Book Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne CollinsPosted: March 29, 2013
This is the review of the 3rd installment of a trilogy, I shouldn’t have to say this, however, it’s always good to treat people like idiots (not you of course, dear reader, you’re clearly a smart person, but you never know who else might stumble onto this blog. By the way, your hair is looking fabulous today and have you lost weight?), but if you haven’t read parts 1 and 2 there are probably going to be spoilers ahead. So don’t read on if you haven’t read any of them. Thanks.
And so it ends.
I have to say that I was really surprised by the Hunger Games trilogy, I’d enjoyed the first movie but had been expecting a pretty average set of novels, but Suzanne Collins impressed me by producing a series of books which are fantastically well written, gripping and smart.
This book picks up the story of our heroine Katniss Everdeen after she was rescued at the end of the Quarter Quell games. She finds herself a refugee in District 13, where a group previously thought dead are mounting resistance to the Capital. She is not alone, as her home, District 12 has been destroyed and all survivors have fled to their neighbours.
Injured and feeling betrayed by the events of the previous book, Katniss struggles to adjust and adapt to her role as the Mockingjay, face of the rebellion, and to trust her associates. She is also concerned about Peeta, her ally from the Games who is the prisoner of the Capital and being thrown into close proximity with her old friend Gale serves to further confuse her about her feelings for the two young men.
Katniss also comes to realize that war can change people, and that the rebels may not be as honourable or as good as she had hoped. As the rebellion gathers momentum Katniss must negotiate her own feelings and attempt to adapt to survive, all of which while trying to work out who she can trust and whether she wants any part of the new society that might be formed should the revolution succeed.
Unlike the first two books, this novel doesn’t have a Games to build it’s structure around it and it doesn’t need it, with Collins managing to change the scope easily and really build a sense of Panem starting to disintegrate as the revolution builds. Katniss struggles through a far more complicated world, and the writer should be applauded for the way she handles the revolutionaries and the war.
In a lot of young people’s literature the lines between good and evil are fairly clear, and while there may be the occasional character who struggles between both sides it’s all pretty clean cut. What Collins handles rather well is showing us that while the Capital are evil little toerags that’s not to say that the rebels in District 13 are white knights riding to the rescue. She draws parallels between the two, and clearly shows that it’s a personal lust for power that is driving some of the leaders.
Better yet, is how Collins manages to capture the moral erosion that can occur in war. Characters the readers had previously warmed to become harder and closed off, and some of the tactics used are based on a shaky “well, our enemies would do it” justification.
The stakes are higher and there’s a growing tension and feeling of dread as the book progresses, with the reader clearly getting a feeling that a lot of characters aren’t going to make it to the last page. The deaths are quick and brutal, but each one is felt thanks to Katniss’ perspective and there are a few which are genuinely moving, and one which is unexpected and devastating.
Collins never loses sight of the characters within, and while Katniss is the centre, she fleshes out the supporting players rather well. Katniss continues to be a strong character, and once again, I was impressed with the way that despite the circumstances and the events unfolding, she still seems like a normal teenager- headstrong, flawed and driven by her emotions, often in unhelpful ways. She mishandles situations, reacts badly and lets her emotions cloud her judgement, but isn’t that a common human trait, especially when we’re young? And despite all this, she’s still likable, a tough survivor who frets over her own morality and actions, but turns out to be more heroic and ethical than most of the characters she meets.
The love story aspect is handled well, and again this is something Collins should be applauded for, as she makes both Gale and Peeta strong possibilities for Katniss’ partner, meaning there’s genuine emotional drama throughout, although both characters change as the novel progresses, the affection for Katniss remains deep down and she is torn between both of them.
It’s a fantastically written book, with drama and emotion to spare, and the world that Collins has built with it’s nods to ancient Rome is well realized. The ending is strong, delivering a few surprises along the way and it’s a satisfying conclusion to what is a brilliant series of books.
Verdict: A strong finish to an engaging and well written series of novels. Collins clearly has talent and creates a captivating world of characters, not least the wonderful protagonist, and she should be praised for her decision to eschew black and white storytelling and make the war in her book a murky and unpleasant experience. 9/10.
Any thoughts? You knw what to do. BETEO.