Wednesday, May 22, 2013 01:25 PM
Book Report - Mockingjay
 by Fëanor

I've finished The Hunger Games trilogy, and I think it's really great.

(I'm going to try to avoid any really big spoilers, but if you want to remain completely ignorant of what happens in these books, I'd say stop now and come back after you've read them.)

I was again interested to see how this third book would still be about the Hunger Games, as clearly another one couldn't be held now that the whole system had fallen part, but Katniss does indeed find herself pulled into another kind of Hunger Games when she's in the streets of the Capitol, moving from pod to pod, trying to stay alive. And really, in a way, her entire life from the first page of the first book, right up until the end of this one, has been a kind of Hunger Games - a terrible competition for survival, with nearly every moment of it filmed and watched and scrutinized, nearly every moment of it planned and performed. The characters play a game in this book called "Real or Not Real?" and I feel like it really gets at the heart of one of the trilogy's central themes: that living under constant surveillance is its own kind of oppressive torture. It can put you in a place where you feel you have to pretend to be someone else all the time, to the point where you no longer know who you really are inside anymore; you don't even know what's real and what's artifice; who you love and who you don't. This is where Katniss finds herself, and it takes her a long time to finally dig her way down to what's real and important.

I saw in the second book how important Katniss' choice between Peeta and Gale was, but it wasn't until the end of this book that I realized why it was so important, and what it meant. This choice ends up symbolizing the different paths to take in the face of tyranny and brutality. Do you turn it back on itself, fight violence with violence, turn hate into hate? Do you use your oppressor's playbook against him, designing traps as cruel as his own to defeat him? Fight an inhuman enemy with its own inhumanity? That's Gale's solution. Gale is all rage and vengeance. But there's another way: to face inhumanity and cruelty with dignity and refuse to lose your own humanity. To keep yourself, to not become a pawn in someone else's game. To believe in the possibility of redemption and forgiveness. That's Peeta's solution.

The vote at the end - choosing whether or not to condemn another generation to the Hunger Games - is an extremely important moment. Once you've lived through that, do you put your tormentors back into it, and let it continue? Or do you destroy it? Do you end the cycle? Katniss realizes then that President Coin is just going to take Snow's place, and continue the cycle, and it will just go on and on. Unless someone stands up and says enough.

The final sequence of this book is traumatic and brutal, but it also feels true and right and incredibly moving. Mockingjay pulls all the themes of the trilogy together, puts everything in focus, and brings the series to a satisfying conclusion. Collins says she was inspired to write these books while flipping back and forth between a reality competition show and coverage of the Iraq War on TV, and it's not hard to see the connection. It's a great series of books, and what it has to say about people and how awful and wonderful we can be really resonates.
Tagged (?): Book Report (Not), Books (Not), The Hunger Games (Not)

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Welcome to the blog of Jim Genzano, writer, web developer, husband, father, and enjoyer of things like the internet, movies, music, games, and books. For a more detailed run-down of who I am and what goes on here, read this.

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