Saturday, December 31, 2011

MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay is a 2010 young-adult science fiction novel by Suzanne Collins, and the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy. Here, Katniss has become the face of the rebellion’s propaganda campaign.

Mockingjay is often grimmer than the previous books, and Collins makes a couple of somewhat bold plot decisions (for the YA genre). However, while Collins knows how to keep the reader turning the pages, the story itself often lacks focus. Much of the book features Katniss involved in events of only peripheral importance, and a number of important story elements are not well developed, even if they are resolved satisfactorily.

In Mockingjay, Collins attempts to draw a contrast between Gale’s embrace of no-holds-barred warfare and Katniss’s reservations. Yet her attitude is inconsistent with her actions in all three books, and it rings distinctly false.

In the context of street warfare, the Capitol’s Games-style booby traps feel silly and impractical. And the book’s ending, in addition to fizzling abruptly, feels somewhat contrived and arbitrary. A very deliberate suspension of belief is required in a number of places.

Collins finally gives Katniss some substantial emotional reflection and explores just how damaged she is. However, this self-examination is focused on what Katniss has lost and almost completely ignores what she has done, which may make the reader feel that Katniss has not learned anything (especially the messages Collins seems to be trying to present to the reader) nor evolved substantially as a character. But Collins lowered the bar for herself in this regard in the previous books, and it’s better than nothing.

In the end, Mockingjay is an under-developed but reasonably entertaining and generally satisfying conclusion to the series, held back by the telling rather than the story.