Absolutely spoiler-free review of Mockingjay

I have had Carly Simon’s “Mockingbird” stuck in my head for the past week and a half. Except instead of “bird” I keep hearing “jay”. Mock–ye-ah; ing–ye-ah; jay–ye-ah. It’s gotten kind of old. All the time I was reading Mockingjay I’ve had this song in my head, and ever since then. To my joy, I read the end of Mockingjay at the bookshop ages before I started reading the library copy for real, so it didn’t fall under no-spoilers September. This worked out nicely for me because the rest of the book is pretty intense, and I am not positive I wouldn’t have cracked under pressure and read the end in spite of my no-spoilers rule.

(No, I wouldn’t have. I didn’t with Jellicoe Road and I didn’t with Half a Crown.)

Right now I just decided that no-spoilers September means NO SPOILERS WHATSOEVER. No spoilers in my reviews either. Yeah, I can totally do it. Here is my spoiler-free summary of Mockingjay, which also contains no spoilers for the first two books. Following the events of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, Katniss and Peeta are both in difficult situations. Gale too. (Y’all, the background of my laptop just turned Mockingjay blue. Is this a sign that I’m doing right by avoiding spoilers?) After some further difficult situations, each more fraught with moral implications than the last, the characters who survive carry on in the world created by the way they acted.

(Is no-spoilers September as unreservedly awesome for you so far as it is for me?)

Many have been the complaints and mighty the displeasure at the bleak turn the Hunger Games trilogy takes as it approaches its end. But I thought the bleakness made sense. You can’t have a difficult situation of the Mockingjay sort (I am consistent like a piston with this no-spoilers month) (yes, “consistent like a piston” doesn’t make sense. But neither does “chilling like a villain”, and people still carry on saying that) without it working out poorly for a certain number of the characters. Or, to steal the words of Mssrs. Croup and Vandemar, you can’t make an omelet without killing a few people. Mockingjay takes a direction that is consistent with the first two books and, artistically speaking, inevitable.

Yes. Artistically speaking, inevitable. When I’m forced to avoid spoilers, I start to sound like a slightly douchy creative writing undergrad. True story about me: I’m better with spoilers.

(This review is mostly a joke about how lame my life is without spoilers. If you want to read proper and spoilery reviews, hit up the Book Blogs Search Engine, because everyone has been reading this book in the last couple of weeks, and they have had a lot of feelings about it.)

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

So in case you’ve been living in a hole and not hearing about The Hunger Games – it’s a grim, grim dystopian future, and every year the government makes each of the twelve districts send one boy and one girl (ages 12-18) to participate in the Hunger Games where they all get placed in a specially designed Perilous Terrain and fight to the death on live TV.  Katniss, our dauntless protagonist, volunteers to take her little sister’s place, and the other tribute turns out to be the baker’s son Peeta (I know, right?), who once saved Katniss and her family by giving them bread when they were starving.  And while they’re there, Peeta declares his love for her – this is great television – and she’s all, Oh it’s a ploy to get audience sympathy la la la while Peeta pines away and she tries to decide whether she likes Peeta best or whether she wants her sexy woodlands lover Gale.  Oh, and they also participate the Hunger Games where everyone tries to kill everyone else.  This takes up a lot of time.

Why is the kid’s name Peeta?  Seriously.  It’s fine for Katniss having a stupid name because everyone already loves her (and I’m sorry to report that Gale calls her Catnip), but since she is going to eventually have to choose between Peeta and Gale (I assume – I mean she could go all Pocahontas and end up marrying some random stranger, or she could do something really radical and not ever find a life-mate), I feel like having him named after a yeasty flatbread puts him at a disadvantage.

Ahem, but never mind all that.  The rumors are true!  The Hunger Games was pretty good.  It is more redemptive than the dreadfully depressing Life As We Knew It, and the supporting cast is less sickening than in How I Live Now, so hooray for dystopian YA novels that induce neither nightmares nor vomiting.  And includes a Juvenal reference that pleased me because I like that “bread and circuses” bit but annoyed because without a book-truth way to explain why the country is called that, it seemed gimmicky.  But that is my mostly only complaint (I mean, that and how clueless Katniss was, for heaven’s sake)!  I liked the Minotaury quality to the whole thing, and the extent to which it was exactly like reality TV is in the real world.

Other thoughts:

an adventure in reading
Bart’s Bookshelf
Farm Lane Books
Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?
The Reading Zone

Dear Author
bookshelves of doom
Devourer of Books
Unmainstream Mom Reads
Booking Mama
Wands and Worlds
books i done read
Au Courant
Thoughts of Joy
Books and Movies
Framed and Booked
Reading Rants
Diary of an Eccentric
Teen Book Review
Cheryl Rainfield
YA Book Realm
Becky’s Book Reviews
The Sleepy Reader
Wondrous Reads
Lesa’s Book Critiques
YA New York
Children’s Literature Book Club
YA Fabulous
arch thinking
Gimme More Books
The Book Muncher
Maw Books Blog
Bending Bookshelf
Presenting Lenore
Good Girls Read Books
The YA Book Blogger
My Friend Amy
The Compulsive Reader
About Books
At Home with Books
Bloggin’ ’bout Books
Liv’s Book Reviews
she treads softly
Look at That Book
Persnickety Snark
Fantasy Book Critic
reader rabbit

My fingers are tired – let me know if I missed yours.