Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games #3)

After watching the Catching Fire film, I was extremely keen to pick up Mockingjay and find out what happens to all of the characters in the final volume of the trilogy.  My expectations were high, as I enjoyed The Hunger Games and simply loved Catching Fire, which I thought was the better book of the two.  Be warned: there are spoilers in this review.

Mockingjay starts almost right where Catching Fire left off, with Katniss settling into District 13 and coming to terms with the destruction of her home district, 12.  Peeta has been captured by the Capitol, although Gale has managed to rescue Katniss' mother and Prim and bring them to 13.  Katniss is supposed to be playing the role of the figurehead of the revolution, but she is uneasy with the implications of this and struggles with what she should do.  Meanwhile, the war rages on and it becomes apparent that Peeta is being tortured under the authority of President Snow, maybe even beyond recognition.

I had mixed feelings about Mockingjay.  I so wanted to like it, and it did have many positive elements, but ultimately I closed the book feeling a bit let down.  To start with the positives;  I enjoyed seeing what District 13 was like and the military fashion in which the people there had prepared themselves for war with Snow.  I like that Collins didn't shy away from the brutality of war, and that there were quite a few darker scenes included, especially later in the book.  War is merciless, and Collins most certainly gets that message across.  Katniss' confusion at what role she should play came across as genuine, and it felt realistic for someone who may have had a big role to play symbolically, but who hadn't been involved in any strategic planning etc.  I'm glad Collins didn't go down the route of having a super-Katniss save the world.  And the twist where Katniss shoots someone different at the end was clever indeed, I did not see that coming!

Unfortunately, there were negatives to go alongside these positives.  Plot-wise, I liked that Peeta had been tortured in such a way to corrupt his memories and turn him against the rebels.  However, after all these detailed passages about how new and permanent this hijacking torture method was, he seemed to recover at crucial points pretty conveniently and quickly.  Also, Katniss had a tendency to get herself injured at key moments, which means that too often Collins told us what happened rather than showed us.  Katniss is acquitted at the end and all that gets is a paragraph from Haymitch - I wanted to actually see it happen and I was frustrated with the action scenes being cut off so abruptly.  The pods in the city were just silly and felt like an unnecessary nod to the earlier Hunger Games plots.  But most of all, although I liked that war was shown as being brutal, Collins did too much without enough impact.  I wanted to feel the deaths and I just didn't, and I never felt the emotion of being in a war properly.

On the whole, Mockingjay is still a good book.  It was certainly a page-turner and I did enjoy it, it was just a bit of a let down after how strong the previous two volumes in the trilogy were.  It's worth picking up to find out what happens in the end, but be prepared that it may not be as amazing as you are hoping.

Source: Personal copy
First Published: 2011
Score: 3.5 out of 5


  1. You're kinder about how Collins wound up her trilogy than me...I didn't like Mockingjay at all. She made so many of her characters so unlikeable at the end. And I was so frustrated with Katniss. And what happened to Finn... See? I get upset just thinking about it. I won't be rereading this book any time soon. In fact, I think I'll just stop after The Hunger Games in the future. It's the best book of the three.

  2. I'm going to second what the above commenter said - you were much nicer than me about Mockingjay!. I didn't dislike it exactly, but I did feel rather let down. First of all, there was no arena game which was what made the series stand out for me. Without that, it felt like every other YA revolutionary book thing (sorry, it's late. Long words are beyond me :p )


    Also, when Katniss is asked to vote on That Thing... with the grandchildren? The way she voted made absolutely no sense and that irritated me quite a lot.


    I didn't think Katniss and Peeta's relationship was done all that well either. It was built up so gradually in the first two books, but here it felt like it was just shoved in there anyhow.

    I agree with you about the lack of impact, especially.... you know, where That Thing happens to That Person and Katniss sees? ARGH. This is hard! I felt that that should have been dealt with in more detail as it was a horrific thing to happen and it was almost brushed over.

    Haha, I've just gone and checked my review and I said exactly the same things as you. On the bright side, I do now really want to reread the other two, so... job done, you! :D

  3. I had mixed feelings about the Peeta plotline. I liked the idea of his having been brainwashed, and I absolutely loved the "Real or not real" game they made up to help him -- that detail rang very true to me -- but yeah, some of the times he got better did seem to be awfully convenient for everyone involved.

  4. Everyone at my house is hoping that the movie director doctors up the movie for Mockingjay. We think the movie could be better than the book in this instance. I got tired of Katniss laying around suffering. It seemed over dramatic. This is definitely the least favorite of all the books. I liked Catching Fire the best.

  5. I remember enjoying Mockingjay overall, but it does seem to be the most divisive of the trilogy. Endings are hard, I guess. Anyway, I don't know how well it, or the rest of the trilogy, would fare on a re-read. I'm excited to see the film version of Mockingjay - I think it's likely that some aspects that you touched on here, will be more effective in a visual medium.

  6. It is a frustrating conclusion. I think it would be hard to write a book that did show the realities of war without frustrating readers who are naturally looking for some sort of a happy ending.

  7. I enjoyed this book but it was the weakest in the trilogy for me.