Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.
It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans -- except Katniss.
The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay -- no matter what the personal cost. Goodreads.
Review - The wait and resulting anticipation for this title have been like a dark sky cloaking the YA bloggerdom. Then it rained, absolutely poured Mockingjays and while the flowers were drinking plentifully, the mosquitoes were out in record numbers. You've got to take the good with the bad and I, for one, am glad to have finally read the concluding title (even if accompanied by loud, ever present buzzing).
spoilers if you choose to continue...
Don't let my introduction to this review fool you - there are parts to enjoy. The depiction of post traumatic stress disorder was finely integrated into many characters suffering. It was done in a way that was true to themselves and their experiences. The hunger games took their toll on their bodies but it was their minds and spirits that took the real hit. Nothing exemplifies this more than the character of Finnick who arguably suffered more than most and deserved a Rue-like send off rather than the nothingness he did receive. It is a thought provoking study of what people will do (and sacrifice) for freedom and the people they love.
As for the characterisation in general, I am less enamoured. Many characters felt plopped into arcs that had less to do with their motivations and more to do with the machinations of the plot. The directions taken were all depending on Collins' end point and it didn't service the integrity of the characters. Gale and Peeta were the most consistent despite the issues along the way but Katniss...ah Katniss....failed to make an impact.
Collins continually wrote Katniss as a passive and occasionally reactive individual. Does this gel with our poaching, berry eating heroine's past? She only committed to an action when she was left with no other choice. This doesn't make for an electric reading experience and was a huge disservice to a character that deserved better. Gale's methods might have been dubious but he was full of conviction and drive. Peeta might have been 'hijacked' but he committed himself toward recuperation and helping the cause. Katniss, however, dithered until she couldn't afford to dither anymore. The disappointment was overwhelming.
As for the writing - at times it rushed forward at the expense of clarity and at other times languished in the inconsequential, repetitive doldrums. The pacing was a mess, never more so than the painful lurch towards the conclusion. As if that wasn't enough, two characters are dismissed (death and a job transfer) with little attention. One might have been used for a sloppy motivation to finally put a cracker under our protagonist's rear but it was still underwhelming. The second character shuffle made a lie of a strong friendship. Collins' work felt rushed, under edited and simplistic. In particular, there is an extended analogy regarding Katniss and Prim's cat, Buttercup, that made me wonder if Collins' had consider tossing in the kitchen sink too. This is my core difficulty with Mockingjay, the storytelling is heavy handed and lacking a deft hand. And then there's the tendency towards writing overwrought and excruciatingly painful scenes where the District 13 meal of the day is discussed.
As for the epilogue...oh boy. If the final chapters made a lie of Katniss and Gale's friendship then the epilogue set it on fire and then fed it to the muttations. While it is nice to think that Gale is doing good elsewhere it is genuinely sad that their friendship dies. Katniss marries Peeta because he's stuck with her, eventually capitulates to having children and lives a generally blah existence. My sympathies lie with Peeta - he might have won but geez did he lose.
Mockingjay was a disappointment in its delivery, more than its narrative arc. Had the writing been stronger, less roughshod, then it would have sat better with me.
Published: August 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 390 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press