07 September 2010

Review: Mockingjay By: Suzanne Collins

Title: Mockingjay (Hunger Games, #3)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
From: Purchased from Amazon

Synopsis: Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12.

Review: 4 Stars - Warning! This review is written differently then all my other reviews. It does contain spoilers throughout, but you will get a warning once spoilers will begin.

The third and final book in the Hunger Games trilogy – Mockingjay has been one of the most anticipated books of fans of this much loved series. The first two books – The Hunger Games and Catching Fire - told a story rich in characters we all fell in love with and rooted for from beginning to end. With the release of Mockingjay readers were more then excited to find out the conclusion to this epic tale.

Giving Mockingjay the 4 stars that I did was in fact a hard choice to make. Writing this review is tough. I thought giving myself a few days or longer might clear away the questions I had to make writing this easier, which needless to say didn’t work out as planned. I usually don’t write a review with spoilers, nor do I write reviews where I talk things out at such length, but it needed to be done and this time there’s just no way around it. So, please know that from this point on I will be addressing key points that will give things away – so be warned there will be SOME spoilers laced throughout!

****Spoiler Alert****

First, I have to say that I read half of this book with my breath held and the other half with a kind of, the only way I can explain it was that I was lost. The characters felt so different from where we left them in Catching Fire that at times it was hard to recognize them from the previous two books.

Katniss didn’t seem like her normal fighting self. And I often wondered if that was because she questioned Coin and if she even wondered if things would be different with Coin as president. In the beginning of the book when they are trying to talk Katniss into being the Mockingjay there was a conversation with Coin that made me believe she felt she not only didn’t have much of a choice in the matter but that she questioned just what Coin’s true motives are behind everything. Is this why Katniss wasn’t her normal fighting self? Was she just tired of running a race in a never ending up hill battle where she then believed no matter what she did the way of the world would never change? Or did she believe there was nothing she, just one teenage girl could really do to make positive changes in the world of Panem? Or was it the fact that she was pretty much injured throughout the whole book?

The lack of Peeta was also hard and what little interaction these two had I enjoyed more so then I did with her and Gale. I found Gale to be more then lost within Mockingjay, and found how easily he went from the hunter, gather and provider to uncaring and cold soldier a bit too easily. I mean everything with the mountain and his answer to how to take it down was more then callous and shocking to say the least. However the flip side is, Panem is a rough place to live and was Gale finally pushed over the edge too? Still, either way you look at this, it just didn’t feel like “Gale” to me. Sad but true.

The ending was shocking. I felt it was rushed by many pages and left more holes in it then Swiss cheese. I mean, Gale is a HUGE character and to leave his story so open ended was wrong and extremely harsh. There was no closure with Gale – he’s there one page and gone the next. I felt that Katniss’s mother was selfish on so many levels. I understand all that her mother has gone through from before the beginning of book one, however Katniss has suffered through SO much for her whole family and all the people within Panem and her mother can’t take a trip back to their home to make sure if her now only daughter is alright? That just didn’t sit well with me and actually made me frustrated. I mean common! Look at all Katniss did and all she survived for the love of her family! And yes, I know Peeta and Haymitch had more of a hand in keeping Katniss alive then I’m giving credit here, however I’m really talking about how her relationship with her mother was within those last few pages of this book.

These were the main aspects of the book that I didn’t agree with or understand. However, I did give Mockingjay 4 stars and now that I worked through all the negativity and got that out of the way, I believe that in all reviews, the ending should focus on the good and that’s just what I plan to do here.

Peeta being tortured was a given, this wasn’t a good thing, but… let me explain - anyone who reads Mockingjay will know its coming. However the degree to which this is done is not only epic but fit with the one character that I felt never changed – and that was Snow.

Everything that was shocking to me in this whole series is what I found as part of the best of the best. Peeta being tortured and just how he was tortured was not only a key part in his story as mentioned above, it was so true to Snow that anything less then this just would have been far off course for this ruthless character. The struggles in Peeta because of just how he was tortured, and then within his relationship with Katniss - it opened up and showed a different side to the two. I might not have liked what I saw, but if you think back to their relationship throughout the whole trilogy this was just another uphill battle they are forced to climb to figure out what their relationship meant to each other.

The story did give me many conclusions and endings to main and subplots. Where there might have been some holes, however there were answers and endings – both good and bad. The good surpassed the bad. The wedding between Finnick and Annie gave hope to everyone that was much needed throughout all of Panem. The little bits of strength that Katniss gains from Finnick were nuggets of gold within the pages of Mockingjay. Finnick, while suffering alone was able to rise above everything to be there for Katniss when she needed to be pulled up and out of the haze I often found her in.

Collins writing was there shining through again in Mockingjay, and while I didn’t agree with many parts of this conclusion, sometimes a clear happy ending just isn’t in the cards and that alone is sometimes need and often is refreshing in books. In each of the three titles there had to be bad to get through to the good and it’s the same with Mockingjay.

I recently read something about how people are upset with the Epilogue and I can see where some would feel it was forced and some might find it a cop out. Yet I’ve read it a couple of times and I go back and forth on this one. Today I see how wonderful it is. For me, it shows that all Katniss struggled for wasn’t lost. That in the end she won. Peeta won and that in the end they both found just want they needed in the world and each other. That nothing is perfect and everything isn’t easy and sometimes you have to struggle to get to the good in life.

All in all, Collins has written another book that many will be thinking and talking about for a long time to come. With the end of any much beloved trilogy or series there’s always a chance people will be upset because of how things ended and without a doubt there might be people not pleased by various things in this book. There might be things I didn’t agree with, nor understand; however, in the end, I do have to say that the good outweighed the bad. I’ll be suggesting these books for a long time to come to other fellow readers and I’ll look forward to rereading each of these books numerous times. I’m more then looking forward to seeing just what Collins writes next. Enjoy.

FTC Disclaimer: I DID pay for this book and have NOT been compensated at all in any way or means for reading this book and or writing this HONEST review.

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  1. I agree with most of your review. I had some major disappointments with this book that I didn't have with the previous two. Like you, I thought the good outweighed the bad. But wow...what a stark contrast. Great review.

  2. The thing with Katniss and her mother bothered me too. But the relationship between them wasn't that strong or emphasized in previous books, so I was able to let that slide a bit.

  3. You have some very valid points in your review.
    I have to agree with your assessment of the book feeling a little bit rushed. There was a ton of story to be tackled in a limited number of pages.
    As far as Katniss not being herself--it seems to me like what Collins was going for was some form of shell shock or ptsd.
    Katniss obviously assumed a great deal of responsibility for the destruction of district 12. A lot of people died simply because she was from there. Snow wanted to punish her.
    As for Gale not being himself, do you think it's possible that what Collins was trying to illustrate was the fact that war changes people? That once our backs are to the wall, our true colors come out, so to speak? That even the kindest, gentlest of people can become extremely cold and hard when exposed to war?
    Just some food for thought.

  4. GREAT review! You did an awesome job of explaining what you liked and what you didn't. I pretty much agree with this completely, though I gave it a 3 instead of a 4. LOVE Suzanne Collins, but I wish that Mockingjay would have been a little more satisfying.

  5. I'm still waiting on my review - trying to digest but I agree that there were many things disappointing in this one. Gale especially didn't track for me. And the ending...well, I'll get my thoughts together and hopefully put together a decent review - Yours is great! Thanks!

    Teens Read and Write

  6. I know Collins' writing. I read the Gregor books, and was on the Hunger games forum before it came out, and I know for a fact that this author is brilliant, and she seems to love messing with people's hearts.

  7. AMAZING review, you really did catch the good and bad points of Mockingjay :) I still have to say, it was like really good. Just not AS good as the previous two. It did have a certain...difference to it, compared to the previous books.

  8. I fell in love with the first book, was a little disappointed by the second and now I'm head over heels for the last one. Mockingjay is a jewell that just make me want to read another book written by Suzanne Collins.
    All in all, it's a thoughtfull reading that can satisfy teenagers and adults for different reasons.

  9. I'm way, way late to this, but having lived with 2 people with PTSD, I have to say that Katniss, Johanna, and Finnick were written properly. I think the person above has it right with Gale... his true colors came out. He was basically smoke to Katniss' fire... he always smells like smoke. And ultimately fire and fire don't get alone... opposites attract, and that was Peeta. Katniss doesn't want to be fire... and she doesn't like that side of Gale. So it's Peeta for her. And her mother was just too damaged to want to be hear Katniss. Prim was what brought them together and Prim is gone, so she leaves. The ending just didn't bother me... I felt like it was appropriate.

  10. I'm way, way late to this, but having lived with 2 people with PTSD, I have to say that Katniss, Johanna, and Finnick were written properly. I think the person above has it right with Gale... his true colors came out. He was basically smoke to Katniss' fire... he always smells like smoke. And ultimately fire and fire don't get alone... opposites attract, and that was Peeta. Katniss doesn't want to be fire... and she doesn't like that side of Gale. So it's Peeta for her. And her mother was just too damaged to want to be hear Katniss. Prim was what brought them together and Prim is gone, so she leaves. The ending just didn't bother me... I felt like it was appropriate.


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