Friday, November 11, 2011

Effects of a well-written book

**Definitely contains spoilers about The Hunger Games books - you are forewarned.

        So I literally just finished the final book in "The Hunger Games" trilogy by Suzanne Collins and I have to tell you, it left me a bit perplexed.  I can honestly say that in all my years of reading, and trust me, I've read more books than I could ever begin to account for, no series has EVER left me this... wanting?  Affected?  Emotional?  I can't quite put it into words, and it sort of freaks the hell out of me.  I became more vested in the characters that Ms. Collins created than I care to admit.  I found myself more angered, more altered, more fixated than I thought I was capable of being with imaginary people.  Some of you may not understand the relationship between a reader and her protagonist, and most of you can never understand the relationship between a writer and her characters, but I can honestly say... maybe I hadn't really understood the former fully until after I ventured into the world of Panem.
        The whole thing was riveting and shocking.  At first I was a little put off by the present tense tone and care-free, yet striking attitude with which the main character Katniss encountered and relayed the world with which she was unfortunate enough to be born into.  But as I vested hour upon hour into understanding the world that Collins created, I grasped just how striking and genius it was to write her that way.  It pulled me in, made me feel connected with this girl and I found myself confused, harmed, pissed off, and even touched by the moments that were woven into the plot.  And my pull into that world only intensified as I entered into the third book.  I sort of knew what was coming; I mean what good series kills off the hero - ummm pretty much none - so it's not like the author had laid out a new game-plan (no offense or anything), it definitely had it's predictable moments.  But it also had it's chewing-to-the-quick, blood-pressure rising, page-turning twists and turns.
        What I did discover, though, was that I became overly annoyed with yet another love-triangle type of story line, not entirely grasping why it must always be that way, though please understand I would NEVER classify this as a romance, so this definitely isn't the driving force behind the plot.  BUT what is it about society that we are so indecisive and selfish and greedy that we're unable to just be faithful to who and what we are?  Why must we second guess ourselves constantly and not be satisfied with the things and people and opportunities in front of us?  Sure - if this were the case then the freaking book wouldn't have been written because then there would be no rebellion.  But my point is that, must love always be so complicated? Must emotions always trick us?  Can we never just ask ourselves, "What am I doing and why can't I just make up my mind?"  Katniss does in the end, but to what end?  I'm left with this overwhelming feeling that someone must always lose out.  That not everyone can be satisfied.  That is always left to the two main protagonists in every story and it's sickening.  As a writer, yes I've been guilty of this myself because it makes for interesting reading... but what about real life?  Who ever just writes about real life?  No one - and I'll tell you why... because it's boring.  Right?  You read to escape reality.  You read to lose yourself in worlds that couldn't ever possibly exist in the here and now.  The fact that these books are post-apocalyptic speaks volumes to that.  The success of books like the Twilight series, the Immortals series, the Vampire Diaries, the Morganville Vampire Series, the Secret Circle series, the Harry Potter series, the House of Night series... I could keep going - all of these books are riddled with anything BUT the mundane, everyday life of normal people.  And hell, right now I'm writing something supernatural myself so I know I've been sucked in as well.
         But it all brings me back to why?  The ending of the last book, Mockingjay just didn't sit well with me.  There were so many expectations I had, so many assumptions I'd made and had practically convinced myself were true.  There is definitely a message that she's trying to convey underneath all the gore, fighting, romance, longing - I get that.  I understand her call to us to not forget the past and not become complacent with the present.  To not allow yourself to get lost in what the society has dubbed as normal or appropriate.  I see her urging us, in her satyric way, to step the hell away from our obsessions with media and electronics and instant gratification and the overly-publicized and often dramatized way of the wicked wicked world - our disgusting fondness and desensitization to life and death.  But in the end, I simply found myself just staring off into the abyss.  After all the messages I received loud and clear I find myself obsessing over the final choice Katniss made - she chose Peeta.  Why, because he was more damaged and she didn't want to leave him to suffer an eternity alone?  Because he knew more of what she'd gone through?  Because he'd sacrificed himself for her over and over and over again?  Because he was her symbol of rebirth and life all because of the bread and that stupid dandelion?  What about Gale?  Gale who practically saved her and her family from starvation by teaching her the way of the forest after her father died.  Gale who was her rock and connection to sanity in a world where nothing was meant to be enjoyable.  Gale who cared for and protected her family when she was incapable of doing so.  Gale, who after watching her throw herself at Peeta during the games, didn't renig on his agreement out of selfishness and anger.  Gale who later risked his life for her in ways Peeta became unable to.  The whole thing just angers me in a way I can't rationalize or overcome.  Don't get me wrong, I have empathy for Peeta, I understand he's damaged and he needs someone because everyone he held close to him other than Katniss was killed.  Either way, because of the love triangle, someone was bound to be left out, disappointed, crushed.  I guess she just ended up choosing the person she felt couldn't survive without her, not the other way around as Gale had suggested to Peeta during the final moments they all struggled for their lives together.
        All-in-all it's an excellent read and I highly recommend it to anyone - though if you haven't read it, this post will surely ruin it for you (you were warned, sorry).  And maybe it's the overly-analytical literary mind I possess that has me pouring my thoughts out to you all over these books, but I find it quite exhausting that I'm almost incapable of enjoying them as I hoped I would.  I find that all I can fester over is the fact that, although I could've never written these in the way that Suzanne Collins did, there were so many things I would've changed.  I guess that's just my curse as a writer.

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