Monday, April 23, 2012

I just finished reading the hunger games trilogy, and wanted to give my thoughts on how it ended. Because hey, I have access to the internet, which immediately means I'm important, and everyone should listen to me.

Now before I start, there will be spoilers in this, so if you haven't read the series, and don't want anything ruined, then stop now, and return to your exciting life of espionage, and random flings with mystery women (Note: I assume the only person who reads my blog is james bond between missions.).

So I went into the final book loving the series thus far, the story had hit a point where you could really feel that things were coming to a head. Now if I'm perfectly honest, I saw the ending of the second book coming from about 1/3 of the way into it. When I read/watch/play a story, my brain can't turn off and just enjoy it. I've always over analyze things, looked for every possibility, or at least the most likely outcomes based on what's happened, and part way into the second book I thought to my self "What's the most interesting ending I would write if I were doing this book?" My answer? An airship from 13 shows up at the start of the second games, and saves the tributes who join a rebellion against the capitol. Now this is essentially a MUCH less dramatic version of what happened. So going into Mockingjay I was hoping Suzanne collins would surprise me with an ending I couldn't see coming. Did she succeed? Well, yes, and no. No because, lets face it, a lot of what was going to happen at the end was going to happen no matter what. Snow was going to die, the rebels were going to win. If those didn't happen, the entire second and third book would have felt kinda pointless. But the things that did surprise me, for the most part, did it for the wrong reasons, or, in the wrong ways entirely.

At the start of mockingjay katniss is in district 13, all kinds of pissed off at the capitol, and pretty much everyone honestly. The story progresses on a steady course of action and fulfilling story, and I was loving it. Right up until the last three chapters of the book, that, for me, is where it really fell apart.

One HUGE problem I have with the final parts of the book, is prims death. Not only that it happened, but how it was written. When it happened I honestly couldn't make out that she had been killed in the explosions until about half way through the chapter where katniss is reminding herself that she isn't crazy and says straight up "My name is katniss everdeen, my sister is dead.". Why couldn't i figure it out? Well in the moments leading up to the blast, the explosions in the children's pit go off, and prim is seen running toward them as one of the combat medics in the rebel forces. Katniss runs to her, and the second wave of explosions go off. That's the final words of the chapter "And then the second set of bombs exploded.". It doesn't tell you that prim was in the blast radius, and even then, that being in the blast radius was completely 100% unsurvivable. It even says moments before that some of the kids in the first blast are walking around injured, so it sets it up for prim to have been injured, but not definitely killed just because something exploded near by. Add to that the chapter that immediately follows is written in a way that's conveyed through katniss in a half drugged/half dead state of mind, a lot of it doesn't make sense. Which is clever in that it conveys that katniss was VERY messed up in the explosion, but again, doesn't clearly say that prim was killed. It isn't until later in the chapter when she's reflecting that it's outright stated that she's dead.

All that aside. The bigger issue about prim dieing. Is the pointlessness of it. Now I don't mind bad things happening in a story. I don't even mind main characters dieing. When done well, this adds incredible impact to the total experience. For instance. When finick died, it legitimately left me feeling sad, and almost shell shocked. Why did his death have such an impact on me? Aside from the fact Finick was one of my favorite characters, he was the only one in the series, who was truly happy. He had been through the hunger games, and lived, he then spent the next decade being whored out by president snow. But now he was free of snow, and he was with, and married to, the women he loves. Which was all he really wanted in the world. Cut to him being beheaded by the mutts in the sewers, not only was it dramatic because it was made to seem like they had all escaped the mutts onslaught, only to hear a scream and peer down to see finick about to get his head ripped off. But what immediately followed is what really drove it home. When katniss looked at him she saw his whole life flash before her eyes, everything that made him happy, everything he had to go back to. Then bam. Dead. Now Annie has to go on alone, with out the only thing that really kept her tethered to reality, and that short lived happiness between them is gone forever (It gets even worse when in the last few pages you find out Annie was pregnant, and gave birth to finicks child shortly after the war ended.). Knowing all that has a real impact when someone dies in a story, just the same as it does when someone you know dies in real life.

But when it came to prims death, there was none of this. The spontaneity of it was there, but not in the same way. Yeah he was in danger, so death was a possibility, but he was there for a reason. He was on a mission. But for prim, she just kinda, showed up, out of no where. Worse still, is that why she was there was never fully explained. They state that it was coin trying to rile up katniss one last time to try and help coin attain the throne. Which makes no sense at all. Why would coin go through the trouble of this when katniss is her only obstacle? It would make more sense to have katniss and snow killed at the same time while storming his mansion. I honestly can't see any point to prim being there, other than Collins just writing it to try and spark a reaction. But the nonsense of the situation made me ultimately not care as much as I should have. Yes she was dead, which is sad, but when done in a poor manor. Someone dieing just fails to have any real effect. Its like the difference between someone dieing in front of your eyes, and someone dieing across the planet. Sad in either case. But when you experience it your self, it has much more impact.

But the single biggest reason I hated the fact prim died. Was that it made the entire series redundant. Katniss spent the first 2 books doing nothing but throwing her life away for the sake of saving her sister, and then, boom (Literally) she was gone. Basically katniss' reason for being was gone. Now granted the final chapters are full of katniss giving up on life due to prim being gone, so at least collins remembered that part. But there was no real reason for prim to die. It didn't do anything to enhance the story in the slightest. It just made katniss really depressed. So what? She was already depressed, she had that in spades. So if that's the only reason for killing prim, then it was filling a roll that was already thoroughly filled by the countless atrocities that had taken place before hand.

Now if Collins had used prims death as a jumping off point for some big ending, then I would be fine with it. I know Collins sort of does this with katniss ultimately getting "Revenge" on coin. Even having the creative little back and forth between haymitch and katniss before hand where haymitch agrees to whatever "The mockingjay" (Meaning the symbol for the rebellion, not katniss her self.) wants, when it comes to setting up a final hunger games. But even this is tainted by the fact it too was blatantly unnecessary. Why does katniss have to lie to coin about wanting another games? Would it have effected her ability to kill coin? No. She still would have been standing there when katniss was to kill snow. Now it could be argued that if coin didn't think katniss was on her side, then she may have revoked katniss' right to kill snow, but even that's a pretty flimsy reasoning. There's nothing saying katniss (Who at this point doesn't want to live anymore anyway.) couldn't have just gotten an audience with coin, and ripped her throat out or something. Katniss would have probably been killed by the guards, but she had nothing to live for at that point, prim was dead, peeta was pretty much gone mentally, and gale was indirectly responsible for prims death. So she had nothing really keeping her from just out right jumping coin at any point in time (Yes she still had her mother, but at that point her mother was throwing her self fulling in her work, and with out it, would have been gone like she was when their father died. In which case, katniss had stated in the past she wanted nothing to do with her if she replaced again, and it she was working and functioning, then she didn't really need katniss anyway.).

The cherry on the cake when it comes to prim's death, is the fact that katniss, really didn't care. or. At least not enough with amount of set up we had.

As I said, she spent the first two entire books doing nothing but keeping her baby sister alive. Noe she's dead, and she just kind of accepts what snow said about coin being the reason for it. That's it, no questions asked. Why did coin do it? Is snow lieing? Who knows, katniss doesn't bother to find out. Now I'm sorry, but if I spent a solid two years keeping someone safe, and throwing my life away on countless occasions to do so. When they finally die, I would burn the fucking world to the ground if I had to, to find out what happened and why. But katniss just kind of accepts that it happened, and moves on.

Now lets get to the whole "Ending up with peeta." thing.

I'm going to be honest. Through the first two books I didn't care who she ended up with. I could see scenarios that would be believable in either case. But the way it happened just felt so, shallow. I can understand katniss having a hard time being with gale, since every time she looks at him, she'll be reminded that he indirectly, killed her sister by helping to design the bombs that killed her. But there's nothing saying that they can't, 100% ever be together. It would be hard, no question. But they could work through it.

Instead, she goes home, gale just leaves, with nothing said, and katniss ends up with peeta, effectively, because he's there. Even how they write peeta going from crazy killing robot, to loving good guy, is only explained in a sentence that amounts to "He got better, just because, and then we fell in love.". The sad part is just how close that paraphrase actually is to what's written. This really ends up making katniss look pretty bad. Gale and Peeta have a conversation early in the book while katniss is pretending to be asleep, in which gale states that katniss will pick who she wants to be with based on souly utilitarian reasoning. Who ever offers her the most to gain, is who she'll pick. To which peeta agrees, and katniss takes great offense. So when she later picks peeta, for no other reason, than because he's there. She does nothing but prove them both right. Being with peeta is both easier, and more convenient, so she picks him, simple as that. Nothing more.

But lets look at something else here. Even if we use the argument that she couldn't be with gale because of him designing the bombs, why then should peeta want to be with katniss so easily? Think about it. Peetas whole family was killed in the fire bombing of district 12, as well as the majority of his friends. District 12 was fire bombed because of katniss being with the rebels. Now yes, they kidnapped katniss, so the fire bombing wasn't directly her fault. But she was still the indirect causation. Just the same as prims death was the indirect causation of gale making the bombs. So if she can't forgive gale, then why can peeta forgive katniss? You could say that his love for her was so strong he could look passed it, but then you could just turn that around and apply it to gale from katniss' point of view. No matter what, katniss ending up with peeta just feels like a complete cope out on Collins' part.

So yeah. All in all, the final bits of the last three chapters left be feeling very unsatisfied, for far to many reasons. From chapter 25 onward, felt incredibly rushed, and without proper direction. Which is really disappointing. Because this could have been an amazing ending to and amazing series. But instead it just gets close to the top, trips, and slides all the way down. Leaving you with more questions than answers, and the answers you do get, you're better without.

Did I like the series? Hell yes. Amazing series as I said. Even in spite of the lack luster ending, I would still recommend the series to anyone. If I could give one suggestion though, to anyone not having read the series yet, but planning to. Stop reading mockingjay after chapter 24. When you read "And then the second bombs exploded". Close the book, and make up your own ending in your head. I can pretty much guarantee that it'll be more fulfilling than what Collins her self wrote.
This is the most recent post.
Older Post