Monday, September 13, 2010

Review - Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
published 2010
400 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

My thoughts: (probably full of spoilers, so if you are one of the 3 people left in blog-land who hasn't read it yet, be careful...)

I finished this book 3 days ago, and I'm still not sure I can write a coherent review. It's been a very long time since a book has affected me in the way Mockingjay has. I expected it to be dark. I expected it to be violent. I expected characters I'd learned to care for to die. I just, somehow, didn't expect.....this.

I think one of the reasons it was so affecting, for me, was because Collins took all of the action completely out of the arena. For me, this made the seem much more immediate and threatening. The past two novels have taken place in a world that was clearly not my own - this one felt much more realistic, as if any of the situations Katniss finds herself in could be happening just a few months into the future.

I thought Collins' portrayal of the horrors of war to be excruciatingly true. Sometimes, the lines between good and bad get blurred. Sometimes, good people decide to do very bad things. Sometimes, it's almost impossible to know who to trust, and who is on your side. And it's violent, and people die, and it's heartbreaking. And Collins gives her readers all of that, in a way that felt completely honest and real.

I once again fell in love with Katniss - her toughness, masking the vulnerability that she couldn't help but reveal. Her confusion and desperation and fear. I think part of the reason I care about her so much is that I can relate to her motivations - she never wanted to be famous, or in the spotlight. She just wanted to do whatever it took to protect her family, and then suddenly she was in this situation that was so far beyond her control. To me, she has always been so believable, even when she is being stupid or whiny, because I can imagine myself reacting the same way she does.

And I'm not sure I will ever get over the losses of Cinna, or Finnick, or Prim. I knew going into Mockingjay that characters I loved would have to die. There was really no way to follow the story to its conclusion without that happening. But I truly felt their losses as if they were real people - probably crazy, but that's how immersed in this world I became.

Perhaps the best thing I can say about the novel is that I know I won't soon forget it. Love it or hate it, I can't think of another book recently that has generated this much conversation. Personally, I loved it, even as it was breaking my heart. Thank you, Suzanne Collins, for this unforgettable reading experience.

Finished: 9/9/10
Source: my shelves
MPAA rating: PG-13, for violence
My rating: 10/10

This book counts toward:

42 Science Fiction Challenge 2010
9/42 complete

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