You know, what? As of 5:00pm today I was officially on vacation and if vacation isn’t a time for blogging, I don’t know what is. Of course there is more SERIOUS writing I should be doing just now, but I’ll get back to that in the morning. Tonight I am on vacation.
Because I am horribly behind on everything happening in the world it was only yesterday that I finished listening to The Hunger Games Trilogy. What did I think? Well, I tell you with the fair warning that there will probably be spoilers involved, because I don’t really believe there is anyone else left who hasn’t read these books. I’m intensely amused that I’ve seen nearly all the middle aged men on my bus reading these books. This isn’t really going to be a review, just a general discussion of the books. I’m also going to treat this as one large narrative without breaking it into books.
Having heard all this furor over the ending I was really prepared to be disappointed. Honestly, I think I steeled myself so much that ultimately I was much less emotional about the ending that I expected. Prim’s death barely caused me to tear up. Part of that probably had to do with the fact that I was driving to work and couldn’t really afford to mess up my make up. Buttercup showing up did pretty much tear me up though. There is, however, another factor at play. This story is relentless in any number of ways to the point that I think by the end of the books readers are suffering nearly as much PTSD as Katniss. (Disclaimer – if I spell names wrong it is because I listened to the books so I didn’t get to see any spellings.) The reason I think this is that, like Katniss, it isn’t until Buttercup shows up that I could really emote for Prim.
About that relentlessness … in general I thought it worked to a point. All the deaths didn’t bother me, and in fact I was prepared for a Hamlet-style everyone is dead so Haymitch or Plutarch has to finish the story ending. The relentless moving Katniss around like a pawn, I didn’t mind. Where did it all go awry for me. Two areas. Katniss spent far too much time in the hospital. Her stint in solitary and descent into near madness would have been much more powerful, had we not spent so much time earlier in the book in medically induced similar states. The other place that was unnecessarily relentless – the Peeta/Gale business. Katniss’s confusion was understandable in the first half of this story. But, I think the tension would have been greater if – after coming out of the second arena (even without Peeta) she had committed to Peeta. Also, there would have been less of a need to semi-demonize Gale at the end of the story. If there is any resolution I am unhappy with it is the relationship between Katniss and Gale. Had Katniss admitted to Gale that she loved him like a brother, and wanted to be with Peeta, there could have been an awkward period between them in the middle that resolved with them resuming their friendship, or at least parting a little more amicably at the end. It is easy to second guess authors, and that is not really my intent. I just really hate to see what is essentially a good story fall into the trap of assuming that there can never be just friendship between a man and a woman.
In the end the part I am most happy that Katniss killed Coin. It completely met my expectations as a reader. I also like the little detail we get that it is Peillor who is elected. The reason I like that is it was Peillor who let Katniss into Snow’s cell where she learns about Coin. Reinforcing the Katniss as pawn aspect of the series.
I know I’ll be listening to the series again. Particularly because I want to be able to pay close attention to the relationships between Katniss, her mother, and Prim. I’m formulating something say about all that, but I think I need another listen before I can fully articulate it.