The beginning of the beginning.
Age: Young Adult
First Published: 24th August 2010
Date Reviewed: 3rd August 2014
Katniss was rescued, Gale helped her mother and Prim to safety, and now everyone who could flee has left District 12. District 13 is more controlling than they would’ve thought, but it’s a lot better than the torture Peeta is almost certainly facing. The president of 13 believes that now is the time, even if they’ve Katniss when they’d prefer Peeta.
Mockingjay is the final book of The Hunger Games trilogy and is a tough call. On one hand the difference between this and the previous books is welcome – we couldn’t really have yet another Hunger Games because Collins was admittedly pushing her luck somewhat in Catching Fire. (I think Alice’s comment sums it up well, for all I enjoyed that book.) On the other hand the book being so different means that you will possibly find it less interesting or at the very least not what you were expecting. For starters Mockingjay takes Peeta away from us for a long time. This of course affects everything and whilst the remainder and his treatment are realistic, the mood is changed.
The pace is still there and if you rushed through the first two you’ll likely rush through Mockingjay, but whereas the first two were fast because you wanted to know what would happen and because the books pulled you along, here the pace is only down to the first point. Mockingjay is fast because having read the others you just want to find out how it will end.
This lack of interest (it’s a perfectly fine amount of interest when considered on its own; very lacking when placed in the context of the trilogy) is in part to do with the inevitable comparisons with other dystopian novels and films. The rebels that are everywhere, the underground city not unlike Zion from The Matrix, the samey-ness of love triangles that Collins books had previously just about stayed away from. The book is been-there-done-that. It’s like any sci-fi video game and whilst there were comparisons to Battle Royale before, this time the comparisons are numerous.
I’m not going to discuss the ending in any way as I have too much to say to fit in a review (a further thoughts post is forthcoming), but I will point out that many people will be disappointed. I actually think it’s better to know that disappointment is a possibility because you may then like it more.
The issue with Mockingjay is that it doesn’t satisfy. You want a final book to be triumphant whether it ends well or not and this one just isn’t the send off it could’ve been.
As said, however, the book is good on its own. Katniss remains the reluctant heroine and the battles are strong. The mental workouts are good, more for Katniss than the reader this time, but Collins does run with the thought of ‘remember who the enemy is’, keeping Katniss focused on what’s most important. The prelude to the end is really very good and it could be argued that it’s even better for the ambiguous finale. In essence, there is an ending but the part you truly want to know about is left unanswered. This is important – Collins leaves it up to you. Perhaps you’ll decide that ultimately who the true enemy was isn’t what matters, and if so you’ll see another layer to the story.
District 13 is controlling, necessarily so – but it’s edging close to the control in Panem. This is also something to think about. In order for there to be freedom, some liberties must be given up – this Collins says… or does she? Certainly the start of the end suggests that no matter what, those in Panem will never free.
There are cameras in this one as there were in Catching Fire; the cameras of the rebels. Collins shows that even those doing the reporting are often part of the war, suggesting that it’s more important to actively take on a role – a hero may be considered best safe, but that won’t offer the best outcome.
Mockingjay is very good, it’s just not excellent. And in many ways, Katniss does not get to choose.
Read it – you should end the series – but be aware of the issues.
August 4, 2014, 6:54 am
I found it dreadful, but I had to read it
August 4, 2014, 11:28 am
I liked Mockingjay more than Catching Fire, but I didn’t enjoy it. The story was uninspiring and I found I didn’t care what happened by the end. If this had been four books, I may have enjoyed it more. Fitting this story into three novels, two of which are badly executed was a mistake.
August 4, 2014, 12:16 pm
I read Mockingjay but didn’t like it much, and by now I really don’t remember much about it! Even your review didn’t bring it back to me. I just remember feeling that the books got worse as the trilogy went along.
August 4, 2014, 3:47 pm
I liked Mockingjay overall. I liked that it was different than the other two books and I liked the overall story–how things played out. There was really only one part of the book in which I felt Katniss wasn’t true to her character, and that really bothered me. Other than that though, I enjoyed the trilogy. I didn’t fall in love with it the way so many others did–and maybe that’s partly why I enjoyed Mockingjay more than most.
August 4, 2014, 9:48 pm
Yep, I read this only to close out the series, not so much because I was expecting to enjoy it, and I didn’t much enjoy it. The Hunger Games was awfully good, and I was sad that the rest of the series didn’t live up to it.
August 5, 2014, 2:53 pm
Whilst most readers seem to have enjoyed the other books I have read several reviews of this one in which like yourself they have been less than impressed. A series I will get around to reading one day, thanks for your review.
August 21, 2014, 12:02 pm
Charlie I have been particularly looking forward to your thoughts on this final instalment. Like you this was the weakest instalment in the trilogy for me. I enjoyed the change and some of the shocks it held but I felt Collins lost the pace and structure without the games. Still a great trilogy though which I really enjoyed. I’m glad you enjoyed it too.