Monday, September 6, 2010

the MOCKINGJAY post

Mockingjay (Hunger Games #3) - Suzanne Collins
Genre: YA dystopian/sci fi
# of pages: 390 (hb)
Publisher: Scholastic
Recommended for: ALL AGES

Thoughts Did I enjoy this book? Well, that's hard to say. I was highly anticipating Mockingjay's arrival, for it would settle all the conflicts of Panem, Katniss and ensemble once and for all. And while I did get closure, I didn't really get resolution. There is a difference! And I honestly can't say that I enjoyed myself while reading this. It wasn't a particularly "fun" read, but it was emotionally jarring.
I’ve had a few days to reflect, and with Mockingjay, my feelings have to do with what I was expecting vs. what I got instead. Since this is the last book, I was prepared for Katniss to settle the love triangle thing once and for all. I was expecting her (and Gale and Peeta) to spend some time on the love story issue, and to bring about the fall of Snow and all that. What disappointed me the most about Mockingjay is that I feel like I never got the resolution that I was looking for. I would argue that by the end of Mockingjay there IS no resolution. Katniss never had to make a decision – it was pretty much made for her.

And even with my “reflection time” I still believe that Collins committed (at least) partial hari-kari with her characters. Katniss’ lack of emotional depth, her distrusting and cynical side, were very understandable in The Hunger Games. Partway through Catching Fire, I was starting to tire of her attitude, but I kept thinking, “Okay, she’ll undergo a character change in Mockingjay. She has to.” And she didn’t – in fact, she got worse. To me, Katniss’ treatment of the people around her in this book is for the most part unacceptable. She is disloyal, especially to Peeta and extremely insensitive of everything that happens to him. I’m not going to go into it, but she showed some series personality flaws that, this late in the game, can’t be excused or explained away. If your MC is not likable, it's hard to hold on to the story. And once again, you had important, emotional, and heart-wrenching deaths happening OFF SCREEN, which makes it even harder to have an emotional reaction. I kept a tally of how many major characters get offed in this installment, and most it was OFF SCREEN! This whole BOOK is emotionally dehydrated. Readers are supposed to feel something, but none of the characters seem to!
And then…there’s the last chapter. After 300+ pages of Katniss refusing to deal with her issues, it seemed like an ending that was undeserved. It would have made the ending and the epilogue so much more fulfilling if it had felt genuine, but it didn’t. I’m still not convinced that Katniss is capable of love… but still, I do appreciate Collins giving us closure.

And of course, there’s non-stop action, which has always been the strength of this series. But when books 1 and 2 emphasize action over character development, emotional exploration, or romantic angles, it leaves a lot of necessary ground left to cover for book 3. And once again, there was lot of action…but not a lot of anything else. And that just doesn’t cut it at this stage.
With all this in mind, The Hunger Games is still one of my favorite series of all-time, and Suzanne Collins is still one of my favorite authors, someone I highly admire and look up to. It’s a shame that Mockingjay didn’t deliver on ALL levels, but I love books 1 and 2, and the ending here. I guess that's good enough. Now I will say that my age has a lot to do with how I felt about this book: I’m 21 and you know, I look for character exploration and emotional depth, while my teenage friends sometimes don’t. I do have the word of my 13-year-old cousin backing me up that Katniss’ attitude was hard to stomach, so I don’t feel quite so alienated on that ground. Regardless of my disappointed feelings with this book, I still say that The Hunger Games series – all 3 books – are among the best Young Adult literature on the market today, and that everybody needs to give this series a try!

Final Rating:Still a pretty good grade, but unfortunately it didn't earn an 'A' from me.

8 shout-outs!:

Cozy Book Nook (Lesa) said...

Have you read Collins 'Gregor the Overlander' series? It is middle grade, I think. Really fun series-- lots of action but characters to care about too-- at least to me. All books in the series are out so you may want to have a peek.

Melissa said...

I'll admit that I loved this book, but I have to agree with your points about Katniss's attitude. I always enjoyed her rebellion and her refusal to settle for one specific thing. I found her sudden anger at Peeta not calling her beautiful quite out of character, and she pissed me off a lot haha...great thoughts, Amelia. :)

Natalie (Mindful Musings) said...

Just finished this one last night, Amelia, and I have to say that I COMPLETELY agree with you. While I adore Suzanne Collins, and I'll still be buying virtually every piece of writing she puts out, this one didn't deliver like I wanted it too. The ending is what bothered me the most. I didn't really care who Katniss ended up with, or even if she ended up alone, but I wanted HER to make the decision, because I thought it would do a lot for her character-wise. But, like you said, she didn't really have to decide. It was made for her, which really, really bugged me.

I didn't dislike this book, but I was expecting a lot more.

Katy F. said...

I think a lot of the reason why I was so surprised and unsure of what I thought of this book when I finished was because it was so different from what I expected. I didn't like that much of the story is told while Katniss is in a stupor or having serious PTSD issues. It made the story really disjointed.

Jillian said...

Haha I was definitely surprised about how Katniss' thoughts suddenly changed from Catching Fire to this.. I get she's a rebel, but it just didn't seem Katniss-like. I gave it 3 stars, so the same as a B I guess. I thought it was a great conclusion, but something was missing. Great review as always.

Allie said...

I agree that Katniss seems so....unattached to everything. But I put it in perspective so I could understand why Collins did it. I mean, Katniss experienced things at a young age that many never would. She was shoved into an arena and killed a few kids her own age (and I mean KIDS, CHILDREN!). Then she is adored and revered for those acts of violence by some, and hated for it by others. To make matters worse, she is shoved back in to do it all over again. She is left in the dark about a plot to save her and Peeta, then is forced to portray an image that she doesn't necessarily believe in. She is then shipped off to war zones to act her role, and sees more things that I could never dream of.

I think, for it being a book and for being realistic, the way Katniss acts is real. She is suffering from the things she has seen and felt. Any soldier who comes home from battle struggles with what they have seen and done-Katniss is no different. So when she goes all nutso at the end, it made sense to me.

Granted, it took me awhile to come to all of this, but now, with a few weeks perspective, I get it. I know why Collins ended it the way she did. There could be no real happy ending with what happened.

Dazzling Mage said...

Finished reading it a while ago, and still trying to find my bearings in this, but I totally agree with your review.

Okie said...

Great review...it took me a few days after reading it to gather myself enough to objectively think about it (or at least try).

I definitely agree with your comment about this being emotionally draining. The other two pulled at my emotions, but I found that this one threw them in the blender and let them puree. I didn't have time to read it all in one (or even two) sittings, but I noticed that after a reading session, I came away feeling "dark" and "heavy" emotionally.

As for a climax/conclusion to the book, I think it did a great job. The world that was created was in shambles and the way the series ended, I think fit with the reality of that world.

Still, in terms of the arc of the story and relation to previous books, I also agree that Mockingjay didn't grip me as strongly as the previous two (which seems like a paradox since it was more emotionally stirring...I think it was more of an "intensity" factor than a "quality" factor).

I still whole-heartedly recommend the series...but with reservations for those who are emotionally sensitive. :)

 
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