Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Thoughts on Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Genre: Dystopian Fiction, YA
Pages: 390
Date Published: August 2010
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: I purchased this with my own money on the day it was released.
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Book description (from the publisher):
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena alive, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what's worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss's family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins's groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

**WARNING: This post will contain some spoilers, though I've tried not to be too specific in my comments on the book. I'm calling it "my thoughts" rather than a review because I don't really want to go into a full-on analysis of the book since everyone in the universe knows about it and has probably read it by now, and there are tons of reviews all over the place. So this will just consist of a few of my reactions to the book when I read it in August.

I had a hard time thinking of what to say about this book for a long time. My feelings about it were complicated. On the one hand, I was relieved to have some closure to the series. On the other, I wasn't totally satisfied by the execution of it.

The thing that bothered me the most about this book was the disconnected feel of it. Of course, it focuses on Katniss, and she tends to be really out of it for various reasons throughout the book. That results in the reader being really disoriented as well, and cut off from the parts of the story that Katniss misses while she's freaking out or having flashbacks. I wish I could have gotten a clearer picture of what was going on, especially near the end, but for that we would have needed Katniss to not be in a daze and locked up while it was happening.

The outcome of the Katniss-Peeta-Gale triangle was interesting. I wasn't expecting Peeta to change so much. I also had a hard time believing that he was suddenly OK at the end. I would have liked to see more development of his recovery–it was hard to accept it as easily as Katniss did. His whole experience with Snow in this book was horrifying. Gale turned out to be disappointing too. His attitude about the enemy and his decisions put me off.

I thought it was a little bit strange that Katniss kept reasoning out people’s very convoluted and complicated motives out of what were very simple outward signs. I thought it was really smart in the first book, but in Mockingjay it almost seemed unreal that she could reason out such complicated motives in everyone around her. I couldn’t figure out if she was hitting the nail on the head or just being really paranoid. Wouldn’t it suck to live like that–having to read into every little nuance to see what’s underneath it? But it was like the Games never really stopped–it seemed like she was used as a piece in someone else’s Game around every corner.

One last note, I would have liked to have known what happened to Haymitch after they returned to District 12 since he just kind of disappears from the narrative at that point. I was invested in his character by then and wanted to know how he ended up.

In the end, I think the book was very thought-provoking and gave me a lot to consider. I think it is a great series, with an unexpected ending that I can ultimately accept. In the end, the main message I got from Mockingjay was that war is awful and devastating, and it changes people forever.

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