Wednesday, September 15, 2010

This is the part where I collapse... (And a Mockingjay 'review', complete with spoiler)

Well, I'm following my old familiar cycle: get insanely excited about a new project, absolutely kill the first quarter's worth, plateau to a nice and steady pace at about half-way, and then screech to a halt long before the finish line. Okay, well maybe not a halt. A slog. A whiney, pitifully pathetic me slog.

Yes, the only thing more painful than not writing is the guilt of not writing. And yet, we (or at least I) endure it. Day after day after *bleeping* day. How do I make it stop???

What? Write?


Er...okay. How about a Rebekah-esque review? Yeah? Lovely:)

Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins

So I obviously had high hopes for Mockingjay. The first two books were excellent YA novels (a guilty pleasure of mine...if done right), and I was so totally excited to see how Collins would wrap up the trilogy and give me my YA fix at the same time.

Unfortunately, although I did look at the book as both a series finale and as a stand-alone, I was disappointed on both counts.

Characterisation: Lacking. In terms of the series, I felt like Katniss wasn't acting with the fire that had come to define her. Sure, she'd been through a bit of trauma, and she behaved as any normal human would. But that's the problem. She should have been more than any human, especially since the story itself was more than normal. In this kind of book, characters need to be relatable, but also extraordinary. And as a stand-alone, I doubt I'd have stuck by Katniss through her whining. I mean, who wants their heroine to be someone who (literally) runs and hides in a corner for days on end? And I have a hard time buying her animosity towards the strict food rationing considering that most of her life was spent in poverty.

Backstory: Good job. For the series, she gave just enough reminders to help the reader recall details from the previous books. And for the stand-alone, she didn't offer up the dreaded information dump, opting instead to work the crucial details into the story.

Narrative: No matter how you look at it, there were large sections of narrative that seemed to only gloss over the events. I get that Collins was aiming to cut down on the time that passed by simply telling the reader what happened. But I want to see it happening. Normally, I'd give the benefit of the doubt (especially for a finale) and say she probably wanted to take us through every detail, but just needed to cull pages (or even chapters) from her manuscript. But in this case, I think she took it too far. If it's important enough to mention, surely it warrants more detail than the token 'she did this and he said that'.

**Spoiler Alert**
Story/Ending: Okay, but not great. In terms of the series, Collins did a good job coming full circle (the whole story really starts when Katniss volunteers to take Prim's place in the Games, essentially saving her life, but then Prim dies anyway). And I did like that Katniss went on to have children, considering her previous aversion to the idea, because of the Games. But I don't think Collins gave enough attention to Katniss' other important relationships (with Gale and also with Peeta). The ending was heavy on the narrative with hardly any dialogue or direct action. And for this reason, I'd have felt pretty let down with the ending (and, therefore, with the entire book) if I hadn't read the first two in the series. Yes, tie up your story and get out, but don't shortchange the readers who have come this far with you. Give me meat, right up until the last page, and I'll love you forever.

Overall: Disappointing. Usually when I buy a book, it's because I know I will almost certainly want to read it again. And again and again. With Mockingjay, though, I'm seriously considering a donation to the local library...