Okay, yes, I did my thesis on The Hunger Games. And yeah, I saw the movie this weekend. And also read pretty much every single fan review posted the last few days. And yes, I’m pretty sure you’re expecting me to say something awesome about it.
…No pressure or anything 😉
The Hunger Games news that I really want to discuss, though, has very little to do with the movie hype. It’s about my friend Irene, who finished the series a few days ago and called me to talk about it.
Some background for everybody reading that isn’t Irene: Irene and I were in our thesis group together. Both of us intended to write about Henry James but only one of us did (spoiler alert: it wasn’t me). We did our theses right after Mockingjay came out, which means that while Irene was reading The Golden Bowl and stuff, I read YA blogger after YA blogger (…after YA blogger after FYA blogger) talk about their predictions and favorite moments, debate Peeta vs. Gale vs. Finnick vs. Cinna vs. Haymitch vs. Buttercup vs. Team Katniss, plan their costume, and then, inevitably, share their reactions.
I was, I’ll admit, a little obsessed.
Before the book came out, obviously, it was that collective, Harry-Potter-like structure of feeling—being part of the group that was omgsoexcited and sharing that anticipation with like-minded addicts. But after the book came out and everybody read it, the community still seemed to be lacking that cathartic release. Obviously, some people loved the ending, some people hated it. But most people, like me, seemed deeply conflicted.
And that lack of conclusiveness really intrigued me. This was a community that had its biggest series conclude with “all was well,” so watching that same community grapple with the ambiguity of their emotional reaction was—well, I wrote my thesis on it. I obviously found it fascinating.
So we wrote our theses, graduated, et cetra. The Hunger Games fervor died down—only to be renewed again with a vengeance as the Lionsgate marketing team began to promote the film. People started talking about the books again. However, a lot of the conversation was whether we liked Jennifer Lawrence (heck yes) or had pictured Gale as Liam Hemsworth (nope.) or pondered the nature of adaptation and interpretation. (…all of which are good topics, by the way. Just not what I wrote my thesis on.)
And then Irene calls me. She finished the series. Could I talk?
And so we talked. And we talked about Katniss and violence and trauma, audience expectations that were thwarted and fulfilled and whether we could like the ending or just merely appreciate it. We talked about symbolically resonant deaths and compared them to senseless and purposeless ones. We mourned characters and Might-Have-Been endings and raged and analyzed and pulled out our Close Reading hats for the first time in ages.
Kels, you and I went back and forth and around and around on the ending of the Hunger Games series. Irene and I did the same thing over a year later. Doesn’t that seem, I dunno, a little bit special? Bloggers, reviewers, author/cast/director interviewers, and a movie promotional team have had their way with the story. They’ve had time to tear it apart and present it with their own special interpretation, their own reading of the characters and dynamics.
But even with a myriad of possible opinions, people are still feeling mixed up and conflicted about the ending of the series.
Isn’t that a bit amazing?
…Okay, possibly there’s a bit of confirmation bias going on, so what do YOU think? Do you have a strong opinion on the book or the film? What were some of the convincing arguments one way or the other? And ohmygosh was Cinna delish or what?
P.S. As I was writing this post, my sister called me to tell me that she’s in the middle of the series but she can’t talk because she has to finish but she thought I should know okay bye. (Seriously, though. That was our whole conversation).