Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Review: Mockingjay

By Suzanne Collins
Scholastic Press August 2010
400 pages

Katniss has been extracted from the Hunger Games as part of an ongoing plot to fight the Capitol and President Snow. She is the Mockingjay, the figurehead of the rebellion, even though she was unaware of her role. The rumored District 13 does exist and is the seat of the revolution. Now that Katniss has been freed, war looms on the horizon.  

People have a lot of very strong feelings about the conclusion to the Hunger Games Trilogy and I must admit that I have some as well. This book is a great departure from its predecessors. While both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire were terrifying in their description of children brutally murdering other children, here there is no end in sight. The reader cannot remind themselves of the normal lives that go on outside of the arena, for now all is war and death can take any character at any moment. I found Suzanne Collin’s depictions of war, especially from the view of someone who is neither a soldier nor an adult, in depth and truthful. 

I am going to discuss the novel as a whole, so here is your mandatory spoiler warning. If you haven’t read it yet, go get the book instead!

I found this a good conclusion to the series with a few caveats. The first thing that bothered me was the discussion of another round of Hunger Games after the war was won. The survivors of the games are brought into a meeting with the leader of the rebellion and new president Alma Coin. After Katniss mediates on the immense loss of life that was caused by the games and the way that nothing has changed in spite of a war, she votes for the Hunger Games. I was awfully confused about this, until I read some other reviews and found out that the general consensus was that Katniss votes yes as a sign to Haymitch about what she is going to do. “This is the moment, then. When we find out exactly just how alike we are, and how much he truly understands me.” It that makes sense, but Haymitch doesn’t do anything after this point to help Katniss. While I love what Katniss proceeded to do, I wish Collins had been a bit clearer to the reader about their complicity, instead of leaving us scratching our heads in confusion.

The ending seems sort of anti-climactic after that point, but it occurs to me that this is the way that wars end. People go home or go to somewhere and have to try to live some semblance of lives in spite of everything that they have gone through. The actions of Katniss’ mother and Gale struck me as just plain terrible. Katniss has been through so much, often for their sakes. Their decision to never see her again seems awful and out of character. On the other hand, I wish Peeta had not come back. It felt to me as if someone reminded Ms. Collins that this was, after all, a YA novel and it was not appropriate to leave poor Katniss all alone and suffering from PTSD. The reintroduction of Peeta at the end felt forced and unnecessary. While I have never found myself firmly on the side of either Peeta or Gale, this ending struck me as totally false. As awful as it would be, I think the best ending would have been leaving Katniss alone in her pain.

I know that sounds as if I did not like the book, but on the whole I love the series and I like this book. Expectations are so great and love of these characters so strong that it would have been difficult for Ms. Collins to please all of her readers. This is a series that I will go back to again and again for an excellent story and characters that stay in your mind long after the book is closed. 

You can also read my reviews of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire

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