No really, I’m trying to figure it out.
Caution: Spoilers ahead.
Let’s start from the beginning. (Because it’s a very good place to start.) Drat, now that song is going to be in my head. Figures. And it doesn’t really mesh with The Hunger Games.
There, we’ve come full circle.
I really liked the first two books in The Hunger Games series. The author is brilliant at #BeMeanToCharacters. Honestly, maybe the best that I’ve read. I spent the entire first two books flinching for Katniss at least every other page. Even I, as a reader, thought “It might be easier if she just dies.”
But of course I didn’t mean it. Because I LOVE stories and heroes and everything that goes along with them.
Allow me to take a deep breath.
Let’s talk Lord of the Rings for a second. I didn’t read the books until after the first movie came out. I had NO IDEA that Frodo didn’t march up the side of Mt. Doom and toss the ring in like a good little hobbit.
Now that I’ve had some time to digest it (and the movies showed it better than the books) I get it. The One Ring drew Frodo down to depths that he could not get out of no matter how big his heart was. It literally consumed him.
My problem was, when I read the books, I never caught that. Not enough of it to justify Frodo’s actions at the end. If I remember right, the third book is mostly from Sam’s point of view, so the reader only sees what Sam see’s not what Frodo is feeling.
Then, after the One Ring is destroyed, Frodo can never go back to who he was. No, the problem is that he can’t heal until he after he leaves.
That’s lame. It goes against my personal belief system and will always bug me.
BUT, I still love the story of The Lord of the Rings. Why? Because there are other heroes. Other characters that find their own way, their own courage and face their fears.
Katniss and Frodo have too much in common. They both volunteer for something they’re pretty sure they won’t live through. The odds are NOT in their favor. Powers bigger than the characters are using them as pawns, and they are forced to make decisions that no sane person should have to make. People betray them. Their lives really, really suck. They both survive for different reasons—Katniss is tough as nails and is used to being a few days from death, where Frodo’s compassion carries him to the gates of hell and beyond.
So why do I love LOTR but despise THG?
I think I’ve finally found an answer.
In LOTR, at the end of the story, Frodo can’t take it and has to leave. But Sam stays. Sam comes back from the adventure changed in too many ways, but he stays. He goes after his woman, they have a family and he runs the Shire for ages. Aragorn takes his destiny by the horns. Other people survive—although they are all changed—to carry on in the new world.
At the end of THG, no one is okay. Katniss is insane, Peta will never recover, Gale can never see Katniss again because of “What he did”, and no one is actually happy. Not to mention that everyone else we ever knew is pretty much dead. The world goes on, a better place we hope, but THEIR world—the character’s world—is sad. More than sad, they are still only just surviving.
There’s no Sam to live in the new world. There’s no Aragorn to keep the peace.
I think that’s why I hate The Hunger Games. Katniss is not the typical hero. I’m kind of okay with that. But without someone to be my hero, I can’t love that last book.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Whether you loved the books or hated them or you sit somewhere in the middle.