Thursday, May 19, 2011

Three Mockingjays of Deceit

I usually save my book reviews for the toolbar on the right side of the blog. But I think these reviews deserve a place on the blog because of their general interest factor.


Lots of my friends have read Mockingjay and long before I did, so I thought I would add my voice. Hopefully not really any spoilers here. I enjoyed this book plenty. Collins writes some great action scenes and keeps the book moving. One of the things she is absolutely great at is ending chapters in a way that keeps one reading. Her characters also have a surprising amount of depth, especially for an action book. Katniss (a name I never liked, one of the few reasons I was glad this book was in the first person) and Haymitch (a slightly better name) were certainly the best, although other characters had their moments. I was especially pleased that Katniss had to continually confront the deaths that she caused.

Collins always was good at keeping the reader guessing who was on the good side. Rebels against the bad guys are almost always good, but there is plenty of question in this book. Gale's Bush-like willingness to justify his actions based on the actions of others was an especially meaningful dilemma. I think she also did

I didn't really like the authors need to shock the reader by writing so gruesomely in what otherwise is a book for children. I understand the need to emphasize the cruelty of the capitol, but there are less graphic ways of doing that.

The first person present tense was constantly distracting and added nothing to the book. Third-person past tense is good enough for 99% of the great books in history, it's good enough for you Suzanne.

The ending, like for many others, leaved me with mixed feelings, but that was kind of the idea I suppose. I wasn't really upset by how the relationship issues were resolved, because I never got involved in the relationship from the beginning. That's it.

Three Cups of Deceit

Investigative journalism certainly has its place. But I can't help wishing this book it had been more objective. I think that if your going to try to show all the crappy stuff someone like Mortenson has done, you should spend a good amount of time talking about the good he's done. Krakauer definitely wants us to see things his way and doesn't try to hide it. There's no, okay here's all the people he's helped and here's all the people he scammed, now you make the decision if he's a bad guy or not. The book is short, so maybe that justifies only telling one side some, but not enough. I want to see someone report the facts a lot better, a lot fairer, then I'll make up my mind what to think.

I think you can always make a lot of money taking down people's heroes, but does it really leave the world a better place? All NGO's exaggerate their success, most charities give way too much money to the people running them, all corporations have mythical founding stories. I'm not donating any money to the guy, for sure. I don't donate money to any charity that can't convince me it is transparent and accountable. But I'm not willing to sign off on him as a terrible guy just yet.  When I get a more balanced look at the story, I'll make up my mind.


  1. I agree that Krakauer was pretty one-sided, but I don't think it was his point to treat the issue equally. I assumed he was letting Three Cups of Tea be one side, and this book is the other side.

    Also, I don't think we should allow non-profits to be sloppy or slightly dishonest as long as they do some kind of good, somewhere. That's not fair to a lot of organizations that work hard to follow the rules.

    Really, I'm not trying to disagree with you. I'm just offering up some points for discussion because I know you can take it. :)

  2. You should hire me as your blogging editor.