Monday, September 13, 2010

Review: Mockingjay

Suzanne Collins

Young Adult Fantasy

Hunger Games trilogy/Book 3

Scholastic Press/August 2010


*Spoilers for Books 1 & 2*

From the inside cover ~



Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to over throw the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans - except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay - no matter what the personal cost.

Mockingjay is not a book for the faint of heart. It's very graphic in it's description of the tortures and deaths. But war is bloody, it is gruesome. Do I think Mockingjay is too graphic? At times, yes. Is it any more graphic than The Hunger Games or Catching Fire? No. But it's graphic in a different, more disturbing way. In the first two books, the majority of violence - most is against children, is done for survival. In Mockingjay, the violence, again much done against children, is not always done for survival but for intimidation, demonstration of power, information and revenge. And sometimes simply - Because. They. Can.

Dark, bleak with little happiness or humor. I kept thinking we would get that euphoric moment, that sweet smell of victory but it never came. Everything kept getting darker and darker until you can't see any light at the end. It's been snuffed out.

Towards the end, the color seemed to leach out of the story. It's as if Katniss' weariness was showing to the point that routine had taken over, her fire was gone, extinguished. To come so far and have it all just fade away. The epilogue was like a fairy tale ending tacked on to a war story. The two didn't fit. There was no sense of victory for Katniss. She had lost so much, any victory she had seemed hollow. The epilogue was, I believe, there to give hope but it felt a little too shaped to fit a neat a tidy ending. All the strings tied in bows but those bows seemed to have the shine worn off them, drooping a little.

I enjoyed parts of Mockingjay, but compared to The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, the enjoyment was less. Do I think it fair to compare the three? Of course. They are all parts of the whole and while the writing was emotional and well done the impact of Mockingjay was easier to shake off than that of The Hunger Games and to a lesser extent, Catching Fire. There are scenes in Mockingjay that do stay with me. Violent scenes. Emotional scenes. But very few uplifting scenes. There were some interactions between Katniss and a few of the characters that had me smiling but they were fleeting and few.

Wow - it sounds like I didn't like it at all, which isn't true. I did like seeing the characters I had come to know and care about. I did like, and still do like, Collins' writing. She has a very evocative way of painting a scene, of giving voice to emotions. I liked learning more about the politics of the world Collins has created. I do think my enjoyment of the story would have been less had I not already come to care about these characters. The main problem, and why this wasn't an A read for me was the diminishing lack of hope. And the expectations I had for this final book of the trilogy - oh, boy, those reader expectation can really bite us in the ass can't they? I was hoping/expecting something more along the lines of the ending of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King or Star Wars. That feeling of triumph and hope. Big and out there for the world to see. Instead, Mockingjay was far more subdued and went out with a feeling of quiet solitude.

Rating: B

My Reviews ~
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire


  1. Wow, Leslie... great review. I'm going to begin reading these books soon and it looks as if this trilogy ends on a downer. I still want to get to know these characters, the whole worldbuilding sounds so interesting too.

  2. Hils ~ It's hard to say how I would have reacted had I not got caught up in the hoopla. Could have been different view if say, I had read them a few years from now.

    I do very much enjoy Collins' writing, world & characters. Her directions was just different than what I was expecting. Even with the lower grade on Mockingjay, I do think they are definitely worth the read.

  3. The epilogue was like a fairy tale ending tacked on to a war story.

    Oh nooooo! I don't like when that happens. I can appreciate that you still enjoyed the book, though, despite the disappointment in the overall tone of the story and the ending.

  4. Christine ~ hey, maybe you'll like the epilogue, you never know. It goes back to my expectations - just not what I was expecting.

  5. Great review, Leslie. I think everyone expects the final book of a trilogy/series to end on a high note and it seems that Mockingjay failed in that aspect. Did you read Rowena's review? What are your thoughts?

  6. Nath ~ I hunted down Rowena's review, she made some very valid points about the whole Gale/Katniss/Peeta triangle. Totally agree w/her about Gale.

  7. Nod nod. I actually read the ending of Mockingjay one day I was waiting for my sis. Yes, I know... LOL, I have a very serious spoiler syndrome... or reading the end disorder :P Personally, I felt like Katniss didn't deserve Peeta...

  8. Coming late to the party! I really thought that the book would have ended on a better note, without the epilogue. It would have been enough at any rate.

    I think that you are right about expectations though. I liked this one quite a bit, but not as much as the first book in particular. I think Katniss lost a lot of what made her so compelling in the earlier books!

    Will have to go and find Rowena's review now.

  9. Marg ~ maybe leaving the epilogue out would have been better. It didn't work for me.

    Katniss changed so much but not necessarily in a good way. I liked her far more in the the first two books.