Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mockingjay and Me

NOTE: This Post Contains Potential Mild Spoilers

I bought a book Tuesday, picked up some dinner to-go from Cracker Barrel (even got the plasticware so I didn't have to do any dishes), and sat down on our couch with Mockingjay, the third book in a trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I only took one break from 6:30 pm until 11:00 pm, and that was to drive to Starbucks and pick up a (decaf) Toffee Nut latte and chat with Daniel on the phone for about 30 minutes before sitting back down on our couch once again. It was that good. I highly recommend you read it!

There's been some debate on review of this novel if it was a worthy ending. People on the Facebook fan page have either loved or hated it. There doesn't appear to be very much middle ground. If you're wondering, I fell into the "loved it" category, but I do see the merit of the arguments from the "hated it" side. They maintain that the book did not develop the main character, Katniss, that despite being a triumphant game player (read: being tossed to the lions in an arena kind of game), she is still a helpless pawn of warring factions, even at the end. I disagree. Could her final realization and claim of independence have come sooner and still moved the story on? Yes, I believe so, but the author's plotline is achingly consistent with how I would believe a 16 year-old would react and grow under the circumstance with which she was presented. Perhaps I identified strongly with Katniss. Perhaps I saw in her a bit of me, and a bit of others I know. Perhaps I felt her inner and outer battle keenly, knowing there could be situations I face in which there is no good answer and at every turn you are chased by an enemy and your only instinct is to just survive--no matter what.

Her story is like a re-occuring nightmare I have every now and then when the pressures and stresses of life creep up on me. I am young, helpless, sometimes even shoe-less. I am running, running, running. There is an evil presence behind me. Someone I must, at all costs, avoid. Someone I try at every turn to desperately outwit and hide from in a spot he will not look, because I've been running so long I can barely move, and I know that shortly I will collapse. I need to survive. I need to survive ...

... and then I wake up, shaking.

Mockingjay is that dream, except one thousand times worse. In my nightmare, only my own life is at stake. In the Hunger Games Trilogy, the lives of everyone Katniss loves and comes to know are at stake. In Mockingjay, the lives of everyone in her small world are at stake, and she is the pawn in a war game that threatens the very existence of humanity. Try those pressures on for size.

What would you do? Would you rise to the challenge? Or would you sometimes run scared, sometimes break, sometimes lash out in anger, sometimes fail miserably? Katniss does, and I would too.

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