Warning: This post will have spoilers for all three of the Hunger Games books. If you haven’t read them yet, you may not want to continue reading this post. If you get to the end, and are pissed that I spoiled something, I will simply remind you that the very first thing I wrote in this post was a warning.
My hands have had a bit of a set back the past few weeks. While the original issue has somewhat plateaued in the improvement department, about three weeks ago I developed additional tendon damage/injury to my left thumb/wrist area. While this has been highly disappointing, and the new injury has affected more than just playing on the PC (trying working with fondant when your hands hurt trying to soften it up or color it, or try shuffling a deck of cards when the action causes pain in your thumb), I’m trying to roll with the punches and facilitate as quick a recovery as possible. Which means that I’m not spending a lot of time on the computer and I am again spending a good deal of time reading, watching TV and doing other things.
I bring this up, because over the weekend as I sat and enjoyed one of the ten days of sunshine we get here in Seattle, I finished up the Hunger Games trilogy. In fact, I was so involved in them that Saturday night found me up way past my bed time trying to finish the final book (I sadly had to give up with about 75 pages left when I just couldn’t keep my eyes open any more). Anyhow, as I read through the three books and observed the changes in Katniss and the other characters I had some thoughts on them that I wanted to flesh out, and figured this is about as good a place as any to do so. Before I move on, I want to again remind you that I am about to enter into spoiler territory, and if you haven’t read the books yet, you may well want to stop reading this post now.
Even though I’d already seen the movie, moving through the first book of the series was tough at points and played very heavily on my emotions. I still balled my eyes out when Rue died. I still held my breath when the medicine was available at the cornucopia. And I still found myself hoping that Katniss would see all of the good in Peeta and truly fall for him – a feeling that grew even stronger in Catching Fire. However, as I progressed through the series, mainly through Mockingjay, I found myself growing more unhappy with the way Katniss fell apart. In fact, by the end of Mockingjay I was almost completely dissatisfied with her evolution, even though she ended up with Peeta. I think perhaps it was the epilogue that really made me unhappy, as I felt it was somewhat unneeded.
I guess, when push comes to shove, what I really want to write about is Katniss.
I really liked her in the first and second books. I liked the emotions that were provided to us, I like that everything wasn’t a Hollywood happy ending (something that I think is important to acknowledge considering that these are “young adult” books). But the way that she just completely and totally fell apart as book three progressed made me incredibly dissatisfied with the story. I think that this probably also has to dovetail into Peeta’s progress in book three as well – since so much of that directed what happened to Katniss.
I think what really disappointed me was how little of the “girl on fire” we actually saw in the final installation of the book. I get that she’s been through a lot. I understand that she’s confused and there are a million changes happening around her. And I absolutely think that those things would have a profound impact on her as she experiences them. But to have her in a nearly catatonic state of mind through a good deal of the story is just…wrong. Katniss is a survivor. She beats the odds. She does what is required to win. And somehow the girl in Mockingjay just seems to be a completely different character at the core.
There are a few times when we actually see shadows of the Katniss from books one and two in book three – the fight in District 2, early in the book when she goes to District 8, when she puts that arrow into Coin (I’ll admit, I cheered at that part). But, frankly, I’m not sure that watching her mope around the majority of the book sends the right message. Yes, shit happened and it sucked and it absolutely has an effect on who you become. But her character was so strong, with moments of pure weakness, that it’s really hard to swallow that she’d become a complete shell of herself and stop fighting altogether. I don’t know, it just didn’t sit well with me. I know that Prim was one of the things that she was fighting so hard for, so I could see her semi-catatonic state at the end of the book once she’d died, but we’d already seen so much of “hopeless” and “directionless” Katniss throughout the entirety of book three that it felt almost contrived.
The other thing that I think really bothered me was the epilogue of Mockingjay. I felt the book would have ended well with Katniss deciding that what she needed was the dandelion, Peeta. I was happy with that resolution. But the epilogue was to shallow to really leave me with an impact. It needed to be better done or completely excluded. It’s great they had kids and got back to some semblance of their former lives, but it was so empty of anything that I think I would have much rather have let my imagination write their future.
I have so much I think I could say, but at this point my thoughts are running themselves in circles, so I think this is a good place to stop for now. I will say that I did enjoy the first two books tremendously. And I will probably re-read all three again. But the third book was somewhat disappointing when taken as a whole. What do you think of Katniss’ transformation? How did you feel about the ending?