Friday, April 15, 2011

review of Mockingjay

I'm giving this the same rating I gave Book Two. Although Collins does a good job of incorporating the important information about the events of books one and two into the action here without resorting to "info-dump" style writing, I still don't think you can pick this book up and run with it without having read the earlier installments. That's part of the reason for the slightly lower grade than book one received. The other reason is that the things that made book one so interesting and such a fast read (the fast pace of the prose; Katniss' innocent inability to understand the actions of her peers in context of the bigger picture; Katniss' inherent inability to trust anyone) are now feeling a bit predictable and old hat, until near the end.  I found myself, in this volume more than the other two, wanting to tell Katniss to get her head out of her ass and start picking up on the not-so-subtle comments of those around her. In book one, I was fine with Kat not realizing that Peeta's love for her wasn't an act; by this book I was aggravated at the things Kat took for granted and failed to connect on. (I'd say more on that score, but I don't want to spoil anything for those still intending to read the books.)

What redeems the book and keeps it from dropping to a "three" rating is most of that ending. Kudos to Collins for not delivering on my jaded expectations as to who would live and who would die. (Okay, at least one of the deaths near the end was expected; but one most surely was not, at least by this reader, and the two deaths I most expected did not happen at all.)  The very very end (as in the last three pages or so) felt a bit rushed -- which is saying a lot in a series that moves as fast as this one does -- but that doesn't detract from the emotion and turns of the 50 or so pages that precede those three.

I have to say I am glad I read these books. I may have gotten aggravated with her at times, but I like Katniss. I like Peeta and Gale and Prim; I even liked Haymitch and Finnick despite the initial dislike accorded their actions when they first meet Katniss.  I also have to say I understand why my friends who have kids find the series increasingly uncomfortable. It's sort of like reading Stephen King's PET SEMATARY -- you don't want these things happening to kids you actually know, and by the end of these books you feel like Katniss and Co are kids you know. You also recognize that they are for the most part older than their years.

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