Kemper's Reviews > Mockingjay

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
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Sep 26, 2012

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bookshelves: 2012, dystopia, sci-fi, war
Read from September 26 to October 02, 2012


Katniss just wanted to survive the Hunger Games and protect her family from the evil President Snow, but she inadvertently inspired all of the districts to rebel against the Capital. Now District 13 has rescued Katniss and wants her to become the ultimate symbol of the rebellion as the Mockingjay. However, Snow still has someone close to her held captive, and Katniss fears that any move she makes to aid the uprising will hurt someone she cares about.

I alternated between really liking this and being generally irritated. Most of my frustration came from Katniss herself. In the first book while she was often unsure or filled with self-doubt, she never let it overwhelm her, and it was that toughness that enabled her to survive. In this book, Katniss’s default reaction seems to be either acting like a sulky teenager when asked to perform as the Mockingjay or to have complete emotional meltdowns that require her to be sedated.

It’s particularly glaring because at the start of the trilogy Katniss had nothing but contempt for the way her mother gave into depression after the death of her father which left her to find a way to feed them and her sister. Yet in this book, Katniss avoids dealing with issues by hiding in a closet and going to sleep. I could understand why she’d be a bit of a mess at the beginning of the book, and when it looked like she was finally stepping into the role as the face of the rebellion; it made me want to cheer. But it seemed like just minutes later she was unable to cope with anything going on around her again.

Plus, with the first person narration of a confused and terrified young woman, we never got a view of the bigger war and what Katniss meant to it. So I couldn’t understand why everyone continues to insist that she’s such a valuable propaganda tool when she had just one really good on-camera moment after a battle. There could even be an interesting concept there with her not living up to the image she portrayed, but nothing is done with it.

There was still a lot I liked about this. The way that Katniss is still being used to some extent by the rebellion and still has to perform for the cameras was a nice touch that kept that reality show absurdity and falseness that ran through all the books. I was especially impressed at just how dark Collins was willing to make this.

Maybe the problem is just that I’m not the target audience. As a forty-two year old male sci-fi fan, I was interested in reading about the evolution of a scared but tough young woman into the face of a rebellion against a fascist government while shooting some bad people with arrows. I would have liked more of that and less of the love triangle. But close study of my teenage niece leads me to believe that they kind of like that mushy stuff.
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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Michael I wish I could be more discriminating like you. Everything you say if absolutely valid and perceptive on weaknesses of plot design. But when I was reading this, I was just so caught up in the unique imagination of the tale, it was hard to be judgmental. When Katniss would regress under the pressure and expectations and then later was tough again, I just rode with it. Maybe it even made it more realistic, if you say that about an objectively absurd premise and generally simplistic portrayal of good and evil forces.


message 2: by Kemper (last edited Oct 03, 2012 06:53AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kemper Michael wrote: "I wish I could be more discriminating like you. Everything you say if absolutely valid and perceptive on weaknesses of plot design. But when I was reading this, I was just so caught up in the uni..."

I don't know if it's so much as me being discriminating as it as a case of this hitting a pet peeve of mine. It irritates me when the heroes of genre fiction sit around wringing their hands over the obstacles instead of taking action yet they're still portrayed as being important and special.

It really irked me here because I thought Katniss in the first book was a great protagonist because while she was vulnerable and confused, she was also constantly planning and acting to save herself. Seeing that character devolve into someone who just collapses at almost every development and is constantly clueless about what's happening around her was frustrating for me.


Sesana I totally agree with what you said, even if it didn't bother me quite as much as it did you. I suppose it just made sense to me that, given everything she's gone through up to this point, Katniss would be having PTSD-like symptoms. Didn't make it fun to read those parts, though.


message 4: by Kemper (last edited Oct 03, 2012 11:39AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kemper Sesana wrote: "I totally agree with what you said, even if it didn't bother me quite as much as it did you. I suppose it just made sense to me that, given everything she's gone through up to this point, Katniss w..."

Yeah, I didn't want her to be a robot and not feel anything, but it seemed like every time she was on the verge of stepping up, she fell apart again.

(view spoiler)


Sesana (view spoiler)


Kemper Sesana wrote: "[spoilers removed]"

(view spoiler)


Amanda Sesana wrote: "I totally agree with what you said, even if it didn't bother me quite as much as it did you. I suppose it just made sense to me that, given everything she's gone through up to this point, Katniss w..."

That's the way I viewed it. With a history of depression in her family and everything she'd been through, I thought it was more realistic that Katniss would at some point break under the strain of being made a martyr--a role she never actively chose for herself. I was impressed that, in a young adult novel, Collins chose to show how carrying the weight of such responsibility can ultimately be too much. Having said that, yeah, her not being a bad ass was a bit of a bummer.


Kemper Amanda wrote: "Sesana wrote: "I totally agree with what you said, even if it didn't bother me quite as much as it did you. I suppose it just made sense to me that, given everything she's gone through up to this p..."

If it would have been played as Katniss being overwhelmed and losing it just one or two times, it would't have bothered me, but it seemed like the whole book was her falling apart and everyone else bending over backwards to try and keep her going.


Sarah Excellent points.
While reading this series I often wished Suzanne Collins had given this idea to another, more talented writer. We might have had a classic on our hands had that happened.
But I have to say, I was impressed with the not so cookie-cutter ending.


Kemper Sarah wrote: "Excellent points.
While reading this series I often wished Suzanne Collins had given this idea to another, more talented writer. We might have had a classic on our hands had that happened.
But I h..."


Thanks. It was frustrating because Katniss was such a great character in Hunger Games but was just a mess in this one.


message 11: by Dan (new)

Dan I re-read this book with emotional problems her mother had in mind and it makes more sense, overwhelmed and out of place, anger, depression and seclusion would be typical - even if you agreed to the cause and was the poster child. too much too soon chaos ensues


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