Friday, March 23, 2012

Review: Mockingjay

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the Hunger Games trilogy. Real or not real?

Perhaps my four-star rating will tip you off.

Mockingjay opens with the Districts in open rebellion against the Capitol. Katniss is in... a place which I won't name because I don't want to give it away, along with refugees from her district and the rebel leaders. They ask her to become the face of the rebellion - the Mockingjay. Meanwhile, Katniss struggles with PTSD, numerous injuries, her worry over her friends and family, and a feeling of helplessness in the face of the war between the rebels and the Capitol.

The blurb on the book asks the question "will Katniss become the Mockingjay?" which is a much harder choice than it seems.

If Katniss becomes the Mockingjay, that implies that she agrees with everything the rebellion is doing, which she does not. If she refuses to become the Mockingjay, she risks not only being responsible for the loss of the war and the loss of morale, but for anything that happens to her family because of her refusal to join the rebellion.

To top it all off, Peeta Mellark is being held prisoner by the Capitol, and Katniss cannot seem to work out her feelings for Gale.

I think Mockingjay might be my favorite out of all of the books (even despite the violence). There's so much to talk about that I liked, so I hope this review won't be too long/boring.

First off, the use of film. Suzanne Collins used to work in television, and I can tell she knows a lot about (or is at least very interested in) filmmaking. The use of propaganda in the war was very intriguing for me.

Second, Peeta. That's all.

No, just kidding. I'm not going to go all gushy fangirl over Peeta. I do, however, believe that he is an excellent person, one of the best in the trilogy. The ordeals he goes through in Mockingjay are heartbreaking.

The ending however, where the love triangle is finally resolved, is very understated and very satisfying. I won't say anything else...

Many people have described it as a bad/sad/horrific ending, but I disagree. Okay, well it was sad and horrific. But taking into account the trilogy as a whole, as well as the themes of the book, I felt it was right. It was realistic.

But there was still hope. People that Katniss knew and loved had died (sometimes horrific death), Katniss was scarred in body and soul, but there was still hope.

One thing I found interesting was the way good and evil were portrayed. There were no purely evil and purely good people (okay, well maybe Peeta was the closest to being purely good, but...). Good people - Cinna, the style team, Effie Trinket, Plutarch - were all complicit in the horrific Hunger Games. They weren't a part of it because they were evil, but because it was normal. It was just a part of life, something that everybody did.

Normal people became monsters because of the lie that was told them by the Capitol. The Hunger Games are fun, a time to celebrate, the Capitol said, and the people of Panem believed them.

Interestingly enough, Panem comes from the Latin phrase "panem et circenses" meaning "bread and circuses." The country of Panem provided its people with bread (from the districts) and circuses (the Hunger Games) and the people of Panem became numb to the horrors that surrounded them.

You can draw an interesting parallel between this and what's happening today. Normal people are doing horrific things - murdering their unborn children.

Why? Why are people doing this? They aren't your typical villain fare. They aren't Adolf Hitler. So why?

Because it's normal. They've been told that it's okay, that's its right.

Why does our culture do horrific things without guilt? Because they have been glutted on panem et circenses and are numb, like the people of Panem, to the horrific things that go on around them.

We need a wake-up call. Maybe not as dreadful as the one in the Hunger Games trilogy - our culture isn't that bad yet. But if there's one thing we can take away from the Hunger Games it's that complacency has a terrible price. When we willingly submit to a dictator, to a tyrant, when we rely on the government for all of our needs, then horrific things happen.

But if that does happen, we need the courage to stand up to them. We need the courage to show them, like Peeta and Katniss, that we're not just a piece in their games.

As I said before, even though the book dealt with dark themes, it ended on a note of hope. The very simple gesture of someone (I won't say who) planting primroses in the garden at the end - that was one of the most symbolic moments in the entire book. Terrible things have happened, but life is starting again.

The gardener comes after the third day to recreate the world.

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  1. Will definitely read books two and three. =D

  2. Excellent review. I've heard some people say that they liked Mockingjay the least out of the three, but I liked it equally with the other two. The theme of darkness to light is very evident, and I really liked the way that Collins shows in story form the "what can happen if..." I did find it very relavent to our culture, but I wonder how many people can read between the lines of the story and draw the parallels like you have.

  3. Rissi, you definitely should read the entire trilogy. It's worth it!

    Rachel - Thank you! I think this book was my favorite partly because of the resolution at the end, something that neither of the other books had. It's true that some people may not be able to see the parallels and will just take it as an action/adventure story. I'm afraid it will also spawn a load of copycat books that may not contain the same redeeming message - kind of like what happened with Twilight. For what it is, though, I believe it's a good book - a lot deeper than most people have given it credit for, which I think is partly why it's popular with both teens and adults.



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