Review #3 – Mockingjay (Book 3, The Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins

I love book series. Harry Potter is without a doubt my favorite book series and I’ve read it completely at least five times over. I am always excited to find a new series (and not just ongoing serials, I mean with a specific number of books to tell the story). I also love young adult novels (for example, I read The Pretty Little Liar Series Books 1-8 last year and was so happy), so was very excited to get my hands on The Hunger Games series. I did not read the books in immediate succession since I was borrowing them on my Kindle using Amazon’s Prime membership lending service. I actually think this was a good thing to get a bit of space between books.

Mockingjay is the last in The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. Please note there will be spoilers for the series from here on out. We join our protagonist, 17 year-old Katniss, as she recovers after her second trip to The Hunger Games (in Book 2). Her district has been destroyed by the Capitol and her family and several hundred District 12 citizens have been displaced to District 13 which is leading a rebellion against the Capitol. The leaders of the rebellion want Katniss to be their spokesperson, their “Mockingjay” to further unite the districts in destroying the Capitol. In addition, Peeta and a few other victors are being held hostage in the Capitol. The reader walks with Katniss during her recovery, her decision to be the Mockingjay, and her direct involvement in the rebellion.

This story is most clearly different from the first two in the series in that there is no Hunger Game. The series is set in a post-apocalyptic world, and this particular book immerses the reader throughout the entire novel. All the action takes place in various districts and in the Capitol. Yet, there is plenty action, and we see Katniss grow as a warrior. Also, for the first time we get to see her and Gale in battle together (as compared to previous books where the relationship focuses on her and Peeta). As with other books, the narrative is told in the first person and we are only privy to Katniss’ inner dialogue and experiences. We only know what she knows at any given moment, and what she knows is a lot of anger, confusion, fear, and grief. We experience Katniss’ many emotions, and while she rallies and finds strength when needed she still remains mightily human in her experience of emotions. For example, (SPOILER) after witnessing many deaths in a row of those she fights with, she shuts down into a deep depression for several months. Katniss is a teenager, afterall, who has experienced two full years of complete instability, constantly fearing for her life and the lives of those she loves. She’s thrown into battle, but also expected to be the savior of her entire country. The burden is too much for one young girl to handle. She reacts to every new situation as we expect a warrior teenager to. Katniss Everdeen is remarkably strong, but she is because she has no choice. She is strong or people die, plain and simple.

When I finished the novel I felt a strange, basic emotional satisfaction, but not that deep one I usually have after finishing a novel. Certainly Book 3 is not particularly fun due to the heavy emotional weight of the storyline, yet I remained engaged throughout. There was something about the series overall that fell mildly flat for me; a little uneven perhaps. It could be the limits placed by a first-person perspective, or that this was a world I simply could not understand. (SPOILER) There were many significant deaths in this book, yet I did not feel the impact of them (compared to how devastated some of the deaths in Harry Potter left me feel). I felt some kind of disconnect that is difficult to describe. Book 1 was the most exciting, Book 2 forgettable and too rushed, and Book 3 solid but missing something. Overall, I think this series is worth reading without a doubt. If the boxed set is ever on sale I will likely buy it to read the stories again. I also look forward to the movie interpretation.