In the epilogue of Mockingjay, sadness until THE ABSOLUTE END OF TIME. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to finish Mockingjay.
It’s very weird to be at the end of this all. I started The Hunger Games trilogy for a new project and a new experience when I created Mark Reads. I was unsure whether I could continue to keep an audience for a new series (I did! Hello!), or that I’d be able to write in-depth reviews about something I knew nothing about. I think I started off with this series with a much more cynical view than I intended to. When I came into the Harry Potter series, I was afraid of instantly liking it because of that atrocity of a series I came. So I was overly harsh in my first set of reviews. With The Hunger Games, I feared liking something instantly, so I was, again, a lot more negative than I probably wanted to be. In hindsight, though, I’m okay with it. I didn’t trust this series when I started it. Hell, I even feared that I wouldn’t like it. It made the joy all that much more real to me when I realized I really was enjoying myself while reading these books.
I suppose it’s odd to say you experience “joy” while reading The Hunger Games trilogy because there’s actually little joy to be found in these books. They’re deeply serious, painful, kind of traumatizing, and endlessly tragic. Maybe it’s because I gravitate to such dark and depressing themes, but the fact that this series told a story that wasn’t so easy to digest makes me appreciate them that much more.
I actually enjoy the epilogue to Mockingjay quite a bit because it seems natural. I feel that this very brief look into the future fits the tone and themes of the rest of the novel. It’s not often that epilogues actually work, for that matter, so much applause to Collins for that.
Set fifteen years in the future, the epilogue serves the purpose of not only updating us about what sort of life Peeta and Katniss have lived, but to remind us of what we’ve just read.
They play in the Meadow. The dancing girl with the dark hair and blue eyes. The boy with the blond curls and gray eyes, struggling to keep up with her on his chubby toddler legs.
I love that their children have physical features opposite of their parents. Nice touch.
It took five, ten, fifteen years for me to agree. But Peeta wanted them so badly. When I first felt her stirring inside of me, I was consumed with a terror that felt as old as life itself. Only the joy of holding her in my arms could tame it. Carrying him was a little easier, but not much.
Collins has to be praised for what she’s done here: she has not given these characters a fairy-tale ending. She has not erased their experiences to wrap the story up in an easily-digestible package. She has not said that people cannot survive or love or raise a family if they suffer from a mental illness or trauma.
They live, just like any one of us, though the details are different.
The questions are just beginning. The arenas have been completely destroyed, the memorials built, there are no more Hunger Games. But they teach about them at school, and the girl knows we played a role in them. The boy will know in a few years. How can I tell them about that world without frightening them to death?
I have no answer to this and I wouldn’t even pretend that I do. But it is the reality of what Katniss has to deal with. How do you explain these horrors? How can you describe lived experience to people who will never experience it for itself? Katniss even points out that her children take the concept of waking up for granted, a fear she’ll always live with.
My children, who don’t know they play on a graveyard.
Yeah, how do you explain that to them?
Peeta says it will be okay. We have each other. And the book. We can make them understand in a way that will make them braver. But one day I’ll have to explain about my nightmares. Why they came. Why they won’t ever really go away.
I can’t even imagine this, having to explain those sort of horrors to your children.
I’ll tell them how I survive it. I’ll tell them that on bad mornings, it feels impossible to take pleasure in anything because I’m afraid it could be taken away. That’s when I make a list in my head of every act of goodness I’ve seen someone do. It’s like a game. Repetitive. Even a little tedious after more than twenty years.
But there are much worse games to play.
And so Mockingjay comes to an end. For most of us, we will probably never live in a world or experience things so traumatic that we are haunted by them for the rest of our lives. It’s interesting, though, that people could take so much away from this ending. As someone who was abused and still feels the effects of that every day, it’s very uplifting (strangely so) that this ending feels so real to me, despite that I have no experience with war.
Looking back on the series, I’d definitely say that Mockingjay was my favorite of the three novels. I don’t know if I could necessarily pick a favorite character, as I don’t naturally gravitate towards one over the others. Well, obviously Buttercup is the best, but besides that, I kind of like all of them, faults and all, fairly equally. I’m quite satisfied with the ending as well, and I don’t really have any desire for the loose ends to be tied up. I imagine there are people who are mad that they don’t find out full stories for people like Haymitch, Gale, or Katniss’s mom, but I don’t think it’s that important in the end.
For me, though, this series will have a few things I latch on to. It was my first book series on my new site. It was immensely entertaining, and it surprised me time and time again. But I’ll always love that I got to discuss so many of the intricacies of that this book inspired us to talk about: from war to revolution, from ableism to heroism, and from love triangles to every SHIT JUST GOT REAL moment that Suzanne Collins sent our way.
Sure, there are flaws. All the summary portions still grate me the wrong way. Sometimes the first-person present narrative is irritating. I still think that, even in hindsight, the first book is a tad reminiscent of Battle Royale, despite that it has nothing to do with it. But in the end, I would recommend The Hunger Games trilogy in a heartbeat. But I’d add one qualifier to it before sending someone on their way:
You are not prepared.
We will begin The Book Thief by Markus Zusak on Friday. Expect a couple Infinite Jest reviews before then since I now have the time!