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The Hunger Games movie comes out in a few days, and as a YA writer and fan I can’t not post something about it. I also can’t help but find all the media hype surrounding the movie somewhat ironic, since one of the main themes of the books seems to be…the dangers of media hype.

It’s a story as old as the Roman empire: entertain and you shall conquer.

This theme is exactly why the final book of the trilogy, MOCKINGJAY, is probably my favorite (or at least a very close second after the first book)…which is interesting, since it appears to be the least praised by fans. In fact, some of the reviews on Amazon are downright scathing.

So why do I like it? Because MOCKINGJAY is a war story, and wars are messy, ugly things, no matter if the cause is just or not. In this final installment, the story is about so much more than Katniss or any one character…and it certainly is a lot bigger than a teenage love triangle. Beloved characters are lost, and others will never be the same.

How like…war.

Some reviewers called MOCKINGJAY “hopeless” and “absurd.” I think many who were displeased with the final book wanted a fairy tale story with a neat happily ever after ending. But wherever there is violence, death, and oppression, sometimes the best one can ask for is a let’s see if we can put the pieces back together ending. That’s real hope—“the thing with feathers that perches in the soul,” as Emily Dickinson said. Like the Mockingjay, hope endures and is not easily silenced.

Suzanne Collins surely knew the nature of this tattered hope, being an Air Force brat and the daughter of a Vietnam vet. The brutal realism is what I loved about the last book—as depressing as it was at times—because it told a truth more meaningful than “Gale or Peeta?” ever could be. MOCKINGJAY culminates the message of the first Hunger Games book in a powerful way: when we substitute reality-TV gladiators and celebrities for real people and real problems, we numb ourselves to the ways violence affects those who experience it. I truly hope this is a message the film adaptation of the books upholds.

Thankfully, Collins stuck to her guns and wrapped up her epic trilogy with the message she started with, even when the masses were screaming for panem et circenses.

0 thoughts on “Panem et Circenses

  1. I have not read the books myself, but my 12-year-old son is eagerly awaiting this weekend so he can go to the movie. He devoured the books, and as much as I wonder about the subject material being so popular with such young kids, it’s great to see him so enthusiastic.

  2. They’re great books! She deals with pretty heavy stuff, but I think Suzanne Collins does it in a way most kids can handle. What I love is that they’re the kind of books that seem to “grow.” Of course I read them as an adult, but I imagine if you read them as a kid and then read them again later on in life you see the story in a new light. Thanks so much for your comment!

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