Book Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I can safely say that I have read nothing like Suzanne CollinsThe Hunger Games trilogy before. And that is an excellent thing, because it can only work like this once.

When we last left Katniss Everdeen, she had been pulled out of the Quarter Quell (a special version of The Hunger Games, in which former tributes–who, I might add, thought they were safe after surviving their initial ordeal in the Games–compete once again in the arena) by a rebel hovercraft, signaling the onset of outright rebellion against The Capital of Panem. Peeta was a bloody mess, not taken with her, but captured by the evil President Snow for who knows what purpose. Katniss is to become the figurehead of the rebellion–a Mockingjay, a creature which symbolizes stupidity on the Capital’s part because of its very existence, which should not be in the first place.

Katniss must struggle with balancing her new life as a front man who longs to be in the fight. Her inner debate rages on (to the reader’s unspeakable frustration) about which team she’ll play for–Team Gale or, the obvious correct choice, Team Peeta. These two things, in addition to an all-out war, were all that I was prepared for when I began the book.

I was ready for nothing else.

It really is an exceptional finale to this truly epic trilogy. Threads are tied together in ways I never imagined. It is tragic, it is fraught with emotional consequences (that many people thought was lacking to this point). I understand those critics, as they sensibly point out that Katniss should have some issues after having to kill people in cold, calculating blood. I agree. And so does Suzanne Collins.

Slowly, throughout the book, Katniss learns to shuffle off the puppeteer’s strings of the rebel leadership (which were previously held by the Capital). There are some key moments where she is no longer a stooge of others and truly is the leader of the rebellion, doing what must be done, not because others tell her to, but because hard decisions must be made and difficult actions must be taken.

While unconventional, this epitomizes the spirit of young adult literature–particularly the dystopic kind, which is a fast growing trend. Adolescents take on hardships, growing up due to those hardships and eventually making some kind of a difference because of them. It’s edgy, there are times, it has been argued (and to an extent I agree), that some things could have been taken further in terms of pushing boundaries, although it could be viewed as hyperbolic, then. The allusions to the Roman culture through panem et circenses (Bread & Circuses) are thinly veiled early on, then explicitly stated.

There have been many moments throughout this trilogy where I wanted to knock Katniss upside the head (although it was a sure bet that someone would at some point anyway, so I held off). She’s rather dense about the love life into which she has been thrown. On one hand, she has Gale Hawthorne, the boy she grew up with and hunted with (demonstrating the first signs of rebellion against the Capital). On the other she has Peeta Mellark, her partner in The Hunger Games–with whom, in order to survive, she endeared herself to the audience by fabricating a relationship. However, clearly, this relationship is not an utter forgery. Unfortunately, Katniss is more than a little slow when it comes to other people, as she doesn’t know what to do with these feelings, and Gale, being all selfish, pulls a Jacob Black and tries to force her into it–moreso in the final book.

I’m going to say it here and now: I hate Gale, with a fiery passion. I understand where he’s coming from in the first two books (although I still think he needs to back up a bit and let Katniss be, because he’ll never be able to compete with Peeta’s selfless, sacrificial nature when it comes to Katniss). However, he seals his fate a few times in Mockingjay through his careful manipulation of Katniss. Not cool, Gale, not cool.

You may look a little sideways at the book as you read, as so many unexpected, completely unique twists arise. However, just trust in Suzanne Collins. She knows what she’s doing.

P.S. I will say that I kind of thought that maybe this was some uber-elaborate new kind of Hunger Games, and that Katniss only thought she was rebelling against the Capital. Seriously, the Capital has gotten into my head!


3 thoughts on “Book Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

  1. Oh i completely disagree about Gale. He never really pushed the issue with her…he was always there for her. But always patient with her. I adore Gale. I hated her decision in the end. And I HATED her vote for the final hunger games. I felt like it was a statement that the only way to end it was with more blood. IT WAS BLOOD GUILT. Just so you know, I always find blood guilt in everything since your class. But overall it was brilliant.

  2. I loved this book too! Agree with Reagan; Gale is not a jerk. He’s in love, and it hurts to see someone you love in love with someone else. So he acts like a jerk sometimes. But the book ended well, which is a great accomplishment. I love a good ending, nice wrap-up.

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