Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Review: Mockingjay [spoilers]


Mockingjay was a book nothing like I had anticipated. It was much darker, and the war was so much more fully realised than I had expected – showing the true evil that is human nature.

Indeed there are moments in the book where you find yourself hoping Peeta’s prophecy that perhaps the complete annihilation of humanity would be better than allowing any of these people to survive comes true.

As we finally get our first glimpse of the long awaited District 13, in Part One, what we find is not a rag-tag group of rebellious survivors who had made their way to 13 out of defiance – what I had expected - but instead a fully intact District 13, who had betrayed the other districts and done a deal with the Capitol to guarantee their survival.

This put me on a very uneven footing going into the novel, and I really couldn’t get into the book in its 1st third. It didn’t feel like a Hunger Games novel, and lacked the immediacy of its predecessors – far too much time spent strategising and not enough actually doing anything. This of course is the reality of war, and credit to Collins for showing this side of things, but for me, it slowed the book down far too much. After the explosive end to Catching Fire, I wanted to get straight into the action and I couldn’t.

That being said, as the story powered on into Parts 2 and 3, as Katniss became the Mockingjay, and led the battle on the Capitol, the book finally felt like it should.

From the attack on the hospital, to Peeta’s rescue – and indeed his hijacking – the book suddenly had the action element to it, and while the planning and strategy was still going on it suddenly became relegated to the background as we had to watch Katniss struggle with losing Peeta, and acclimatising to life in 13.

The book was at its very best though as the final surge on the Capitol began. The design of the Capitol being like a giant arena gave the story what it had lacked up until this point – the feeling of danger that the Games always inspired up until now.

As Boggs and Finnick and the rest are slowly picked off one by one, you really feel that with so little of the book left, suddenly anyone is open game, and it is even possible she could kill Peeta or Gale as the group make their way towards the Mansion.

And then Prim dies. And there, finally is the ultimate tragedy. The story comes full circle. Katniss entered the arena to save Prim, and by entering the arena inadvertently caused the war which would kill her.

From here on out the story concluded perfectly, both Coin and Snow being killed – if Coin had survived to be president I’d have been angry – Katniss finding herself finally with Peeta (just about the one thing about the book I did predict).

After a very rocky beginning, Mockingjay lived up to its hype in the second and third acts, and concluded a simply amazing trilogy as well as it possibly could do.