Saturday, August 28, 2010


Book: Mockingjay
Author: Suzanne Collins
Like/Don't Like: I can't think of anything to adequately describe how I felt about it so I'll just do the injustice of saying yes, I liked it.

After several debriefings with a number of people via email, phone and in person, and several days distance to compose myself and gather my thoughts, I think I'm finally able to write about this book. Sort of. Oh, gee whiz, could I be more dramatic? But seriously, this book had a strange grasp on me that I was wholly unprepared for.

Before I start I should tell you that Camille just finished it and we spend 30 minutes breaking it down and she asked why I was so emotional about the ending. To explain here is something Hannah said during our discussion of the book that I completely agree with. She said that some people are just talented readers. That for some, reading is a God-given gift. So for example, I can play the piano, but I've never considered myself to be a talented pianist. There is a vast difference between the notes I play and the notes that a truly talented musician plays. They can take the skill of playing the piano and infuse it with all the emotion it deserves. I can't do that on the piano, but I can do that with a book. When I read I pour every single emotion into it. It comes without any thought and it's been that way since I was a kid. You should have seen me when Johnny died in The Outsiders. I was 10 and devastated. When a story is this good and the characters are this real I can't help but put everything into it. It can be exhausting. (It's a shame I can't make money off of loving books. There are times when I'll say I wish I had a talent for accounting or auto repair (you know, something marketable) but in all honesty I'm pretty stoked that I got reading.)

So yes, reading this book was a really powerful experience. On many levels. But I'm not going to go into all the reasons why. People who have read the first two books and are looking for some kind of hint as to how the book was, all I can tell you is that it wasn't easy. You already know that they're at war and Katniss has to fight and with war comes some gruesome stuff. But it wasn't the violence that got me. It was the human cruelty. And it was also the human frailty. Both meanness and kindness do me in.

I won't tell you all the thoughts I had on it but I will tell you that the writing is masterful. Suzanne Collins has a gift. She paces the story at a breakneck speed and she doesn't let superfluous description slow it down. She describes things in a way that with just a few short phrases you have a clear image in your head of the setting and mood. She does not waste words, which I consider to be one of the greatest talents a writer can have. And she had a very light touch with the themes. It could very easily have gone over board in any number of directions with the environment and war and equality. But she let the story do the talking without being preachy at all.

I can't say too much about the plot without giving things away but I will tell you that it was so much more than I expected. I was genuinely surprised at plot twists. And the ending was solid. When I finished I really had no idea what to say about it. People have asked if I loved it. And I wanted to say that I loved it but I say things like, "I love the Sound of Music," or, "I love chocolate ice cream." It was a little bit more complex than that. What I did love was the experience of it. It tore me up but in such a good way. Oy, again with the drama.


Camille said...

You make me sound heartless. People, I had emotion too!!! I had some tears rolling down. You were just uncontrollable. But I understand why now.

Chaka said...

I don't know a thing about Mockingjay. I thought it was a cruel Conan O Brian monologue when I first heard the name. I've heard a lot of people mention it but I have no idea what it is about. Is it a chick book?

Rach said...

You really do have a the gift of reading. And the gift of words. You put into words what I couldn't really explain when I finished reading Mockingjay and started blogging about it. I couldn't put into words why it was so compelling, but your point that she touched on serious themes with a light hand was so true. I get really tired of being beaten over the head about the environment and war, and what I felt with this book was a story about someone experiencing war. Not a "MESSAGE," just an experience. I was exhausted when I finished it, too. I read all three books in one week. And when I'm reading around my family I try not to get too emotional, which is almost as exhausting as bawling. Which I also did a few times.

Heath said...

Oh. My. Gosh. I don't even know what to say. Love it.