Well, hmmm. I'm not sure how to react to Mockingjay. I didn't love it and I'm not sure it satisfied me, but it was a disturbing read that will stick with me. Sadly, I can't say that I'll be recommending the series as fervently as I did after reading The Hunger Games
. Not that the series isn't good, but I'm not longer sure it's for the masses of YA readers.
Like Catching Fire
, Mockingjay took awhile for me to get into. When the pages turned into the triple digits and I wasn't hooked, I got worried it wouldn't be epic. And maybe that's problem: I expected this to match The Hunger Games
when I don't think anything can. Like Catching Fire
, the stakes are upped, the gruesomeness of war more real, and the intensity more fierce. And in the end, that was my biggest problem. In my opinion, this crossed the line with violence into shock value for the sake of shock value. Yes, it's meant to be thought-provoking and show the price of war to humanity, but at the peak of all this violence, I pulled out of the story. It wasn't President Snow or President Coin (I hated that name) torturing Katniss; it was Collins. I could see the questions running through her head: "What is the worst thing I could do to Katniss? What will break her the most?"
In war, the casualties fall randomly, if heavily, but this was all targeted at Katniss. The death that should have hurt most hardly fazed me (view spoiler)[Primrose (hide spoiler)]
; at that point, I had already shut down in a story that was working too hard to manipulate my emotions. It was (view spoiler)[Finnick's death (hide spoiler)]
killed me (no pun intended), and it disappeared like a whisper. It seemed like Collins picked the only character she made us care about in this book on purpose. It should have felt natural to the progression of the story, but it didn't. (view spoiler)[Primrose's death upset me because it made the whole series seem pointless, which I'm sure is the frustration Collins was going for--the futility of war, the aftereffect, the scarring, the psychological burden--but it's so under described and anticlimactic that it fell short for me. (hide spoiler)]
Plus, the desensitization was, in my opinion, too much. There is a lot of bleakness in the other books in the series, but it is balanced with a humanity and hope that I think is crucial in YA fiction.My review
of Hunger Games states that Collins took an unbelievable story and made it believable. Here, she took the believable violence and cruelty of war and made it a little unbelievable for me. I struggled to find motivation from President Snow targeting children, to understand why the citizens of the capital continued to believe him, to accept that these villains could be this sadistically evil, to believe that this much could go wrong for one person, to champion Collin's bleak take on humanity. Not that this story is any more unbelievable than The Hunger Games
, but Collins delivered this one with such a numb, detached string of events that relied on violence instead of characters to deliver her message. Even more important than hope in YA is a strong character you would follow anywhere. I didn't want to follow Katniss in this story.
She shut down in the end, but really she'd been shutting down the entire book. After the fiery character of the first two books, it was hard to get nothing from her (especially as a first-person POV) and still feel vested in the outcome of her story. Her cold, detached comments to (view spoiler)[Peeta (hide spoiler)]
in particular bothered me, especially after everything he sacrificed for her. I had to keep reminding myself of all the horror she'd been through because although her detachment realistic, it bothered me. I couldn't remember why anyone wanted a self-absorbed teenager as the Mockingjay. I didn't need Katniss to lead the revolution, but I wanted something from her: a peek into her emotions/insights, a proactive motion, anything that pushed her character forward. Without any character development (from any of the characters), the story relied too heavily on action without connecting the pieces, developing those story lines, or making me care about the characters involved. I would have almost rather heard the story from a third party watching a broken Mockingjay than the emptiness with which Katniss tells her story. What I really wanted is Katniss back. I know I can't have her, but if I had to lose her, I wanted to feel heartbreak instead of nothing.
About the love triangle... (view spoiler)[You need only look at the comment section to this review to know I'm a Gale fan--was a Gale fan. But I was happy with the resolution for these reasons:
1. Gale never showed up in this book, not the intense Gale hiding a painful love for Katniss that I loved. Not once in this book did I feel his love for her. Was comfortable with her, coldly understanding, wanted to win her because it was a competition, but never once did I sense any love. And when he knew the enormous hurdle he had to overcome to win her back, he laughed and walked away. I would not have minded if the Gale who showed up for this story had been one of its casualties. It was pretty clear from the first chapter that Collins was directing us away from this relationship she had dangled in front of us. If this is the way the relationship had always been, as this book seems to imply, than this is the relationship that should have been there in Catching Fire.
2. For the first time in the trilogy, Peeta was not a Gary Stu, a doormat, a little too sacrificial for me to believe. He bite back. Unlike during the games, I never doubted that he could survive on his own. He stopped wanting to be a pointless martyr (the death pleas were still there, but this time they made sense). Not that I ever wanted Peeta to be mean or broken, but he can have heart and a backbone too. He could have a few flaws. Finally, I could root for him.
3. My last reason is not that as Gale and Peeta changed, Katniss did too, and so did the world they lived in. In a harsh war world, you need someone strong and skilled by your side. In the other books, Katniss needed Gale. In a world where you have lost everything and no longer have a reason or the mental state or the will to fight, you need someone soft and caring. Even before Katniss said her bit about needing heart not fire, I knew she was going to say it. And finally, the words were true.
So yes, I am eating my words and saying Katniss ended up with the right person. I just hate what Collins did to her to make her need it. (hide spoiler)]
I guess what depresses me most about this book is that I expected so much more from it. I know Collins is capable of power. In the end, I was too numb to feel its power, to even cry, to feel anything at all. I left a fantastic series with a major blank.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>