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.