Sunday, May 1, 2011

To Kill a Mockingjay (with spoilers!)

It was either that or "Jay Mocking" for a title, and I flipped a coin. I'm sure there are some other good puns I could've used, but I haven't thought of them.

A while back, when I finished reading The Hunger Games, I wrote a blog post about the moment I realized I was the audience consuming violence for pleasure. I said the book was horrific in its conception and execution, and I still think that. I don't plan to ever read it again. (I never reread, though, so that doesn't say much. Too many new books to read, too little time.) But I liked it.

When I finished Catching Fire, I hated the ending and wrote a little about that here.

Spoiler Alert! Stop reading if you haven't read Mockingjay. Seriously.

I finished Mockingjay last Friday, and as if to prove wrong what I recently said about crying over books, it brought tears to my eyes. It was the moment when Katniss realizes and enunciates why she needs Peeta and not Gale.

Prior to that, there was a lot of over-the-top violence. I was ready to throw the book across the room at one point. I thought Collins was going to end it badly. I was overjoyed to be wrong.

Here's the funny thing—Collins completely destroyed her main character. I expected that after the hell the author put her through, Katniss would never recover. You know what I loved? She tried to kill herself. Katniss was suicidal for weeks! How do you recover from that? I mean as a writer. How do you drag your character to rock bottom right at the end of a book and not end up with the readers cursing your name?

Fast forward!

Just skip all that boring recovery from PTSD and other unpleasant psychological issues.

I don't mean to say that I didn't like the way she did it. I loved it. It's just that I'm writing a book that starts with the characters at rock bottom and drags them up from there—aaaaand then back down. And when they reach the end, there won't be any fast forwarding into happy endings, because—well, I don't want to make it sound easy.

Anyway, I was telling my wife about Mockingjay, and she said she'd never let me write a book with that much violence. I thanked her. (She has no interest in reading them, and I wouldn't recommend them to her.) But you know? I didn't have the same issue I did with The Hunger Games. All that violence had plenty of awful consequences by the end of the series. If I were to rate the books individually, the first two wouldn't score highly. But the entire series gets a thumbs up. Two thumbs up, because I have two thumbs.

p.s. It was nice to see a strong person driven to suicide in a popular novel, but it probably did little to shed light on the problem in the real world. The circumstances were too extreme.

2 comments:

  1. I didn't think the violence was that extreme considering the subject matter. Pretty restrained IMO (exept maybe the last book) especially compared to books like Jurassic Park and Harry Potter. There were other problems, but I definitely give the whole series two thumbs up. It really got me thinking. And no way do I believe that you never re-read Lord of the Rings!

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  2. Read LOTR seven times, unless I miss my count.

    And I've got to say, despite Collins totally killing off my two most favoritest characters (Cinna and Finnick) and almost irreversibly tainting my third (Peeta), Katniss still ended up with Peeta, for the exact reason I though she should be with him since book one. I was pleased.

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