on August 30, 2010
Okay, on the one hand, I liked this book. Liked it enough that I couldn't stop reading because I NEEDED to know what happened--specifically to Peeta. I also liked what happened in the end...but...well...
From the first page of The Hunger Games to the end of Mockingjay, the one thing, the one character that kept me reading was Peeta. I liked Katniss alright, but she wasn't what drew me into the series. Katniss, like many reviews are saying, was a pawn in this awful war. In the first 2 books she acted against the 'control'. She rebelled--which is WHY so many people looked up to her. Which is why they wanted her face to be the seal of their rebellion. It made sense. But here's where I feel Ms. Coillins made a grave mistake in Mockingjay...she eliminated the 'goodness' that had motivated Katniss to move forward even when she didn't want to during the games from her life.
True, this whole series has been about fighting oppression and power. About fighting against a government set out to only make their own lives better, and I felt the first 2 books did that nicely. They were so dark, so horrifying, but inside all of that horror there was a spark of light, of sunshine, and that spark was Peeta and Prim--but mostly Peeta since he was there with her to remind her time and time again the type of goodness that was there to save.
Peeta represented true goodness, love, compassion. He was what kept Katniss from falling over the edge into total darkness. He was her rock, her friend, and no matter how confused she felt--she loved him, even if she didn't know it yet. The failure in Mockingjay was that, Ms. Collins took that light away from Katniss. There was no goodness anymore, and therefore Katniss lost her own 'personal spark'. Yet, this was never alluded to in the story. We just saw Katniss growing weaker and weaker, and were never given a reason as to why. People are complaining about how 'soft' her character went and I completely agree. But what isn't being talked about is the reason why. The reason is that Ms. Collins all but removed Peeta from this story.
I don't know about everyone else, but he was the only bright spot in this entire series for me. Everything was so dark and hopeless--except him. HE was the one the masses clung to. HIS words, HIS light, HIS goodness. He is what made Katniss look so incredible. It was his presence and words that did that. It is my opinion that she could not have risen to the level she was at without him--which is why she fell short in Mockingjay. The dynamic between them and what they accomplished together at both 'Games' was what drove the series for me. It wasn't even so much about the romance--although that DID add another human layer to this story which made it all that much more gut wrenching and true.
All across the review boards, message boards, etc...the main thing people mused about was 'Who is Katniss going to choose? Gale or Peeta?' (And really, was there even a doubt as to who it would be? Who it needed to be?) Yet, we get to Mockingjay and the author COMPLETELY obliterated that theme. Sure, we all understand that the war was the main plot, but the HEART of any story is it's characters and their personal journey. Love being one that drives most stories. The love was all but absent here. Sure, we get a resolution, Katniss chooses in the end, but it doesn't FEEL good to the reader. We were given no 'reunion' scene. We were given no 'love-filled' embrace. We were TOLD, 'and this happened.' Not fulfilling. Not in the least. Readers need closure. It doesn't have to be a 'happily ever after' which would have been completely off base for this story. But we need to see that in spite of everything that had happened, everything that the characters have suffered, that it had been worth SOMETHING. That everything they fought for, everything so many people died for, was worth something in the end. I'm disappointed because it wasn't like that. It was more like 'Yes, I finally admitted to myself that Peeta was who I loved, then I had some babies with him because he wanted them.'
Why, Suzanne Collins? Why? Why couldn't you let Katniss and Peeta be content afterward? Why couldn't it have ended with Katniss feeling at least somewhat like what they'd suffered had helped in some way. It ended with Katniss sounding just as depressed and unhappy as in the beginning--even though she had a wonderful husband and beautiful kids. I'm just...incredulous, I guess, that there couldn't even be a kernel of hope in the end. We all know this story wasn't a fairytale, and I prepared myself for bleakness. I just never imagined that I would get the ending I wanted (I was actually convinced Peeta would die and I'd be so incredibly mad that I'd throw the book into my fireplace), but that it would have such a sour note that I couldn't even be happy about it. I missed the dynamic between Peeta and Katniss so much. Only twice in the entire book did I feel ANY of that old spark (when he asked her, "You're still trying to protect me. Real or not real?" and when she kissed him to help him stay sane.) Twice in 400 pages. Characters and their relationship trump any and ALL fighting/gore/death--even in a war story because without that, readers don't care about the outcome of the war! This is where this novel fell short. The character relationships were completely annihilated. Gone.
Ok, I guess I've ended my rant. I just feel like she could have ended the book the same, but could have made that hopelessness feeling go away just a little. Because what is life if there is no hope? This novel left the reader feeling empty, drained, and hopeless. Not even being able to care about what happened to those characters we'd grown to love.
on April 4, 2012
I stepped away from this book so disappointed. I'm not upset about how the story ended, but just how it got there. Reading three books with hundreds of pages for the climax of the story and finale to be finished in a couple of pages! Was the author rushed? Was she trying to meet a deadline? Was she tired of writing? Well, that is how it feels! I read pages of descriptions about Buttercup, nightmares, food, clothing, etc, only to read the burning of Katniss, death of Coin and fall of the capital in a couple pages. So disappointing. So many questions. So blah. The author could have even stretched this out into a fourth book. I'm glad I only interrupted a week of my life to read all three books. The screen writers for the third movie will have their hands full, trying to FINISH the author's book to be acceptable for the screen and the fans who won't be reading the books.
on August 24, 2010
I'm going to say it again - this review has major spoilers. I simply don't think that I can discuss my disappointment with the book, and the series over all now, without actually discussing the events of the book. So, if you haven't read the book yet, and you don't want to know what happens, don't read this review!!! You have been warned.
First, let me start with the positives. This book was very fast paced and hard to put down, like the rest of the series. I read it very swiftly, with few breaks. Some of the supporting characters develop beautifully in this book. Finnick especially really rounded out in this book. Because you care about a lot of the supporting characters, you really care if they die. That's a big thing for me. When reading a book about war, I don't want to feel like I'm trapped in one of those shooting video games, where a death only means more points. In this book, most of the deaths were gut wrenching. You REALLY felt their loss. That might upset some people, but for me it was one of the strong points of the book. There also were deaths where you didn't care, because both you and Katniss were too numb at this point. That also was a strong point for me. It made the war feel that much more real and horrible. The war is not simply about good guys and bad guys. There are numerous shades of grey. District 13 is more than just the good guys sweeping in. I liked that.
Now, on to the negatives.
One of the main reasons I did not like this book was I didn't feel it completed Katniss's character arc, or did justice to her as a character. This sounds like I'm quibbling, but I'm not. It's a major flaw in the book. In fantasy and science fiction, the main character's inner struggle has to mirror the world's outer struggle. The series is about revolting against an evil, freedom suppressing government and instating a new one in its place. Therefore, Katniss has to move from being an extremely resilient and unpredictable pawn to being in full control of her life. Otherwise the full meaning of the revolution is weakened, if it is not reflected in the emotional journey of the character.
But instead Katniss remains an unpredictable pawn, manipulated by outside forces, struggling to retain her identity when she has no true control over her life. That she's manipulated by 13 rather than President Snow only adds salt to the wound. She's far too passive, in the book where she should be the most active. She can only react, not act. She reacts to others decisions, never making her own.
That's fine for the first two books. But in the third book Katniss needs to mature. She needs to develop as a character, and really have control over her talents and her future. She needs to undergo the emotional journey of the revolution, and be the human face of what is happening in the country. But that doesn't happen, hence my problem with the book. Instead, Katniss is plopped into yet another situation where she is manipulated and used for others advantage, and she has to survive. This time it is being District 13's Mockingjay. Katniss is used to spur the other districts into revolution. At first she doesn't want to be the Mockingjay, because she doesn't trust District 13. Then, after seeing the realities of the war, she decides to go ahead with it and be their Mockingjay. All right. But it's past time for Katniss to decide to be used by other people. She needs to shape her fate for herself at this point. We've had two books where she had to survive others decisions. Now she needs to start making her own decisions. But the most she does is set conditions. 'I'll be your Mockingjay, if you don't kill the other victors". She doesn't decide her be HER Mockingjay. She doesn't make the revolution her own, the way Gale does. That is Katniss reacting to District 13's needs, not acting based on her own.
This was at the beginning of the book, so I could have forgiven it if Katniss had gone on and taken more and more control of the Revolution after that. She has the power to. She is an incredibly powerful person. And she doesn't do that. She does what 13 wants her to do, only deviating impulsively. 13 takes to to 8, to film her. Katniss jumps into the fighting when she's not supposed to. She asserts her independence a little, but only within 13's boundaries. She never sets her own boundaries. Katniss even realizes that she has power in that scene. But she does nothing with it. She doesn't say; "I have power. I can move people. I'm going to use my status as a Mockingjay to ensure that the revolution is successful and the new government never repeats the horrors of the old." She simply continues to be what 13 wants her to be; that is a tool for the good of the revolution.
This happens consistently. The climax of the book should have been the height of Katniss's independence. She should have figured out how to use her charisma. She should be making decisions at this point. Instead, the most Katniss does is lead a band of rebels through the capital in order to kill President Snow, WHICH THEN DOES NOT HAPPEN. That really bothered me. People died left and right on this mission, she almost gets there. She sees President Snow's mansion. Then her sister gets bombed, and she gets burned. She's taken by 13 once again and is put in a hospital. Once again she's in someone else's power. At the height of her measly independence, she's once again placed in someone else's power, and she doesn't even complete the mission to make it worth it. The entire mission was basically pointless. Prim's death was pointless. Prim dies, and Katniss loses it. But Katniss loses it to sit by herself in a corner. This is hardly anything new. Katniss is on the edge of losing it for the entire book. Prim's death was not needed to spur that. And Katniss should not have lost it at the climax of the book. If she had to lose it, it should have happened midway through the book. Then she could have pulled herself together and done what she needed to do. I think that what should have happened was that Prim's death spurred Katniss to get into the mansion and kill Snow. She does this, faces Snow, and forces him onto a balcony or something to shoot him publicly. Then Coin can show up, etc...
Speaking of Coin's death, that also bothered me. I was glad Katniss shot her. But Katniss doesn't sit there and think: 'Coin will be a really bad leader. She wanted to do another Hunger Games! She'll be just as bad as Snow once she gets the power. I have to stop her any way that I can!' Instead, Katniss lets herself get manipulated by Snow to kill Coin. Then she's put on trial for her life, and she doesn't even get to defend her decision at her own trial. Instead, she's not even there. Other people decide that she can live. She never argues for her life. Other virtually nameless people do, behind her back.
Which brings me to the ending, which also really bothers me. She's shipped off to 12, where she lives her life quietly with Peeta, starting their own family and remembering the deaths that happened. Once again, Katniss takes no active part in this decision. It reeked to me of the unpredictable element of the revolution being shut away somewhere quiet where she couldn't do damage to the new regime. Then, in 12, she does nothing but sit around with Peeta and have babies. Now, let me make it clear that there's nothing wrong with trying to live a normal life and bringing more life into the world after a bloody revolution. Most people would want to do that. But the decision didn't come from Katniss herself trying to take control of her life, and that's where I have problems with it. First of all, it doesn't resolve any of her issues. It doesn't give her power over herself, it doesn't give her any means to prevent the new government from being as bad as the old, it doesn't allow her to live up to her full potential. This is ESPECIALLY a problem when the entire series was about the effect of dictatorship on the individual. For Katniss, it was about how Katniss was consistently used and manipulated, and never had the chance to live her life based on her own terms. Her freedom was so restricted, she could simply react and hope to survive. In the new government Katniss needs to be able to act for herself, and she never does.
The thing that really bothered me is that it was so easy to fix. All that would be needed is for Katniss to be recommended by the people or the revolutionaries or simply Gale for a part in the new government, as the face of the government or something like that. Katniss goes up and makes a speech about how she's honored but she simply can't accept. She has seen what power can do to people, and she wants no part in it. She just wants the life denied to her by the government in the first place. She's going back to 12, where she can live with her memories and try to rebuild a fraction of what Snow destroyed. THEN she goes off to 12 and lives with Peeta and starts a family. That way, it's HER OWN decision. It's Katniss taking control of her life, and living it the way she wants to. The way it is in the book is Katniss being manipulated by outside forces yet again.
Since in good science fiction and fantasy the character's inner conflict mirrors the world's outer conflict, the fact that Katniss's inner journey was never fully resolved makes this book flawed. It essentially makes the series fail to resolve anything it started out to do. What does a new, equitable government mean to the individuals involved after they lost so much to end a horrific dictatorship? We don't know. Katniss doesn't know, because she is still a pawn. The fact that Katniss virtually remained a rebellious pawn throughout the entire series, never coming into her own, is unacceptable to me. It ruined the book for me, and the series.
on July 25, 2011
***This review only concerns the formatting for The Hunger Games Trilogy-Kindle edition***
I downloaded this ebook trilogy collection on 7/23/11 and have found the same inconsistent font defect as other reviewers. I noticed that the font would suddenly change when beginning a new chapter or if I returned to the page I was reading after viewing a highlight or dictionary defintion.
And like another reviewer, I have also found that once I passed page 377 (the actual page 377 is the cover of the second book in the trilogy, Catching Fire), the trilogy always indicates that I am on page 377 of 379, even though I am well beyond that page, and it is clear from the final location number that there are obviously more than 379 pages in this collection of three books. The locations, however, do seem to track properly.
Although these formatting defects are not dealbreakers and I really enjoyed the books, they are annoying (with the ever-changing font size being the more annoying of the two). I hope the publisher will fix these defects and reissue a corrected version.
on August 25, 2010
Having just finished reading this book, I sat there for a minute trying to find the right word to describe my response. I wasn't happy; I wasn't upset; I wasn't angry; I wasn't satisfied. I guess the word is Disappointed. Honestly? I expected a lot from this book. I expected action, character development, plot twists, and agony. It should have been the final book, the epic ending, the climax. I am baffled. Did I expect too much from Suzanne Collins? Or was she just too scared to bring it her all and make the final book the explosion that she could? Maybe its both. I know that I personally, and many others, tend to expect a lot from final books in a series. For Harry Potter, I was even a bit disappointed. And you can't top JK Rowling. For Twilight, well, that just sucked and and the ending was even worse. Series of Unfortunate Events: I guess its impossible for them to ever have a happy ending. The Uglies series left me slightly annoyed as well. The Mortal Instruments series didn't end as I wanted it to, but at least the main character was smart, had her own ideas, and was independent. I could go on and on. I also think that SC could have done so much more. This book had so much potential to be AMAZING. I don't know if its true or not, or if I'm the only one who feels this way, but I think SC was afraid to anger her readers. Which is the worst thing an author can possibly do. By writing to please an audience, and not to tell a story, the book loses its passion, its power, and its emotion. Sure, sure, she killed characters. Even characters that I had grown attached to. I though Finnick and Prim had developed so much over the course of the book, and it sucked to see them die, but their deaths didn't make me feel anything. Some books I measure in how much they make me cry, and for this one, I shed not one tear. I wasn't even on the verge of tearing up. I guess since Katniss was numb, everything she felt was just there, matter of fact, and she couldn't even cry. She has been through so much that she can't feel anymore. Well I think that's BS. Katniss had so much potential and could have been so strong. She could have, instead of been broken by her hardships, been hardened by it, becoming a strong individual that beats to no one's drum but hers. She could have done so much, but all she did was sit there numbly while being taken care of by others. Which brings me to another point.
Katniss seems pretty darn good at being numb. God, that's like the most common word in this book. It was okay in the beginning, but she should have become stronger, discovered herself, and learned to ignore the pain and do something worthwhile. But that never happened. She just sat there, as someone else's pawn, doing practically nothing, until the end. I used to love her as a protagonist, but by the end of the final book, she just annoyed me. She displayed nothing more than minimal, somewhat pathetic bursts of "independence", such as when she started to fight in Districts 8 and 2. But then again, that's exactly what those in charge wanted her to do. She provided excellent material for their Mockingjay videos. Her mission to kill Snow was her high point, but she never got a chance to complete it. She passes out after seeing her sister die and she wakes up in a bed, being taken care of. She became addicted to painkillers for christssake. She later goes on to kill Coin, but then, back to being numb again! She has no part in deciding her fate, just sits there feeling bad for herself. When it's decided she can live, she moves her moping back to District 12 where, after months more of numbly sitting there, she marries Peeta and has kids. She succumbed to grief instead of conquering it. Her character didn't really develop at all, which is something that should have happened.
But it wasn't everyone that was flat. Some of the other character development was spectacular. Finnick, Gale, Prim, maybe even Haymitch all discovered themselves and became independent, and followed THEIR dreams, not someone else's. I kinda wish I could add Katniss to that list... but I can't.
All in all though, I didn't hate this book. I know it seems like it, but I really did like it, apart from the ending. I just wish SC could go back and rewrite the final chapters. I wish Katniss could have completed her mission, found Snow and had a one on one with him. Just them, no one else. The conversation would have been epic and she would have let loose the anger and said everything she felt. Then killed him. Not as someone's pawn but as herself. She making her own decisions. That's what should have happened, she should have found herself.
Now to address the Peeta vs. Gale argument. Truthfully? I couldn't care less who she chose. Yeah I was rooting for Gale, but that isn't the reason I dislike the ending. She decides that she wants Peeta after he comes back for her and they grow close again. This is all well and good, but this whole thing takes half a page. No conversation, no anything. Basically, it's because he came to her, and Gale moved on with his life that she picked Peeta. And the epilogue was terrible, which is all I will say about it. All of it felt like such an add-on. Something that SC added at the last minute to please some fan girls. Earlier, Gale mentioned that she'd choose whomever she couldn't survive without, which is exactly what she did. After hearing what Gale said, she decided that she didn't need either of them, and I wish she had stuck to that decision. I don't know if SC was trying to make me disappointed in Katniss or if she truly thought she was doing the right thing. Four words: I HATE HELPLESS PROTAGONISTS. I don't care if its a happy ending or not, when the main character has to depend on someone else, and never grows into her own person, the book is ruined for me.
The reason I gave this book 3 stars and not 2 or 1 is because I think the series as a whole is wonderful and truly original. It will stay on my bookshelf, I'm not throwing it into the fire, because ultimately, the author is the one who calls the shots. Though I think she made terrible decisions regarding the end of this one, I can't discount the entire series because of it. Who knows? Maybe she planned for us to hate her main character, its been done before. It just upsets me that this book fell so short of its potential, and that it could have been just so epic... well... I guess we can't change the past. All we have to look forward to is the prequel that's bound to come out in about a year, year in a half.
I know many people disagree with me, people that thought this book was perfect. But I have read too many books to think that, and I thought the ending was flat, went too quickly and was a bit of a letdown.
For a series that is about oppression and the people's attempts to overcome it and spread their wings in freedom, I don't think the ending successfully portrayed such liberty, especially in the main character. Maybe that is what SC intended, but for me, it wasn't fulfilling.
I look forward to whatever SC comes out with next, but I won't go in with as much excitement and as many expectations as before.
on January 13, 2012
I'll be honest and say that I wanted to love this book. I was breathless with excitement when I downloaded it, and couldn't wait to start reading. With the rave reviews coming from almost everywhere I turned, right down to celebrities gushing their love for this series, I went into it with high hopes. The premise sounded fascinating. In fact, I'm pretty sure I turned to my husband and said the plot sounded "brilliant" when I first read a synopsis.
Brilliant, it was not. It was interesting, and I strained to stay awake late at night a couple of times just to read a few more pages. But for every moment of excitement, I felt an equal moment of letdown.
Let's face a few facts:
~ The main character, Katniss, is dull. She is thoroughly useful, to be sure, using her skills and determination to hunt outside the Seam to feed her family (and then to outwit opponents in the Hunger Games arena), but there is nothing about her that is riveting or even relatable. She seems almost void of feeling throughout most of the book, tossing aside emotions and flitting from one mental capacity to the next without much notice. I find it hard to believe that any human being could be horrified by the thought of killing their fellow Tribute one moment and then mesmerized by their own beautiful appearance the next. These dissonances make Katniss seem silly and almost irritating at times.
~ The writing style is frustrating. While I am all for the use of fragments to create drama and suspense, they are OVER-used in this book, to a point that is infuriating. I found myself irked within the first few paragraphs. Fragments for dramatic impact are one thing; fragments used repeatedly on every page are just insulting to the reader. I realize this is a young adult book, and I am above the intended audience age by a good decade or so. But even a teenager with average reading skills should find the continuous use of poor grammar to be unacceptable.
~ The premise, as a whole, lacks authenticity. In order to enjoy this book, you MUST accept everything at face value. You must accept that the people of Panem are so resigned to - or, in some cases, so engaged by - the barbarism that is the Hunger Games, they never question it. In fact, in seventy-four years, not even one Tribute has questioned the mandate that they must fight to the death in this arena, until Katniss Everdeen does. Not one parent has stepped forward and tried to stop this horrific massacre from occurring. Suzanne Collins wants you to accept that the Capitol is so powerful, so impenetrable, that the districts of Panem are held under its thumb as if by a powerful drug. And, really, wouldn't they have to be drugged to behave in such a fashion?
Without any expansion on the characters other than Katniss herself (and perhaps Peeta a little bit), the climax of the book does not reach its full potential. I would have liked to see a prologue or any type of flashback to a time before now, to get a more vivid sense of the evil that is the Capitol. The book lacks a tangible, detailed villain. That is my primary complaint. There is something to be said for a mysterious, menacing presence as a villain - as in Stephen King's "The Stand", for instance - but even in The Stand, the villain is eventually expanded upon to make him seem more real a threat.
The Hunger Games is a good book. It's interesting. It certainly keeps the reader at rapt attention. I think the violence is too much for a young adult novel, but it is also necessary to the premise. I just wish the author had given a little more thought to human nature and not expected her readers to so willingly submit to the plot without question. Perhaps she really believes this is a representation of human nature. Based on the number of rave reviewers who can't seem to find fault with the book in any way, perhaps she is right.
on July 10, 2009
You've got to hand it to Collins: No one can plot a fantasy novel like her. Nobody. She has you not from the first page or the first graf, but the first *word*. She creates believable, likable and riveting characters, ridiculously addictive survival scenarios and a rich world to boot. If you aren't up until 4 a.m. finishing this thing, you're a corpse.
My only problem with this novel also happens to be a very big problem: the overall premise. I'm not spoiling anything by mentioning that the plot involves kids pitted against each other in a giant outdoor slugfest to the death. Again: Kids pitted against each other in a fight to the death. Oh, and it's all on TV. Everyone in this post-apocalyptic world either thinks that's neat, or throws up his or her hands and figures there's nothing that can be done about it.
The author explains this away by creating a world of poverty and hunger; the parents of the young gladiators are so beaten down and afraid of the totalitarian regime that they just hug their kids and shut up and pray, but -- and this is just my opinion -- that's not an effective enough mechanism. It simply doesn't jibe with human nature. Even the starving, terrorized parents of child soldiers in Africa have been known to drag themselves into the bush and track their kids down or die trying. As much as I loved everything else about this book, I can't get past the basic setup. Isn't there one parent out there, one crazy uncle or scrappy rebellious mom, who'd stand up and protest at this amazingly cruel custom? There's not a single voice among the privileged rich in Capital City who might kick up a fuss? I know we're talking about a cruel dictatorship -- and an all-powerful one, at that -- but parental bonds have been known to be very strong things, and I think the author could have done a better job selling us on why the barbarism continues.
on February 12, 2011
I'll try to brief since I see how in-depth the surrounding reviews are. I enjoyed the first two books, especially the first. I found it engaging, interesting and an easy read. However the general consensus of the people who had a problem with book 3 are right on target. It's as if Katniss takes a back seat to the bigger picture and never truly takes control of her own path. Major plot points, major characters and major issues are concluded rather abruptly and without the in depth feel of the rest of the novel(s). There is far too much time spent sleeping, drugged up and recovering in the hospital, hiding or alone in a dark room thinking and I, as a reader began to feel cheated out of a satisfying ending. I would suggest fans of the first two give it a try but don't let your high expectations of Katniss get in the way.
"It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart."
Katniss Everdeen is alive, but her home of District 12 is in ruins. She and her family now reside in District 13. The rising government, led by President Coin, wants her to act as their "mascot" of sorts. Katniss agrees, but at the forefront of her mind is Peeta's fate and assassinating President Snow.
One thing you can't say about Collins is that she sugarcoats her story. And I think that is what I admire so much about her.
Katniss goes to hell and back in this book, and we see it all. We see that heroes aren't these shiny Luke Skywalkers, bright-eyes, eager to fight, with absolutely no qualms about killing or thoughts about the families of those he is killing, believing 100% into the Rebellion, and so on. Katniss isn't that hero. When there are explosions, she spends time in the hospital healing. When there are crises, she panics and thinks only of her family. She doesn't want to be a part of the revolution; she doesn't want the burden. This is admirable for an author: to write the protagonist as a REAL person, one who isn't sold on the ideals of the Rebellion, one who is selfish, one who is at the whim of others.
Likewise, Peeta undergoes some serious torture at the hands of President Snow, yet he doesn't miraculously turn around and act like his old usual self as if nothing happens. He struggles to return to himself and, like Frodo in Lord of the Rings, he finds that he can't return to the way he was before. Too much has changed.
While it is also a detriment to the pacing of the novel, the slow setup in the first two sections is very realistic. Too often, novels just go, go, go and don't bother to deal with the feelings of the protagonists or the real-world actions. But Collins shows us the mundane, the day-to-day events, and the boring aspects to Rebellion. Propaganda. Security drills. Training. The "hurry up and wait" mentality. She doesn't skip over this stuff to get to the "good stuff".
When the action in the third section picks up, it gets really intense. I found myself reading through it more quickly, wondering how Katniss and the gang were going to survive and surprised when people died (another kudos to Collins for killing off her repertoire of characters instead of having everyone miraculously survive).
I Didn't Like:
This is one of those books I started eons ago that took me weeks to finish. And part of the problem is in the first two thirds of the book, the setup.
While it may be more realistic to talk about Katniss' healing, her depression, her wandering around doing nothing, from a reading standpoint, it is BORING. Especially when Katniss ends up having the same discussions as always. Worrying about her family. Fretting over Peeta. Wanting to fight but being held back by the Rebellion. Over and over and over. Again, while I admire the honesty of portraying Katniss in such a light (certainly it's not very flattering), it doesn't make the best storytelling.
Oddly enough, while focusing so much on Katniss' psychological turmoil and more, some changes happen almost at the speed of light. SPOILERS: Some events that could have used more explanation include: President Snow's death, what happened after the big explosion outside the mansion (the cutting to black was a cheap trick in my opinion), Peeta's recovery, and Gale's instantaneous decision to move to District 2. END SPOILER
And then there's the complaint about how similar the pods are to the Hunger Games. I mean, really? The Capitol sets these destructive pods in their own city on the off-chance they would get attacked (which hasn't happened in the last 75 years?). That just sounds like an OSHA violation WAITING to happen.
Virtually none. Maybe a mild da** or he**, but that is it.
Finnick and Annie consummate their relationship off-screen at one point. Katniss and Peeta recall all the kissing they've done over the past few books.
The violence is, once again, the heaviest part of the book. From the devastating traumas that Katniss encounters to the traps set into the streets of the Capitol, there is plenty of violent bloodshed. While not overly gory, Collins doesn't shy away from it.
While the conclusion itself is oddly, very satisfying, it takes a lot of work to get to it. If you've read the previous two books, I would definitely recommend, but be warned: you may find yourself napping in the first two thirds and having a case of deja vu in the final third.
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on January 10, 2012
In short, I have never felt so let down by a book before in my life. And it's such a shame because the author so beautifully built up the conflict and could not execute it properly in the last 20% of the book. It's as if she built this amazing house of cards - primed for it all to come tumbling down, thematically and plot-wise - but then decided to leave it standing and build another semi-related house of cards instead.
I'm reading Mockingjay last night. I'm up to 72 or 73% on it in my Kindle. I'm loving it. It's even a candidate for one of my favorite books ever. Katniss is on a mission to assassinate President Snow. She's running through the city, tacklings all sorts of obstacles. I'm deeply, emotionally invested in the story, especially in the dynamic between Peeta and her - in the sense that I found his memory loss/transformation to be incredibly heart-breaking and a wonderfully effective plot device. So I'm expecting - HOPING - that Katniss will run up like a bad ass, infiltrate the mansion like a bad ass, have a heart-to-heart with President Snow like a bad ass, who will give Katniss some sort of antidote that will heal Peeta's condition. In exchange, he will ask for immunity, to allow the Capitol to remain in power, but under far more equal and peaceful terms. Katniss will refuse, take the antidote anyway, kill Snow, restore Peeta, save the world, make the choice between Peeta and Gale, and reconcile all the leftover plot points that were left dangling - and beautifully built up by the author.
So imagine my shock when, out of nowhere, bombs start falling on a bunch of kids for no reason. And then they kill Prim. For no reason. Turns it's a plot twist. For no reason. Turns out Coin is the bad (?) guy. For no reason. Then Katniss not only doesn't kill Snow, she doesn't get to play an active part in restoring Peeta. His recovery is attributed to "time," which is bs. Gale is suddenly out of picture for convenience sake. In short, nothing gets resolved except fo the conflict between the Capitol and the Districts. And we don't even get to see that! As was the case in the last book, all the reading we as the audience did between the bombing of District 8 until the bombs fall was completely useless. It was fantastically built up, but never fully realized.
I feel this book - and the last one, which suffered from the same problems, in my opinion - should have been from Plutarch's perspective. Katniss did not play an active or important enough role in this book to warrant it being from her perspective in the slightist. In both books, she was a passive observer and not an active participant in the world. None of the conflicts are really addressed beyond convenient paragraphs and summaries, and all of these conflicts really deserved full chapters of devotion. Katniss' active redemption of Peeta (and herself, for that matter) - which should have occurred as a direct result of the same actions that would have saved the world - would have been so cathartic and so wonderful if it had been pulled off properly.
Katniss and Gale could have worked out their differences. Haymitch could have at least stopped drinking. Something! One character needed to grow and become better as a result of this story. It's certainly possible - and I think very likely - that the author wanted to make a thematic statement and perhaps throw in some social criticism. However, this theme of "war in general sucks" is never seriously thrown into the theme until the last 10% of the book, which ends up dictating the entire resolution - or lack thereof - in the end of the book. This thematic device therefore came off rather poorly in my opinion. I think this book suffered from what the other books had; I personally felt each of the books could have used one or two more drafts because it all felt disjointed, overly-convenient in terms of plotting, and Katniss' role was far too passive and useless.
So I'm left at the end of the book, my veins throbbing in my head, and my hands outstretched, palms up, over my shoulders in an eternal shrug, with my mouth agape, as I try to figure out what the heck the author was thinking when she figuratively derailed every plot point, every character, every tendril of good plotting she had built up for over 200 pages (over 600 if you include the previous books).
I will say, in compliment to this book, that the annoying tell-and-don't-show style of writing that was very prevalent in the first two books (and almost caused me to stop reading the second book), is significantly decreased in this one. So I think the writing itself is actually better in this book. Or perhaps I got used to these things and dismissed them as a stylistic thing.
I give this book 3 stars for the still-awesome world the author created, and the plot she built up. But in my opinion, a few more drafts were necessary to really figure out how to resolve those plot points, which in my opinion, were completely derailed and almost disregarded by the end of this book.