Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins

>> Tuesday, September 11, 2012

TITLE: Mockingjay
AUTHOR: Suzanne Collins

PAGES: 448
PUBLISHER: Scholastic

SETTING: Futuristic
SERIES: Follows The Hunger Games and Catching Fire.

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena alive, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what's worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss's family, not her friends, not the people of District 12...
Mockingjay is the conclusion to the Hunger Games trilogy. I won't provide many details, as they would spoil the enjoyment of anyone who hasn't read the first 2 books. All I'll say is in this one, the battle against the evil Capitol becomes an all-out one, and Katniss is very much in the middle of things.

I had a bit of a weird experience with this book. I inhaled it, just as I did the first two, and I was disappointed with it. I thought that, while there were some really interesting ideas there, the way they were developed felt anticlimactic. I also found Katniss' role frustrating. I didn't like that she was basically nothing but a symbol, a pawn who was moved around the chessboard by others. She grumbled and was a bit awkward, but she did it, and didn't really seem to have much agency. I wanted Katniss to finally, FINALLY acknowledge her power and take on her responsibility, and become the shining heroine who inspires everyone onto victory. I didn't get that, and felt disgruntled.

And then I read it again, and suddenly, I saw that some of the things that had bothered me were precisely what makes this book so good. It's not about Katniss becoming a heroine, but about heroism itself and the choices and compromises it can require, and about the manipulation that can be necessary to achieve it in the real world. It's also about Katniss struggling to stick to her ethics and ideals in a structure that she didn't choose, and where none of the choices she has is ideal.

The war is not romanticised and the whole tone is not one of triumphalism, but of sadness. The ending is perfect. I liked the choice Katniss made on the romance front in my first read of the book, as it was the choice I wanted her to make, but I appreciated certain other things on reread. Chief amongst them was that the violence these characters have been surrounded by and subjected to in all three books is not something that can be shrugged off once the war is over. It has effects on them, and while it doesn't ruin happiness, it shapes it, and that's as it should be.

Well, that was a bit of a cryptic review, probably not much use to someone who hasn't read the book, I'm afraid. But believe me, if you haven't read it, you'll thank me for not ruining it.



Darlynne,  12 September 2012 at 17:48  

I loved this book for many of the same reasons. It made me wonder how many real life "heroes" of revolutions found themselves there through circumstance and someone else's machinations.

My heart ached for a seriously wounded young woman who initially only wanted to save her sister and keep her family from starving; suddenly she's the symbol of bloody insurrection. The price is too high and while other readers disliked Katniss' inability/refusal to act, I couldn't believe she kept going at all. Ultimately, I'd like to believe she was able to heal.

Mockingjay is one of the most powerful books I've read. I'm glad to see you felt the same.

Rosario 14 September 2012 at 07:05  

Darlynne: I'm very glad I'm not the only one who felt that way. It seems most everyone else was disappointed by this one and didn't like it. I wouldn't be surprised if this described the reality of actual, real-life heroes much better than most books!

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