Saturday, August 28, 2010

(Kinda) Review: Mockingjay

So, I'm having trouble putting my thoughts about Mockingjay into words.

But since I did review both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, I couldn't just ignore Mockingjay.

So, my thoughts are below.  Be warned on two counts, few but dear readers:  I ramble and there are spoilers.

Collins, S.  (2010).  Mockingjay.  New York:  Scholastic.

390 pages.

Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)Appetizer:  For those of you not in the know, Mockingjay is the final installment in The Hunger Games trilogy.  The books follow a teenage girl named Katniss who takes the place of her younger sister in a televised fight to the death among children and teens from poor districts for the amusement of the rich Capitol.

Mockinjay is set during the districts' rebellion against the capitol.  Katniss is now seventeen and must decide whether she wants to accept the role of becoming the "mockingjay" or the face of the rebellion and encourage the people to rebel.

As you can imagine, it's very dramatic.  Dark.  Beautifully written.  Tense.  Dark.  Captivating.  And dark.

As a whole, the Hunger Games books have done an AMAZING job of capturing the interest of students who generally don't like to read ever.  I've had undergraduates admit that they started reading for fun again because of The Hunger Games.  It is so exciting to see.

Having said all of this, I had some trouble with Mockingjay.

I was fine for the first two-thirds of the book.  As with the other books, I enjoyed Katniss's emotional struggle with what she has done and what has been done to her.  I loved the realization that it is through Katniss's authentic-ness that she won over people to her cause.  I thought it was tragic what Peeta had to endure while held prisoner by the Capitol.  I liked that Gale finally had more of a role.  I also liked that the hunger games became a metaphor for the larger battles in Katniss's life.  I liked some of the new characters introduced (Boggs!).  Although, I was very disappointed that some other characters disappeared from the story entirely after a quick sentence that they'd died tragically.

My big problem was....


My big problem was with when Katniss became a soldier.  As she and others traveled through the capitol to reach President's Snow's mansion I was more reminded of the movie Black Hawk Down than a YA novel.  I was fine with the messages about war and peace that were included, but I felt like those messages were shared at the expense of a story I had been captivated by up until that point.

The Ask and the Answer: Chaos Walking: Book TwoAnd with the Katniss's uncertainty over who to trust--Snow or Coin--I couldn't help but be reminded of the Chaos Walking series.  And to be honest, I thought that book did a better job of constructing foils between leadership styles and the conclusion that pretty much all war leaders aren't exactly super-awesome-straight-forward peeps who will be content with only a tiny taste of power.

I also had a lot of trouble with the bombs that were sent down in little parachutes in front of the president's mansion and who those explosions killed.  After the ending of that chapter, I honestly thought the following seven or eight pages were a dream sequence.  Honestly.  It wasn't just that I didn't want to believe what had happened had...happened.  But the language about it as Katniss recovers was just so vague and metaphorical that it made the events hard to believe.

Now, having said all of this.  I did still find the ending of the book to be satisfying.  All my questions were answered and I did feel like (those left alive) could find peace (kinda).

So, yeah, rambling done.

What did all-ya-few-alls think?

Dinner Conversation:

"I stare down at my shoes, watching as a fine layer of dust settles on the worn leather. This is where the bed I shared with my sister, Prim, stood.  Over there was the kitchen table.  The bricks of the chimney, which collapsed in a charred heap, provide a point of reference for the rest of the house.  How else could I orient myself in this sea of gray?" (p. 3).

"I'm going to be the Mockingjay" (p. 31).

"And now Coin, with her fistful of precious nukes and her well-oiled machine of a district, finding it's even harder to groom a Mockingjay than to catch one.  But she has been the quickest to determine that I have an agenda of my own and am therefore not to be trusted.  She has been the first to publicly brand me as a threat" (p. 59).

Tasty Rating:  ????????  Two stars, four stars...I can't decide.  Internets, help me make sense of how I feel about this book!

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