Sunday, August 29, 2010

Some spoiler-free thoughts on Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

So, I feel like I can't really do Mockingjay justice in a review, and I don't want to give away any spoilers.  And more than writing a review, what I really need is a freakin' therapy session after that speed train of emotion.

I think Mockingjay is by far the best book in Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games trilogy.  The three books ask: what does it do to us when we kill another person, even in self-defense?  The Hunger Games touched on this theme, Catching Fire pushed it a little further, but Mockingjay blew it wide open.

As another character points out, Katniss is not the same girl who volunteered to take her sister's place at the reaping.  She's permanently and irrevocably scarred by the violence she's experienced and produced.  What I love is that even though she has nightmares and is sometimes "disoriented" she is in no way a victim.  Katniss is traumatized not by what's been done to her, but by the choices she's made.  I don't think she regrets any life she took to save herself, but that doesn't mean she sleeps well at night.

All the Victors are a wreck.  I love how in the beginning of The Hunger Games, Katniss views Haymitch as this pathetic creature who hides from life in the bottom of a bottle.  In Mockingjay, Katniss and Haymitch don't seem very different, Katniss even wishes for her own bottle at one point.

I thought Peeta's character arc was brilliant.  So much more heartbreaking than a typical love-triangle or the who-do-I-save dilemma I thought it was going to be.

I know some people are disappointed with the ending, but frankly I think those are the same people who are disappointed with life.  Collins's world and Katniss's story are so devastating because they are so real.  Collins doesn't pull any punches.  Katniss is, above everything else, a survivor.  And just like President Snow, Collins pushes Katniss to her breaking point.

I white-knuckled it, holding on with Katniss through her harrowing journey, not knowing what to even hope for at the end.  But some damage cannot be undone.  We still pick up the pieces and salvage what we can of our lives.  If reader's don't like Mockingjay's ending it's because it's too true.

The story is so critical of war and vengeance that I cried not just for the characters, but for humanity.  We sacrifice our children to overthrow dictators, only to replace them with more dictators.  We kill a few to save the many, over and over, and over again until we can't remember who we're saving and who we're fighting.

This book is amazing, but it drained me.  What are your thoughts?  Anything light and fluffy to recommend for recovery reading?