teisipäev, 2. november 2010

Collins "Hunger Games" - "Mockingjay"

Tuul saatis mulle kunagi sellise arvustuse Mockingjay kohta, öeldes, et see läheb tema arvamusega kokku:
"First, I want to establish that I adored the first two books--I've read them multiple times and recommended them constantly at the bookstore where I work; I read them aloud to my husband, gave them to friends and relatives, and I've looked forward to Mockingjay's release for MONTHS! Once I got the book I didn't read it for several days--a little silly, but I realized I didn't want the story to end.
I should have kept to that instinct, because I have finished the book and now I just feel sick. I don't want to own it and I don't think I'll ever re-read it.
It wasn't even well-written! I don't say this off the cuff--it wouldn't be fair to criticize the book this way simply because I didn't like the ending--but it's true, and here's why:
**********SPOILER ALERT*********SPOILER ALERT***********SPOILER ALERT***********
It was predictable and contrived. Collins created lots of expendable characters (Hi there, Team 451!) and then spent most of the book killing them off. It reminded me of the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie, where characters whose names you don't know are being killed left and right so you know this is SERIOUS without having to lose a major character--it's a cheap trick, and I expected better of Collins. And cheating like this doesn't actually work; it was so unlikely that she was going to kill off Katniss, Gale or Peeta in the middle of the book that it didn't really create the suspense she was going for. Prim's death (and Finnick's) could have been used much more thoughtfully; instead we had a blitzkrieg of constant attrition to remind us that THIS IS WAR. It wasn't evocative--it just made me feel numb.
This endless dying is interspersed with even-more-endless strategy and technical details. I repeatedly found myself skimming, which never happened with the previous two books. But these passages were so boring(!), and I kept hoping to find that Katniss had figured out a purpose or an orientation or had reached out to Peeta or even just accurately assessed something--but no luck.
Which brings me to character development, relationships, and philosophical reflections on values and motivations. They were vital in the previous two books, but they are nearly nonexistent here, and the book is fatally flawed because of it. Peeta is barely present, and if you discount the time that Katniss spends crying in corners, injured and in the hospital, taking morphling, or being manipulated or controlled by others and wandering around confused, she isn't really present either. And Gale is unfairly characterized in order to resolve the love triangle--it's baffling, because Katniss of all people isn't in a moral position to judge Gale, and I thought that was part of the point.
Ultimately, the story is hijacked--hey, that's a good metaphor!--by anti-war propaganda and a damn-near nihilistic outlook. I understand that Collins wanted to communicate that war and violence aren't glamorous. I think she's right. But (ironically) she's done real violence to her characters and the merit in the world she created in order to bludgeon us with that value.
In a way, you could call this book "more realistic". And yet--I think a book that accurately reflects the gritty horrors of war would show how people use dark humor as a coping mechanism. This book had none of the wry humor of the previous two.
And for pity's sake, what was Collins trying to achieve with the ending? I agree with those who say that Katniss agreed to a renewed Hunger Games featuring the children of Capitol citizens in order to get the opportunity to stop Coin--it's the only thing that makes sense, given what Collins is clearly trying to convey, and it fits best with the character of Katniss. But it's not made explicit in the text. Leaving this up to conjecture was a major error on Collins' part, or very bad editing. It's not wise to be subtle in the philosophical part of the book that is meant to put the heavy-handed part into some kind of context.
And the last four pages, where we finally learn: Peeta or Gale? An afterthought. I think what is worst is that by making this choice, Collins makes the war the only important part, the only real part of Katniss's life--all the rest calls for is a brief summary. Almost all injury, very little road to recovery (those "real or not real" conversations were one of the few highlights of the book). It's baffling to me that this tacked-on ending is still fairy-tale-esque (that is, Katniss did settle down with her True Love and have children). But why bother giving her this semblance of a fairy-tale ending when it's so clear that she's DEAD INSIDE? It could have been insightfully ironic--though that's a little sick--but it's not. It's just empty. Apparently, once you've been in a war, nothing--not even consummation of true love or the birth of your children--can bring you joy ever again.
I think the vital counterpart to accurately portraying the horror and corruption of war is the possibility of redemption, of pursuing redemption. And Collins set this up but didn't follow through. Both personally and politically, through all of 'Mockingjay' Katniss is reduced to this calculating, empty creature. Her reflections on putting those she loves before herself (as she does with Prim in the first book, and Peeta in the second)--her major arc as a dynamic character? Utterly gone here. She makes, what, TWO efforts to reach out to Peeta? Three? She realizes she should be doing better but makes barely any effort to do so. I suppose it could be argued that the war left her no time--though her repeated willingness to kill Peeta to save her own skin blights that rather--but afterwards? There's no mention of her interest in making it up to him. Even when she later has leisure as a wife and parent, post-war, to reflect on these things, she doesn't. Politically, too, she never finds a motivation--such as "a world where Peeta's child can be safe"--to sustain her. Her own survival (as Gale bitterly notes) seems to be her top priority--though hell, she's not even sure she wants that; she seems a lot more concerned that her death be a quick one. Great. Katniss is Everyman--a broken, broken Everyman. For pity's sake, I'm tired of the GROWNUP literature that shows us the depth to which the human spirit can sink--I don't need it here! The main perk of young adult literature is that you can have both good writing AND a hero who can inspire you by example to rise above and triumph. To my mind, the purpose of good YA lit is to explore dark topics in a meaningful, well-written way that doesn't leave you in a bog of existential misery. If this is the brave new world into which young adult literature is heading, let me say now that I want no part of it. I can re-read '1984' and 'The Road'--or pick up 'They Shoot Horses, Don't They?'--anytime I want. In fact, the former are fine examples of how a book can be serious, gritty, and disturbing, and still satisfying. But if you're going to make someone sit through this near-nihilism, essentially conveying that neither individuals or humanity as a whole can never really change, they deserve capital-L Literature for their trouble.
I just wish I could go back and warn myself not to read this. I've never been interested in fanfiction but I think I'm almost willing to look some up, if only to get the taste of this out of my mouth."
Kes on raamatut lugenud - kas nõustute või mitte?
Nõustudes küll osaliselt väljatoodud kriitikaga, ei olnud ma raamatus kaugeltki mitte pettunud, minu meelest oli raamat põnev ja mõjuv. Ja õigesti kirjutas ka üks teine kriitik, kelle arvamust lugesin - mitmed raamatu puudujäägid saab kenasti kirjutada selle arvele, et lugu esitati meile Katnissi vaatepunktist. Kui teda ei huvitanud, mis Capitoli poliitikast edasi saab, siis me ei saanudki sellest teada. Kui tema jaoks oli Prim selline inglilaadne eriliste iseloomujoonteta olevus, siis ei saanud ka meie tema karakterit tundma.

3 kommentaari:

  1. Minu poolt kah siis SPOILER ALERT!
    Mulle see arvustus täitsa meeldib, välja arvatud Pihla väljatoodud point, et põnev lugeda oli ikka - ja ma ei kaalunud kordagi mõtet, et jätaks lugemata.
    Aga selles suhtes oli raamat pettumus, et tegelaste karakterid kadusid kuidagi ära, ja lõpp mulle ka ei meeldinud - kuidagi möödaminnes ja kiiresti juhtus see, ja Gale'ist oleks oodanud, et ta vähemalt üritaks korragi Katnissiga kontakti võtta. Ja Finnicki tapmine tundus mulle mõttetu, sellega ei andnud autor mingit täiendavat pointi edasi ja ta oli siiski piisavalt keskseks tegelaseks saanud juba raamatus, et see häiriks. Samas Primi surmal oli täitsa mõte olemas.

  2. Kas keegi on lugenud Näljamängude paroodiat "The Hunger Pains: A Parody" (Harvard Lampoon) või "The Hunger But Mainly Death Games: A Parody" (Bratniss Everclean) või üldse mõne muu populaarse raamatu paroodiat (nt Nightlight, Bored of the Rings)?

  3. Mina olen kunagi lugenud "Bored of the Rings" eestikeelset versiooni "Sõrmuste lisand". Kahjuks eriti midagi meeles ei ole, ju siis polnud kuigi muljetavaldav teos.