Monday, February 10, 2014
A Review of 'Mockingjay' by Suzanne Collins
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."
'Mockingjay' came as a total surprise to me. Ever since this book hit the shelves, I have heard a couple good things and a billion complaints. I have started this book at least three times since the book came out, but this time when I sat down to read it, I was hooked. It took a couple of days (life happens, you know?), but I have finally emerged to take a breath.
I was telling my partner, as we were texting before bed one night, how with this book I need to come up for air every 2-3 chapters or so. When I take a moment to come back to my messy room in my college apartment on the edge of St. Paul, MN, my head is still stuck in Panem. It's hard to leave. Even when I emerge and enter my own reality, I still feel stressed from a battle that just occurred or sad because of someone's death or maybe I feel a course of adrenaline because something needs to be evacuated. This book is immersing.
What stopped me from liking, much less finishing, this book before was how militaristic it is. I hate that the whole book is one giant, complicated battle. I hate that everyone is called 'Soldier' once they reach a certain age. I hate that District 13 seems to have forgotten how to live, just by being underground for so many years. The setting is sad, stressful, and extinguishing. I hated the cameras being around all the time on top of this. I felt that they were acknowledged way too much.
But the way everything is executed is just so fascinating. The organization, the planning...
What saved this book for me was hearing Katniss's thoughts. Something about this book made me feel like I was reading a different Katniss. That's how it should be. After being in the Hunger Games twice, the second time nearly killing her, Katniss should change. It's a natural reaction to such trauma, especially after losing so many that she cares about. Even more fascinating and frightening is how you continue to see change in Katniss as things become more dire, more and more people die, more and more is risked.
Peeta's situation sort of hit home for me. When he was rescued from the Capitol, he wasn't himself at all. He had experienced such horrible trauma that he was a different person, even if he was still presenting in the same body. It reminded me of my Uncle before he died. He experienced a series of strokes and heart attacks. While he managed to live through them for a while, he was not the same Uncle to me for the rest of his life. I think Katniss told someone that she would have no problem parting with Peeta because he was already gone. I understand that feeling completely. It's really eerie to read about this now, because it's about a year after my Uncle's death (I wrote this post on 17 January, but I've scheduled it for today). So that's an interesting personal connection.
I don't know how I feel about the ending. On the one hand, I was expecting this very long and elaborate battle. While there is a lot of violence throughout this book, there really isn't a final battle to speak of. Katniss kills the new and the old President (I never thought that she would kill Coin, even though everyone knows that Katniss is not fond of her). She gets away with murder on that grounds that she is mentally unstable due to trauma. I never thought, despite everything that has happened in this series, that Prim would die. That is life smacking Katniss in the face right there. I never thought Katniss's mother would leave her. That's life backhanding Katniss in the face. This is a really dire time for Katniss. She should have the luxury of having her mother near her, even if she is perfectly capable of functioning without her mother, as she has proved time and time again throughout the series.
What I admire about the ending of this book is how Suzanne Collins shows her characters coping and moving on. The nightmares will never go away and yes, oftentimes nights will be rough. But a new family emerges. Love happens. Life goes on.
I can't help but feel so somber after finishing this book though. This book is going to haunt me for a long time.
I give 'Mockingjay':