July 3, 2012

Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins

OK - I had to put this book down last night, 100 pages from the end, in order to get some sleep before work today (but if today had been a holiday too, I would have stayed up last night until I was done!).

I think that this was my favourite of the trilogy, even though one of my friends today told me that she didn't like this book as much of the previous books (and I think that many fans of the series feel that way as well).  It lived up to my expectations at the end of Catching Fire that it was going to be focused on the dystopian world that the author created, and unlike the previous books, I wasn't sure how this one was going to end.  It also gripped me the same way as the first book (though not the second) - I had trouble putting it down since I wanted to know what happens next.

I honestly thought that either Peeta or Gale was going to die.  I'm not entirely satisfied the way that Gale's character ended up at the end of the book - he just seemed to fade off into the background, not really caring what happens to Katniss.  I did like the line at the end of the book though, "...what I need to survive is not Gale's fire, kindled with rage and hatred.  I have plenty of fire myself.  What I need is the dandelion in the spring.  The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction.  The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses.  That it can be good again.  And only Peeta can give me that."  I agree with her.

Katniss grew through the series of books, forced for the main part by circumstances.  Given the choice, she acknowledges that she would have rather not been a tribute with all that followed; and yet she grows from a relatively sheltered girl to a ruthless killer to a symbol to a woman who knows her own mind.

I can't help, given the years that these books were written, to compare the fighting and wars in the books to the wars that were (are) fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The books do a very good job of portraying the psychological after-effects of fighting and killing; and I can't help but compare the Victors of the book to returning soldiers.  I wonder if this political statement was intended by the author - pointed at governments that better after care that what is currently provided is essential.  After all, many soldiers aren't that much older than the Tributes in these books.

They are books that left me thinking - always a good sign in a book.  They bring up issues of media and propaganda, right versus wrong, justice and equality, war versus pacifism, accepting the status quo versus taking a stand.  I suspect that they will stay with me longer than other recent "teen hits".  The plots of the Harry Potter books are already fuzzy in my mind despite at least 2 readings of each plus the movies; I have tried to forget Twilight; and yet the Hunger Games feel like they made an impression.

I'm glad that I read these books.  I liked the main character, despite her flaws, right up until the very end.  I think that the author has created a believable and consistent world for these books.  I do want to see the movies now to see how they compare to the books.  The descriptions in the books are so vivid that I hope that the movies live up.  I also love the cover art on the books, showing the mockingjay transform from the pin to a bird to breaking free on her own.  I especially love that they ended up on an upbeat note - the hope that things can be better this time around, that humankind won't be bent on destroying ourselves this time around.  And I'm glad that I read all 3 books after the full trilogy was released so that I didn't have to wait a year or so for the next one!

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