Sunday, August 29, 2010

MOCKINGJAY is {sigh} a disappointment—Spoiler Alert!

I did not want to write this kind of review. I wanted to sit down and announce that MOCKINGJAY is all that I hoped it would be—a brilliant conclusion to an intense, inspiring trilogy. But it isn't. {sigh again} Yes, it is great writing and full vivid images (a little too much so). But (and it is a BIG but) the story fizzled and most of the main characters morphed into. . . bizarre people I felt I didn't know at all.

However, let's start with the positive:

I liked how the rebellion was not clean cut. The rebels did not represent complete good, and the capitol didn't represent complete evil. I felt this gave the plot an underlying complexity that was intriguing.

I thought the scene where Finnick tells the camera how he was treated after being a victor was powerful and moving.

I enjoyed the scenes where Katniss actually got out and did something like shooting arrows at the helicopters that are trying to bomb the hospital and, well, hmmm, I guess the only other proactive thing she does is lead an attack to break into Snow's mansion. However, this is a futile attempt and in my opinion is one of the book's main weaknesses.

My overall problem with the book is the characters. Where did Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Haymitch, Finnick and others disappear to? I recognize Collins wanted to show the tragedy of war on the human psyche, but she way overdid it and in doing so didn't stay true to her characters.

Also, many parts of the book are unbelievable. I know this is a dystopian novel, but near the end the Capitol's defense system sounded to far fetched. For example: a government that can outfit it's city with apparently thousands of “pods” that do just about everything from melting human flesh with a bright light to ripping open the ground like an earthquake, certainly could have figured out a way to attack district 13 with more than just regular old bombs. Hello?

By the end of the book I wanted to go back and count how many times Katniss wakes up in a hospital. At least six or seven. She's has her leg ripped apart, is mentally unstable, suicidal, shot, burned, starved, put in solitary confinement, and the list goes on and on. I understand this is war, but not every violent thing has to happen one person. It feels a little ridiculous.

The climax never happens. At the end of the book Katniss and a few remaining soldiers are literally feet away from getting into Snow's house when the action stops. Katniss wakes up (again) in a hospital and the whole take-over of the Capitol is done.

I feel Collins betrays her reader by killing off nearly every important character in order for her to preach the obvious moral of the book which is war is evil. Killing Prim was the ultimate betrayal since keeping her alive is the main premise of the whole series. It just felt wrong. I see the need for there to be death in a book about war, but it seemed by the end she was killing characters left and right. It took the impact out of the book.

Like I said, Collins is a great writer and has a gift with language, plot and pace. I am impressed with what she has done in her career. I don't think this book ruins her obvious talent. I just wish it could have been different . . . a lot different.


  1. Nice review. I agree with you on a lot of point. I was really let down when Katniss was unconscious for almost every climactic, important scene--the things I really wanted to see. Also, I was bugged at the ending that she just summed things up really quickly, and never really showed any real resolution to the Peeta-Katniss-Gale situation. Although, I'm all for Gale, I'm actually glad that Peeta and Katniss ended up together once I saw they people they turned into. But I had a hard time believing that Gale just walked away into another place, and never came after her. It seemed like she built up a good romantic conflicts and then washed it away with the dirty dishwater. Good book. Not Great.

  2. I'm only halfway through, but I will fully admit that I am a first chapter/last chapter kind of person. I felt really betrayed by Prim's death as well. The whole point of the Hunger Games was making sure she was safe. It was stupid to kill her off. It would have been better if she killed off Gale, since he is (all the sudden) a person who isn't bothered by killing innocent women and children. I am bothered by how much Katniss is just sitting around, doing nothing. It's weird. The other books stood on seeing how she reacts when in these situations. We liked her because she was a proactive person who also valued not only her life, but even her enemies lives as well. Now she just let everything act upon her. I'm not loving it so far. I'll have to let you know when I finish-finish and we can chat about it.


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I'm a mom and author, among other things. I enjoy writing middle grade and young adult books.