Mockingjay is not a video game.

On twitter and blogs – a lot of people have finished Mockingjay and loved it. But I’m getting the impression that it’s not a happy ending and parts might be disturbing. 

I don’t remember the issue of violence coming up after Hunger Games or Catching Fire came out. Not like this.

Nathan Bransford blogged about violence in children’s lit last week. Go read some of the comments. They were great. I particularly liked the comment pointing out that even though Mockingjay has violence, Suzanne Collins is clearly against war. And I think that makes the difference. War and violence is not glorified. This book is not a video game.

Suzie Townsend also blogged about it.

For me, violence and sex in children’s lit. is not really about the violence and sex. It’s about execution. And the context. It’s about the emotional impact behind the acts. It’s about the characters and how they deal with it.

Considering  The Hunger Games Trilogy is based during war, the violence is necessary. It is not trivialized or thrown in to be gimmicky. And the characters deal with the emotional consequences.

Some books without the actual violence but a main character filled with anger  and unhealthy responses can be more harmful/upsetting.

Some books without sex but a main character obsessed with love to the exclusion of friends and family is more unhealthy.

What do you think?

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17 Responses to Mockingjay is not a video game.

  1. Stina Lindenblatt August 30, 2010 at 2:06 pm #

    Boy, I can’t wait to finally read the book. Just another two weeks until it comes (I preordered it with a book that doesn’t come out until next week). Fortunately I’ll be finished my rewrites by then so I can give my ms space while I read Mockingjay. 😀

  2. Jennifer Hoffine August 30, 2010 at 2:25 pm #

    I’ve finished Mockingjay now, and there is more large-scale violence in the third one, which might be what’s bringing on all the commentary.

    At the same time, it is in no way glorifying war and violence. Quite the opposite. This third part of the series steps beyond the clear boundaries of good guy vs. bad guy (the Districts vs. the Capital)and exposes the shades of gray that always muddy the picture of war and revolution. She also deals with the emotional aftermath of war on the survivors. Those are things your typical action/adventure rarely touches.

    • Laura August 30, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

      Stina – I’m halfway through now. I’m just reading it at night and revising during the day.

      Jennifer – Halfway through, I can see what you mean. And I agree, these issues are rarely touched in YA. And for a reason, most kids haven’t gone through it yet. But I think they are old enough to read it and see the harsh realities of war. For I’m sure some of them have family in one of the services.

  3. Patti Nielson August 30, 2010 at 4:24 pm #

    I think as long as the violence and sex is not gratituous. I think lots of times authors through the sex without it really meaning anything or having any consequences. Still trying to avoid spoilers. Tomorrow is the day I read it.

  4. patti August 30, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

    From what I hear, it may not be my type of read, especially when I’m staring at two deadlines…

    Thanks for the discussion, Laura.

    • Laura August 30, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

      Patti N. – I’m still trying to avoid spoilers too. Bloggers have been very good about so far!

      Patti L. – Probably not Patti. It’s def. not for everyone.

  5. Kelly Polark August 30, 2010 at 6:45 pm #

    I have to read Mockingjay!!!
    The trilogy definitely does not glorify violence. The reader is sickened at what the contestants have to go through.
    Harry Potter is violent too, but that is not what the heart of the book is about.

  6. Sherrie Petersen August 30, 2010 at 8:35 pm #

    I think the violence is definitely within context, but I felt emotionally exhausted when I was done and my shoulders were so tense it felt like they’d had a physical workout! The way she showed how good and bad aren’t always clearly defined was brilliant. No, it’s not a book for everyone, but what an amazing piece of writing.

    • Laura August 31, 2010 at 12:00 am #

      Kelly – I’m only reading it because my daughter was first on the list for it. So I quickly read Catching Fire, so I could read MJay, because I know once we return it, it won’t be back on the shelves for a while!

      Sherrie – Yes, emotionally, I’m exhausted. It’s brilliant writing; but honestly, it’s not a series I’ll probably read twice.

  7. Jody Hedlund August 31, 2010 at 11:32 am #

    I haven’t read Mockingjay, but I can just say this, that all the buzz about it and everyone tweeting and blogging about it is making me want to read it! Not sure if it’s just our little corner of cyberland that has so much buzz or if it’s everywhere. But it’s definitely showing me the power of social media in promotion! 🙂

  8. Jen August 31, 2010 at 11:51 am #

    I haven’t read Mockingjay so I’m unable to post about the violence that was shown in it. That being said I think it’s important to know the fine lines you are crossing as an author, and teaching those who read a valuable lesson that it’s not the answer.

    People want action, love, romance, fighting, everything they can imagine in their heads thanks to all the television we see now a days, if we want our children to read a lot of times authors think the violence and sex is the route to go. I can say I have read a few that don’t have any sort of violence and sex in their novels and they actually were my favorites.

    Guess as long as you’re a great writer no one will mind!

  9. Jemi Fraser August 31, 2010 at 12:20 pm #

    Totally agree. For me it’s always about the characters and their emotions and reactions. The way they act & react is more powerful than what happens to them & around them. Kids respond to the characters and their emotions too.

    Thanks for the no-spoilers – I haven’t got a copy of Mockingjay yet!

    • Laura August 31, 2010 at 12:31 pm #

      Jemi – The only reason i have a copy is b/c my daughter has ins with the librarian. We go there. A lot.

  10. Laura Pauling August 31, 2010 at 12:28 pm #

    Jody – Sometimes the buzz is just in our corner of the writing world. But I think with Mockingjay it’s country wide.

    Jen – It’s always a fine line. And it really comes down to story and the writing and the execution, not whether there is sex or violence.

  11. Karen Lange August 31, 2010 at 12:52 pm #

    Hmm, need to give this some thought. As for Mockingjay, have heard a lot about it but have yet to check it out. Thanks for sharing!
    Have a great week,

  12. Karen Strong August 31, 2010 at 6:25 pm #

    I finished Mockingjay (don’t worry no spoilers) and I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it.

    For me, it left me drained and a little depressed, which I guess was Collins way of showing the true effects on both adults and children.

    You’re right, I think the violence was necessary because it was a novel about war and this book explored the direct contact with war and its affects.

    But it was excellent writing. Emotionally draining for me though.

  13. Erin September 1, 2010 at 2:28 am #

    Hi Laura! This is really interesting. I’ve never really considered that authors of middle-grade novels have to be so careful with thematic elements. I think your point about sex and violence is really good…sometimes you can write about those things without even meaning to.

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