Thursday, July 12, 2012

Book Review - Mockingjay

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Scholastic, 2010

Format? Hardback, purchased from Amazon and belongs to my firstborn

Why?  Besides daughter pressure, after I read Catching Fire, I was a little surprised.  I had almost decided not to read the 2nd and 3rd books in this trilogy bc of what so many others were saying about them.  Soooo glad I did.

What Now?  After my firstborn and I had a whispering conversation about the ending of this series during church this morning (oy), it will reside with her in her room on her keeper shelf.

Golden Lines

I stick to the road out of habit, but it's a bad choice, because it's full of the remains of those who tried to flee.  Some were incinerated entirely.  But others, probably overcome with smoke, escaped the worst of the flames and now lie reeking in various states of decomposition, carrion for scavengers, blanketed by flies.  I killed you, I think as I pass a pile.  And you.  And you.

Positioned on my dresser, that white-as-snow rose is a personal message to me.  It speaks of unfinished business.  It whispers, I can find you.  I can reach you.  Perhaps I am watching you now.

My skin itches with the ashes of the dead.  I feel the sickening impact of the skull against my shoe.  The scent of blood and roses stings my nose.
The pencil moves across the page on its own.  I open my eyes and see the wobbly letters.  I KILL SNOW. If he's captured, I want the privilege.

In other words, I step out of line and we're all dead.

Frankly, our ancestors don't seem much to brag about.  I mean, look at the state they left us in, with the wars and the broken planet.  Clearly, they didn't care about what would happen to the people who came after them.  But the republic idea sounded like an improvement over our current government.

When I wake, I wonder if this will be the only way I sleep now, with drugs shot into my arm.  I'm glad I'm not supposed to talk for the next few days, because there's nothing I want to say.  Or do.  I'm a model patient, my lethargy taken for restraint, obedience to the doctors' orders.  I no longer feel like crying.  In fact, I can only manage to hold on to one simple thought: an image of Snow's face accompanied by the whisper in my head.  I will kill you.

"It's a saying from thousands of years ago, written in a language called Latin about a place called Rome," he explains.  "Panem et Circenses translates into 'Bread and Circuses.'  The writer was saying that in return for full bellies and entertainment, his people had given up their political responsibilities and therefore their power."

I fall into a doorway, tears stinging my eyes.  Shoot me.  That's what he was mouthing.  I was supposed to shoot him! That was my job.  That was our unspoken promise, all of us, to one another.  And I didn't do it and now the Capitol will kill him or torture him or hijack him or --the cracks begin opening inside me, threatening to break me into pieces.

"Are you preparing for another war, Plutarch?" I ask.
"Oh, not now. Now we're in that sweet period where everyone agrees that our recent horrors should never be repeated," he says.  "But collective thinking is usually short-lived.  We're fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction.  Although who knows?  Maybe this will be it, Katniss."
"What?" I ask. 
"The time it sticks.  Maybe we are witnessing the evolution of the human race.  Think about that."


Picking up right where Catching Fire left off, Katniss finds herself in the middle of the rebellion in the once thought destroyed District 13.  Its leader, President Coin, with spies from The Capitol, have orchestrated a massive overthrow of The Capitol and Panem's President Snow.  Whether she likes it or not (and she doesn't for most of the novel), Katniss IS the Mockingjay.  Her face has become the impetus for demanding  freedom in all of the Districts, even District 2 where more Capitol proponents live than anywhere else.  Barely holding on to her sanity, Katniss agrees to be filmed in a series of propos to be used in televised breakthroughs masterminded by electrical genius, former tribute, BeeTee who was instrumental in destroying the Capitol force field in Catching Fire.  Unfortunately, every breakthrough inspires more violence from President Snow, with Peeta the center of his attention.  Even if they can rescue Peeta, Katniss knows that none of them will be safe until Snow is dead.  It is then that the real mission begins...infiltrate the Capitol via underground tunnels and execute Snow.

What I Liked

The Mockingjay costume and its maker, Cinna...I can't say much here bc of spoilers for the 2 people reading this who still haven't read this trilogy...but definitely a character to be remembered for a very long time.

Haymitch - drunk or sober.  How can you blame him?

Finnick - I disliked this character immensely when he first appeared in Catching Fire, but he grew on me by the end.  

No happy ending - there shouldn't be.  The ending is what so many people have not been satisfied with.  But, I get it.  If there had been a Cinderella, everybody walks off into the sunset ending, I would have thrown this book against the wall. 

What I Didn't Like

The violence - vivid images - many deaths, some expected and some not - characters gave their lives in this book...gave their individual lives for the good of the future of the whole world and all the people.

death by vicious beatings, being melted, vicious mutt creations tearing apart bodies, torture, bombs blowing off limbs - this movie, done well will be the most violent film for young adults in a while...I'm not sure how that will be accomplished without bringing in a firestorm of censorship

The Peacekeepers - for some reason I kept getting the image in my head of Stormtroopers from Star Wars...?

I also kept being reminded of the mindset of terrorists in comparison/contrast to our country's Ireland I was blown away by the attention most everyone gave to the nation's history...even young children knew and participated in traditional songs/dance/sports of their country and its origins.  Most people can still remember the war and resulting violence of only a few years ago and so they appreciate the peace.  I don't get that same feeling in the U.S.  Quite the contrary I get the "so what" feeling anytime war or a difference of opinion is brought up in conversation and specifically from my experience, in the classroom.
"So what, that was way back then...that wouldn't happen today."  While we do have a military full of the bravest men and women in the country, we also have those who enlist for the benefits but whine and complain when it becomes time to serve.  We also have many more citizens of our country who would never even think about giving their lives for the good of anyone, much less our country.  Generation after generation becomes more and more ignorant of our country's history and could care less about our country's future.

Overall Recommendation

Readers of Hunger Games need to go ahead and finish the trilogy no matter what you hear others's worth the ride, every difficult word and scene...still worth it.  This one has so much action that it was announced yesterday that it would be split into 2 movies...a friend of mine was upset about that, seeing it as a money-making move.  I'm realistic enough to know that yes, that's part of it, but I can definitely see how this one could be two very disturbing movies.  I haven't seen the first one yet btw but have it on my auto ship list from Amazon.


  1. Out of the three books, this was my least favorite. I liked the ending, but there was too much violence, and it felt more like a military novel than it should have been. I grew angry with the characters and didn't like a lot of the action in the book. I rushed out to get it the night it released, but it wasn't what I had been expecting. Great and very thoughtful review today!

    1. The violence was definitely unlike anything I've ever experienced in a YA novel...I actually would question the appropriateness of this one for younger kids. At times it felt like a horror movie :( I still liked it though bc I can't help but read it from an adult perception is probably also jaded a little by the conversations my students have been having this past semester about war and politics and the books we've been reading and discussing. A lot of them have rose colored glasses when it comes to war, peace, freedom etc.

  2. The first time I read this trilogy, I had the same gut reaction to Mockingjay that so many others had and I hated it. The second time around it became my favorite of the trilogy. It's not a happy book, there is no warm, fuzzy ending - but there totally could not have been. I would have thrown the book against the wall as well. Glad you liked the book and now you must see the movie!

    1. I can't wait for the will be interesting to see how Hollywood portrays this story :)

  3. I didn't enjoy the last book. I felt that the ending was a letdown and a sell-out but the series as a whole, was fun to read.

    1. Ti, I hate politics...bc I don't trust ANY politicians. :P I think what the ending did for me was say we keep making the same mistakes over and over again. And, I think that's true. A lot of young adults today don't know much about American or any other history. I'm astounded each semester about how far the gap keeps widening...and that's probably why I liked this one so much. It just spoke to me personally bc especially of the last couple of semesters reading and discussing Cold Mountain and The Book Thief.

  4. Well, you do have to finish the trilogy. You have to know how it all ends. But we listened to the entire thing on audio, and while we really enjoyed the first two books, we had to force ourselves to even listen to this one. It took us forever to get through it. We didn't like it at all. But some loved it and felt it was a viable ending.

    1. I don't know if I'd want to listen to this one, Sandy. I needed to be able to set my own pace, speed through at times, slow down, look back and sometimes just put it away and think. I can analyze something to death :/

  5. I've been halfway through Catching Fire since Memorial Day Weekend. :) I thank The Stand, though. I've actually had the conversation with many friends about whether or not this one is really necessary to read after the second one (keep in mind I have NO idea what happens and only read your last paragraph to keep it that way)--so many of them just didn't enjoy this one at all.

    Funny you mention the double movies. We had a twittersation this morning over it and it makes me want to read the book even more than having read your thoughts on that. The majority felt very passionately that it was a strange move (other than for money-making purposes).

    1. It's a difficult one to "enjoy" I think...bc of the violence and the constant action. It is definitely a war novel because they are at war. The end is not pretty but I felt it made sense.
      I can see where they might split the movie, but to me that gives the filmakers time to really focus on the violence...again, I'm not sure that will be appropriate for some of the age groups reading this trilogy. And, they may also try to pretty things up and make it corny by the end. I don't know, but most people I've talked to seem to thing it's a money-making strategy as well...I won't be very happy about that.