It is needless to say I don’t usually cry on books or movies. I can count on my fingers the ones that made me weep: Bridge to Terabithia- the movie, because I haven’t got the chance to read the book yet; Anna and the French Kiss- by Stephanie Perkins, because I love Paris so much and I just couldn’t not react; and If You Could See Me Now– by Cecelia Ahern, a book that made me sob all night long and every word is imprinted on my brain; and finally, these three books: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
I wept even from the first book, in the beginning when all the people from District 12 gave Katniss the thankful salute for saving her sister from the reaping. Catching Fire was safer for my eyes, but Mockingjay is such a powerful book. It’s so full of sorrow and real pain. It’s not the physical pain that matters, because Katniss faces it bravely, not even the heart pain, because she knows how to distract herself, but the mind that breaks into tiny pieces that can barely be put back together is the problem. Even though Katniss may not agree to that, she is going mad, her mind is in shreds and she acts sometimes without putting any thought into what she is going to do.
I usually do my reviews spoiler-free, but I just can’t explain this book (to myself, not to you, you can find your own explanation if you wish) without revealing key details. So if you haven’t read Mockingjay, go now, then come back and read the rest of the review. 🙂
I was taken back by the easiness with which Suzanne Collins kills her characters. Of course, these are The Hunger Games, only one is allowed to survive, so all others have to die. Basically, the same thing happens in a war, but we, as readers, grew acquainted with the characters, we learned to trust them and found out their weaknesses and the people they love, and we learned to love them, as Katniss did. And then they died, risking their life for the Mockingjay to survive, giving it away, conscious of their actions and their use.
Suzanne Collins described a war from which no one gets out unharmed. Every single character is wounded, boxed in with no choices, brought to the edge of despair, madness and beyond. Katniss is mad practically the whole third book, and Peeta, ah, poor, darling Peeta who no one can resist loving him. The author figured out the best, if not only way to hurt him and hurt Katniss. I don’t know if any of the deaths were gratuitious. In a war almost every death seems so. What fault had some of the men who worked in the Nut? What harm did Katniss and Gale’s fathers do? And by all means, what did those Capital children do to deserve a slaughter?
And yet, these are not the reasons I cried. Sure, I was more than surprised to hear about little Prim, not wanting to believe what had happened to her, but it’s only afterward that my eyes really begun to hurt.
The third part’s name meaning dawned on me when Katniss shot that last arrow of the war. This should have brought her at least relief, or maybe just confusion, but she sunk into despair, and at some point I really thought she would become like one of the morflings: a once glorious victor who couldn’t stand the sight of reality.
After she goes back home, that’s when the real madness descends. I figured out how these books don’t apply the regular paths of writing: three disasters, character’s inner goal, external goal; having to decide between making the right decision or achieving the initial goal. More than being just another “choose the right thing to do” book, here the character has to decide things of great importance not only for her and the immediately loved ones, but for everyone’s future. The faults and holes of her chosen paths are the ones that drive Katniss mad. Those weeks, months or even years it took her to heal to the point where she could talk to Peeta openly, those are the pages that made me shed those tears. It’s frightening how long it takes the mind to heal, incredible how the author put it down on the paper with this much realism. The claustrophobic feeling seized me in Katniss’ nightmare, all those people shoving ash over her, not being able to move or breathe while death caught you, but not quite took you from the living world.
Ironic how, in a way, Katniss is exactly like all the other characters in the other books: she was a normal girl, with a relatively normal life then somehow she got to be the key, the only one who could fight the war of two worlds. The details are as important as the plot itself. So many things happen in one book. In the first one, they only go into the arena in chapter 13, in Catching Fire, we are way into the books when the Quarter Quell is even announced, and Mockingjay is so full of small different plots I can’t even think where to begin.
Suzanne Collins mastered a craft that many writers strive to achieve. The characters feel real by the actions they follow, even if Katniss’ first point of view became a little repetitious and hard to follow in her despair. Not only has she created a living world with real problems and solutions just as complicated, but she made us think. This is not a story about a girl who pretended to be a bird, not about her choosing a boy to love, it’s about revolution: why has it occurred to the people, what are the risks and the loss, and what are the achievements at the end of the day. And I just happened to notice the form of government they adopted at the end.
Congratulations on an extremely well written book with more to it than the story. Also, congratulations to the crew that made the audiobook, Catherine McCormick did a fantastic job reading the book and singing the two little but powerful songs.