Tuesday 5 August 2014

Book Review - Mockingjay

Author: Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games #3
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian | Young Adult
Release Date: 25th August 2010
Publishers: Scholastic
No. Pages: 458
Source: Borrowed
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
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 overthrow 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.

The following review may contain spoilers concerning earlier books in the series.
If you have not read the previous installments, please proceed with caution.

Throughout my journey with The Hunger Games series I've been different to the status quo; I didn't particularly enjoy The Hunger Games, it was good, but not great, Catching Fire was an improvement, but also struggled to gain a higher rating than it's previous installment, so I think it's fair to say that my opinions on Mockingjay could either have followed suit and joined most of the fans who thought it was a terrible final installment, or I could have loved it, and while I admit, it's far from a fantastic ending and I most definitely had my issues, Mockingjay did what it's previous counterparts didn't - it allowed me to connect to Katniss, enjoy the battle, the fight, the war, for all it was worth, and actually feel something other than annoyance. Kudos to Collins.

So what was it that made this installment better than The Hunger Games and Catching Fire for me? Well, I'm sorry to say this, and trust me, I don't say this light-heartedly, but the absence of Peeta, the actual coming together of a network of people fighting for the same result and much less opportunities for Katniss to detest people she doesn't even know or understand made this book a much more enjoyable read. Poor Peeta, I've been through the wars with him; The Hunger Games I found him weak and gullible, Catching Fire he became a sensible and realistic love interest and I actually found him ever so slightly desirable, but in Mockingjay, he either wasn't there, annoyed me beyond recognition or was so secondary he may as well have been killed off. (I actually went into this book thinking that either Peeta or Gale would die, so I was secretly hoping it would Peeta, sorry..) For a character whom I'd really connected with and enjoyed reading about in the first two installments, his nosedive and then absence made Mockingjay go down much easier. The appearance of Gale more was a thumbs up from me because I'd personally chosen Gale and thought he was the much better, more realistic, more reliable and generally the more understanding partner and love interest for Katniss, (damn you Collins, I swear down) so his presence was not only enjoyable, but also calming and added an extra level to Mockingjay that other installments didn't cover. For a love triangle that played such a huge factor in the plot of this series, a third of it was missing in action in one installment or another which was one of the minor details that ended up knocking this rating down.

Plot and pacing wise, Mockingjay was a mixed bag. Collins took a risk I think in writing a novel with absolutely nothing involving the games featured inside of it, which was essentially, what made this series such a best seller; it was a unique feature and really gave a nod to the dystopian feel, but I personally, and surprisingly, enjoyed that absence. I appreciated seeing the angles of the imposing war from Katniss perspective rather than other peoples, it was great to see her getting involved, fighting for the cause she accidentally created and becoming the Mockingjay, the face that encouraged people to go on, no matter the hardships of war and it was in these moments that I started to connect and relate to her. After everything she's been through with both the Games, the amount of times she's almost lost her life to save those she cares about most, she still threw herself head first into the battle because she understood that it was her actions that caused those consequences and she almost, in a way, finally matured, taking that responsibility, while also allowing herself to be treated like the child, the teenager she still in fact was. I think the development of Katniss in my eyes and throughout the series, especially in Mockingjay, was a break through and the fact that I actually found myself a little teary after the children/parachute bombs scene in Capital had uncovered it's consequences really shows how far Katniss and I had come from The Hunger Games. However, no matter how much I connected, empathised or came to care and worry for her, she still later showed the part of her I disliked, the part that dismissed everything, the bigger picture, and if you don't mind me saying, THE ENTIRE PLOT OF THE SERIES out of revenge for one big, and quite frankly, unexpected death. I don't think I'd ever been more angry at her than in that moment and while she didn't undo all of that hard Mockingjay work, her decision did also, affect my rating.

Of course, when Katniss was being her old and frustrating self, when Peeta made it District 13 and when temperaments were tested, Mockingjay did change from a gallop to quite a slow paced trot, working around the love triangle angle to keep Peeta as a love interest, to confuse and distress Katniss, (like she needs any encouragement, she's always distressed for some reason or another) and to just, what, build up the tension, it didn't work for me. What had wowed me so easily within the first half of Mockingjay was slowly being ejected from the novel at what was quite possibly going to become a 4.5 star read began to descend. There were moments when the pacing was so slow I considering putting it down for the night and continuing it the next day, but in order to battle my struggles with reading, I ploughed on, and I'm actually thankful I did. Even with those slow moments throughout, Mockingjay kept the action up, the tension going, the questions being asked and kept me eager to turn the pages and see how Collins was ending this series. Of course, being an finale, characters (and some of my favourite may I add) died and while some of these were sad to read about, I do believe they were vital and an important part of the plot. In a battle this vicious, this large and this overwhelming, it was clear from page one of The Hunger Games that some character wouldn't survive and I could spend hours being angry at Collins choices, but the end result was still as well executed as I could have predicted.

The last few chapters leading up to the Epilogue were a little confusing in areas, (actually, very confusing, I genuinely didn't have a clue what was happening during around a third of them, oops..) Katniss did disappoint me once again as we came closer to the end, and the Epilogue was as cheesy, predictable and really disappointing as I'd expected it was going to be, but overall, Mockingjay, I personally feel, was the strongest of the installments, building stronger connections between the characters, covering the aspect of family, whether that be adoptive or genetic and the relationships people form and create during the most difficult and dangerous of times. It highlighted that there is a lightness in the darkest of places, how saving so many other lives won't always guarantee the safety of your own, how you can lose those you fought to keep save and close to you by fighting for them and how throughout it all, you can never have a society that is fair; there will always be people with a larger amount of power than you, there will always be people willing to make bad decisions for a good life, and there will always be causalities, no matter what type of war you're fighting. The Hunger Games may not have blown my mind, but it was, in the end, worth sticking around for and I'm glad I gave this series a read.


  1. I'm really glad you enjoyed this one, Amanda! And great review as always. :) This one was actually my least favourite of the trilogy.

    1. I'd heard it was some peoples last favourite, so I'm pleasantly surprised I liked it how I did :)

  2. Interesting how you liked this one more than the others :) I too am a Team Gale person...although that makes me sound like a Twilight fan. Damn. Peeta was just really boring to me for some reason. I didn't like this book as much as the other two, and ESPECIALLY where Katniss has that petty little "revenge-seeking" argument at the end to have the Games continued...like, what even. I think it'll make a good movie, although I'm not sure how they're going to make two out of it...will be interesting :)

    1. I completely agree Emily, that was what annoyed me so much. It was like she'd gone through the Games for absolutely nothing when she said that, it was the last three books had been for nothing at all. I'm not sure how they're going to split this book either. I have a feeling it could be when they figure what's happened to Peeta and his reaction to to Katniss, that's the only 'twist' I can imagine them splitting it from, but it would have been fine as one film I think. Team Gale for sure! :D

  3. I also enjoyed Mockingjay, although I enjoyed the first two books better. Although I can see what you mean too, I actually was happy there wasn't another Hunger Games and the absence of it made this book very different. I was team Gale as wel, he seemed better for Katniss and they have known each other for so long. I never really liked Peeta and I don't like how in the movie it looks like Katniss is in love with him from the first book, while in the book it's obvious that isn't the case. And I agree the pace of this book seemed pretty slow, especially compared to the first two books. Great review Amanda!

    1. Thank you Lola, it's good to find others that were supporters of Gale more than Peeta and appreciated there being less 'Hunger Games' and more actual real life action involved :)

  4. At the beginning of the first book I was all for Gale. Peeta totally won me over though, I hated Collins a lil bit for what she did to him in book 3. But, I would have killed Gale off other Peeta, ANY DAY! HAHA. Sorry, I don't even know why but I just would. I haven't read this in so long, I have honestly forgotten quite a lot of it, so a reread is in order. I remember thinking this one was really slow at times though, and I enjoyed it the least out of the 3.

    1. Aww no, I can understand that, least I don't have to share Gale with you ;) I think reading it now made more of an impact on me and differently to others because of when people read them originally, but I can see why you enjoyed it least.


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