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Mockingjay – Part 1

March 25, 2014

mockingjayI’m going to start from a fairly unpopular position.  I don’t love this book so far.  I’m 134 pages in and… I’ve been stuck there for a couple of weeks.  That’s part of why I decided to do a read-a-long here, because then I have to finish.  Let me go on to say that I know the big bad terrible thing that happens.  And yes, that is almost definitely coloring my perception of the earlier chapters.  I won’t spoil what that thing is yet, just in case there is someone reading this that’s only as far along as I am.  (I’m not sure why there would be, but better safe than sorry.)
Overall, I still don’t much like Katniss and so it’s hard to find passion for her story.  I like the side characters that I’m given, but they usually die, so it’s hard to let that fondness carry me through very far.  We’re getting lots more of Gale, but I don’t much like him either.  The little we’ve seen of him in books 1 and 2 didn’t leave a very favorable impression on me.  But I’ve never been a huge fan of angry young men.  I’m more of a fan of the shy geeks.  The angry boys always seem to lash out at people who don’t deserve it (see Gale’s interaction with Madge in the first book).
I read Part 1 a few weeks ago, so it isn’t crystal clear in my mind anymore.  I’m not going to try to do a chapter by chapter breakdown, just discuss some things that stood out to me.
finnickFinnick seems excessively broken.  Yes, he got the hell shocked out of him and yes, he’s worried about Annie, but I’m not sure that any of that makes sense with the level of impairment we’re shown.  At first he sleeps all the time, but later, when he’s actually up moving around he seems actively crazy.  I don’t really get that.  Are we assuming that the electricity did that?  Or that he finally just broke under too much strain?
I’m excessively pleased that Katniss finds the cat still alive in District 12.  I’m pretty sure if something happens to the cat, that will be my breaking point.  I will throw the book across the room.  I’ve done it before.  Bad things happening to animals is not ok.  I can get over it if it’s really important for the plot or character development (Dan Wells and Tamora Pierce, I’m looking at you!).  But if it’s just another thing to pile onto a character – nope, nope, nope.  So, Buttercup better die a happy kitty of old age.

I don’t trust anyone in this book except Prim.  And maybe Peeta.  Peeta’s actions, seemingly on behalf of the Capitol make sense; he’s still trying to save Katniss, just like she’s still trying to save him.  But Gale, Coin, anyone else in District 13?  I don’t trust them at all.  Gale has a cause.  That’s dangerous.  Causes let you overlook people.
prepNothing about District 13 seems good, or healthy.  They torture Katniss’s prep team, essentially for being different.  How do they expect kidnap victims to automatically learn all the rules and understand how to abide by them?  I don’t really think that they do.  I think that the torment the prep team underwent was a type of revenge on the Capitol.  Which also bothers me, because District 13 hasn’t really lived under the yoke of the Capitol all this time.  They’ve been in hiding.  I’m also deeply uncomfortable with a society where your schedule is tattooed on your arm every day and the consequences of deviating from that schedule are harsh.
I’d rather take my chances in the District 12 of the first book, thanks.
And yes, it’s easy for me to say that.  I’ve never been on the brink of starvation.  I’ve always had enough to eat.  It wasn’t always very good food and it certainly wasn’t always healthy, but it was always there.  It’s easy for me to say I’d take hunger over despotism, but I suspect that I would be in with the prep team before too long under Coin’s government.  I don’t see Coin as much better than President Snow at the moment.  They both want to use Katniss or destroy her.

And let’s talk about Katniss… She has a great moment when they’re at the hospital in District 8, but for most of time she’s still emotionally flat.  Some of that could be due to shock, I suppose, except that it’s been true for all three books.  I don’t know if she’s intentionally blank so she can serve as a cipher for the reader, or if she’s just not very well written, but I still can’t connect with her.

Things are about to get very dramatic in Part 2 and I’ll try to go back to the format of reviewing individual chapters as I read them.  What were your thoughts on the early portions of Mockingjay?  Did you love it?  Am I missing something?  Let me know in the comments.

 

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