Sunday, January 16, 2011

CB #5 Mockingjay

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins    (YA)
                Possible spoilers to every book in the trilogy (I’m sorry)
I thought that this was the perfect conclusion to the trilogy. In fact, I feel like it’s the only right way for things to end.   The Hunger Games can be seen as about the way that suffering can be unreal entertainment when it’s not happening to you. The Capitol’s citizens don’t seem to realize that real children are dying as they watch it on the big screen. Innocents are forcibly destroying each other for their own survival, and the Capitol places bets. In Mockingjay, the fight comes to the Capitol and its children, but it doesn’t make everything better for those in the Districts. Instead Mockingjay is about the way that violence and power struggles can only be damaging. At least, that was how I saw it.
I’m not really going to comment on the narrative itself, but instead on the possible issues that people may have with it. I never saw this trilogy as being about a great love story. I felt that Katniss has too much to think about and do to have any time for romance. Sure there are two men for her to fall for, but I don’t think that Katniss understood either of them enough to really fall in love, until perhaps the very end. Especially in the first book, you saw how she went through the motions to keep both herself and Peeta alive.  For me, this trilogy is about the other kinds of love that exist: love for family members that is so strong that you’ll give up your life and your chances of happiness for them,  a love for truth that means you’ll sacrifice your life so that the “better” leader will survive the Games, and a love for friends. I can’t even see a Team Gale or a Team Peeta in this story, though apparently others have seen it this way. Katniss needs to survive long enough for her to have a life, before she can even think about love.
As well, in this novel we finally see the consequences of all of the fighting. None of the victors of the Games are fully themselves anymore. All the fighting means that they’ve lost any sense of stability they may have had before. I found this, though dark and troubling, very realistic. I honestly wouldn’t expect any of them to have stayed the same. I read another review just after finishing the books that said that Mockingjay was too dark in comparison to The Hunger Games. I have to disagree. Mockingjay is about consequences catching up to people. It’s about the complications of reality and politics. As well, The Hunger Games was about children killing each other, and that's never a cheerful subject.
Anyway, I really loved the trilogy and I would recommend it to anyone who loves dystopias or novels about political power struggles. If you liked the political aspects I would suggest that Megan Whalen Turner’s novels about Attolia, starting with The Thief. They’re set in a fictional kingdom in the past, but they’re as gritty and political as The Hunger Games.

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