I will not mock Mockingjay

Okay, I know I’m way late in this game, but I finally read Mockingjay, the third installment in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy.

I have decided that after all of my protesting that I don’t review books, it turns out I do. So here goes.

Mockingjay follows the further adventures of Katniss Everdeen after she has been rescued from the Quarter Quell arena she had just brought an end to in Catching Fire. She’s banged up, not too lucid and seems to be having trouble recovering from the electric shock and a severe concussion.

More on that concussion later.

In Mockingjay, we see the denouement of the world of Panem, the Capitol’s stranglehold on the districts, and the rebellion that had been going on in the background of Katniss’ story in the first two books. There is a lot of battle and plenty of excitement and tension in this book.

Overall, the book is mostly effective. The story comes to a fairly satisfying conclusion, insofar as the world and its people are concerned.

So the world is well drawn, the descriptions are clear and they work fine, and the relationship issues are more or less dealt with well.

But I have a problem, and I bet you saw this coming. And don’t get me wrong; I love Suzanne Collins. Her Underland Chronicles are some of the best YA I’ve ever read.

I never really like Katniss. I sort of got at this issue in my last post, about Readability and Craft. Collins has done such a good job with the world and an overall story evolution that I felt a strong desire what came of it all, but I just never really cared about Katniss. Why?

Because she was so reactive in much of the first two books. Then, in the third book, nearly every time she tries to do something, she screws it up. And, there’s not much of spoiler here, she never actually overcomes the conflicts she’s involved in. Circumstance and other characters make the real action happen.

Katniss really doesn’t do much, until the very end (spoiler alert!) when she takes out Coin. And we don’t really get the emotional motivation for what she does. And there’s not much of a catharsis. And the emotional pay-off is just not adequate for the harrowing, graphic and horrifying things that happen to this protagonist.

I really think Suzanne Collins wrote this the way she felt it ought to be written, but I don’t know if Suzanne felt much of an emotional connection to Katniss.

Raise your hand if YOU ever really felt emotionally connected to Katniss Everdeen.

Now raise your hand if you felt connected to Gale, and/or Peeta.

Now think about Prim and Katniss’ Mom. Do we know what made Prim change from shy and reserved and needy to take charge and wise? How about her mom?

Think about Plutarch. Complex character, very interesting motivations.

Coin now. Murky and not really complete.

Beetee and Finnick: interesting.

Annie- not so much.

Now Johanna. There was something there, but it seemed a little too easy. I’ll make this character complex because of a trauma with water and shocks.

Complex, interesting, sympathetic male characters. Even Snow is very interesting!

Overly simplistic, not much emotional connection, and murky female characters.

I really don’t get it.

Even when (spoiler alert!) Prim dies, maybe it’s the first person present narration, but it’s a bunch of words describing her actions, but there’s not any real emotional impact.

Now, this is my reaction and it is of course subjective. I’d sure love to hear/read YOUR take on this book and series.

About jaredgarrett

Jared Garrett is the author of Beat, a YA scifi thriller, and its forthcoming sequel, both published by Future House Publishing. A new series, debuting in January 2016 and also published by Future House, kicks off with Lakhoni, a fast-paced rescue adventure in a world reminiscent of Aztec culture, to be released in January 2016. He self-published Beyond the Cabin, a novelization of his childhood in a cult, in December 2014. Both Beat and Beyond the Cabin were Whitney Award nominees, and his story Song of the Wind, received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. In addition to writing, he's spent fifteen years in adult education and is an accomplished public speaker and workshop leader.
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