On a friend's recommendation, Jim picked up The Hunger Games for his train commute the other day, finished it in a flash and suggested I give it a try. Now, we've both finished all three books in the series and really liked them, mostly.
(Spoiler alert: I’ll be careful to divulge as little of the plot as possible, in case you haven’t read the books and want to, but there will be a wee bit of revealing commentary I can’t help.)
Riding in the car with Jim yesterday, we started talking about the ending in the third book, Mockingjay, how it feels rushed and truncated to both of us. In Jim’s words, it lacks a real denouement.
We suppose the author could have been under pressure to deliver the copy or in a hurry to wrap up the story, but I want to know how hope, trust and love were reborn from the ashes of Katniss and Peeta’s shattered lives. How did they get from trauma, horror and loss to a life together in what’s left of district 12?
For me, Peeta is the most spiritual character in the story; he reminds me of the Fool in the Tarot deck, loving, trusting and joyful. He’s capable of complete self-sacrifice in the name of love; yet, in the end, after going through hell and back, his story is summarized in a matter of a few paragraphs spoken by Katniss in her closing narrative.
The same goes for Katniss; so many wounds and so much fire in her soul, and her journey back to relative sanity is hardly described at all. Yes, she relays how she grieved for one person she lost, but did Peeta’s love once again restore her? Isn’t this worth some of the descriptive artistry the author devotes to earlier parts of their relationship, like say, in book one?
True there was nothing left to blow up or kill by the time Katniss is narrating the end of the story, but how did they arrive at the point where they could have a life together? It’s a story of healing and restoration; was it love that gave them back a life? Did one rescue the other from the brink, only to be rescued as well in the process? This part of the story is worth many more pages, not just a short paragraph or two. I don’t know why it ends so abruptly, but I’m sure Suzanne Collins could do a great job of fleshing it out. Well, there’s still the movie script to the third book…
I admit I have a problem with “the future is bleak” story lines like this one. Big Brother always watches; there’s always lots of cruelty, violence and loss. I know there are many examples of this scenario in history and in some parts of the contemporary world, but is this the only future we can imagine winning out, becoming the outcome of our present age? While we can dream, is this the best we can do?
I don’t see Suzanne Collin’s trilogy as devoid of human caring; in fact, I think love is constantly displayed between various characters. The power of Love to transcend incredible odds is often woven into the story, but in the end, that’s exactly what’s left out, zip, zap, done.
In the last book, Peeta, who suffers severe PTS and paranoia as a result of being tortured, devises a way to test for trustworthiness in those around him. He recounts a memory and asks, “Real or Not Real?” His question elicits wonderful heartfelt responses from those trying to help him. I think it’s a good question to ask.
The Hunger Games Trilogy: Real or Not Real?
The love between the characters: Real or Not Real?
Love heals: Real or Not Real?
Love is the answer: Real or Not Real?
We can dream a future story that doesn’t involve total catastrophe, loss and destruction: Real or Not Real?
Dreams are Real: Real or Not Real? You know my answer to that one.