Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mockingjay: The Final Book of the Hunger Games

Katniss Everdeen is recovering from her escape from the latest Hunger Games, which required the winners of the previous Games to participate. The rebels came in and rescued her and Finnick Odair from the breached dome, leaving the other tributes in the clutches of President Snow. President Coin of District 13 wants Katniss to become the face of the revolution. She has already gained fame from the Games and the tour following it. This could be instrumental in the downfall of the Capitol and President Snow. After negotiating freedom for the captured tributes and the privilege of killing Snow herself, Katniss reluctantly agrees. She doesn't realize until later that being such a symbol costs her more than she bargained for. She has to decide how much of herself and her loved ones she is willing to sacrifice for this cause. As time goes on, a beaten and defeated Peeta is paraded in the media as Katniss becomes a stronger driving force for the rebels. How long can Katniss focus on her goal when Peeta is obviously suffering? Will she survive long enough to see the rebellion to the end?

I was disappointed to read Catching Fire so soon after it came out because I had to wait so long to read the last book. I finally got to read it recently and I was very pleased with it. It had its flaws along the way, but overall it was a satisfying and realistic end to the trilogy. The thing that is prominently featured in this book is war. In the other books, there were the actual games, which were like a tiny microcosm version of a war, in the first book and in the second book it was all about media exposure and how to appear in the public. The third book is a combination of the first two. The actual war shown in the novel is much more bleak and realistic than the carefully controlled atmosphere of the Games. It's a necessary evil in this book because you can't hope to change anything major in that society without it. The power of the media figures strongly as well as in previous books. Her position as a symbol for the rebellion helps other rebels and has a strong effect on the public at large. It also shows that her position hasn't really changed all that much from the beginning. She's still a pawn for someone to move around and use for their advantage. Katniss has to decide whether or not it's worth it to be under the control of the rebels or under that of the capitol. This is a realistic view that any governing power is going to have its problems and corruption because it's run by humans.

The characters we have to come to know are very much changed in this book. They have all been forced to grow up at a young age and when someone witnesses such awful things, they can't help but be changed. If they had stayed the same, I would call it bad writing because it would just be unrealistic. Katniss is still the kick-ass heroine, but she is injured and scarred, physically and mentally. She is weakened and does act uncharacteristically while hiding in closets and running scared. I think the "uncharacteristic" behavior is a symptom of war and happens to real soldiers, as seen with things like PTSD. Her hero journey comes at a price. When she's finished with the war, assuming she survives, how is she going to move on with her life? She has to pick up the shattered pieces of herself and find a way to move on. This is one of the most realistic aspects of the book and many don't like it, but I think it makes the book go from good to excellent. Although it's still on Katniss' mind, the love triangle between Gale, Katniss, and Peeta is pushed to the background and rightfully so. With so many people's lives on the line, why would one girl's romantic antics take precedence?

The one aspect of the novel that I didn't like was that a certain character was thrown under the proverbial bus, making Katniss' romantic choice very easy. Other than that, the book was excellent. The realistic and depressing angle the book goes in shatters any hope of any idyllic happy ending Katniss might have had. It makes reading the novel exciting because you never know what's going to happen. I've read a great many reviews where the writer complains about how depressing, horrible, and disturbing this book is. Just because it's a YA novel doesn't mean that it has to be all rainbows and glitter all the time. Deal with it or don't read it. So, if you liked the previous Hunger Games books and aren't afraid of a little bleakness, I would encourage you to read this. If not, you can go read something with rainbows, unicorns, and possibly some glittery vampires.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins


Kelly aka yllektra(I Work For Books) said...

I haven't read this yet but everyone has told me that it is amazing. I will definitely pick it up soon!!
I am glad it stayed true to its meaning!!

vvb32 reads said...

like kelly, i haven't read it yet despite it sitting on my shelf since its released. glad you gave it a good rating.