With The Hunger Games movie coming out this week it seems like a good time to talk about why I think the ending sucked. Such a topic is obviously going to be spoiler laden, so consider this your SPOILER ALERT.
I read The Hunger Games series last summer in an intense burst, much like everyone else. It’s a unique and engaging story and I liked that it was doing something different. It’s also interesting to see such a dark tale be so popular.
I loved the first installment of the series, but I think it should have ended there. Throughout the book Katniss and Peeta have this awkward relationship. He loves her but the rules of the game mean that they are opponents—to the death. But this gets upended when they change the rules mid-game and Katniss and Peeta can work together. They do and their relationship blossoms, if only for the watching cameras.
Then at the very climax of the ending the rules are changed once again on poor Katniss and Peeta and they’re forced to battle to the death. Katniss refuses to play by their rules and chooses suicide, an action that would be witnessed on live TV and threaten to overturn the brutal regime.
There’s a moment there where she’s going to follow through, she’s going to do it. And in that moment The Hunger Games had the potential to be brilliant. It was a decidedly Romeo & Juliet moment and it would have been the perfect ending.
The gamemakers step in, they realize what she’s about to do, what it will mean, and they stop her. They declare both her and Peeta winners and an uneasy peace is formed. Katniss and Peeta have survived, but now they’re political targets. They’ll live to see another day… and another installment in the series.
Call my cynical, but that’s what I see in this ending. Instead of ending with a perfect moment, a powerful statement and killing off the main characters and letting it be an ending, we get a lesser ending so the story can be turned into a series. I know that’s what sells in the industry right now. I know that’s the latest rage and it makes economic sense as well. But I think it sucks. I think The Hunger Games goes downhill with the two sequels, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. It turn into this whole political game and it’s not nearly as engaging. It sells more books certainly, but they’re not as good.
As a reader, I want a good ending. And The Hunger Games had the potential to have an amazing ending. I wish it would have ended in that moment. It’s nice to see more of your characters, but sometimes you need to let it end. Sometimes it’s better to let us imagine what happens instead of showing us (sounds like a lesson we should have learned about the Star Wars prequel).
It’s still a great series and a good book and I’m hoping to go see the movie. I just wish it could have been more. Sometimes less is so much more.