Lucy's Reviews > Mockingjay

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
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's review
Sep 18, 2010

really liked it
Read on September 18, 2010

My mother once told me that sometimes, she thinks my book reviews are a little too detailed. As in I give away the plot. Ever since that conversation, I've been more conscious about writing more generally, leaving out details that may spoil it for others who haven't read it yet.

I will not be doing that here.

In case that didn't make sense, let me put it another way.


O.K. Then.

So, two years of Katniss's life have passed in two days for me. I think the timing differences affected my reaction, but I'm not certain. I know what I wanted to have happen didn't happen and I'm surprisingly satisfied.

Katniss is one messed up chick.

She should be! Who would be normal after everything she's been through in two days I mean two years! First, the boy she thought she was pretending to love becomes a Capitol hostage and is clearly being tortured and she realizes that she loves him! She had glimpses into this self awareness before, but now that he's not there to depend upon, now that she might never see him or touch him or be loved by him, well...she can't be the girl on fire, the Mockingjay, the leader of the rebel cause without him. She has nothing to give.

And Gale knows it. Gale, who should have been so much better developed in this book because Peeta was out of the picture for most of it and Gale and Katniss had time and opportunity and instead, Collins gave me detailed descriptions of mashed turnips and propaganda ads. I don't know why she could allow Gale to react - to get mad or jealous or passionate or funny or...anything. He was just (speaking in a robot voice) "I am Gale. I love Katniss (though won't ever do anything about it). I am a hunter and a fighter." Blah. He was much more excited about his communicuff than he ever seemed to be about Katniss. The author kept writing about how deeply Katniss felt about Gale and how deeply Gale felt about Katniss without ever really giving them opportunities in the plot to show it. And if she did, like when Gale was tortured (although I think that was in the other book but they are all running together in my mind so bear with me, people!), she dissolved any tension she created as soon as I turned the next page. Scene over. Conversation over. On to describing another costume or meal in full and lengthy detail. I had high hopes of being tormented by who to choose but there was no question about who Katniss should be with. Well..that's not exactly true. When Peeta was totally insane and trying to kill Katniss because he had been programmed to, Gale did look like the better choice. But the totally boring, safe better choice.

Now that I've gotten past the bizarre love story, which actually does have depth if you think about why she eventually chose Peeta (she wants to be with someone who can help her remember there is good in the world), I'll move on to what really impressed me with this book.

It's scary. And confusing. And dark and horrible and violent and bloody and ugly.

Just like war.

I couldn't believe some of the stuff I was reading. Peeta tortured? Blowing up hospitals? Shooting strangers in the heart to keep your cover? Bombing children with parachutes that they'd come to rely on as being helpful?

Not nice. Not fair. Not clean.

It's disturbing and I totally get that it's almost too disturbing. We're not really used to authors introducing us to likable characters who have survived unthinkable government abuse, who stand in their hospital gown, showing off their underwear and sarcastically saying, "You don't want some of this?" who finally gets to marry the love of his life, and then kill them off in a horrible manner. Inconsequential characters who mean nothing, yes, but not ones so young, beautiful and deserving of a long-overdue bit of happiness.

More than that, the adults are totally untrustworthy. Katniss's mother, who the author thankfully kept true to herself by abandoning her highly troubled and disfigured daughter, because her other daughter had died and she just couldn't handle it. Haymitch, who returns to his alcoholism the moment he can. President Snow, who totally reminded me of Lord Voldemort. Probably all the mentioning of his snake-eyes and how he smelled like blood. President Coin, who never seemed to understand what the rebels were fighting for and wanted power more than change. I'm not sure Young Adult fiction needs to paint all adults as totally selfish and calculating, but it's fair to represent some that way.

It wasn't a perfect book. The ending was confusing and I had a really difficult time visualizing the assault on the city. Each time a "pod" was mentioned, I pictured one of those heavy boxes they put in front of houses that are getting built or remodeled. I don't know why, but that was in my head so when the author said, "pod" this or "pod" that, and black ooze was coming out, or nets or crazy white reptilian mutts, they were coming out of this totally out-of-place metal box. It was very disorientating. I knew I was lost, so never went back to find the original description, but I have no idea how they got to the Capitol. One minute, they were shooting a commercial and then it was non-stop survival mode action until Katniss witnessed her sister get blown up and literally felt herself on fire.

I don't think she could have ended it differently and remained honest to her original premise - that there are far worse things than death. Because of the set-up of the story, writing it in a trilogy format, she had to escalate the conflict. A violent, but contained, story of killing and death would no longer do. What were they all doing there and for what reason? The anarchy, distrust, and flat-out fear of having no control over your own safety has to be messy. And Collins made it so very messy.

I'm not sure there needed to be an epilogue. It was nice to know that Katniss and Peeta had a future. It was refreshing to see that life was not perfectly swell now that the nasty war was behind them. They struggled and coped and fought for happiness as best they could. But, in my opinion, that's the real sunset. So, reading about it, I felt like saying, "Tell me something I don't know." I would have been angry had the epilogue been written any differently.

I think that's about it. Another book to remind me that should the world ever become this horrible, I really, really just want to go out with the initial bang. I worry I'm not a survivor at all. I don't think I could do these things. Any of it. Eat squirrel or fight to the death on live TV or take down an evil president.

But, maybe I could. I'm not saying I could be Katniss. But, maybe I could be that tiger lady and hide the really brave people. All I'd have to learn to do is eat raw meat and purr. Maybe.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Laurel Awesome review, Lucy.

message 2: by Sue (new)

Sue I love your reviews. This one's great because it is how I felt without knowing how to say it. Glad you enjoyed the books after listening to all of the hype for two years!

message 3: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Phew! Thanks. You told me everything I cared to know without having to read the book. I will happily put this series behind me!

Lucy Oh no! I hope I didn't ruin it for you. By the way, I did agree with you about the first book and thought that several times. I thought it would have made for a more interesting dilemma had Katniss actually had to kill someone she cared about. What would that do to her emotionally? Could she? she never really had to make the choice.

But, I also think that it's not completely unlikely that she could have gotten away with what she did do - stay out of the way and let the others kill each other. And when she did Kill, to do it a little less...well...personally like with the Tracker jackets. I don't know. I liked Katniss. Her coldness was understandable considering her background, father's death and mother's breakdown. Her survival skills were believable with all of her hunting and near starving. Her ambiguous feelings towards Peeta even made sense. He was handsome, but she was about to die! Do you fall in love with someone when you are about to die, even if they say they love you? That progression totally made sense to me.

enough. Sorry. Enjoy your day!

Brenda Once again, great review.

Lucy Thanks, Brenda. A few days after I posted this review, I was talking to someone about the line I wrote about not wanting to be around if the world ever got to be as bad as it is for Katniss and then I sort of paused and realized...we do live in that world.

But WE live in the capital. I don't think we really have a clue what it's like to live outside our golden US of A bubble. I mean, we see it on TV, maybe read about it, but we don't live it. And what is seeing on TV or reading about it? Entertainment in a kind of perverse way. I wonder if Collins was really writing a dystopia or if she was satirizing modern day?

amy gretchen I'm not sure why i had such a hard time reading this book. I guess somewhere along the way I got bored and stopped caring for these characters. I do love your review. Thanks for giving me what I missed by not finishing the book. I would agree with you by ending the book the way she did...there was no other option plus it leaves you wondering if it was worth it.

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