I’ve spent the last week and a half devouring the Hunger Games series. I knocked them all out. Last night, I had about 50 pages left in Mockingjay and just crawled into bed and finished.
I loved the first book, “The Hunger Games”. I really liked the second book, “Catching Fire”. I am not completely sure how I feel about the final, “Mockingjay”. My feelings are mixed.
On one hand, I get it. The first book was about the Games, the next was about rebellion, and this final book is about war. The characters are all damaged by this point. They’ve seen a lot of horrible things, and it has really broken all of them. It really looks at the trauma of war and the scars it can leave on a person. So in this way, the book is probably fairly realistic from a psychological standpoint.
On the other hand, it was really, really dark, and in a way that I didn’t think was really necessary. Towards the end of the book, I felt like there were a lot of senseless deaths. Perhaps the writer is simply showing us that in war many deaths are senseless, but I thought it was overkill. And the fact that it is classified as a young adult read is a little disturbing, considering the detailed gore descriptions that litter the last 100 pages of the book.
In the end, I was left feeling a little empty. Things worked out in a way that I thought was acceptable, but I didn’t really like how it got there. Part of the joy of the first two books was seeing people continually overcome their obstacles with determination and grit. By the end of the last book, everyone is just surviving and trying to hold onto their sanity. The characters are left empty, and I think it leaves the reader a little empty as well.
I’m glad that I read all the way through the books. Glad to know how things ended. And maybe it is meant to show people that war kills indiscriminately and that the warriors and soldiers are changed forever by the things that they must do. Katniss will never be the same after the things she has experienced. She will never again be a whole person. But I would have liked to see a little more fight left in people at the end. A bit more of a happy ending. But I suppose not everyone gets a happy ending when war is the game.
If you make it two books into the series, you need to finish it. But don’t hold your breath for a light and happy end to your characters. Be prepared to experience their war and the inner turmoil and madness that comes with it. Even if the characters are out of the arena, they are still stuck in a game of someone else’s creation. The question becomes, can they ever be truly free?