It's good to be home, with a stack of new books on my bedside table. It's good to be thinking about books, dissecting ideas and articulating them, even if only for myself. What better place to start than one of this year's most anticipated novels, Mockingjay?
Granted, I'm not the biggest fangirl out there, but I have my share of love for Katniss and Peeta and their struggles in the arena. The way Collins built suspense and mounted action in the first book was truly talented word- smithery. But the closing chapter of the Hunger Games story fell short for me.
I did like Mockingjay... I gave it three stars. However, there were things that made me not "really like it," and there were elements that made me have major problems with the philosophy behind the denouement.
Katniss's character didn't grow, she regressed. Even the other characters admit she was only looking out for herself, a change from the motivation of protecting Prim, and then Peeta, and a real turning point for Katniss as a likable character.
The ending [okay, spoilers, whatever, like you haven't read it yet] was good in that it didn't try to paint rainbows, but there was no hint of a future pursuit of redemption, which is what makes a tragic novel truly meaningful and inspiring. Instead, we get a picture of a listless afterward that just stretches on and on. A husband, sure, a couple of kids, sure, and yet you can almost hear Katniss heave an impassive sigh as she narrates these developments.
Mockingjay does show the realities of ever-after life... not always happy, not always exciting, very true, but I think Collins' worldview is a wee bit bleaker than the one I operate on. Doesn't the life she shows Katniss and Peeta living post-war strike you as more than a little empty? Don't they seem rather dead inside? Which is absolutely the reverse of say, the early Christians, who lost everything they loved, were persecuted almost to death, and yet still counted life worth living. "To live is Christ, to die is gain."
Compare that thought to the atmosphere of Mockingjay, and you come up with a very nihilistic world, where there isn't much point to anything, and the only reality is love (remember the book's last words?) but even that love feels subjective.
For sure, Collins didn't take the easy-Twilight way out, where "everyone gets everything they want, even if their desires necessitate an about-face in characterization or the messy introduction of some back story. Nobody has to renounce anything or suffer more than temporarily—in other words, grandeur is out." (Publishers Weekly)
There is suffering and renunciation in Mockingjay. Plenty of it. However, that last line definitely rings true for both series finales--"grandeur is out."