aftg would've been better if it didn't have so much unnecessary violence.
the books themselves are about dark topics and trauma and morally gray characters, but you can write as much as you want about that without everything coming with physical violence.
neil life on the run for example. it is believable that his father's men came after them repeatedly times and tried to hurt them both. it is also believable that his mother wasn't the best one out there.
but, in practical terms, mary physically hurting him adds more risks of someone noticing them more than they would if neil didn't have recent scars?? and a hurt person will be slower to run when necessary or even move around.
so, mary could have literally done the same thing without physically hurting her son. she could have convinced him that he didn't have to speak to anyone about anything talking, without even raising one finger.
neil was five years old. he was a kid. she was his mother. of course he wouldn't question it very much if she was convincing enough.
and the story itself would have been more interesting if neil was having an internal debate about trusting his mother about not telling anyone anything or actual talking with someone (which we already see, but it heavily implies physical abuse).
another example: andrew choking kevin. that's him breaking a promise he made. the man who swore to protect him all costs and who's known for caring about words and loyalty and promises, broke a promise with his friend for a guy he took under his care less than a year before.
now that could easily be seen as andrew losing control and showing his priorities, but it was genuinely unnecessary. kevin was in the same position as neil from the point of view of relationship with andrew (neither of them where romantically/sexually involved with him or blood related), so why is neil more important than kevin when breaking promises?? because andrew was attracted to him?? that should mean nothing when it comes to doing his job or keeping his promises.
andrew choking kevin was genuinely unnecessary and it leaves kevin in a horrible position, which he must have realized sooner or later. it sucks. andrew having limits would have been more interesting than andrew loosing control with kevin (who is not the same as any other fox for the case).
my last example: whatever happened to matt at eden's when andrew took him for the first time.
it is implied that he wasn't only drugged, but something else too that he's working with bee. the foxes knew about it. wymack and abby knew about it.
matt's privacy being shared is also violent and, once again, unnecessary.
andrew taking them to eden's could have still being like "that's not a good idea because he drugs you / because you have to spend the night in another town / because (whatever reason)" without being "that's not a good idea because last year something serious happened to matt".
drugging someone is serious and I do not mean to water down that, but andrew could have drugged matt and leave it there (as he did with neil, but it was nicky who took advanced of him).
in conclusion, nora added unnecessary violence everywhere for the sake of it instead of actually giving it a purpose and it waters down the actual violence the books were about in the first place.
edit: matt and eden's are another topic that I remembered wrong, matt was drugged also but for recovery purposes. either way, the way it was treated in the books wasn't the best because none told neil what actually happened before he went and they all just shared matt's privacy like nothing (not explicitly, but they could have just said "we had bad experiences going there" / "it already happened and did not go well" instead of directly saying "matt boyd, our teammate you just met, went through something bad there").
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