Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

In the explosive final installment of The Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss finds herself the symbol of the rebellion. President Coin from District 13 wants to use Katniss to motivate the rebels into a war that ends the Capitol's rule over the citizens of Panem. President Snow has already made it clear to Katniss that no one is safe--not her, not her family, no one. And when she finally grasps what the Capitol has done to Peeta, she knows she must become the Mockingjay.

Still emotionally and physically scarred from two trips to the Arena, Katniss fights for her sanity as she travels into the war torn districts. From the beginning she knew what she wanted to do. Had to do. Placed on assignment in the Capitol, she will let nothing stop her until she has achieved her goal.

The reviews for Mockingjay have been so mixed that at times I wasn't sure how I felt about the book myself. I would read the positive reviews and agree. Then I would read the less than positive ones and agree. In the end, my feelings fall somewhere in the middle.

The Hunger Games was a new step for me because I don't like dystopian fiction. I never understood the appeal of the Mad Max movies.I hated Lord of the Flies and could barely read the first chapter of George Orwell's 1984. I didn't even attempt Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 or Aldoux Huxley's Brave New World, though there was some discussion of them in high school. The one and only reason I ended up reading The Hunger Games trilogy was because the Lil Diva (10) received the first book as a gift from a teacher and was so eager to read it I didn't want to discourage her. She's such a reluctant reader, anytime she's excited over a book, I'm happy. I decided we would read it together. She loved it so much, it was a given we would read the next two. Many of the kids in her class had read them or were reading them. These books definitely weren't appropriate for her overall--too much violence, too many referrals to lovers, and required a thought process that she hasn't fully developed yet.  At least with us reading them together, I could answer questions she might have instead of her relying on the opinions of her friends.

Collins is a good writer. She created a world in which her characters lived, and it's a very flawed world. The excess in the Capitol stands out against the hunger and need in the districts. The hint of the past rebellion, the current Hunger Games system, and the growing unrest in the districts are a fabulous plot and create a high level of action. The superb creation of that world and the engaging plot, however, cost the reader in lack of character development.

Peeta and Gale don't grow or change at all. Now, things happen to them, and they are part of the love triangle that creates such conflict for Katniss, but overall, they are who they are--like all of the characters in the book. Even Katniss doesn't change that much from beginning to end. After reading all three books, I would say Haymitch is probably my favorite. He doesn't change either, but he does surprise the reader from time to time. Everyone else is predictable. Katniss and Prim's mother is so little part of this series, it's almost like she shouldn't exist at all. Could the writer have done more with her?

In Mockingjay, Collins creates an action-packed thriller of a story. The reader gets rewarded for all the tension of the previous books and sees how everything up to this point has impacted Katniss. Perhaps this is also a strength of the book. No, Katniss doesn't go through a major life change, but everything that has happened so far, and a discussion with a pivotal character, leads her to take certain actions, which turn into a thrilling conclusion; a conclusion I saw coming before it happened.

I have a few wishes for this book, most are that some characters wouldn't die; but my greatest wish would be that the author did not include an epilogue. I didn't have an issue with the content of the epilogue. It would be strange for someone as emotionally scarred as Katniss to move on and have a totally happy ever after. It's more because I felt the ending was so perfect and strong that it was a shame to bring the reader twenty years into the future with Katniss. I would have liked Collins to let the reader draw her own conclusions regarding Katniss's future.

  • Reading level: Ages 13 and up
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; 1st edition (August 24, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439023513
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439023511
  • SRP: $17.99
  • Also available for Kindle

  • I purchased a copy of this book with an Amazon gift card. I received no monetary compensation for my review.

    This is the twenty-fourth book I've read for the following reading challenge:

    It is the seventeenth I've read for the following challenge:

    1 comment:

    superblonde18 said...

    The book was so sad I cried after reading it. I really wanted to know what happened to Gale and Katniss's mother.Did they come back or even contact each other for 20 years? All the epilogue said was about her kids. Sorry but as a teen reader it really should have been more! U could write a new book and publish that, so there would be an ending to the story.