Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

The third and final installment of the Hunger Games series concludes the story decisively. In my opinion, this was the weakest of the series for a variety of reasons.

While I appreciate the intensity of the characters being driven insane by their adventures, their lack of agency in a lot of what they do and what happens to them is really frustrating. This plays into the fact that this is not and never was a rebellion that belonged to Katniss, she just played a small part in it.

Perhaps I read the first two books wrong. I interpreted the scenes involving beauticians and fashion in the first two to be examples of the celebrity obsessed decadence of the Capitol as a mirror to the subsistence of the districts. In this book, her primary contribution to the war effort isn't in her physical ability to kill without peer... it isn't in her brilliant mind or vicious personality... it's her appearance in front of a camera, and once again things like outfits, presentation, and inspiring emotions through acting matter more than anything else.

New characters keep being introduced, but we keep failing to get to know them as well as we used to. People like Boggs, Messalla, Jackson, Homes, Castor, McGillicutty, and Cressida are all people in it and I couldn't tell you one character trait of any of them. We meet Finnick's friend Annie and I think she gets a single sentence of characterization. Heck, we finally really meet Gale and pretty much all we ever learn about him is that he's an asshole.

Most of the interesting and formidable problems introduced in the Hunger Games with formulating this rebellion were solved outside the character's understanding or control. We're told their actions had relevance, but except for one or two moments in the book seem to actually hinge on their participation. The characters we know don't arm the districts, communicate between them, mobilize them in an organized fashion, plan an overall strategy, or anything like that. Most of their time is spent hallucinating in hospital beds.

The... thing... that Coin may or may not have done (to use Emma's terminology) just doesn't make sense, no matter how you slice it. Neither side had a good motivation for doing it, and had no reason to expect it to even work if they had. It was just necessary for the book to reach the final conclusion and felt really contrived.

Really, the only thing that remains as high quality as ever through all this is Katniss. She remains an interesting character right to the end, despite how crazy she's gotten by now. Every character centric scene about her (that doesn't take place in a broom closet or nightmare/hallucination in a hospital bed) rings completely true.

Endings are hard. I wish this had been better, but it did work. The darkness and violence this one was able to go to let it feel like it was a real war, I just wish our characters were allowed to have participated to a larger extent in what happened in it.


  1. Loved the first two books! This book was great until the ending. The outcome was fine, but it seemed she just got tired of writing and left off in the most exciting part of the story then skipped to the wrap-up. The series is worth reading, but just be prepared for the story to drop at the end.

    1. i meant my comment to be in a reply to this

  2. I don't think so i loved the last book it was my favorite and the ending could've been better but I thought the ending was great!


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