About the Book:
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press; Reprint edition
Publish date: February 25, 2014
Pages: 400 (eBook can have different pages)
Genres: Adventure, Dystopian, Science fiction, Action
Mockingjay is not as perfectly plotted as “The Hunger Games,” but even so holds its violent, chilly captivation. The trilogy balances solemnity with special effects, a necessary violent darkness with fast-paced storytelling, so that the books manage to be disturbing and entertaining all at once. They comprise a sharp wit of celebrity culture, tedious lurid and corruption, as well as battling teenagers trying to save the world; but they also struggle our hunger for clear meanings of good and evil, our emotional need for a valuable cause, our wish for happy endings, or even for the characters we like not to be slayed or tortured or assaulted or bruised in explicit ways. Like the wicked Capitol that controls and shadows its world, the trilogy inclines to use the things we are devoted to against us.
The seventeen year old girl at the middle of the revolt is a great character without being exactly genial. Katniss is bossy, grumpy and demanding. She treats the world with a fiery aggression that is a little out of the usual, to say the least. She meets one admirer’s expression of love by knocking him down, bangs a door on another face during a dispute, shoots an arrow at a board of judges before the Games begin and looms a mentor with a knife when he says something she doesn’t like. In short, she belongs to a recent clan of popular heroines: the small, tough teenage girl who displays enormous physical and moral strength. She is both killer and victim, somehow signifying female strength and female weakness all mingled and tangled, dangerously, vaguely, into one. She is the girl with the dragon tattoo. She is fascinating in her way of challenging authority, rebellious, daring, angry, and self-involved and yet somehow sweepingly sensitive.
The whole series, and Mockingjay in particular, also offers an exploration of the future limit of the screen: There are cameras all over the place recording at the outer limits of experience. And so there is the strategy, and there is the televised version of the plan, the events themselves and the making of whoopla, and in this dual storytelling the book makes its odd graceful way toward the end. After Katniss’s bold acts of battle, and all varieties of tiredness and physical defacement, her team of stylists is continually trying to “reshape her to Beauty Base Zero”. The way she would look if she got out of bed looking “impeccable but natural.” In other words, the books offer a ruthless meditation on how strange and gory and salacious our worst desires are for a generation. Watching young people murder each other might seem a little vile or disturbed, and this is not an author to skillfully avoid her gaze. Our prurience is fully involved in these books, but so logically, cleverly engaged that it does not feel worthless or gratuitous. As Katniss said in Mockingjay, “There are much worse games to play.”
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