Sunday, August 05, 2007

Saying Good-bye To A Favorite Series, Part II

Often when I think about a book I've enjoyed reading, I start finding all kinds of problems with the writing, the story line, etc. One of my family members insists that I overthink, and this would probably be an example to support his argument.

With The Code of Claw by Suzanne Collins, I experienced something totally different. I was disappointed in the book while I was reading it, but enjoyed it more when I thought about it afterwards.

Talk about overthinking.

Here's what I've been overthinking about--Collins is interested in war. She was interested in writing war stories with the Underland books, and with the final one she definitely did. Many soldiers do think they aren't going to survive the situations they're in, as Gregor does in The Code of Claw. From what I've heard about going to war, there is a lot of hurry up and wait, stretches of time between real fighting, as there is in Collins' book. People do die off stage or off the stage that any particular individual is acting out his life upon. War-time romances have probably been ending up the way Gregor and Luxa's does for thousands of years. And the end of this book for Gregor is probably a very accurate portrayal of the war experience for many soldiers.

Some reviewers have called the ending to the Underland Chronicles hopeful. They probably are saying that because Collins comes out with a heavy anti-war sentiment at the end. But I don't find the ending hopeful at all. I don't think that's a bad thing, either. I think when kids have finished this book, they will have simply seen a portrayal of wartime experience. And that's plenty.

I still think this was too much to impose on a twelve-year-old character. Yes, I know that children have been fighting in wars for generations and that somewhere in the world there are probably children fighting right now. But no one expects them to be saviors the way the Gregor is expected to be a savior. Children fighting is a tragedy, not heroic.

But after thinking about the book for a while, I respect what I think Collins has done with it.

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