Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mockingjay Review

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

(from the book jacket)
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 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.

I think once again Collins does a great job of giving you characters you can care about. You worry about them. Their anguish, mental and physical, makes you upset. You are sad when they die. And there are, of course, the people you don’t like too but even they evoke a strong reaction. And these strong characters get you emotionally involved in the story. And once again Collins explores some big issues. Katniss and the others have to deal with the horrors of war and the damage that it does to those who survive. They are faced with choices about how far they are willing to go to win a just war. Can they justify using the enemies tactics themselves? Katniss is overwhelmed by the war, the loss of her home, the fear for those she loves and the expectations of those around her. You are thrown into turmoil with her as she is pushed into a role that she never wanted but no longer knows how to avoid. I had a little harder time feeling for Katniss this time but that was only because the trauma she goes through, the trauma that makes you hide in the corner, that makes you apathetic and unresponsive is harder for me to relate to or envision than the fight for her life that she has been in in the past. And because this is the struggle she is going through in the beginning of the book it has a slower start than the other two. Mockingjay gives you a sense of hope because finally the people are fighting back but it is still a dark and scary world. Collins never gives her heroine and cure-all answer to the woes of the world. All of her plans and actions do not miraculously make everything better. Her choices are not at all clear nor are they without consequences. It is a compelling story but I’m slightly ambivalent about the ending. I’m glad that Collins does not pretty it up into something that is unreal and unbelievable. But there was a point when it seemed like the story just stopped for a moment and then continued after jumping over some important parts. It was good to take a look into the future a little bit but still leave the possibility open for anything to happen so you get a sense that the effects of the war will not fade quickly. But part of me feels like certain things were glossed over and left oddly vague.

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