Saturday, April 9, 2011

Book Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

So the third and final book in the Hunger Games series! I wolfed down the first two books but had heard mixed things about book 3. I did like it, and while I might not have made all the choices the author made, I did find the end satisfying and she tied up most of the loose ends. But I do see why it's been so controversial. It did keep up the same rapid pacing, strange characters, and thrilling excitement. I am very glad I read it and although parts were sad, it does end well overall.

But, so I don't have to speak in code for my whole review, I will now warn SPOILERS AHEAD. I think it was a great choice for Ms. Collins to have made Peeta so damaged by the Capitol. I didn't see that coming but it was perfectly appropriate. Peeta and Katniss's relationship couldn't really move forward where it was before - it was a fairly simple, superficial relationship where he was always in love with her and looking out for her, and she was in conflict over whether she really liked/loved him and/or Gale. And it needed to mature to move forward. Hence, his damage where he no longer was the perfect guy he was before, and Katniss really needed to decide if she liked him for who he was and was willing to work a little bit, as opposed to before when she just fell into a relationship with him.

Now if I were Ms. Collins's editor, I would have pushed her a bit on the ending. It did feel like just as we were reaching the climax, she copped out. Instead of going for it with a big battle, instead Katniss seems to have gotten knocked out or something and wakes up in a hospital with snatches of memories of the last few moments before she lost consciousness. Now, while it might have felt like a cop out, it might actually have been better than the alternatives. Not to mention, we need to keep in mind that this is a book written for teens, and so the violence is toned down a bit. Also, that isn't really the climax of the book - that comes about 30 pages later. And that isn't off-stage. That part I did like a lot. It was well-anticipated but not something you saw coming from a mile away. I do wish Snow's demise was a little more clear (did she poison the rose?) And also in the first book I wondered why Cinna said he specifically requested District 12 - that was never resolved. But all things considered, in what was a complicated and tangled story, Ms. Collins did a great job of tying things up.

The series was fun and exciting, and I really enjoyed it. I am so glad my book club forced me to read The Hunger Games, and that I stuck with the series to find out what happened. I totally understand why they are so popular. Yes, they are violent, but one thing to keep in mind about teen books is that they are preparing kids to deal with violence, loss, trauma, and other potentially bad situations that do in fact occur in our lives. Hopefully they won't have to deal with anything nearly this bad, but seeing how other teens cope with nasty situations helps teach coping skills, and also puts problems in perspective. Really, is getting rejected from your dream college so terrible, when you don't have to fight to the death in the Hunger Games? Life could be worse.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

I borrowed this book from a friend.


Julie P. said...

I enjoyed this one too but not as much as the first two. I agree with some of your thoughts!

Thanks for sharing!

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

I liked this series too. And I share some of your views. It must have been a great trilogy for book club discussions! Here is my take on Mockingjay: