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Review: Mockingjay

This is the first time anyone (hi, missy_chan!) has actually awaited a review of mine, and here I am being all slow. I'm having a hard time. It's tough to review the third book in a series, and it's hard to say anything useful and still avoid spoilers.

First off: if you've read the first two books, for goodness sake, YES, read Mockingjay. This isn't like Lost (which I never watched) where viewers eagerly awaited the ending only to be so disappointed they wish they never stated watching at all. While people might quibble about details, Mockingjay is definitely a worthwhile ending. And if you've been holding off on the series to see if the ending was any good, you may now safely commence reading.

At the end of Catching Fire, some of the surviving players have broken out of the arena, capitol rebels have demonstrated their intent, and District Twelve has been destroyed. The uprising (and corresponding smackdown) are both well underway. While all this appears to be Katniss's doing, really all she was trying to do was survive and save people she cared about. Rebellion was inevitable. Still, she's the proximate cause of the revolution. Now what? Will she step up as leader and encourage the rebellion? Will she try get everyone to cease hostilities? Or will she just nurse her wounds and hide?

The tone here is a little more grim (hard to imagine, I know!) but before it was just the contestants fighting for their lives -- now it's the whole nation. There's still occasional humor, a good amount of clever, interesting, horrifying developments, and numerous well-rounded secondary characters.

For the most part, everything progresses logically, though the initial premise is so absurd it's hard sometimes to gauge what's reasonable. In particular, some of the capital defense strategies are hard to fathom. But their entire rule was hard to fathom, so… yeah. My biggest criticism (and I seem to be the only one in this) is that I never understood President Snow's motivation. He just seems evil. Creepy disturbing clever evil, but still. Nothing deeper.

I won't say anything about the ending except this: once you finish the book, go back and read the first few chapters of The Hunger Games, and see how carefully that ending has been set up. (This is not a spoiler.) I was very impressed. The writing looks easy and effortless -- no fancy prose, no especially stunning plot twists -- but the whole arc shows serious forethought and skill.

As for the series as a whole: I thought it was very well written and quite enjoyable. But if you want a realistic science fiction novel THIS IS NOT IT. This is a greek myth made into a young adult novel. The superficial trappings of SF are used to create the setting, but the setting's purpose is solely to amplify the peril and the moral questions of the plot, not to extrapolate anything. I happen to think that's a perfectly reasonable use for science fiction, but there are lots of passionate readers who will not agree. If you want your SF realistic, please do yourself a favor and skip it.

Finally… I keep wondering how they're ever going to make a movie which is true to the books and yet not so loaded with graphic violence that it's unwatchable.



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 3rd, 2010 07:50 pm (UTC)
I didn't really disbelieve Snow's motivation, I had just hoped there would be some deeper revelation about him. Every specific detail brought up was explained, and yeah, he's definitely the ultimate product of that society, so it was fine.

My biggest criticism is actually very minor. :)
Sep. 3rd, 2010 01:19 pm (UTC)
Nice to hear that the series fits together so tightly--that's cool.
Sep. 3rd, 2010 07:58 pm (UTC)
I often reread the opening of a book once I finish it, especially ones I liked. They're always good openings, but there's usually no particular feel that the author knew exactly where the story was headed. (Really, not a spoiler. I'd be so certain that was a spoiler if I was seeing someone else say it!)

Are you planning to read the series?
Sep. 3rd, 2010 08:06 pm (UTC)
Not for a while, if ever. I do believe that they're good books, and a couple of remarks that people have made about them intrigue me, but I feel skittish about the basic premise, and I'm not sure that I'd like the characters very much. And right now, I'm feeling Hunger Games overload. I mean, even in the NON writing corners of LJ that I'm visiting, people are reading them. I need to get some space on them.

Plus, the thing is, I just don't read a whole lot. Not compared to most of you guys. Maybe eventually that'll change and I'll read more, and then I'll feel like I have more space to read things even if I have misgivings. Right now, though, I don't read things unless I am pretty dang sure I'm going to like them (exception being stories I read for friends--I read all kinds of things from LJ friends---and that's good; it opens me up more than I'd be otherwise. Oh, and research. I read stuff for research.)
Sep. 3rd, 2010 08:17 pm (UTC)
Makes sense. I wouldn't have particularly recommended the series for you. I mean, sure, if you're out of stuff to read or looking for that kind of book, but not to displace something you'd enjoy more.

Sorry about the overload. :) Very nice of you to comment anyway!
Sep. 3rd, 2010 09:06 pm (UTC)
Oh, I liked your review! And yours wasn't as overload-y as some! You talked about how the book (and series) was put together and what things worked and what you had problems with, and that's always interesting, even if the series itself is being talked about a whole lot.
Sep. 5th, 2010 01:11 am (UTC)
Thanks for the non-spoilery review. I'm on a long long waitlist for Mockingjay at the library. :D

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )