Contains some mild spoilers.
I am really undecided about my opinion of his conclusion to the Hunger Games trilogy. I certainly like that we are not served the typical happy ending (not accounting for the epilogue that is, which I found totally unnecessary), but I can’t shake the feeling that the story went out with a weak poof instead of the anticipated BANG!. I guess that I understand what Collins is trying to show here, which does not mean that I like it.
It’s about absolute power and the strife for absolute power and what people are willing to sacrifice for the supposedly “greater good”. We get to see the machinations behind the struggle for power and how people are objectified whenever necessary. What is the role of District 13? What are its ultimate goals? Can you equate the people living in District 13 with those running it? What does it take to be a leader?
We are shown that fighting for your freedom, your beliefs, a better life will inevitably entail loss, death and estrangement. What’s the message here? Is the fight worth all the devastation? How far is a person willing to go to achieve their goals, even, or especially, if the cause is a noble one? Again, what is justifiable I the name of the “greater good”?
I still think that the here depicted idea is interesting, that of the harnessing of children as a human shield and the punishment of adults through the suffering of their children. I just find it hard to believe that a leading class would be able to remain unopposed for such a practise for such a long time, especially when taking into account that this is a civilised society and the inhabitants of the twelve districts know full well that they are giving up their children at the government’s order, people of flesh and blood, and not to appease the gods or something. I wouldn’t doubt such stoic endurance when explained by religious fervour or humility, but that is not the case here. Interestingly, once the tables are turned, the new government decides to use the same kind of punishment for the defeated capitol. The Hunger Games are to be held one last time with children from the Capitol the only contestants. Apparently, the citizens of the capitol have to be punished for their past deeds and the choice can only be between having the suffer in the same way the districts did for many years or executing them all. Hmh. Well… Katniss’ role in and reaction to that decision was quite a shocker, especially the lame reason she gives considering how she ended up a contestant in the first Hunger Games. That might be acceptable if she had planned her final act of defiance all along but that does not seem likely. Everyone is going to be punished, the “sheep” as well as the main players in the oppression of the districts. Is pretending to be blind to the suffering of others and viewing cruelty as a sport an excuse to avoid harsh punishment? Taking into account Katniss’ role in the re-instatement of the Games and her relief at seeing her former prep team alive is quite contradictory. A lot is. I do, however, understand that everything that transpired was extremely confusing to and shook Katniss to the core, so I might excuse these expressions of clashing views. Then again, in the end we learn that Katniss writes down her experiences as described in the trilogy years after they came to pass and I would expect her to reflect a bit more on what and why was said and done. See, it’s all very confusing to me.