Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Okay, I'm Done With Mockingjay. Now what?

Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)I won't spoil anything for you here. I just want to decompress and reflect in a very non-spoiler-ish way. I'd love to hear what you thought, too (and spoilers are okay in the comments, just know they might be there).

I read Mockingjay as slowly as I could possibly manage because I knew when I was done, it would really, truly be over. No more Capitol, no more Katniss, no more Peeta. Sigh. But the thing about Suzanne Collins is that she makes it impossible to read slowly. She is a master of the cliffhanger, the chapter ending that manipulates your brain so that even though you can hardly keep your eyes open, you physically cannot put the book down. I think that's why so many adults have taken to this series. When is the last time you found yourself so caught up in a book that everything else but the need to know WHAT HAPPENS NEXT fades into the ether? The dishes, the laundry, the bills all disappear and it is just you and the story.

As a kid, I was always so absorbed in whatever book I was reading that my mom would have to call me to dinner five times and then physically drag me to the table. To me, reading The Hunger Games is like getting to be a kid again. But not in a puppy dogs, lollipops, and rainbows way. Death, destruction, cynicism, and manipulation are all over these books. It's a dystopian trilogy, after all. But I love that Ms. Collins doesn't forget to give us glimmers of hope for humanity. She doesn't forget to make her characters complex. We're not allowed to fall into the easy Good vs. Evil/Rah-Rah-/Team default. War is messy. It's confusing. She paints it that way.

Is the trilogy heavy handed at times? Of course. Is the final book perfect? Not really. Does it matter? I don't think so. In fact, absolutely not.

After I read the first two books in the Hunger Games series (my original comments are here), I could rest easy, knowing there was more to come. I could excitedly mark my calendar for August 24th and wait for it like Christmas. But now, for better or for worse, the game is over. And I'm sad that it is, but satisfied with the way it ended. I think that means Suzanne Collins did her job. Very well, I might add.

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