Monday, October 18, 2010

Book Review: Mockingjay [2010]

The long-anticipated conclusion to the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay was released with much fanfare and twittering and online salivation. Thanks to my friend, I did not have to wait in the holds list forever to receive my copy, but I admit that it still took me quite a while to get in to the book. I have been having the same trouble writing this review; apparently Mockingjay has some kind of dampening effect on my production.

Mockingjay picks up shortly after the conclusion of Catching Fire with Peeta a prisoner and Gale, Katniss, and her family living in the restrictive underground bunkers of District 13 after the fiery destruction of District 12 by the Capitol. After Katniss uses her leverage as the Mockingjay to ensure Peeta's safety, the rebels begin a marketing campaign (for lack of a better word) and military offensive to reclaim each district from the Capitol's hold. As they inexorably move toward a final confrontation with President Snow inside the Capitol itself, Katniss struggles with her love for Gale and Peeta and learns to negotiate live as a living symbol of hope for a cause that might not ultimately be trustworthy.

Grade: B+

I admit that I couldn't put Mockingjay down, once the narrative picked up, but it did take quite a while for that to happen. The action was sporadic through the first two-thirds of the book, with scenes of life in District 13 interspersed with fast-paced and danger-fraught military encounters. Katniss, for all her good qualities, can be a difficult character to empathize with. I experienced a vague sense of disappointment with the ending, but haven't been able to put my finger on exactly why, or what I would have done differently. Perhaps it was even too . . . hopeful?

Random Thoughts:

The touches of Roman influence, especially the gladiator games and the names of the Capitol characters, were intriguing.

I did end up liking the Hunger Games series quite a lot, especially its social commentary, but I didn't love the Katniss-Gale-Peeta dynamic, which at times felt overwrought and unnecessary. The trilogy tells a story where horrible things happen to basically good people, sometimes for no reason, and it kept that atmosphere consistent throughout the books, right to the bitter end. At times it almost seemed that Collins would opt for the nuclear holocaust version of events, given how many times weapons of mass destruction were referenced, but I guess then she would have lost her first-person narrator.

Speaking of the end [SPOILER ALERT], I don't believe that Katniss--under any circumstances--would have been all right with subjecting other people to a new Hunger Games. That just didn't sit right with me, considering all that she had been through as a tribute, even if revenge against the Capitol had been a motive--she knows from the example of her prep team that not all Capitol citizens are evil like President Snow, despite their wasteful ways. I'm also not so sure that she would eventually cave and have children, given her absolute resolve against it in Catching Fire.

My review of Catching Fire here.

An article about the extreme violence in the Hunger Games.

An article about the parallels between the trilogy and reality shows.

Book Review Index
Dead Mother: Yes, but not the main character's, so I guess No (someday I should figure out the rules for this stat)


Anonymous said...

I keep seeing (on Facebook) people mentioning that they read this or were excited about it, but I never heard of this author or series. Clearly I have been living under a rock and am forced to continue to do so...

little big / exlibris said...

By the third book I grew REALLY irritated with Katniss. I was sympathetic in the first two books but by the third I just thought she was incorrigable.