Saturday, July 14, 2012

Reflections: Mockingjay

This is the final book in The Hunger Games trilogy. I really liked the final book. The first and second books were mostly suspenseful and disturbing, but the third one really delivered the characters and storyline. The rebellion is in full-swing. The rebels congregate and strengthen the unit in District 13 and are ready to overthrow the Capitol. Katniss represents the symbol of the rebellion - the Mockingjay. Katniss supports the rebellion in principle, but she can’t reconcile the death and ravage it is bringing about. Is it worth any cause to sacrifice the lives of the innocent? The question harangues her and consumes her, but she resolves to kill President Snow, if that’s the last thing she does. Can she save Peeta from the tortuous clutches of the Capitol? Can human-beings ever be able to sustain life after the horrific war? Can she ever lead a normal life after all this? These are the questions that plague the reader as much as Katniss as they race through the book.

Due to all the introspection that the protagonist goes through, much of the heavier themes are suitably addressed in the final book. True, the themes have not been delved into their true, fathomless depths, but it’s a good exploration for a young-adults' book. The writing never came to the forefront of my reading experience until this book. The writing tackles the moral and ethical dilemmas of war, conflict, and revenge, in a manner that both teenagers and adults can feel the severity and weight of the issues. The climax is particularly well-written. Katniss’s growth is tragically and sensitively fleshed out, and real emotions of pain, despair, and agony scream across the pages. True, this book is also heartrendingly painful to read, but everything is conveyed much better than in its prequels. The brutality of the situations is tempered with a certain quality of philosophical irony, and balanced with a good measure of human goodness.

No doubt, this is yet another violent book. I went through similar nightmares as Katniss, just by reading the book. Katniss’s and Peeta’s psychological states were also realistically written.

The main thing the book misses on is the political shift (if any) that happens at the end. What happens to the political situation? What are the new credos? The political manifesto? Will there still be a Capitol and subordinate districts? How would they all operate? Etc.. It’s not clear if democracy is set. Not that it matters to Katniss at this juncture, but the book would have been more powerful if it had at least grazed these questions.

The book ends on the major note that it is important for people to always pay attention to the political scenarios and not remain selfishly complacent with their comfortable outward existence. Each of us plays a role in the political beliefs held by our community as a whole. It’s a nice message for teenagers to think beyond their bubble of entertainment and romance. Political responsibility is indeed important for all of us to cultivate, no matter our age or status.

I think the series works best as a whole, and not necessarily as individual books. Taken together, there is a surprising level of progress in writing, story-telling, and the characters with each book in the series. The entire series proved to be an interesting, if disturbing, read for me.


Karthik said...

I must be one of the few who aren't aware of this series :-) The plot sure does seem disturbing.. What's the smiley-rating for the series ?

Neeraja said...

Oh, this is a rage here :). Forgot to include the rating, thanks for pointing out!
I would rate the whole series as "interesting", but the individual books 1 and 2 "did not leave an impression". As a matter of fact, I didn't like book 1 because it was so disturbing, but curiosity and suspense got the better of me!