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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Book Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins


Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Release Date: Aug. 24, 2010

"Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year." - Courtesy of Amazon.com

My first book review is a big deal for me, and I wanted to kick it off in a big way by reviewing one of the most highly anticipated books of 2010. Mockingjay is most certainly that. Most book reviewers (and people in general) prefer to remain spoiler-free until they have a chance to read the book in question. I, however, have never been able to stand remaining spoiler-free regarding any material. I freaking love spoilers. Anticipation kills me, especially when other people have the knowledge I seek, so I was EXTREMELY grateful to the Mockingjay Spoiler Sub-board on mockingjay.net's forum for giving me the big scoop without too much detail. So, yes, when I read Mockingjay, I generally knew what was going to happen. There may be a spoiler or two in this post, so be warned. That being said, here's the review.

I really liked Mockingjay, but not in the way that I liked The Hunger Games or Catching Fire. The book appealed to the vengeful side of me. In a series like The Hunger Games, it is important to have a dark and explosive ending to a story filled with such inhumane behavior. I expected Suzanne Collins to give Katniss her revenge for the murders she was forced to witness and commit. I expected Collins to return the disgusting treatment of the people of Panem by the Capitol. I got exactly what I wanted in Mockingjay, and I am really glad Collins approached the ending the way she did. In the aforementioned message boards, there was a general consensus that some fans were not happy with the dark tone of the final chapter of this series. I, however, felt it was appropriate to end the story of this era of Panem with a blaze of blood and glory.

No one likes it when their favorite characters die in a book. It takes an emotional toll when a reader watches the demise of someone they have grown to love through words. One of my favorite characters of this series died in Mockingjay, but I (unlike some fans) am not angry. I understand the reason that this character was killed, and it was important to the deterioration and later, the rehabilitation of Katniss for this character to die. (If you don't already know who I'm talking about, see my other Mockingjay post.) I feel the same way with every death that occurred in the book. It was important for these events to happen in order to move the story in the direction Collins intended it to go.

Several of the posters at the super-spoilerific message board were upset that there wasn't a traditional "happy ending" for the characters in Mockingjay. I am glad there wasn't. It wouldn't be at all realistic for Katniss to skip off into the sunset after watching thousands of people, including some that she loved, die violent deaths at the hands of the Capitol. No one would be able to realistically walk away from the events of The Hunger Games series without being permanently affected in a perceivably negative way. The point I feel Collins was trying to make with Mockingjay is that the scars of war and violence are not always on the outside. Some wounds can never be completely healed. There are some things in this world that you just never get over. Considering everything that Katniss and company had been through, I think the ending was as happy as it could get.

I did have one issue with the book that I can probably work my way through via fan fiction, and that is the way that Gale left the story. I feel that his exit didn't do his character justice. It's as though he simply dropped off the pages, never to be heard from again. I felt he deserved more than that; that Gale would never have left Katniss without a word of parting. With further thought into the circumstances, I see that he was probably pretty angry about Katniss's decision regarding Coin and Snow. Maybe the war changed him so much that no amount of love for the old Katniss could bring him to forgive her for that. It just doesn't seem right. Maybe there was some unseen motivating factor for his departure that sweet, sweet fan fiction can explore for me. Or maybe Collins will pull a Stephenie Meyer and drop a companion novella on us in a couple of years. Title suggestion: WTF Actually Happened to Gale.

I am, overall, very happy with Mockingjay and The Hunger Games series as a whole. I am extremely grateful to Suzanne Collins for bringing us this amazing story and allowing us to see it through to the end. I hope that Collins will bring this same vivid, emotional writing to the screenplay of The Hunger Games and that she will continue to grace us all with her amazing stories.

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