If you haven’t heard of The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins then you are spending your days either living in a cave or being way more productive than I am. The third and final installment in the series, Mockingjay, just came out this last month and I keep seeing them everywhere. I picked up a copy at Costco, for cryin’ out loud, that’s how big of a deal these books are. I’ve got some conflicting feelings about the conclusion of the series and I’m going to try very hard to write about it without revealing spoilers. It’s gonna be hard.
I loved the first book, The Hunger Games, but the second, Catching Fire, didn’t capture me nearly as well as the first did. The concept wasn’t new and it felt a bit recycled as far as plot and tension went. I was reading over the posts I did for both the books and while I gave The Hunger Games it’s own post and couldn’t say enough good things, Catching Fire was lumped in with two other books in a post about series books. Not a good sign. If I had been smart, and had the ability to wait that long, I should have waited until all three books are out and then read them back to back to retain more details. I couldn’t remember half of what happened in the previous books which made me keeping saying, “Huh? What? Who was that again?”. It could also be that my brain is full of holes. I wouldn’t rule out that possibility.
Mockingjay jumps right in where Catching Fire leaves off with Katniss in District 13 and reluctantly part of the rebellion effort. Peeta is in the custody of President Snow and presumably being tortured for information. Ends up, District 13 isn’t some idyllic place to live, though it is out from under the Capitol’s thumb. The leaders of the rebellion have their own agenda for Katniss, including to be mascot to stir up rebellion efforts in other districts. She just wants to be left alone. Ah, Katniss, you just always want to be left alone. You’ve got pouting and agonizing down to a science. Get over it. Be helpful or get outta Dodge, I wanted to tell her. Grow up! That was another one. I felt impatient with her pretty much the entire book. Granted, it’s not like she’s got some kind of ideal existence but she’s so bent on revenge and nobody understands her and everybody just wants to use her. Whatever. At least her love for her family felt sincere or I’d worry that her character was intolerable.
One of the big draws of this book is the action and boy howdy, there’s plenty. But not until more than halfway through the book, which was kind of irritating. There isn’t a whole lot of plot before that point either, just lots of worrying by Katniss. Then, it feels like Collins was trying to make up for the lack of action by making it totally gruesome. I can’t remember how violent the previous books where, but there’s no way this wouldn’t end up rated R if they made a move out of it. That’s not to say it wasn’t exciting and totally intense, but I wouldn’t recommend it to my grandmother or anyone younger than fifteen years old.
The other big draw is the Katniss/Gale/Peeta love triangle. Future writers take note: to sell lots of books make sure you include a love triangle. For me, it became obvious fairly quickly who Katniss was going to end up with, but it seemed like Collins changed what we knew of the guy she didn’t go with so that it would make sense for her not to be with him. It’s hard not to give out details. What I’m trying to say is the guy that was eliminated had to take a pretty big dive to be taken out of the running and it didn’t seem in character. I’d have to go back and read the first two books again to catch what was implied, but instead I’ll let you fans of the series correct me.
In all, it was exciting but gory, satisfying but annoying. I expected to like it more than I did and that was disappointing. The only thing I really like was what Collins did with Peeta’s character. That was fresh, brilliant and interesting. The ending took me by complete surprise, but I didn’t really understand what had happened so I had to go back and read it again. I kept thinking, “What now? Huh?” during the last couple of chapters. The very last chapter was very satisfying, though, with what Collins did with Katniss and her future family. It felt right. I’d re-read the first book for sure, but it wouldn’t make sense to not re-read the other books so then I wouldn’t re-read the first one after all because then I’d feel obligated to read the next two. Meh, forget it.
Since young adult novels based on bleak and dystopian futures are all the rage these days, I decided to write my own and pay for my kids’ college funds with the piles of money I’ll eventually make. It takes place in the not-so-distant future when the human race has become so fearful of dairy products, due to the careful plotting of the poultry industry, that all cows have been eradicated and harsh fines and prison sentences imposed on those who dare to raise them. The human race has become universally lactose intolerant and plagued with illnesses related to calcium deficiencies. High cholesterol has plummeted, though. The book starts out with a young girl on her family’s ranch in Montana where they raise llamas and donkeys and, of course, the government-approved flock of chickens. Our hero, a girl named Dogla, and her family are hiding a big secret, though. They are secretly raising a few dairy cows in an underground bunker. A really smelly underground bunker. Dogla has to hide her strong bones and teeth from the other kids at school lest the traitorous nature of her family’s work be revealed. When the secret is discovered by government agents (’cause you know it will be) Dogla and her family are shipped off to the poultry work farms in Alabama as punishment. Dogla has to plan her escape and bring down the government’s evil plot against cows (and goats too, now that I think of it) over the course of at least three books. Four if I can get a good enough deal with a publisher. What do you think? Newberry material? Not that I care. I’m in it for the money and you know these babies are gonna sell like vampire novels!