Friday, August 28, 2015

Book Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

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Title: Mockingjay

Author: Suzanne Collins

Series: The Hunger Games #3

Genre: Dystopian/Science Fiction

Audience: Young Adult

**2.5 stars**

***Spoilers in this Review***

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Whew … what a journey. O.O I still hardly know what to think. My poor heart, *tears* Though warned quite thoroughly, I was still left a bit stunned, sad, aching, and with a feeling of hopelessness at the end of this book. That being said, it still had its merits … maybe.

Two Games down, Katniss Everdeen is more broken than she’s ever been. This is largely due to the fact that Peeta Mellark has been ripped from her side and taken to the capital, where surely he’s being tortured. Everything is frightening, uncertain, and hopeless, and Katniss is not sure she can bear up under it.
     But President Coin of District 13 and former head game-maker, Plutarch Heavensby, want their mockingjay. Their symbol of rebellion. The district’s sign of hope.
     Through up and downs, trials, pain, and horrors, Katniss must decide if she can lead this rebellion against the Capital.

I was simultaneously excited and scared to read this story. The last book of THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy! I’d already searched out all the horrific spoilers, and watched the first movie for this book, Mockingjay: Part 1 (2014) … but it was still scary. Was I going to be disappointed? Yes I was. Was I sure about that though? Maybe there’s a glimmer of hope? Nope. There’s not a glimmer of hope. If you are looking for a satisfying, good, novel-like ending for THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy in Mockingjay, prepare to be crushed. Just … do not read this series for entertainment and enjoyment. It’s gripping, exciting, intriguing, emotional, complex, shocking, real … and not happy. Joyful, satisfying, hopeful endings are so important to me. Mockingjay’s ending had none of that. So yeah, just consider yourself warned. Actually, someone should have warned you before you read The Hunger Games (they should have warned me at least) …

Anyway, let’s see. This book gets a little bit more like The Hunger Games than Catching Fire … violence and gruesomeness are reintroduced a bit heavily. More toward the end part of the book probably. But just be cautious, there’s some brutal stuff. I found a lot of it quite unnecessary and sickening. (It was the same for me with The Hunger Games).

Katniss sort of goes off the deep end. Peeta Mellark has had his brain and emotions tampered with, programmed to hate Katniss basically … but Katniss is the one who ends up going a bit mad mentally. It’s just a sad, sad story. But it gripped me nonetheless. Katniss’s struggle. Who wouldn’t go a little crazy after going through two Games? After being forced to take up weapons against other citizens for yet other citizens’ entertainment? Seeing unimaginable horrors? Living in fear every moment that someone you loved was going to be hurt because of you? I very much appreciated the realness and emotion that Suzanne Collins wrote into this book. Katniss is broken. And I felt her pain. I understood her emotions and reactions (well, some of them I didn’t). After all she’d experienced, you could almost see why she did this crazy thing or that absurd thing. After all the horrible things done to her and her loved ones … her mind is going around and around and around. Uncertainty. Fear. Pain. Anger. Is this right or wrong? Who is right and who is wrong? Are they all wrong? Are we all wrong? What is life? What’s the point? Real or not real?
     So in a way, I “liked” (liked is not the right word, but we’ll just go with it) this book. It gripped me. I felt for Katniss. I saw why she acted like she did in some situations. It was real. Raw. Sorrowful. It was life in an evil world trying to figure out everything on your own. And you can’t. So you slowly go mad.
     If only this trilogy could have been told from a Christian viewpoint! God can heal broken things. God can give hope in dark, desperate, horrible situations. Oh, to tell all the Katnisses, Joannas, Gales, Finnicks, and Peetas of this powerful Healer!

The deaths, though I had been forewarned, were pretty heart-rending. Prim, I could perhaps see a reason why she died. How it contributed to the story. Finnick, absolutely none. Why did he have to die? There was no reason at all for his death. He’s just taken down by a bunch of capital weapons. Right after his wedding. No memorable last words. Just look back and see our wonderful, poor, dear Finnick fall. :’( Yeesh, that was hard.

I, like Peeta, almost blew up when the idea of a last Hunger Game was suggested. I COULD NOT believe that Katniss and Haymitch agreed to it. How could they possibly want to send more innocent children into something that shattered their own souls so deeply? That was perhaps the most difficult part of this book. (However, after reading the book, someone told me that Katniss agreed because she was conspiring against the new president ... not actually because she was planning to send children into an arena. Whew.) 

Poor, mentally disoriented Katniss. It hurt me to see how calloused she’s become … but I suppose that’s a result of her utter numbness. Like I said, sad story. I really don’t understand why so many teens are obsessed with this series. It’s brilliantly done, but it’s a terrible, depressing, heart-rending story. Is that what people like these days? I mean, even Peeta and Katniss’s “amazing, fabulous love story” … isn’t so much of a love story after all. I can see the true, sacrificial, deep love on Peeta’s part (though that was all messed up when the Capital made him forget his true memories of her); but Katniss didn’t really seem to love Peeta in the end. She just needed him. She married him because he was the only one left to take care of her, kind of thing. It was really depressing and heart-breaking for me! I really thought something deep and beautiful was blossoming in Catching Fire!

Gale, was also going a bit mad in a way. He’s so angry, and broken, and bitter—seen so many of his own die—that he’s forgotten the preciousness of human life, somehow. President Coin, it seems, it not so different from evil President Snow. Evil President Snow dies laughing. Haymitch still drinks himself into oblivion. Katniss’s mother basically leaves her. It seems the only truly characters who held onto a bit of the softness and goodness of life are Peeta and Annie - they choose love.

Anyway, forgive all my ranting. It was an interesting journey. It showed the true depravity that mankind can so easily slip into. It showed how everything can get so confusing, blurred, uncertain, and “everyone for himself” … when you don’t have a truly good and just leader to follow; solid rights and wrongs that you firmly believe in. We’re all utterly hopeless. And it’s so easy to slip into doing exactly what we hate our enemies for doing because we’re …angry, pained, haunted, bitter. Life can so easily break you. Maybe it’s because we don’t realize who the real enemy is. Not humans. Not stuff we can see. But the one who dwells in darkness and whispers confusion, lies, hopelessness, and revenge into our minds. Satan is the real enemy. And God is the real leader, savior, and healer. *Ahem* Again, sorry for going on so. Mockingjay made me think, as I’m sure you’ve picked up by now.

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