Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
The short answer to whether or not I liked it is ‘Yes, but…’ The long, spoilery version is…
No, but mostly because I think she need another book or two to actually do the story justice. BUT. I also think Suzanne Collins doesn’t know when to stop.
In The Hunger Games, she has a very nearly perfect book, I think. Katniss is a little oblivious for someone so obviously clever, but that’s really the only fault I can find in it. I went easy on Catching Fire because second books, particularly second books that are setting up a finale, are very tricky. I was a little disappointed with Mockingjay.
Here’s why I wasn’t entirely thrilled with Mockingjay:
- Gale got short shrift at the end of it. I’m not upset that she ended up with He of the Stupid Name, but I wanted more to Gale’s ending than ‘He got a good job in some other district and gets all the ladies.’ What?! I needed closure on his relationship with Katniss. The way I feel about his ending (though only to a certain extent) is the way I felt about Lupin’s ending in Harry Potter. It didn’t do him justice. And I’m not entirely sure I bought Katniss’ reason for just completely shutting him out (apparently – we’re never told how all that goes down, but I would have liked to have seen the end of their friendship happen).
- This one isn’t fair because it’s going to be on my list of things I liked about it, but Katniss’ role, not as a soldier or strategy-maker, but solely as a figurehead for the rebellion seems very realistic (though I do have to say that I saw her manipulation coming a mile away – another instance of Katniss’ intelligence conveniently disappearing, though I guess she was pretty shell-shocked after Catching Fire).
- There was no sacrificing of anyone for anyone else. This pissed me off because it’s the easy way to get someone out of a love triangle and it’s effective for a reason. I really wanted someone (I don’t care who) to have taken a bullet or something for Katniss and to have died in her arms or something. Come on, Suzanne, there’s a war on!
- Fastest ending ever. In the epilogue of maybe four pages or so, she basically lists what happens to everyone after the rebellion. It’s show, don’t tell, Suzanne, not the other way around! This is (part of) why I think she could have used another book or two (Gregor got way more books than Katniss and that was not nearly as captivating as the Hunger Games!) to do a more realistic progression of the rebellion and tying up of loose ends afterwards.
Here’s why I’m still enamored of Suzanne Collins despite not being super satisfied by Mockingjay:
- She is an amazing, emotional writer – she really knows how to get a visceral reaction to her words from the reader. I’ve never turned pages as fast as I did toward the end of Mockingjay and I still cried at the barest mention of Rue. And when everyone was listing their favorite moments of Katiss’ from the games? I was a wreck. I even cried a little just because of the emotional letdown and relief of it all when I closed the book! She wields a powerful pen.
- She doesn’t condescend to her readers. She doesn’t candy coat things or talk down to the reader or gloss over anything. There are also more sophisticated questions going on underneath the rebellion (Was Coin’s decision, horrific as it was, the right one for the greater good? The questions of morality during wartime and where to draw the lines of violence and destruction.) – it’s books like this that make me kind of wish I was an English teacher so I could discuss, discuss, discuss, and then get to read essays about the books, too!
- See second point above. I know I didn’t like it as plot, but I have to give her credit for being realistic.
What I meant when I said that Suzanne Collins doesn’t know when to stop:
- I don’t know if I would have put it together without having read Gregor and I don’t know if I would have noticed it in Gregor (in fact, I patently didn’t) without having read Katniss, but Suzanne obviously prefers the epic to the personal. I still think The Hunger Games is one of the nearest to perfect books I’ve ever read. I would recommend it to anyone in a heartbeat. But I’m not sure I would recommend that they read on. It would be awkward because she’s obviously laying the groundwork for the rebellion (epic) underneath Katniss’ experiences in the Games (personal), but I think she does the personal so precisely and spectacularly that she loses that focus when she widens the net of her story to include the epic.
I don’t know if I’ve been particularly coherent here and I sort of feel like I’ve been harder on her than I should have been – I mean, it would have been nearly impossible to create a satisfying final book that held up upon comparison to The Hunger Games – especially because I would have loved to see what she could have done given seven books a la JKR or even Gregor (I think he went for six).
But there you have it.
My rating: I really don’t think I can.