There are many things you probably need right now.
A sandwich, maybe; you skipped breakfast again and wow, does that make you ravenous come lunchtime. Maybe a nice nap, too, after eating that big meal. And I’d wager you could really do with an extra thousand bucks to put towards student loans, a mortgage or your addictive book-buying habit.
What you probably don’t need right now? Another review of Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay.
But before you mark this post as “read” in Google Reader or immediately skip past it to look at photos of cupcakes and baby cows, I’ll say this: I’m not going to review Mockingjay. Not the way I typically review books, anyway, with a good ol’ summary and my extensive thoughts on a novel.
Because honestly? I don’t really have extensive thoughts on this novel — and definitely not those already covered extensively by far more intelligent, comprehensive and devoted fans of the series than yours truly.
So here’s how I felt about it. After months of hearing about some crazy young adult novel called The Hunger Games, I finally broke down and snagged a copy off BookMooch. I read it — devoured it, really — and was in loooove. Out came Catching Fire and, you know, that one was pretty great, too. Action, adventure, a weird love triangle — I was hooked.
And then we have Mockingjay, the third and final book in Collins’ best-selling series. And while I liked the book, there were many things about it that just . . . made me feel very ambivalent. And it took me almost two weeks to finish it, which is crazy to me. Especially since I put aside everything else I was reading when it was released in August.
So we have Peeta. And we have Gale. And Lord knows I love me a good love dilemma, but really? This didn’t even feel like a fair fight. Stuck in a District far from home after his own has been destroyed, Gale has turned into some blood-thirsty psychopath hopped on stereoids. And while I don’t blame him for his attitude, he isn’t exactly the Gale we’ve grown to know and love. That guy definitely disappeared.
And Peeta? Well, Peeta isn’t in a position to be asserting his male dominance and snatching our girl Katniss out of the grips of broody, sexy Gale. Peeta is . . . brain-washed. Crazed. Weird. Creepy. And at first I thought, “Oh, awesome. Collins conveniently makes Peeta a member of the walking dead so that Katniss has no choice but to pick Gale!” And even though it didn’t really go down that way, it still felt . . . easy. A little too tidy, maybe. I liked Gale’s progression in some ways, sure, but in other ways? It felt very unrealistic to me.
The book lacked a sense of immediacy for me. Everything I loved about the originals — mostly the nail-biting adventure — had evaporated in this one. And it was dark! So very, very dark and depressing. Without the anchor of the Games themselves, the novel seemed to meander along without any real impetus. There’s fighting going on, sure, but I had to continually remind myself what Katniss was doing: trying to storm the Capitol and kill President Snow. But there were so many weird detours along the way, I felt like I needed to scribble that on my hand as a reminder that there was, in fact, a reason for all this.
Of all my qualms with Mockingjay, though, the biggest and most irksome was this: like a Greek tragedy, all the action happened off stage. Katniss was so removed from most of the plot — coming to after the real battles had gone down — that I grew incredibly frustrated by our own distance from what was happening. I might have been able to get over the love triangle and the fact that everyone is dying and it’s all just so doggone depressing if I could have actually felt like a part of the craziness.
But I didn’t.
Now I’m not a hater. I’m not going to sit here and mouth off about how this one sucked! and the whole series is ruined! and you should just quit after the second book! because I don’t believe that — and anyway, you can’t stop after Catching Fire . . . even if you wanted to. That cliffhanger is crazy.
But was it my favorite of Collins’ stunning novels? No. Did I hope for much more from our final installment in a much-loved series — and my first introduction to the awesome, frightening world that is young adult dystopian fiction? Yes. But I’m not sorry for having taken this ride — and fans of the first two books shouldn’t be sorry to have read the third one, either.
3.5 out of 5!