'Hunger Games' 3 a page-turner with deeper meaning

mockingjay1By Maddie Conway
Executive News Editor

A battle scene at the end of a book or movie isn’t exactly uncommon. Even in all seven of the “Harry Potter” novels — which had, at least for its earlier volumes, a chunk of its audience under age 12 — end (spoiler alert) in a fight between Voldemort and the dark side and Harry and his friends.
While “Mockingjay,” the final volume of Suzanne Collin’s science fiction trilogy “The Hunger Games,” certainly has a violent streak as a story of revolution, Collins offers a deeper perspective on violence in her novel’s content than many other war tales.

“Mockingjay” tells the story of Katniss Everdeen, a 17-year-old living in post-apocalyptic America, wherein lies Panem, a capitol city that prospers by exploiting its 12 surrounding districts that, come book three, are now deep in rebellion.
A rebellion of which Katniss, as a two-time survivor of the Capitol’s cruel Hunger Games, is the inspiration. The Games, which pit children from the districts against each other in a fight to the death as a symbol of the Capitol’s might, have been the force keeping the districts in line since their first revolution against the Capitol that led to the Games’ creation.
But when Katniss and the other victor from her home District 12, Peeta Mellark, both escape the Games alive the first time, it gives the suffering citizens of Panem a gleam of hope. And when Katniss and Peeta are forced back into the Games a second time and also survive — this time as part of a plot to rebel against the Capitol outright — it’s only fuel to the fire.
A rebellious fire that, in the face of opposition from the murderous Capitol, needs a face to represent it, a job for which Katniss is hand-picked by the rebellion’s leadership. And through accepting her role as the symbol of the districts’ rebellion, Katniss is exposed to even more violence and death than even she — who faced poverty and malnourishment back in District 12 and murder back in the Hunger Games twice — has ever seen before.
So naturally, “Mockingjay” is successful in being suspenseful; even at over 400 pages, it isn’t a chore to plow through in an afternoon, what with there being an explosion or plot twist every 10 pages.
What Collins succeeds with most in “Mockingjay,” however, is not her description of war itself but her analysis of the effects of violence on the psych — and, in this case, the minds of children and adolescents. In the novel, there is never a moment in which Katniss doesn’t struggle to come to grips with what she has experienced in her life, and while that may make for a couple fewer pages of action, it’s somehow more powerful.
Why? Because “Mockingjay” manages to explore the depths of healing beyond the obvious. Katniss not only questions the lives that she’s seen — or caused to be — lost; she mourns them and realizes, with the reader, that that mourning will never completely go away. Peeta’s sudden loss of grip on reality and mental breakdown that rings of Post-Traumatic Shock Syndrome strike a cord, and through both of their strife that only worsens — not improves — with each turned page, the acceptance that “Mockingjay”‘s ending will be bittersweet sets in.
“The Hunger Games” trilogy’s first two volumes were far from happy, but they were also far from introspective, a word that fits “Mockingjay” and its perspective on war, violence and, more importantly, healing, perfectly. “Mockingjay” explores those themes inside and out, leaving no doubt to the reader that no matter the rebellion’s outcome, Katinss, Peeta and the war’s other emotional casualties will never be the same. Ultimately, what “Mockingjay” shines light on is this: the realization that war, even when won, creates a scar on its victims that will never truly heal.