Saturday, March 10, 2012

Reading List Updated: Mockingjay

So, Epic Reading List: Mark Two:

1. Mockingjay -Suzanne Collins
2. First Test -Tamora Pierce
3. Darkness Falls -Cate Tiernan
4. Page -Tamora Pierce
5. Where Things Come Back -John Corey Whaley
6. Squire -Tamora Pierce
7. Beautiful Darkness -Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
8. Lady Knight -Tamora Pierce
9. Cinder -Marissa Meyer
10. Trickster's Choice -Tamora Pierce
11. The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight - Jennifer E. Smith
12. Trickster's Queen -Tamora Pierce
13. Halfway to the Grave -Jeanine Frost
14. Tortall and Other Lands -Tamora Pierce
15. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer -Michelle Hodkin



She killed Finnick.

Killed him.

Unceremoniously. Barely a second thought involved. Killed Finnick. It look me a legitimate minute and two rereads of the passage to realize that she had mutts behead my beloved Finnick. There were tears. Sobs even. He's...Finnick. I know quite a few people died (though admittedly, Prim was the only other one at which I cried) but I really felt like Finnick's death deserved a little more recognition than it got. And I don't think it's just my fictional crush bias.

But let's attempt to, not move on exactly, but set it aside.

To me Mockingjay is a game changer of a book. It's still about Katniss but not in the same way that the others are. Mockingjay widens the scope almost to the extent that it begins to feel a bit heavy handed in parts.

We see just how shattered Katniss has become. She's not broken, she was broken in Catching Fire, now she's decimated. So much of the beginning of the book is dedicated to Collins pounding into our heads that Katniss is not the same that for a long time it becomes the focus. I wasn't seeing Katniss' situation specifically but a commentary on Post Traumatic Stress. At that point I was reading the book as a character study and not for the story. With so much else that she glosses over in the end the beginning really could have been pared down. We could have gotten more detail in the action later and less clubbing over the head with Katniss' decimation.

That being said, Collins did a really great job of keeping Katniss who she is despite the changes that she goes through. Despite the destruction to her mentality at everything that has happened (including the multiple head blows) she remains truly Katniss for much of the novel. Coming to realizations too late, being her bravest when she's spontaneously compassionate, never backing down.

The notable exception and the only time I ever stopped while reading because it didn't strike me as right was when Katniss agrees that the children of the Capitol offenders should be put into The Hunger Games. I can see a little of what Collins intended with Katniss being racked with grief over losing Prim but after everything that had happened; the nightmares, her compassion, her desperation for Gale to know how irreversibly it changes you to kill someone, I couldn't believe that she'd agree to that.

The boys. Well, the non-Finnick boys. I had previously mentioned that I had heard a bit about Mockingjay that made me apprehensive. I was informed that I was not going to like either Peeta or Gale by the end of the book. I also heard that Gale kills Prim and Peeta turns evil.

Can we all take a second to appreciate/be appalled by the gross oversimplification.

Okay, second over. I know a lot of people who hate the whole idea of what happens to Peeta. I don't mean in a it's-horrific-sympathetic kind of way but in a it's an awful plot idea sort of deal. I don't feel that way. I think it was a really brilliant idea and a great way to show just how twisted these people had become. The thought of doing that to someone is horrific but I'm a big believer in the idea that our past makes us who we are so altering Peeta's memories gives me chills. This also gave us that wonderful scene where Katniss thinks that the awful things Peeta says is him seeing her how she really is. I don't agree that he is seeing her how she really is but how she sees herself. There's just something about that scene that really resonates.

And Gale. It's sad that he and Katniss lose touch but I don't see how they could have worked as couple. The problem is that they don't balance.Admittedly, they have a couple of good moments and they do feel very strongly about one another because they understand one another really well. Gale knows Katniss, well he knows the old Katniss. He never really sees how the games changed her. How killing people altered who she is. Gale is right, not knowing for certain if it was his bomb that killed Prim would ruin any hope they could have for a relationship. It was his idea, his plan to play on people's compassion. It's the sort of move that Katniss, who is often moved to spontaneous compassionate actions, doesn't understand. Katniss needs to blame someone for Prim's loss and with not direct evidence she blames everyone whose fingerprints are near it.
But the scene where he tells her that she only loves him when he's in pain strikes me all wrong. Not wrong in character but in how Gale sees her. He says she could never love him more than Peeta because of what Peeta has been through. I could see her feeling almost obligated but if that's all that Gale sees (and he says something later suggesting it is) than he doesn't see real affection in her. He doesn't see past the confusion and obtuse persona that she projects. Peeta pushes through but Gale stops before he gets too far.

I don't really need to go into my whole argument for Peeta in any more detail because Collins states it just fine for me at the end of the book. He is her hope. I don't think any of the victors could ever really be with someone who doesn't understand what they went through. Gale doesn't get what it did her the way Peeta does. I will say that I really wanted to see the moment where she and Peeta really reconnect. She says he comforts her with his arms and then his lips. I wanted to see it.

Another scene I really liked was the greenhouse scene between Katniss and Snow. That's a great scene. Katniss never really trusts Coin even before Boggs tells her to run and not go back and Snow calls her on it. There is an understanding between the two of them, an honesty that makes for a really great dynamic and ultimately leads to the moment where she shoots Coin instead of Snow. (Which shows that rebellion is all well and good but placing one tyrant over another is not the best course.) There's no way to prove what Snow says but he uses logic to work through it instead of threats or just accusations. What he says makes sense and that's the scary part.

Collins does a wonderful job pacing both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire but she dropped the ball with Mockingjay. Nothing happens and then too much happens. We get all of these little details in District 13 and then the action starts and we miss too much. I can handle that Katniss misses a lot being unconscious (I've heard complaints). It's sort of a cop out but it makes sense. She's not superhuman, she needs to heal. I can even handle missing that chunk of time after the explosion where she loses Prim. We miss how the whole actual takeover happened but realistically, having just watched her sister turned into a human torch, I can't imagine she'd be focusing on much else. I can't see us getting too much out of her. But Collins throws so much dazzle and craziness with the pods at us all at once that instead of keeping it moving it makes it stumble. There's too much. Her whole trial was wasted with her in another room. There should have been a little something there for us.

I understand that it is a lot happening in a small time for the characters but it could have been handled differently.

The large Finnick loving part of me wanted to see more Finnick and Annie. I love how broken he is before her return and absolutely adore the line about her sneaking up on him. That's a lovely story and I don't even know it. However, at the same time, I understand why we don't see it. I just wish we could. Simultaneously, I don't see why Finnick had to die. I know, I'm a fangirl but his death served no real purpose. It left it so Katniss and Peeta and the only untouched couple and quite frankly they don't need the help being singled out. We never see him fight, nothing. He was a victor and he and Katniss really form a sort of bond in what they've seen. But he is written off.

Overall, Mockingjay was my least favorite of the three. It seemed like Collins had a lot she wanted to do and shoved it all in without cohesively fitting the ideas together or being willing to give up ones that overload the story. I still enjoyed it and loved it as part of the series.

Rating: Massively Epic

What did you all think of how it fit in with the others?

Next I start my favorite of the Tortall series The Protector of the Small with First Test.


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