Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Real-World Ending

We all knew what we wanted before we opened Mockingjay. We all had our perfect ending plotted out, the one with the official 'happily ever after' seal stamped all over the final pages.

That's not what happened.

I emerged from a one-sitting cover-to-cover reading of this book in a state of almost physical shock. In that first hour after finishing, I probably would have described the book as 'depraved.' Because how could Collins do this to the characters she made us love? How could she?

Then I sat back down and re-read the last thirty or so pages, and went online to look at reviews and see how others had responded to the book. There are a fair few people who are absolutely furious over the ending, saying it would have been easy to fix, to give her a happier ending. But when I tried to imagine those sorts of endings, instead of the one Collins gave us, I felt like a liar.

The problem with successful series like these is that we make the characters ours. They're our friends, our family, and because we know them so well, we're outraged when the hand which created them guides the characters somewhere other than the beautiful place we had built for them at the finish line.

Stephen King wrote something both simple and powerfully deep in his book, “On Writing.” Paraphrased, it goes something like, “Write what you want—but write the truth.” And Collins’s ending is the truth. The uncompromising, unapologetic, cruel, cold truth. If you’re honest with yourself, and let the fairy tale fall away, you’ll see that, as one reviewer on Amazon said quite well, Katniss’s story isn’t one of choosing between two loves. It’s a story of war.

I hope, when you open Mockingjay, if you haven’t already, that you’ll give the book the fair read it deserves, and not write it off just because the story doesn’t add up to your vision, as I almost did. Give the truth a chance.

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1 comment:

Mya said...

Uh Oh...just got my copy today and was planning on reading it on the plane tomorrow. Hoping that it's really not