Sunday, August 29, 2010
Review: Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay (Hunger Games, #3)
I intentionally waited five days after I finished Mockingjay before writing my review, thinking this would give me time to process my thoughts and emerge from the cloud of doom that began smothering me about one chapter in and didn't let up again, ever.
Well, five days out, the cloud is gone. In its place? Numbness. Actually, numbness might be giving it too much credit. I think apathy might be more accurate. When I finish a really great book, like the first two in the Hunger Games series, or the 7th Harry Potter book, I don't want to read anything else for awhile. My thoughts and emotions are too tied up with the book I just finished -- I either want to reread it again immediately, or just meditate on it for awhile. Reading something new right away is unthinkable.
Not so with MJ. My interest in MJ faded before I even finished the book. Suzanne Collins systematically beat out of me every last smidgeon of emotion or investment in the story. I was so drained by the end, I really did not even care who Katniss wound up with. I could vaguely remember being pro-Peeta at the end of Catching Fire. But Peeta is unrecognizable in this book; he's brainwashed into a monster. Until, of course, that cheesy epilogue where he is magically cured (aside from those sporadic bouts of Having To Grip The Chair).
Yes, I thought the epilogue was cheesy. The cute little domestic life Peeta and Katniss have finally arrived at, and the two paragraphs or whatever it is that Suzanne bothers to describe it in, seemed forced and insincere. It's like throwing a dog a bone after you beat it within an inch of its life. (Dear Reader, you are the dog.)
I think I liked Katniss in the first two books, but Mockingjay made me forget why. Her character is all over the place. This may well have been intentional on the author's part--another statement, I suppose, about the horrors of war, etc--but it made for very tedious reading at times. Katniss would spend paragraphs justifying every decision she made. I had a hard time following her reasoning, but suddenly she would arrive at a conclusion like, "Therefore, I have to be the Mockingjay!" or "I vote yes!"--which she seemed to be indicating was, of course, the only possible conclusion she could have ever reached. Rather than sit back and try to follow her reasoning, I would sigh and turn the page, hopeful that it would all be over soon and I could just go to bed.
For me, it was that feeling of "when will this all be over, please let it be soon" that was the ultimate failure of the book. When I am reading a really great book, I never want it to end. With Harry Potter, I would get increasingly angsty as the page numbers stacked up, knowing that it would be over all too soon. With Mockingjay, I just wanted it to stop. I grieved and grieved and grieved - until, about 50% in, I became basically desensitized.
Now, I know there are plenty of professional literary critics out there who, if they were to read this, would make some sneering comments about how literature's not just meant to amuse and please you, little girl. To which I would reply: get over yourself, butt-munch. If I wanted to feel hopeless and numb all the time, I'd watch the news more, or I'd read contemporary adult "literary fiction." I can handle some darkness, but it needs to be tempered with hope.
3/5 stars (because it's still well written and I <3 FINNICK!!)