Author: Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games trilogy
Length: 390 pages
Genre: YA; Dystopia, Action, Romance
Publisher: Scholastic Press / 2010
Cover Art: Tim O'Brien
Cover Design: Elizabeth B. Parisi
Reason to Read: Mockingjay concludes the illustrious Hunger Games trilogy—and I also get to cross an entire series from the All the Fuss Reading Challenge!
Review of The Hunger Games
Review of Catching Fire
I need some sort of victor's song to announce the staggering glory that comes from A) Finishing the Hunger Games, and B) Striking off an entire series from the various 2012 Reading Challenges I've created for myself. As the Mockingjay flies free, so do I—from the obligation to read the series in the first place.
First, to recap:
My name is Katniss Everdeen
Why am I not dead?
I should be dead.
Despite her fragile state, Katniss is called upon to lead the rebels as their symbolic Mockingjay. The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn in District 13's game, to accept responsibility for the countless lives lost, and to alter the future of Panem's governance. To do this, she must pledge herself to Alma Coin, the woman destined to become the new president of Panem, and rid herself of the anger that comes after leaning her life has been planned out since the first Hunger Games.
She must become the rebels' Mockingjay, no matter what the personal cost.
Phew—we've got lots to tussle with in the final instalment of the Hunger Games trilogy, let me tell you. For starters, as odd as this comment might sound, I thought Mockingjay ought to've been two novels instead of one.
Yes, I am advocating to make the series longer, though not for the standard reasons.
While I did get invested in Katniss's delightful brand of brutality in the first two books, and while I wanted a resolution to the Gale/Peeta crisis, I know 390 pages was not enough room to suss out Katniss's mental damage, to reveal the sinister agenda of Coin and District 13, and to overthrow President Snow's beloved Capitol. I sensed an odd narrative floundering in Mockingjay, which came about simply because there was too much plot for one short novel. A bit of a backhanded compliment there, I know. But I felt each section was condensed to make it fit in one package as opposed to taking the same plot and stretching it over two well-balanced books.
And I know a bunch of readers are fearing they've lost me to the Hunger Games fandom as I write this…
Since I could natter on about the mixed reaction to this final book, I thought I'd offer an informative point-form rundown to guide you through:
The Bread 'n' Butter
- District 13's rather communist, Cold War approach to governance. Nice contrast to the totalitarian vibe emanating from the Capitol, also proves that alternatives can be just as extreme as the status quo.
- Primrose Everdeen. Readers know Katniss volunteered for the Hunger Games to spare her sister, but we never got to know Prim beyond her fateful "election" as tribute and as the one person Katniss would sacrifice everything to protect. Here, Prim comes into her own and Katniss opens up to her lil' sis in remarkable ways.
- Peeta's reunion with Katniss. WHOA, GOLLY.
- President Snow's roses. Holy symbolism, Batman. The roses! The roses. Katniss is driven mad by the scent of roses, and President Snow breaks her in an entirely Pavlovian way.
The Firebombs 'n' Coal Dust
- Building the Katniss Brand. I get that the rebels needed to create their own propaganda. I get that Panem needed to see Katniss at her brashest. But given the condensed nature of the plot, readers knew more about Katniss's stilted on-screen personality than they knew about the actual uprising.
- Rousing speeches! Tense moments with Gale! Coin! Haymitch! Random rebels! Constant need to exclaim!!!
- How the Capitol's defences mimic the Hunger Games arenas. *Groan* Started feeling like I was in a repeating mirror image of the first novel, though with less detail as each novel progressed.
- Peeta sent into combat with Squad 451. As I read that tidbit, I did some exclaiming of my own that cannot be reproduced in this blog post. Folks remember his recent blood lust, right? How he was hijacked into thinking the rebels were out to kill him? Yeah? How is he fit for live combat?
- How often Katniss misses the actual fighting. Our girl on fire spends most of her time in hospital beds recovering from battles she cannot remember. Right when a tense moment rears its head, Katniss is knocked unconscious and we receive a summary of the fight afterward. Though, her addiction to morphling is entirely believable as a result.
So, a mixed bag of commentary. I admit, Mockingjay wasn't quite what I expected. But, I'm glad to strike this selection from the ongoing reading challenges, and I'm relieved to be in-the-loop as the movie release date approaches…
Ideal for: Readers who knocked off the first two books and need some resolution; Dystopian teens who like a quick read and who don't pull at loose threads; Folks who like convolutions and darkness in their teen romance novels.