The Scruffy Rube’s #CBR4 Review #6 Mockingjay
Increasingly, stories have to be franchises. It’s not enough to write a good book with great characters and relatable themes. Now, to be a successful author, you need to craft a creative series with consistently charming protagonists (preferably ones that can be played by rising Hollywood stars). You need riveting action and a dollop of comedy–but of course the action can’t be too violent, nor the comedy too coarse or else the movie version will be R rated. And you need to keep the door open, just a crack, for another sequel, and another, and another…
While Mockingjay the third and (supposedly) final book of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy does its best to wrap up the series there are signs of fatigue and weariness all around it. The long and grueling business of overthrowing tyranny seems to have left many recurring characters exhausted, and as battles and bombings prolong the process even the audience can be excused for battle fatigue.
The ceaseless onslaught of violent confrontations leads to another problem: familiarity. It’s easy to guess that our hero, Katniss, will need to use her special skills with the bow and arrow, that mutated beasts will threaten her life, that lovable, charismatic characters will die, that a natural environment/obstacle course of an arena will taunt our heroes, these have been a standard feature of the previous two books so naturally they returns here.
But, these nitpicking critiques of The Hunger Games series pale in contrast to the series undeniable virtue. The human honesty in a fantastical setting. The psychological torment and anguish of Katniss and her fellow rebels seems sincere and palpable. As a result the brevity of each book’s resolution may be more logical than I first suspected (after the drama of war, daily life may well seem irrelevant). With all these honest depictions of the mental and physical toll that war takes on soldiers one almost feels that the shoehorned pseudo-arena is a disservice to the character development and staggering themes that Collins projects. Still the emotional core of Mockingjay builds masterfully on previous installments and offers a deeply satisfying conclusion despite a few overly familiar, somewhat irrelevant callbacks.