Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What I thought of Mockingjay

So I finally finished Mockingjay after just over 1,347 normal interruptions of daily life.

I'm assuming you've read it, so if you haven't and plan to, you might want to stop reading now.

For the most part, I loved it. I know it wasn't the feel-good ending of say Harry Potter, but I thought it was realistic. Warm and fuzzy? No at all. But, probably truer to life. I was glad Katniss ended up with Peeta despite the fact that Gale was still alive. That was the warm-fuzzy of the book for me-that she decided that what she needed to survive was to be with someone with a more optimistic outlook; someone who believed that life could possibly be good again on some level despite all of the horror that they'd seen and losses that they'd suffered.

Katniss had a different attitude and played a less stable role than in the first two books-but really, who wouldn't be seriously messed up after having participated in two rounds of the Hunger Games? Who wouldn't contemplate suicide or need to be occasionally drugged? She was a broken, flawed character and I love broken and flawed characters.

I thought that both sides ended up "bad" was also true to life-justifying one's actions based on the previous actions of your enemy-pretty realistic I'd say.

I sat and cried at the end not because I was happy that Katniss and Peeta ended up together (even though I was), but because I felt the kind of sadness that I feel when someone's external circumstances makes it virtually impossible for them to live the remainder of their life without feeling the continual pain and sorrow that their memories bring to them. Margarita came in to the room in a tizzy, "Did someone die? Who died?" For me, the tragedy was that all the characters seemed emotionally, physically, and spiritually broken and that the healing process seemed so lengthy and difficult; like even though they had "won" the war, they still kind of lost. Their children had gained much improved lives-but for the remainder of their lives they would be haunted by what they went through. I don't say that as a criticism of the book, I liked it-it all seemed very real to me.

Here's what I didn't like-I thought that despite the gruesome subject matter, the first two books did a pretty good job of not being super violent. The third was completely different for me. I found it to be over-the-top in that department. Maybe the author was making a statement on war, which is fine, but I felt like it was a little unfair to get all of the tween-agers hooked on the first two milder books and then end with such violence.

I always know I've read a great page turner when I'm having problems getting into my next book-I'm definitely experiencing that right now.


Valarie said...

yes! that second to last paragraph was exactly what I thought. The first two books in the arena were surreal enough that I could remove myself from them. War is real. Even with hovercraft, mutts, and pods, war is real. I don't like war.

Lynne said...

Loved your critique. It expressed what I did like about the book and gave me some things to think of.

Stephanie said...

I agree with Lynne. You expressed a lot of what I was feeling.

Lucy said...

I'm 30% through. When I'm done I'll come back and read your post. :-)

Super Happy Girl said...

Haven't read any of them yet...so I am ignoring your post for now ;)

Chooch said...

I've been holding back on commenting because I feel like I am too often the only male amongst seas of women talking about the Hunger Games trilogy.

I am all about feel good endings. I don't care about reality and often when books or movies are heading down the path of realism, I tell myself that I would accept any unbelievable act, any load of cheese, anything to give me my happy ending.

I wanted Robin Williams to get back together with Sally Field in Mrs. Doubtfire and raise their kids happily--that one has haunted me for years, despite the 'happy' spin they put on it.

I literally threw 'Of Mice and Men' across the room in 5th grade when I finished it.

I would have accepted, without qualm, Katniss to have ended up sneaking into the Presidential Mansion, killing President Snow on camera, having the people vote her into the presidency over Coin, and having a few pages dedicated to how she and Gale or Peeta together built up the districts again.

However, what did occur has left me smoking a little bit, which is also good. Book two and its rushed ending did the same.

Book three has left me mulling over what did happen constantly throughout my day--considering alternate endings, considering justice, considering how realistic it was and how unfair it was to have Primrose die.

So, Suzanne Collins, because you care so much, I accept your third book of the Hunger Games trilogy.

Ballerina Girl said...

oh geez...I haven't read it yet, so I just skipped down to the comments...
I will let you know after I read it!

Miss u

Lucy said...


I think after having now completed the trilogy, I appreciate more the first two books. Starting the third book, I decided I wouldn't judge it by comparing to other books I prefer, but instead judge it by its own merits. I came away from it appreciating more the world Collins created and the characters. I also appreciate the sometimes stunning emotional honesty she portrays. I like Katniss and Peeta, and I'm glad they ended up together.

Even though I agree that the third was more violent and I certainly didn't like that, at least it wasn't that violence-for-entertainment of the first two that made me so conflicted about whether I "liked" the books or not.

I do think the first two books are easier to understand for younger readers. My mature 12-year old was not pleased with the third book. I think the moral complexity was a little too much for her.

Maybe I can actually bring myself to rate these books on Goodreads now. :-)

Gabriela said...

Chooch: Awwww, I didn't realize that about you-I guess I should have, but I never did. Sorry about Mrs. Doubtfire-that was a real downer. I guess I'm more of a realist when it comes to my reading.

Lucy: yes! "stunning emotional honesty". Well put. I know what you mean about violence for entertainment and "regular" violence. But, there's probably a link between the two in our (and their) society, don't you think?

Margarita hasn't finished it yet and I'm telling her to abandon ship if it gets too heavy for her-I think it's a lot for the younger crowd.

Lucy said...

Did Margarita really like the first two? Xinnia did. She was so excited about the third and it was a bit of a let down.

I do see the link between regular and entertainment violence. I still think this is the sort of book that should only be read by children if they can discuss it with an adult. Supposedly in these books, Collins wants to confront us with the sick specter of our own violence-loving society, as well as explore the effects of war on children. But how ironic if people are simply being entertained by it. (Sorry, I know you've heard all of this from me before!) I read a similar criticism of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series. That it depicts violence against women to show the evil of it, and yet part of the reason people love the series is the violence.

Gabriela said...

L-Margarita did love the first two-but has been only slowly reading the third, mostly I think because I've warned her heavily that she may not want to proceed.

I know what you're saying. I guess I felt like she was way less descriptive in the first two than she was in the third. And I kind of liked her questioning where our society's fetish for reality tv is heading-I am not a fan. But, I guess if you're just enjoying the violence for entertainment's sake and not questioning what we do, it's probably not doing much good.

I recommended the first to Margarita and felt ok with her reading it, but I don't feel the same with the third. I just don't like that she got everyone hooked with one thing end ended up with something else.

I read the first in the "Dragon" series and regretted it and I won't be reading the others. Way too graphic for my taste.

(we could just be emailing this, eh?)

Lucy said...

Ha, yeah, I guess we could just email. But then everyone else couldn't benefit from our intelligent discussion. ;-)

I was going to read the Dragon series but decided against it for now based on warnings of the graphic violence. I don't do well with that, either.

Abby said...

Gabs, I just finished it last night. When school started I got way too busy to keep going. That says something about the third book--I don't think anything could have slowed me down during the first two. The third was not as gripping, but I did like it.

I agree with you for the most part, I thought the book ended honestly but was still satisfying. I did want a little bit more of a triumphant end to the war, though--some sort of joy that Snow was no longer in power or that the war was over or something (not necessarily from damaged Katniss, even)--if only because it would better match the tone of the first two books.

I'm so glad she ended up with Peeta, I love Peeta, but I would have also liked to know that maybe she and Gale are still in touch at the end, or at least that she and her mother have a better relationship. I wish that her mother had been in the picture with her grandchildren or something, to show that her life went on to some degree as well.

And, I have to say, I read the comments and I completely agree about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It was way too much for me and I don't understand why those books are so popular. I will definitely not be reading the others.