Monday, October 11, 2010

Mockingjay: Real, or not real?

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This morning I finished Book #3 of the Hunger Games trilogy, Mockingjay. Suzanne Collins has crafted an amazing allegorical story, full of vivid imagery and memorable characters. As I mentioned in my review of Catching Fire, the world in these books is not as far from our modern-day world as we might think. We are the privileged ones in the Capitol, and the developing world produces much of our goods and services. Their compensation is unfair and their conditions are often untenable. We are aware of this yet we do little about it.

Some readers found Mockingjay to be a highly satisfying end to the series, while others were sorely disappointed. I found myself feeling greatly relieved to be finished with the series, as brilliant as it is. (This is why I gave it four stars rather than five--it's brilliant stuff but I reserve five stars for books that make me feel good.) I feel that way each time I read a dystopian book--with the exception of the Harry Potter series, they seem to be the types of fantasy novels I read (The Handmaid's Tale,The Left Hand of Darkness, The Road, etc.). I felt tainted and disturbed after reading each one of these books. They stick with me for days afterward. That's the point.

Many of the disappointed readers note that Katniss is not her feisty, fiery self in this final book. She seems to be broken and lacking in choices throughout the book. She's often on the edge of the action instead of in the middle of it. That's true...but I think her lack of choice--and her exhaustion--is exactly the point Collins is trying to make. She's still a child, and she's seen and experienced more horror and tragedy than any person should have to bear.



Some reviewers have commented that Prim's and Finnick's deaths were too slapdash, and it's true--they were. However, that reflects the nature of war. Soldiers cannot take much time to mourn their loved ones lest they let their guard down and make themselves vulnerable.

President Coin's complicity in the violence and betrayal disillusioned me. I wanted to believe that the rebels were fighting against the evil, not seeking to continue it. And Plutarch chose to join the rebel cause for what, if not to fight for a higher, more noble cause? In the end, he is no better than those in the Capitol because he joins in Coin's plot.
When Katniss votes to let the Hunger Games continue, I was so disappointed in her. Then after she tricks everyone and kills Coin instead of Snow, it left me wondering whether this was a split-second decision or a calculated move. Collins illustrates the human tendency to perpetuate the violence a person suffers, just as abuse victims do.

Gale's choices did not surprise me in the end, although the love triangle was resolved passively for Katniss instead of her taking a stand and making a choice for Gale or Peeta. This is why some readers have said that Katniss didn't make active choices in this final book. Things happen to her (with a few exceptions) instead of her happening to things.

After all that death and destruction at the end, it was somewhat surprising to have a relatively "happy" ending, although Katniss will always be haunted by the Hunger Games. I'm a happy ending sort of person, so I liked the way it ended.

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  1. Hi Marie, it's Sharon from over on Goodreads, making my annual appearance. :-)

    I like your review! I'm with you on Finnick's and Prim's deaths. They were two of the only flaws I noticed in the series. Katniss's vote really troubled me, and I'm still not sure what I think about it. It's really inconsistent, so I lean towards it being a strategy to lull Coin. I want to believe! But she also talks about revealing her true nature, so I'm not sure.

    I think that Katniss chose Peeta, not accidentally but very deeply early on and just needed time to understand that about herself. She and Gale are hunters, but she and Peeta create things together, and I think that's the big difference between their relationships.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Sharon. I agree...I want to believe along with you! Guess we'll never know what Suzanne Collins intended us to believe.

    You have an interesting perspective on Katniss and Peeta. She and Gale were friends first and foremost, so that makes sense.

  3. These books were totally awesome, just wish there was more to come. I could see differant angles that can be taken, like how were the hunger games began, etc... (don't want spoil anything for anyone that hasnt read th books yet). Keeping my fingers crossed for more!

  4. Yes, I agree--it's always hard when a beloved series ends. I have a friend who read Mockingjay INCREDIBLY slowly, because she couldn't bear for the series to end. In between, she'd write Facebook posts and threaten her friends if they told her what happened at the end!