Quarter After Eight is an annual literary journal devoted to the exploration of experimental writing in all its permutations. We celebrate work that directly challenges the conventions of language, style, voice, or idea in literary form. This blog is a place to engage in conversations about the work we publish, as well as the work that inspires us.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Review of Suzanne Collins's Mockingjay

A review by Claudia Auger:

            If you love experimental literature, you may be thinking about the literary fare available to the young adult readers in your life. And if you are eager to find some alternatives to vampire-angst, you might consider the recently-released third and final chapter of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games series, Mockingjay, which lives up to the success of its two predecessors. Picking up after her escape in Book 2 of the series, the adventures of the seventeen-year-old protagonist Katniss Everdeen will thrill both young adult and adult readers.
In a postnuclear world, the rulers of a region referred to as "the Capitol" have divided the remaining humans into twelve districts. The Capitol rules these districts by limiting and relegating communication and interaction between them. Every year, a boy and girl under seventeen are selected from each of the twelve districts to compete in a fight to the death. The districts and the Capitol view these bloody battles on television; last boy or girl standing is declared the victor. The "Hunger Games" event serves to subjugate the Twelve Districts and to make their inhabitants feel helpless.
            The storyline resumes in Mockingjay by once again centering on the two-time survivor of the "Hunger Games," Katniss Everdeen. Following the events of the preceding novels, Katniss must overcome the sadness resulting from her separation from her current lover, politically collaborate with a former lover, and decide whether she will participate in, and be a mascot for, the resistance movement against the Capitol and its district control.           
            The novel offers the reader both romantic intrigue and exhilarating battles. The only false note is the repeated trope of Katniss's absent mother. In most young adult fiction, a girl's mother's absence--either physical or emotional--spurs the journey from the familiarity of home to the outside world. Collins attempts to bring Katniss's mentally and emotionally distant mother back into the events of Mockingjay after her remoteness in both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. However, the suggestion that she has had any shaping effect on Katniss's strong personality arises far too late in the series.
            But this minor flaw is more than redeemed by the sensitive portrayal of the teenaged Katniss as an individual prone to fits of melancholia and feelings of helplessness in a hostile world. She experiences not only victory but extreme sadness, violence, and death. Instead of presenting these events in a hopeless light, Collins uses them to propel Katniss's growth into adulthood. And the author does not ignore the intense feelings of love, longing, and attraction so present in the lives of teenagers. Collins offers motifs her young readers can relate to, making this futuristic novel one of the most emotionally realistic and accessible fictions in the vampire-dominated world of young adult literature.  

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