Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Book Babble #9 - The disappointment that is Mockingjay

Warning: There will be LOTS of spoilers ahead as I vent out my frustrations on the worst conclusion to a trilogy I have ever read. 
I want to begin by saying I wrote positively about The Hunger Games last week and my thoughts on that novel still stand. It remains one my ultimate favourite novels of all time. I finished Catching Fire immediately afterwards and although it didn't keep me as gripped as the first novel, it was still a fantastic read. I've spent the last two weeks talking about The Hunger Games non stop to anyone who will listen and I was so looking forward to reading the finale and tying up all the loose ends. I so wanted to love Mockingjay the way I loved the other two but I can't. It is the biggest disappointment of an ending I have ever read purely because I had such high expectations and they were all dashed by the disastrous epilogue. Before I go on to vent my woes I will still hold firm that this is an amazing trilogy overall and I'd still recommend all three books to everyone. I feel the urge to rant a little, however, just because I could see this story doing so much better if so much wasn't left hanging unresolved.

I literally finished the novel a few minutes ago and was so shocked I thought I was going to cry. So many deaths, so poorly explained let alone justified, so much left unsaid! Gah. The first thing I did was google reviews of the novel to see if I was alone in feeling the ending was rash and just BAD overall. Well, it looks like I'm not the only one who feels this way.

When I read about Rue's death in Book One I was on my way to work travelling by public transport. Countless faces surrounded me as I dabbed at my welling eyes, trying to keep my emotions in check and not cry for the sake of a fictitious character. Prim's death in Mockingjay by complete contrast left me feeling cold and undecided. Her death came suddenly and although I can see why some people would support this decision as it gives the novel a more "realistic" air, it isn't the death itself that I have such a problem with but the way in which details are easily glossed over.  I felt very little heartbreak over Prim's death  as the scene lacks the emotion and description of Rue's death in The Hunger Games.

Another key character killed off in Mockingjay is Finnick. I'll admit I wasn't his biggest fan when he first appeared scantily clad and acting a first class slimeball. However I quickly grew to like him and later understand his behaviour (finding out he was a pawn of Snow's all those years was another depressing scene).  What I can't stand is the fact that he is so easily disposed of in the finale. Yes I know it was a war scene and there's bound to be some casualties but why oh why weren't we given time to mourn him?

Katniss spent so much time stating that killing Snow was her main aim in life so another disappointment came in the fact she killed Coin instead and Snow's death (by choking or trampling - it's unclear how) seems a bitter letdown. Coin's involvement in the Capitol children's (and Prim's) deaths is also something that is never clarified. We'll never know if Katniss's assasination of her was in retribution or fueled by misinformation fed by Snow.

Finally the biggest disappointment for me was the fact that there was so much build up in deciding who Katniss would choose and in the end there was very little detail given. Gale is sent off to work in District 2 - and that's that. I was desperate to know how he felt about being away from Katniss, if he did indeed move on, what exactly his life became after the war. No explanation is given.

I rooted for Peeta since the very beginning so I would have thought I'd be overjoyed that Katniss ended up with him. But it all seems so forced, and "inevitable" doesn't cut it as an explanation. "Peeta and I grow back together" JUST ISN'T ENOUGH!!!!!

The epilogue itself ruined the entire ending for me. 15 years on Katniss is married with a son and daughter (I didn't expect them to become a 2.4 family but okay). But she still seems so utterly broken and depressed that I couldn't even feel happy for her. I'd have preferred it if it had ended with the lines "You love me. Real or not real?" I tell him, "Real". At least that would have given readers a glimpse of a better future. Or maybe even have one of the main 3 characters die which would have caused a torrent of tears and some violent sobbing on my part but at least a tragic ending would have left me feeling more than this ambivalence I feel now.

Other disappointments:
  • The fact that so many people seem to die without being properly mourned.
  • The new President's rule is not described.
  • The future of Panem is not described.
There was lots to love about Mockingjay but I can't help feeling completely let down by this lacklustre finale. It will forever dishearten me as I had such high hopes for it and now I will always associate it with all that it could have been rather than all that it is.

And now that I've had my little rant I'm just going to wait for all the films to come out and hope they do a much better job at tying up all these loose ends.

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