After reading “The Hunger Games” last fall, I read an article that said the draw of the books had to do with the gore and the gladiator-in-the-arena effect—no matter how horrific it is, you just can’t look away.
I was finally able to read the last two books (“Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay”) in the series last week, and whereas the first book left me with a sense of hope, I found the last two books completely destructive. However, what kept me reading these books wasn’t the bloodshed or the mounting carnage—which frankly made me feel ill—it was the desire to see the ending, to find out if the rebels defeated Snow and the Capitol, if there was even a chance of happiness for a heroine who only wanted to keep alive the people she loved most in the world.
What I found broke my heart, but if “Mockingjay” had ended with a Disneyesque happily-ever-after, I think the true strength of the series would have been lost, which is the truth that the price of freedom has always been paid in blood.
In every war throughout history, the fight to preserve a way of life or even lives has always meant death—for the guilty and the innocent alike. It’s easy to take that freedom for granted if you’ve never been on a front line or if you don’t come from a military family, where you’ve watched your loved ones ship out and sometimes not come back. And if you consider that somewhere in the world, right now even, people are being murder in the name of someone else’s freedom, it’s easy to recognize the price that Katniss and Peeta pay—all because they wanted to survive in a world that wanted their deaths.
For me, this series wasn’t powerful because the audience likes to read/watch the gore of action. It’s powerful because Suzanne Collins doesn’t sugarcoat the devastation and the destructive power of war. It scars the flesh as well as the mind, and the innocent are never spared. The humanity of the characters, the changes that occur because of these horrors, is real, to the point of heartbreak. But, at the same time, it makes me appreciate all those brave enough to serve in the military, because without them, this type of violence could be everyday life, not just something we read about in books.