It’s probably safe to bet that The Hunger Games, the young adult sci-fi series by Suzanne Collins, will not reach the cult status given to Harry Potter. However, it doesn’t stop it from being an stellar example of young adult fiction—I have to admit, even better than J.K. Rowling’s in terms of writing and plot execution—due to its complex themes and well fleshed-out characters. Hogwarts still has an irreplaceable spot in my heart, but this weekend was dedicated mostly to Mockingbird, the last book in the trilogy.
I actually didn’t realize that the book was already out until Geolette, a good friend and co-worker, excitedly opened a package from National Book Store in the Metro office. “It’s Mockingjay!” she squealed as she held up the copy. Being swamped with work, she unfortunately didn’t have time to read it this week, so I borrowed her copy until I got one for myself. I read it twice this weekend: the first reading was to find out what happened (I was dying to know what happened after Catching Fire), and the second was to enjoy the detail and understand the heroine’s motives more easily. Well, how you’ll react to the ending depends almost entirely on whether you’re for Team Gale or for Team Peeta.
(Warning: spoilers below)
Reducing The Hunger Games trilogy to a mere love triangle is doing a great injustice to the series, but it’s part of the charm. Gale, a childhood friend who helps Katniss survive, is tall, dark, and handsome—and of course, mysterious. Peeta, who’s also forced to compete in the Hunger Games (a life-or-death survival competition between children from the different districts of Panem, the poverty-stricken country that used to be North America), is blond, stocky, witty, and unexplainably devoted to Katniss, who doesn’t always return his feelings at first. The first two books show him protecting and defending her at every turn, but in the third installment, events take on a darker feel when he initially attempts to murder Katniss after being subjected to heavy brainwashing from the Capitol, the erm, capital of Panem.
The series, influenced by Greek mythology (the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur), the Roman period (the Capitol’s decadent way of living, gladiator games) and reality television, isn’t an easy read for children. There’s plenty of death and war; evil comes in the form of cut-and-dried villains such as the ruthless President Snow, but it also depicts moral gray areas, such as the twist ending *spoiler alert again* that hints that the bombs that accidentally killed Katniss’s sister Prim could’ve been Gale’s brainchild, not the Capitol’s.
On a shallow note, I admit that I was happy with the ending because Katniss ended up with Peeta, who eventually recovered and worked his way back to her (seriously, how could you not be for Team Peeta? The story about “the boy with the bread” was heartbreaking and kilig at the same time). I liked it that Katniss had to lose Peeta first to realize how much he meant to her, because for most of the series, she took him for granted and toyed with his emotions (sometimes without her realizing it), despite her good intentions. Admit it: we’ve all been there, regardless of what side we were on. Plus, Peeta reminds me of someone.
The series will supposedly be turned into a movie, but like most young adult books, I doubt that this will translate well on the silver screen (*cough* Percy Jackson *cough* Harry Potter 1, 2 and 6). For one thing, the books depend largely on psychology, to be interpreted by the reader’s imagination. Some themes are actually quite similar to The Giver, another young adult book by Lois Lowry, which discusses sameness and the goings-on in a seemingly perfect world, free of illness and conflict.
The main horror in the story is not derived from bombed-out landscapes or death scenes from the Hunger Games; it’s the idea that children eventually accept that they have to kill each other in order to survive, and we come to see the reasoning behind that. It’s the idea that we live in a world that’s too similar to Panem for comfort—with us being the mindless, superficial citizens of the Capitol.
(Day 25, 30-Day Blog Challenge)