Sunday, September 5, 2010

Book Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I have been waiting for this book since I finished Catching Fire.  I pre-ordered it and then regretted doing so because my copy didn't arrive until August 30.  To say I was eagerly anticipating it is understatement.  I devoured the book in an evening and found myself left frustrated and irritated.  Now, I want the real Mockingjay and not this.

My three main complaints are the change in the nature of the characters, the lack of relationship between the characters and the side stepping of issues that have been raised throughout this series.

The characters changed in ways that made little sense, death reigned on the just and unjust in ways that seemed contrived rather than the result of circumstances and the plot seemed to be forced through one set of implausible events after another.

Too often the reader was expected to accept a change as so without adequate support from the story.  Gale turned from revolutionary thinker to terrorist.  Katniss changed from champion and protector to hysterical basket case.   Peeta becomes the only one with a reason for his transformation and even that doesn't ring true because it ends too quickly and simply.  The deaths that were meant to invoke feeling and lend meaning ended up feeling contrived and irritating.

As with Katniss's publicity promotions, I only felt like I was seeing the real Katniss when she was put in a position of action.  Maybe because of the nature of the Hunger Games and the two previous novels Collins didn't know what to do with a Katniss that wasn't under that kind of constant pressure.  I think the situations presented in the Mockingjay gave Katniss plenty of opportunity to get up and get moving but rather than seeing action we saw self-absorption and total disregard for anything that wasn't in her face.  I also felt that Katniss hadn't learned anything about politics and power or rather she'd forgotten all she'd been taught.  The scene with Snow in the greenhouse and her vote about the Hunger Games seems to demonstrate her cluelessness.

The relationship between Katniss and the cat, Buttercup, takes up more of her time and energy than any other relationship.  Gale drops from the picture, Peeta is written off, mother is too busy as is Prim, some of the other champions become more central and a new relationship with the guard develops.  Throughout the series, Katniss has shown a talent for connecting with others.  In this novel she isn't able to connect with anyone.  Perhaps this is a reflection of all she's been through but now, that she's relatively safe, shouldn't the best of her shine through?  I also found in frustrating that none of the other characters had any connection with each other.  I suppose since Katniss was inward focused we weren't able to see what was happening around her. 

The issues raised by this series, government control, personal responsibilty, humanity, resourcefulness, contrived reality as entertainment, self sufficiency, globalization, revolution and terrorism, aren't answered.  Really, how could they be?  Rather they are ignored.   What remains is a new world about which we know nothing and a flightless mockingjay.

In this book, I felt the author went for the movie ending in an assigned number of pages rather than being true to the characters and situation as set forth in the previous novels. While I am relieved that this ending wasn't as bad as the made for t.v. ending, which would have involved the death of Gale and the crowning of Katniss and Peeta as king and queen, I am not satisfied with what is left.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting review. I just did one too but with different conclusions. I actually found it believeable, but the points that you make are good- I'll have to think about it. I read it quickly, too, with lots of interuptions. I chalked the whole inability to connect well with others up to PTSD. Always taking the psych pov = ).