Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Okay, so my opinion about this series has vacillated a bit. I may have gotten a little caught up in the suspense and excitement of the second book (or was possibly temporarily hijacked by The Capitol) but now that the third one’s done and I’m starting to breathe normally again, I think I was right the first time round. A warning: I’m going to be as vague as I can be, but I really, really don’t want to spoil anything about the books for you, so if you haven’t already read this series but may want to someday in future then perhaps you should stop reading here and come back to this post after you’re done (like, tomorrow. They really don't take long to read). 
Ignoring my conscience, I really did enjoy this series. The suspense is handled superbly and the writing is clever and surprisingly fun and the characters are layered and interesting and mostly (the goodies, at least) likeable. Plus, there’s nothing like finishing a three-part series of novels in a week to make you feel like you’re being incredibly productive with your free time. I’ve heard that some people don’t like Mockingjay, the third and final book in The Hunger Games series; I did. I thought that by the end every knot had been tied and every t dotted, or whatever it is they say.

However, one can only suspend ones morals for so long before one starts to get a royal headache, and mine woke up almost as soon as I jumped into bed after finishing this book (I stayed up; it’s almost impossible to put this book down after the halfway mark*). Katniss does a lot more thinking about killing and consequences in both the second and third books, and struggles with what (she feels) she’s been made to do, as well as the impact of her actions on the safety of others. But alongside these ponderings, throughout this whole book, she’s focussed on killing the person who orchestrated it all, while somehow not seeing how illogical it is to want to murder someone because they murdered someone else. It’s like smacking a child in an attempt to teach them not to hit: It just doesn’t make sense. 

What makes your murder okay, but theirs wrong? And why are your loved ones more important than the loved ones of those you kill on the way to fulfilling your goal? Huh, Katniss? A person may love their family and seem all concerned about the right things, but if they’re willing to sacrifice other lives/relationships for the (perceived) sake of a sibling, they’re actually not concerned about the right things at all, nor are they a particularly nice or trustworthy person. I’m still not sure how I feel about Katniss; she may be a little too human for my liking: Unforgiving, self-centred, unapologetic. Part of me kinda wants my heroines (and heros) to be better than I am, someone I can aspire to be.
The books have interesting things to say about war and power and humanity and the nothing-new-under-the-sun-ness of Ecclesiastes 1: “No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them” (1:11). Considering everything, I’d probably recommend this series to others, with a warning about the violence, of course, as well as a long but riveting lecture on literature for young people these days.

* Sonia, I can’t believe you were able to go to sleep and work a whole day with only two chapters left!! I admire you. You’re a much stronger woman than I.


  1. Ha! Yes it was extremely difficult but I wanted to finish in a good state of mind. I agree and disagree though. Just because the protagonist is flawed and comes to decisions I disagree with then I don't think it's not worth reading and enjoying. It's written as a strong dystopia and, I believe, within that genre, a character enivatebly becoming similar in thinking ( in this case killing) as those that are seen throughout as morally outrageous iis a convention that leads to the reader fully realizing the dystopian world.

    Having said that, I was upset by aspects of the ending and katniss' reasonings

  2. Sorry Iphone stuffed up half way through that comment. So here is second half

    ... especially in regards to killing. I think Suzanne Collins feels she justifies this because of Katniss' mental state and conditions at the end (sorry trying to be ambiguous)and again because of a dystopian genre.

    In the end I say great books. Not what I would decide but made me think about my conscience and where I would stand and therefore I think it's a good one :)

  3. I think I agree Annelise - I want my heroes/heroines to be better than she was. Or at least to attempt to change when she identified her own flaws (which she did surprisingly often). I think her sense of entitlement also jarred with me a little. Why should she have the special right for revenge? And, yes, why such a double standard when it comes to morality? I think also the whole relational situation bothered me. I hate it when people mess with other peoples hearts because they can't make up their own mind.
    All that said, I did love reading the books and thought they did the dystopia thing well. I used to teach a unit on speculative fiction and I would definitely recommend these to the kids to read. Lots of interesting issues raised!

  4. I totally agree with the messing with other peoples' hearts thing; I didn't quite believe that she wouldn't have worked out her (and his) feelings much earlier. For someone who so cleverly works out Haymitch's "messages" in the first book, Katniss comes across as incredibly dense relationship-wise. And I agree with the dystopia thing too, now that I've looked up the definition. :o)

    I think my main problem is not with the yukkiness in this series specifically, but with the commonalities between the series (plural - serieses?) for young people that have been most popular over recent years (as I mentioned in an earlier post about the first Hunger Games book) - it seems there's a growing trend towards violence that I'm not completely comfortable with.