Book Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (series, #3) (spoiler-free)
Katniss has been rescued by the rebels and is living in District 13 along with refugees from District 12, Haymitch, Johanna, and Finnick. Peeta and Annie are still in the clutches of the Capitol, and every day Katniss is plagued with thoughts of what torture they must be suffering at the hands of President Snow. The rebellion is sweeping across Panem, and the leader of the rebels, President Coin, wants Katniss to be the symbol of the revolution–the Mockingjay. It is as if the arena has consumed all of Panem, and there is no escape for Katniss.
This is a better wrap-up to a story than in other trilogies I have seen, but compared to the first two books, it is definitely found a bit wanting. Without the structure of the Hunger Games or the Quarter Quell, Collins struggles a bit at maintaining a consistent storyline and action. She additionally seems to have suffered a bit of a guilt complex over the delicious gore in the first two books, and here spends many pages dwelling on the emotional impact of the violence to the extent that Katniss winds up sounding a lot like Harry Potter in book 5 of that series, and we all know how annoying everyone found him. Granted, Katniss has more reason to be upset than Harry ever did, but one can only take so many emotional breakdowns before it starts to seem as if Katniss is weak, rather than the strong heroine we grew to love in the first two books.
There is a war on, so of course action scenes do exist. They are a bit hit or miss, however. Interestingly, the ones that work the best are the ones that read like battles and are the least similar to the games in the first two books. I believe this is because the battle scenes allow us to see Katniss developing from a victim of traps set by the Capitol to a soldier. The ones that read more like traps feel like a step back from a character development point of view. However, fans will find enough fast-paced action scenes to keep them happy.
The writing continues to be painfully sophomoric, only with the starting and stopping of the action, it is far more noticeable. I know this is being told from Katniss’ point of view, but it could really stand to have at least a few less cliche metaphors and sentence fragments. Challenge the minds of your YA readers at least a little, please, Collins.
Those interested in the series for the love triangle, or who enjoy the love triangle a lot will not be disappointed, no matter whether they are Team Peeta or Team Gale. Although personally I still don’t understand just what is so irresistible about Katniss, beyond that, the emotions are handled in a realistic manner. What impacts the final choice is more than just the emotions of Katniss, and I actually enjoy the final message Collins leaves her teen readers with about relationships in general. Whichever fella you’re in favor of, the moment the final choice is realized is still a tear-jerking one.
Overall, Mockingjay is a satisfying end to the series, but does not live up to the power of the first two books. Fans will by no means regret having started the series, however.
3.5 out of 5 stars