30 August 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (review)

***Spoiler Alert***
If you don't want to know what happens, don't read this.

You can also view the review on my Goodreads.

This is the first book in a long time where I finished it with such a sense of excitement and awe that I could barely fall asleep even though it was almost two in the morning and I had to wake up for work at six thirty.  My initial thoughts don't represent the book as a whole, just my own initial emotions on several subjects that I noticed while reading.  These are something resembling those thoughts (they've had quite a bit of time to mature this past week).

The first thing that's probably on everyone's minds is the whole Team Peeta/Team Gale thing.  After a special statement from the good ladies at Oops . . . Wrong Cookie, I started to feel neutral.  But my natural tendency was to root for Gale despite the shared experiences of Katniss and Peeta.  I thought Katniss's feelings towards Peeta weren't completely natural.  Her going with Gale would have felt like a more natural relationship --- until the events in Mockingjay happened.  It tore my heart that Peeta was hijacked and that Gale was becoming someone Katniss couldn't relate to.  In the end, though, I'm happy for the ending of the love triangle.  That was satisfying.  Besides, Katniss couldn't be friends with Gale after his hand in the final events.  I wouldn't be either.

Truth be told, I saw Coin's assassination by Katniss's hand coming.  I didn't know I saw it coming until she met with President Snow in his rose room, but I caught the hints for it.  When describing the lifestyle of District 13, I saw something resembling the control the Capitol has over its people.  Then I saw Coin's ambition and the fact that she was more of a politician than a rebellion leader.  I noticed a few subtle comparisons between Coin and Snow, and that's when I noticed that Coin wasn't all-good.  I saw Snow wasn't all-evil when he said he wouldn't sacrifice his own children for those ends.

One of the reviews I read mentioned that Katniss wasn't in character the last hundred pages or so.  I would beg to differ.  I didn't notice such a change in character until Prim died; even then I find the change fully justified.  You don't lose an entire squadron of the only people you trust including the two men you love and THEN watch your sister burn without some consequences.  Furthermore, the entire plot of the story takes place in less than two years.  That's a freaking huge amount of death and war in a small amount of time.  On top of that, Katniss is only a teenager.  She's seventeen!!  Did anyone else have some sort of revelation at that?

In terms of how the writing went, I've noticed passages that did nothing but skim events I thought were more important.  But the fact that they were part of the 'skimming passages' meant that they were less important overall -- we the readers just thought they would be important because it's what we expected from a war story.  Speaking of expectations, I thought the character development neatly dived away from the standard developmental tropes.  No, Katniss was not going to rise to the occasion, become a powerful victor, lead a happy life, and finally retire quietly.  Instead, she retreats to herself for months afterward and leads a quiet life avoiding anything that has to do with government and politics and especially war.

I liked the closure of the epilogue.  It was a very satisfying ending that says "this is the end of her story, period."  I like that.  I like that some stories come and some go and others are ended all too suddenly (I think of Finnick as I write that).  And I like the finality of this story.  It's unsettling but it has a clear message.  War leaves you broken and there's nothing you can do to stop it.  All you can do is live with it and hope for the best.  Love it!!!


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