Monday, October 4, 2010

Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

 Young Katniss Everdeen has survived the dreaded Hunger Games not once, but twice, but even now she can find no relief. In fact, the dangers seem to be escalating: President Snow has declared an all-out war on Kattnis, her family, her friends, and all the oppressed people of District 12. The thrill-packed final installment of Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy will keep young hearts pounding.

Updated! Further thoughts/explanations as to why I gave this book five stars at the end of the original review. Warning: addendum contains some spoilers.

I've thought long and hard as to how I should review this book. For starters I feel I need to say upfront, this book is not for everyone. Mockingjay is the darkest book of the Hunger Games trilogy, containing excess violence, brutality, and ugliness. People die. It would be naive to expect otherwise in a book dealing with war.

If you're all about puppies, kittens, rainbows, unicorns, and disgustingly sweet happily-ever-afters don't bother reading this book. Faint of heart need not apply, I mean it.

This story isn't told by Katniss, The Girl Who Was On Fire. It's told by Katniss, the quiet girl from District 12 who unintentionally inspired a revolution through one simple act of defiance. Needless to say Katniss, ever weary of the roles she's been forced to play, is reluctant to officially step up, to be the Mockingjay, to lead the revolution against the Capitol.

President Coin, leader of District 13, makes it clear from the start she is no fan of Katniss, saying they should have saved 'the boy' first. Katniss agrees with President Coin here--Peeta was always better with words, had a way with people--but otherwise Katniss does not trust the woman. Life in District 13 isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

Though Katniss doesn't desire the spotlight and never wanted power she finally agrees to take on the burden of leading a rebellion. Hoping that in doing so she might save Peeta's life and finally put an end to President Snow's. And so, with Haymitch, Gale, Beetee, Finnick, and her old prep team backing her up, Katniss becomes the Mockingjay.

So much happens in this book, so much I didn't expect. That being said, I love this book. I love this series. Mockingjay is a hauntingly-beautiful conclusion to an enjoyable, thought-provoking series. This series will always have a home on my bookshelf, and I hope that one day, when my girls are old enough to read it, they'll appreciate it as much as I do.

P.S. And it needs to be said: even though the Peeta-Katniss-Gale love triangle is very much present in this book, it's not the focal point of the story. It never was. The Hunger Games series is about so much more then teenage angst, or romantic love.

P.P.S. The epilogue is what finally pushed me over the edge, made me cry.


Further explanation/thoughts about why I think this book is amazing (contains some spoilers):

I didn't cry with either of the major deaths in this book, though I felt more when the first one happened, probably because I felt more connected to the first character then I did the second. The second death was tragic and senseless. But I don't think the second death undermines the whole series, like many critics of this book have said. Nor does it make the story pointless.

Many have said that they felt detached from the story while reading this book. I felt that detachment too, but I genuinely feel that is what Suzanne Collins was hoping for. Here's the deal, my father went to Vietnam and experienced a lot of senseless violence, lost a lot of friends and acquaintances. In all my life I've only heard him speak about it, in a candid manner, once. Otherwise he speaks about it in a detached way, as if he read about it or watched some footage of it instead of actually experiencing it himself. I feel it is his way of coping with it, which is kind of sad.

I feel that Katniss, by starting that book about everyone she knew who died, was doing what my father needs to do (although, as far as I know, he probably has done something like that. Like I said, he doesn't ever talk about it). She was finally facing and working through the all the grief and pain. My point is, the reason we felt detached from the story is because Katniss was already so detached. She was so messed up by all the senseless violence that she'd already checked out emotionally. And when reality threatened to take over, she took drugs to make it all better.

Under similar circumstances I think every normal person would shut down emotionally. If Katniss had continued to function normally after going through all that, we'd have a sociopath on our hands. Like Peeta said, when you kill someone you lose a part of yourself, you're killing a part of your soul. Suzanne Collins did a fantastic job illustrating that.

Katniss triumphs in the end because, even though it took time, she confronts the pain, works through it. She lives her life, no longer the actress, the puppet, the victim. I especially love that she does what she vowed to never do. She has children. The best part is, her children, everyone's children for that matter, won't ever know the horrors of Reaping Day and the Hunger Games.

I feel she ended up with with the right man. And no, I don't think she settled for him. I knew she truly loved him when she started fighting for him, not only for his life but for all those lost memories, for his love.

I also feel Katniss is a romantic person, just not in the traditional sense. The girl kept the pearl, would take it out when she was thinking of him! Carried it with her into battle. Didn't even throw it out when he rejected her, tried to kill her (on more then one occasion)! Speaking of, talk about the ultimate rejection. I think my heart broke on Katniss behalf when that happened.

P.S. I might add more thoughts throughout the next few days.

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