Jeff Walden's Reviews > Mockingjay

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
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Apr 20, 2012

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bookshelves: dystopian, young-adult, post-apocalyptic, scifi, hunger-games

The Capitol is back on its heels, facing off against the first well-organized resistance it's ever encountered. Led by the Mockingjay (Katniss) and District Thirteen, its land slowly dwindles as the rebellion grows increasingly successful. But what will replace it? This is the question that grows increasingly important as the story progresses.

The strength of these books has always been the novel idea of the Hunger Games underlying them. This book transitions from the successful events-then-Games-then-events model to a different one. Rather than following an essentially personal story, with undertones of a broader struggle, this book focuses much more on that broader struggle. From the start, even, this is Katniss's story only because she is important to that struggle, not because she has her own story to tell. The previous two books executed the personal-story angle pretty well; unfortunately, this book doesn't do the war-story angle as well. I think partly this is because Collins's first-person approach and pacing, which she writes quite well, just doesn't work as well for it. This was one part of why I found this book less satisfactory than its predecessors.

Past that, of course, we encounter the implausibilities and plot holes which seem to be a feature of these books. The Capitol's technology is too good for me to believe that Katniss could possibly make a leisurely visit to District Twelve at the book's open. I didn't find the ambiguous moral character of District Thirteen to be sufficiently well communicated prior to hearing its reaction to Katniss's demands; their rigidity of society seemed to follow from the exigencies of war, and even more particularly from the confining nature of where they had to survive. (And why wouldn't they have spread out beyond District Thirteen itself, anyway? They had the technology to do it, certainly.) I don't believe Katniss to be such a shrinking violet that the special mission midway through the book (view spoiler) should ever have been necessary; she's too intelligent for that. Continuing on, I don't believe President Coin's little twist a bit before the end (view spoiler) could have happened -- the end wasn't so close that the gamble could have been sufficiently non-risky yet. And I don't believe anyone in the rebellion could have successfully made the penultimate suggestion (view spoiler) an actual policy. Some of the tributes might be up to suggesting it, certainly, but no one (or ones) could have had the political capital to actually pull it off.

Those complaints aside, was this an adequate ending to the series? It did the job, but I can't say very much more than that. The first two books I can imagine picking up and rereading pretty easily, but the third one doesn't hold much more than average interest for me in that regard. I did like the bit just before the ending (view spoiler) -- it had a ring of authenticity to it. (Although it seems not something that would ever have been actually possible, if this were real and not a story.) And the last bit of ending was, I thought, a pretty good wrapup to a best-selling series (certainly better than the end to the Harry Potter books). But overall, this was a step down from the first two books.

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