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Sunday, August 29, 2010

10 Reasons I Loved and Hated Mockingjay (SPOILER FREE) [with side commentary by Rica Eat World]

Though this review is spoiler free, PLEASE DO NOT READ IT if you haven't read the previous two books: The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Note: Commentary by Rica will be in THIS COLOR

Title: Mockingjay
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: Dystopian
Target Audience: Teens and adults. (very violent)
Pages: Hardcover - 400 pages

My name is Katniss Everdeen. Why am I not dead? I should be dead.

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans -- except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay -- no matter what the personal cost. - summary from Goodreads

Two years ago, The Hunger Games astonished readers with its gripping action, screwed up society, and mesmerizing characters. (5 hoots)

Catching Fire once again dazzled readers with a plot riddled with horror and beauty. (4.5 hoots)

Readers, marinated with the suspense that the last pages of Catching Fire drizzled, waited for Mockingjay, the most hyped and extolled book of the year...


5 reasons I loved Mockingjay

"Fire is catching! And if we burn, you burn with us!"

1. The plot unfolds very differently from what one might expect, but Collins manages to execute it beautifully. Mockingjay is destined to be controversial since it's a completely different type of book than the previous two; it has more discussable aspects for people to base opinions on. This book makes readers realize that the trilogy is far greater than the much debated love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale, and even greater than the first Hunger Games itself. Mockingjay is about the ethics of war, government, the personal battles of the characters, and the future of Panem. Katniss compares the war to an astronomical Hunger Games, where the players are everybody, including President Snow. The sudden plot spins will flabbergast readers, and the book ends with the flourish of a controversial, brilliantly shocking conclusion. Collins employs the most merciless, brutal ending possible, obliterating any of the book's entertainment value. At first, I disliked the epilogue since it seemed incomplete and wishy-washy, but in retrospect, it ends the book impeccably, with a simple, beautiful last line that tones the series with finality and wrenches at my heart. Though the ending is morbid, I'm glad that Collins didn't end this book with a sugary, Disney movie ending. Readers finishing Mockingjay will feel heavy, stunned, and fragmented.

--Like Okapi, the plot's dives and curves left me both stunned and breathless. I literally found myself gasping out loud late into the night, an accomplishment for Collins considering that with most intense moments in intense books, I just make a mental gasp, too lazy and not shocked enough to use my breath. And also, I loved the violence. :)

“'Oh, no. It costs a lot more than your life. To murder innocent people? It costs everything you are.’”

2. The intense action...and deaths. Toward the end of the novel, tearing this book from my eyes would have been physically impossible. Once again, Collins is creative with the menaces that threaten to hurt Katniss and company. Mockingjay is violent, possibly even more so than the previous two novels, with battle scenes mirroring Iraq and other war zones, places where violence kills a plethora of innocent people. The severity is gripping, horrific, yet passionate so I cannot look away. Collins makes the war more emotional by elaborating on some of the characters' personalities. Thus, a few deaths slam harder onto readers' hearts, splattering the book with vivid shades of emotion and loss.

--In reality, whether we like it or not, people do indeed die. And that's the way it should be in books. Not just the characters left on the sidelines. Death is stealthy and by the way of nature, it carries off souls that we hold dear to us. Collins plays this beautifully in Mockingjay, and though the deaths of certain characters does tug on my heartstrings, it completes the book in a way that makes it all the more realistic and enjoyable.

"Because something is significantly wrong with a creature that sacrifices its children's lives to settle its differences. You can spin it any way you like... But in the end, who does it benefit? No one. The truth is, it benefits no one to live in a world where these things happen."

3. The ethics. While the previous two books brush upon ethics, Mockingjay elaborates on the morals embedded in the story. The Hunger Games deals with the rights and wrongs of sacrificing children to control a society, and this book continues to face this dilemma. During the novel, Katniss's moral compass swerves a tad off balance, and she will never be able to truly redeem herself from the innocent she killed, making her a questionable heroine. However, ultimately, she manages to regain her morals at the end in a glorious, tense moment. She rebels against cruel demagogues and those who attempt to secure a seat of power using unethical tactics. Mockingjay ventures beyond the cruelty of the Capitol; Collins's passionate prose dives into the corruptness of human nature. Readers will have nightmares about the horrific world inside Mockingjay long after they turn the last page.

“We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction.”

4. Growing characters. Collins nurtures the characters from the previous two books, and their personalties acquire a new dimension. The reader will glance at the burning anger in the deep chute of Gale's soul; Finnick adds a whole other aspect to his profile; Prim transforms into a strong young heroine; and the rest of the ensemble evolves. Katniss's personality develops fragile, tortured areas that never made appearances in the prior books, and she makes it clear that she'll never be healed. The backstories of Finnick and Haymitch underscore the brutality of the Capitol, shocking me enough to put the book aside for a moment. President Snow remains a manipulative, heinous villain, and his permanent, literally bloody mouth is nefarious touch.

“We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction.”

5. The unforgettableness. Whether due to the gory violence, vital messages, breathtaking plot line, or compelling characters, I will never forget Mockingjay. This downright gripping story is passionately moving, a dismal but beautiful end for a fantastic series. The more I think about Mockingjay, the more I relish it, finding it an apt way to conclude the trilogy. Due to the brutality, this book is hard to read, and I doubt I'll reread it for a long time, unless to clarify some parts. Though the trilogy is over, the haunting echo of Mockingjay's ending will forever resound in the minds of readers across the world.

--The ending was just how I wanted it to be! No spoilers though, I promise :)

Bonus Reason:

6. The food. Whenever Collins describes what Katniss eats, my mouth salivates and cravings wrack my body. In fact, during the eight hour period I read Mockingjay, the only time I abandoned the station of my couch was to snag some oatmeal, which I normally abhor, but Collins causes me to pine for it. My mouth longed to taste the creamy blue frosting when Collins describes a cake Peeta bakes. Her frequent mention of edibles makes me want to lick the food straight off the page. Her technique of mesmerizing the readers with food reminds me of J.K. Rowling, whose feast paragraphs pop the food off the page.

--Remember the lamb stew from the first Hunger Games? I would like to assure you that they make an appearance in Mockingjay as well. Dried plums included. :P

5 reasons I disliked Mockingjay

1. Katniss's emotions. Most of Katniss's emotions consist of being “empty” or “numb”. In fact, I cannot recall her feeling anything else, which gets really annoying; after a while, her monotone feelings make me want to scream at her in frustration. When loved ones die or she achieves something close to peace, Katniss never wavers from feeling “numb” inside. I kept waiting for other emotions to show, yet all she relinquishes is a torrent of whininess and self-pity. Katniss is expected to be broken after two Hunger Games, but she is so unstable that it's hard to relate to her. She never pulls herself together, and the book becomes a serenade of broken notes.

--The reason why, unlike the other two, I will not re-read Mockingjay countless times, is that this book doesn't really make me happy at all. While I love the action, this book was lost in an abyss of everlasting gloom. Tension reigned. Being locked into Katniss' mind, I was forced to listen to the torrent of depressing thoughts that plague her, causing me, as a reader immersed in her world, to be depressed as well.

2. Katniss the pawn. Many reviews grumble that a pawn of war, controlled by upper forces, replaces Katniss's independent warrior girl image. I have mixed feelings about this. First of all, I'm glad that Katniss's invincibility aura seen in the prior novels melts away, because now she is more realistic against the gruesome backdrop of a warring country. However, I am not a fan of Katniss being so easily manipulated, because she never decides on her own, unlike the liberated girl seen in The Hunger Games. Manipulating Katniss grows dull after a few pages, and I miss her dynamic sequences of independent action. In Mockingjay, her acts of defiance include skipping classes and hiding in the closet, callow "rebelliousness" that can only be found in high school. Also, she never becomes a true Mockingjay, a symbol for the rebellion in Panem, because superiors always control her, except for a single scene near the end of the book when Katniss actually thinks for herself.

3. Strange pacing. Unlike the previous two breath stealers of the trilogy, Mockingjay arrives on a glacially slow note. After barreling through the beginning, questing for the action, I found myself entrenched in the slow middle that consists of cameras and creating propaganda, not the expected action. If Mockingjay was not part of The Hunger Games I would have been bored out of my mind. Fortunately, toward the end, the speed accelerates, throwing the reader into the same level of excitement seen in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Panting, Mockingjay rushes off stage a little too fast, leaving the reader broken and hanging.

--The beginning was sluggish as Collins sets up the scene. I know this is inevitable, but I felt that Mockingjay would've been a bigger hit if Collins has kicked it off with a bang. The intro largely consists of Katniss' thoughts as she staggers through the remains of District 12. Paragraph after paragraph went by with no dialog whatsoever, up until page 15 when someone FINALLY released me from the droning lines by saying something. As much as the very beginning bored me, I was still intrigued, longing to quench my thirst for some action.

4. Keeping track of new characters. Collins rapidly introduces character after character, barely leaving me time to remember their names before their tragic demises. She completely glosses over their personalities, only talks about their names, and in the end, I do not care if they live or die. Remembering the soldiers' names is an arduous task; Collins clumsily announces their presences. The leader of District 13 takes on a blurry identity, and the book would be more wholesome if readers know what makes her tick.

5. The bleakness. While I see why Collins wants to strip this book of hope and happiness, comic relief is basically nonexistent in this story. The darkest of the trilogy, Mockingjay is devoid of Peeta's humorous remarks, and the only dialogue close to lightness is Haymitch's half hearted jokes. Even J.K. Rowling manages to squeeze in some jocular comments amidst the lethal battles of Deathly Hallows, resulting her series to conclude in victorious, grand swoop, despite all the death. The book is violant enough to squeeze away any smidgeon of entertainment readers found in the previous two novels. Mockingjay somberly marches out, depressing and grave.

--See my response of #1: Katniss's emotions.

An observation...

Once scene in the book seems directly pirated from the pages of Twilight. Did the conversation between Peeta and Gale while Katniss is half asleep remind anyone of a certain Edward/Jacob conversation that took place in a tent? I'm starting to dislike the whole scenario where the I-think-she's-asleep heroine accidentally overhears a heart to heart between her top two contenders.

--I too saw the stark similarities and yet, though I found the exchange in Eclipse sappy and cheesy, I must admit that I didn't mind this snippet in Mockingjay. After countless pages of non-stop action, it was a fresh change to read about this soft moment between our two heroes. To hear their thoughts on the topic after being deprived of scenes concerning this issue for so long, was refreshing and gave the book another angle.

In conclusion...

This book is ineffable, the good outweighing the bad. While not my favorite in the trilogy, it lived up to the hype and ended Katniss's journey in a stunning and different manner, which definitely outweighs a boring and predictable closure. This book is bound to receive more varied opinions than the previous two, due to its controversial plot twists and conclusion. Despite the imperfection, Mockingjay is destined to brand the trilogy as a classic.

--Agreed.

Cover: 4/5 - Overall, this cover is mediocre, and my least favorite of the trio due to the washed out colors. However, this ambiguous cover is imbued with symbolism. Unlike the previous two covers, the Mockingjay breaks free from the constraints of a pin, and it glides through the air, wings outstretched. The realistically drawn bird in center stage symbolizes that the rebellion is real and in the spotlight, or it could represent Katniss during the time she's needed the most. The background, a hopeful sky blue, represents freedom and promise for the citizens of Panem.

Rating:
4.5 hoots


Books before this:
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire

Source: Bought from Amazon :)


21 comments:

  1. Really good review covering the good and the bad. I am also really conflicted about this book, but I loved how it made me think about it and analyze it after it was over.

    I would add to the dislike reasons how Katniss kept getting injured and passing out, then waking up and having everything that happened while she was knocked out explained to her... although maybe that would fall under pacing. I wanted to SEE her rescue Peeta, be tried in court, etc - not hear about how it went down after.

    And I totally thought of Eclipse during that scene too!

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  2. OH YEAH! I totally agree with your point about Katniss. I really wanted to see the rescue of Peeta as opposed to reading more about propo stuff. Thanks for commenting!

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  3. Thanks for commenting! You made me uncover one another of the reasons I disliked the book, one that was hidden to me before you mentioned it. Katniss seems so fragile. Reading the book is like stepping into someone's shoes, and with Katniss, I felt like I was half asleep throughout Mockingjay.

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  4. I haven't read Mockingjay yet, but I also had trouble keeping track of all the characters in both the Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Honestly, I gave up the trying to remember who was who. Half the time when characters were introduced I was like "Who's that?" :) Looking forward to Mockingjay still though.

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  5. Nice review :) I loved reading this as well. And yeah I did find some similarties of Eclipse as well. But overall, I enjoyed it.

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  6. LOL! Fun post!
    I was never in the mockingjay wagon but I'm having fun reading all the reactions!

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  7. LOVELYY. I had fun reading this and I pretty much agree with all of it. especially 1 and 2 reasons why I didn't like mockingjay. Katniss was too whiny in this book....
    and lastly I definitely agree with Elizabeth Briggs about the annoyance of Katniss passing out and then waking up and having things explained to her.

    and about my contest post on your sidebar, it ends at 9/30 silly not 10/2! But anyways, THANKS SO MUCH for putting it on your blog. ahahaha

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  8. oatmeal. sonias a goofball like funny boy joe from
    alsanoj....

    thanks for the comments guys!

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  9. Hi Visiting from the HOP! Newest follower, I just finished the Hunger Games - loved them.

    I hope you will have time to visit one or both of my blogs: LibrarysCat and Never Forget!
    Have a great weekend!

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  10. Good review! Very comprehensive! I agree, there were a lot of things to like, but also a lot to dislike. I was personally expecting a little more.

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  11. i was sooooo excited about reading this but the book fell apart as soon as they started filming propos and they all invaded. SPOILER ALERT FOR MY NEXT FEW SENTENCES!!! i was so mad when prim died and we dont know about gale and UGH its just a un thought out ending and im very disapointed

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  12. I agree with a few dissapointments from the third book. The end took up such a fast pace and then ended. Katniss seemed to be fine without gale suddenly and was so broken at the end it was hard not to be depressed at the ending. The reader is left feeling the end is unresolved and Katniss loses the qualities that are loved about her in the first two books.

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  13. o.k. i know that katniss can be independent and as you say "numb" but thats who she is. and she is smart enough to know not to get that close to a lot of people because in panem a lot of people die. Especially in the hunger games. i mean, would you want to be friends with everyone in the arena just to watch them die? also collins probably doesnt introduce a lot of the soldiers or other ramdom people because they are simply unimportant. collins did have to give them names though becaude they cant all just be nameless blobs.

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  14. I thought it was extremely selfish for Katniss and Haymitch to vote yes to Hunger Games for the children of Capitol. It is pointless, childish and unnecessary.
    Besides, after what happened to Coin, the book didn't mention whether the idea was scrapped or not.

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    Replies
    1. My guess is that Katniss said yes, so that it would pass and she would have another reason to kill Coin. The fact that it is never mentioned again, seems to confirm my guess.

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    2. I initially thought so too. But i read from another review that Katniss voted yes to gain Coin's trust and that she was already thinking of assasinating Coin instead. This is because Collins also wrote something along the lines of Katniss realising how alike Haymitch is to her, as if Haymitch understood her intentions and hence voted yes with her.

      I read somewhere else that Paylor scrapped the hunger games altogether. I'm not too sure about this though. Will be re-reading the book to understand more about this.

      Delete
  15. Love your points here of what you did/didn't like from Mockingjay and found myself nodding in agreement many times! So thank you for sharing.

    I will add that I am a little bit surprised Katniss never realized that she "unplugged" from life several times much like her mother did. Surprised Collins never said anything like that!

    Anyways, love this!

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  17. Really like your factors here of what you did/didn't like from Mockingjay and discovered myself nodding in contract many times! So thank you for discussing.

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