Wednesday, September 1, 2010

young adult book review: Mockingjay

Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) 
This review contains spoilers because honestly, you've either already read it or don't really care, but in the event you do care, please be warned: I will spoil the hell out of this book.

The backstory: I liked The Hunger Games (my review) and absolutely adored Catching Fire (my review), so I was quite excited to see how Suzanne Collins would end this trilogy, even though I don't read very much young adult literature any more.

My thoughts: I've waited a week to write this review because I wanted some time to calm down and fairly articulate why I hated this book. I'm not sure a week helped, but after writing this review in my dreams for hours last night, I'm ready.

On structure: I was riveted by this novel for the first 85% of it. I read all of its 400 pages in one day. How can a book go from something so lovely to something so horrible so quickly? I'm still not sure. I enjoyed the structure of this novel. I think Collins intentionally moved from a highly structured narrative in The Hunger Games to a less structured narrative in Catching Fire and ended up with an even more relaxed one in Mockingjay. The structure echoes the literalness of the covers. Seriously, how beautiful are the three next to each other?
The Hunger GamesCatching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) 
I thought the structure helped build suspense. Having pods surrounding the Capital was ingenious. With each book, Collins took the Hunger Games to a new extreme, and it worked. The problems begin when all of this suspense leads nowhere. Seriously, was that not the most dull revolution ever? Why did she not write about the siege? I think it was a complete cop out. One of the reasons I loved Catching Fire so much was the idea of a revolution being reality. The revolution in Mockingjay was bland. In the pendulum theory of government, it doesn't work. (The pendulum theory being if you swing too far one direction, you can swing farther in the other direction, but if you only swing a little to the left, you'll only swing a little to the right). Panem should have swung farther in its revolution, and we should have gotten to read about the siege.

On love: Yes, I was Team Gale, but seriously this novel was so over the top with love it drove me crazy. Katniss has been rather oblivious to romance for the first two books, but suddenly this book is all about love. It read to me as though Suzanne Collins was trying to satisfy fans of both boys by giving them both serious page time. It was clear Katniss was going to choose, and I don't think that's what Katniss would have done. She did choose, and she chose Peeta. Going into the book, I would have been fine with that. After he was brainwashed and tried to kill her, I think warning flags go up. Brainwashed or not, I can't believe Peeta really changed. Marrying someone who tried to kill you? Bad message for young girls. But he's changed. Seriously, people. Bad, bad message. Why does Katniss need to settle down at seventeen? Why must young adult heroines always end up married to someone they knew as a teenager? Where did fiery, independent Katniss go? Beth Fish Reads has a fantastic post on this topic too.

On the epilogue: I think the epilogue was supposed to uplifting and hopeful. It wasn't. It was downright depressing. Peeta whined for FIFTEEN YEARS and she finally relented to have children? Horrible. FIFTEEN YEARS. Teenagers of the world: IT IS OKAY TO NOT HAVE CHILDREN. Perhaps Peeta and Katniss are not destined to be together if they don't agree on the biggest relationship dealbreaker: children. Even more disturbing to me was Katniss. She seemed sad. She seemed resigned. Where is her passion for hunting?

The verdict: Despite my love for Catching Fire, I'm sorry I read this series. I can't recommend it. It wasn't worth it. After loving Mockingjay for the first 85%, I'm still baffled the last few pages managed to ruin an otherwise enjoyable trilogy. I completely agree with Henri from Forever Young Adult: choosing Peeta=choosing a lame ass life of sucking.

Rating: 3 stars (for a fantastic 85% ruined by a disastrous 15% percent)
Length: 400 pages
Publication date: August 24, 2010
Source: I bought it for my Kindle and I bought it in hardcopy. I don't think I'll be keeping the hardcover.

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  1. Agree - I ended up hating this book. I suggest you check out Beth Fish's review. She laid out a lot of her 'dislikes' too. You can check it out here. Nice post!

  2. Thanks to you and to Celi.a for the links. You know I'm in agreement with you on this. A lot my disappointment came from the ultimate message to teenagers about what kind of future a woman can expect and the other part was how much of the story took place out of our sight. Nice post.

  3. I love your disclaimer! I agree that Collins pushed the love triangle a little too much in Mockingjay.

  4. I absolutely hated the book. I didn't even mention the good things. While reading your review, I couldn't help but think that what happened with Prim, and Gale's involvement, was partly a way for Katniss to end up with Peeta. Which I think was horrible, especially when you add on the fact that he had tried to kill her and seemed to basically coerce her into having his children. Really? Terrible, terrible. The more I think and read others' posts, the more I'm bothered by the novel. Great post. I'm glad others got something great out of the whole series, but I can't say I'm one of them, either.

  5. I am in the middle of this series right now, so I didn't read your post. I will be back later to read it though!

  6. Yup. That bad message was the deal breaker. Is it really so wrong to want to be a strong, independent, single woman?? Geez.


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