for Annie now, and he's finally on the road to revolution with Johanna. Even knowing what it will ultimately cost him, it was something that needed to happen, and I'm glad it did. "Then let one last person die by my hand." Stone cold, Finnick!
The Sophisticated Shut In chapter 30 . 2/2
Finnick's sardonic sense of humor is one of my favorite things about him. I love that he can take this fake, Capitol-crafted version of himself and make merciless fun of it - and that only the people closest to him ever get to see him do it. His brainstorming sessions with Annie, orchestrating their fake break-up (fake-up? hehe) manage somehow to be the lightest and most ordinary the two of them have been in ages. Which is completely twisted, given the situation, and yet still adorable.

"That's just not Anna anymore." - - - ahahahaha. Bad Finnick. But I like that Annie is more than willing to act the role of the jilted ex. It's nice to see her having fun, especially knowing how much it terrifies Finnick. ;)

Finnick and Annie's lives have been so intertwined it really does make you wonder if it was fate. They were spinning in each other's orbit for so long, and neither of them really knew it, maybe it was inevitable they would meet. The extra information about Finnick's father's death adds a whole 'nother layer of heartbreak to Finnick and Annie's relationship, but is also strangely reassuring. It seems to say that maybe their suffering had meaning. Maybe it was meant for a reason. I can imagine that would be a comforting thought for two people have been through as much as Finnick and Annie.

And now the Gamemaker is dead and Finnick has been summoned to Snow. Oh, no . . . I don't like the look of this.
The Sophisticated Shut In chapter 29 . 1/27
Annie's night terrors, and her lapses in memory (when she asks why they aren't waiting for Otto? Ah, kill me now) are so awful, but I'm glad you're including them. A lot of authors forget everything outside the romance when they write their fave pairing. Anything that doesn't have to do with the ship gets dumped by the wayside, which actually really diminishes the characters. Real people think and care about things besides their significant other, especially in a setting as horrific as the Hunger Games. Incorporating things like Mags and their families and the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder both Finnick and Annie obviously struggle with is a good way to ground their characters.

The first half of the chapter was grueling, but the second half was hilarious. I don't know who that was more awkward for, Finnick or Annie. (Or maybe Clare at home, who must've been totally mortified, no matter what Annie says. Clare Odair, Clare Odair, had a baby with his perfect eyes and perfect hair . . . haha. Wait a few years, Annie, and that baby is gonna be yours!) But Annie is starting to become aware of her feelings for Finnick. Goody! Bring on the UST and major awkwardness! (And the fake break-up. Can't wait to see how that works out!)
The Sophisticated Shut In chapter 28 . 1/27
Oh, no. Ugh, Finnick. He was so worried about Annie putting herself in danger, but he should have been worrying about himself. Saving the life of a man Snow marked for death? Not the way to get ol' Snake Eyes onside. (I've always enjoyed that, actually, in the books. When Finnick revives Peeta in CF, he isn't just keeping Katniss and the rebels onside. He's also sending a huge fuck you to Snow, because it goes against everything the Games are supposed to be. This incident is a nice bookend to that. Here Finnick is filled with fear and still in Snow's thrall, but later on, when he saves Peeta, he is fighting back.) And now the Capitol wants Annie, mainly to spite Finnick, I think. I wonder how he's going to get her out of this? Make her seem too unstable for them, maybe? But that might get her locked in some awful Capitol institution, or killed for creating the wrong image of a Victor. I don't know. I'm nervous now!

Finnick and Annie are in such wildly different places on the love issue it's heartbreaking. Finnick is in deep, but Annie can't even consider love right now, she's too traumatized. (As she should be.) Still, her oblivious rebuttals are so painful for poor Finnick. The scene where the two of them are dancing and Finnick thinks Annie never wants to leave, then realizes what she's really thinking? Owww.
The Sophisticated Shut In chapter 27 . 1/27
I'm so glad to see Annie recovering enough to roll her eyes and tease Finnick. It's a glimpse of the girl who was almost lost in the Games. But of course her recovery won't be that simple. Part of her will always be trapped in that arena, just like part of Finnick will be, and it only takes the smallest things - like Otto's empty room - to bring them back there. And that's before Snow trots them out on stage to watch Otto's head roll in HD. You really show what a close thing it was with this interview - how easily it could have unhinged Annie, and even how hard it was on Finnick. It's almost worse for him, I think. Annie has to relive it all when it's all still so fresh, when she could go under again any minute. But Finnick understands the larger implications, the game within the Games. He knows what the consequences will be if Annie can't smile onstage, if she can't look, if she ever takes that Victor's crown off.

"The girl from Three gets extended coverage of her bleeding to death, but a horrid thing like grief must be censored, it's much too upsetting to watch."

This line is both perfect as a commentary on the attitudes in the Capitol, and as a painful piece of foreshadowing. The censoring of Finnick's love for Annie has already started. It's a horrible thought, but a great piece of writing.
The Sophisticated Shut In chapter 26 . 1/18
Oh, Annie. She asked for rope and they put her in a straitjacket. She told them her stomach hurt over and OVER again, and they ignored her. They put her on a medication that had never been tested on someone her age. And yet just when I think I hate these callous, uncaring Capitol doctors, you remind me what's driving them is no different to what drives Finnick. Fear of President Snow.

I'm genuinely afraid for Annie with this interview coming up. I don't know how she's going to get through it without breaking down on live television. I know Finnick and Caesar will help her as best they can, but it might not be enough. Especially if they play Otto and Shannon's deaths in front of her.
The Sophisticated Shut In chapter 25 . 1/18
The Capitol's treatment of Annie makes me so angry. They think if they can just fix her up physically her mind will fall into line. They won't have to talk to her or comfort her at all, just tell her what they think she needs to hear to recover, even if it's a pack of lies. At least they have the decency to let Finnick in to see her, and keep a genuine medical history alongside the fake one.

I wonder if Annie does remember Finnick's confession. I can't decide if I want her to or not. On the one hand, she has so much to deal with here in the Capitol that it doesn't seem fair to put something like that on her shoulders too. On the other, she's so alone it might help to know she is loved by somebody in such a greedy, indifferent place. I suppose all Finnick can do is what he's doing - coming to see her, telling her the truth when no-one else will, and letting her know she's not weak, and she's not alone.
The Sophisticated Shut In chapter 24 . 1/18
Mags can say Finnick's name again! Please excuse me while I go cry my eyes out in a corner.

This chapter is really well constructed. Watching Annie's core temp drop on the monitors as Matilda tries to keep climbing . . . if we didn't know that Annie wins, it would be incredibly suspenseful. As it is, it helps to put us in Finnick's mind - to remind us that for him, Annie's survival is far from a given.

The Capitol continues to be absolutely horrifying. Showering Finnick in glitter and making him smile for Panem, while his tribute is being fished half-dead and almost certainly mad out of the arena. It's grotesque.

And then Finnick confesses his feelings, under the worst possible circumstances, when all Annie wants is to die. I feel so bad for both of them.
The Sophisticated Shut In chapter 23 . 1/16
That was a nice touch with the aerial shot. It's funny - the cameras are such an omnipresent part of the Games that you forget there must sometimes be people operating them, just like there must be people flying the hovercrafts that pick up dead tributes. Someone has the job of going into the arena and observing more closely than anyone in Panem as these kids die. And they can't do anything to intervene. It's enough to make anyone snap. I'm willing to bet some of them end up involved in the rebellion, or turned into Avoxes.

This was a great chapter, as Johanna's issues finally come to a head and Finnick hears some home truths. Johanna's offer here was very in keeping with her character - cruel to be kind, really - but of course Finnick can only think of Annie and how desperate he is to get her home safe. He's still naive enough to think he can protect her from the world, to think that it might really end with the Games for her. When of course it'll never be that easy. Johanna is miles ahead of him in that regard. She's right - none of the Victors will get their happily-ever-after, not until Snow is dead. But of course she doesn't know yet how high a cost that will come at.

On a side note, I like that you state quite clearly that neither Johanna or Annie are traditionally pretty. I see a lot of stories where a favorite character gets rewritten into a complete bombshell, just because they're a favorite or a love interest. It always makes me roll my eyes.
The Sophisticated Shut In chapter 22 . 1/15
Ugh, the Careers are ruthless. I'm not totally surprised they would kill one of their own when he became a liability, though I am surprised it took them this long to do it. I kind of thought they might let Castor die naturally though. For some reason. (Why I would I even think that?)

I like that this is the cause of Matilda leaving the Careers as well. Like it or not, she's District Seven - she isn't one of them and she can't pretend to be forever. Matilda isn't a trained killer. She's just an angry girl who wants to stay alive as long as she can. But she can't even do that.

Because now everything is going into meltdown.

"Every one of us is losing."

This is the perfect reminder of how cruel the Games are. It doesn't really matter what the tributes do or what the mentors do, because in the end it's the arena, created by the Capitol, that makes the difference. Even their attempts to make their own plans - have some control over their own fate - only backfire and result in more death.
The Sophisticated Shut In chapter 21 . 1/15
Ah, Eleven and Twelve are allies. That makes sense, actually. Their districts have similar attitudes to the Games, and as outliers neither of them have high odds to win.

I really like Willow so far. I admit Eleven is one of my favorite Districts anyway, but Willow is just the right combination of pragmatic and compassionate. It works. (I don't want to think about how she's going to die!) Her attempt to cover up Annie's mental disturbance with the lie about concussion was kind, even if I doubt it will work.
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