Review: Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins

The sparks of rebellion have turned into a raging inferno in Suzanne Collins’s final installment of The Hunger Games trilogy, Mockingjay. Katniss Everdeen, ‘the girl who was on fire’, is the catalyst for the movement and the symbol of the rebellion–their very own Mockingjay.

After the first Hunger Games, whispers of uprising begin when Katniss and Peeta Mellark both emerge from the Games victorious….two winners not one–an open defiance of the Capitol. Then when Katniss, Peeta, and their allies destroy the Games for good in Catching Fire–the letters are on the wall, uprising is inevitable.

With District 12 demolished, Katniss and her family are taken to rebel headquarters–District 13. During the final Games, Peeta was taken by the Capitol while Katniss is rescued by Gale and the ‘soldiers’ of District 13. Katniss fears Peeta is dead and she is furious with the rebels for saving her….she wanted them to save Peeta.

While struggling with her guilt and grief over Peeta, Katniss is approached by President Coin (leader of the rebellion) to be their spokes person and their symbol–they need her to become the Mockingjay to rally support for their cause and movement–to unite the other Districts against the Capitol. She hesitates…though she despises the Capitol and their leader, President Snow, she doesn’t know if she wants to be the face of the movement without Peeta….

One night as she is wondering if she has it in her to be the Mockingjay….the Capitol airs an interview with Peeta who is alive and ‘well’….and supporting the Capitol. Everything about this seems wrong to Katniss….the boy on the interview seems like a robot but yet there is a ‘realness’ about him that rings of the true Peeta. Overjoyed with the knowledge that Peeta is a live, Katniss fears his interview might be seen as traitorous by the rebellion. She knows if District 13 wins, Peeta will be tried as a traitor….she only has one barging chip–if she becomes the Mockingjay, Peeta gets immunity.

With every step Katniss takes toward Peeta, she get further away from Gale. Gale, who has been her oldest friend and confidant is now a fierce, fearless commander in the rebel movement….like Katniss, Gale is also ‘on fire’. They seem as though they would be a match set, made for each other…but Katniss isn’t entirely sure. In the back of her mind there has always been the kind, gentle, brave Peeta who is entirely opposite of Gale…has has many of the same qualities as Gale but a much different temperament…perhaps better suited to Katniss’s needs…Gale is the fierce fire, while Peeta is the calming water.

Knowing that Peeta is being tortured in the Capitol, Katniss, Gale, and District 13 form a plot to rescue him. When they bring him back, Katniss realizes he is no longer the same boy who helped protect her in the Games….his memories have been hijacked–tampered with and replaced. When he sees Katniss there is only rage.

This new Peeta is a game changer for Katniss. Hurt and confused, Katniss doesn’t know if she can stomach this new Peeta. Part of her wants desperately to believe the boy she loves is still in there, fighting to get back to her but she is just not sure. While she struggles to decide if this new Peeta is ‘real or not real’, Gale is there to remind her of what is important–the movement. Katniss must choose between fire and water….but first she must settle a score–the Capitol and President Snow.

This book was quite a change of pace from Book II but I wasn’t entirely sure I liked the ending or the direction of the characters. In the first two books, you never doubt Katniss’s strength and resolve. She is ruthless and unyielding, you really feel like nothing can break her spirit. So I was surprised that throughout Book III she seemed to always be one step away from a mental breakdown. That to me was very uncharacteristic of her character and it just didn’t fit for me.

I saw her mental state as a huge obstacle and weakness in her character in Book III….which made me really dislike her. In the other books you can admire her and love her strength–for me, I didn’t like her as a character from the beginning really but I could respect and admire her resolve. Her mental state for me was a ‘chink in the armor’ that was hard to accept. I had an easier time accepting her faith in humanity and love for her family/friends as her weakness….the mental state was just off for me and bothered me throughout Book III.

I also struggled with the ending. For me it was rushed and didn’t resolve what was going on with Peeta, Katniss’s mental state, and what happened after the rebellion. Three books were leading up to this huge grand finale showdown in Mockingjay and really I was expecting more of a finish/wrap up than I got. I was a little let down by the ending…..I just sat there scratching my head going ‘is this it??’….’really?!?!’.

I felt like Collins should have written a forth book so she could spend more time on the ending… drag the climax out in Book III and then carried the climax over into a book four…..something because the ending was just ‘off’ and ‘rushed’ for me. But otherwise the book itself set a good pace making up for the necessary slowness of Book II.

Dystopian lit often leaves the reader feeling hopeless and like something is ‘missing’….which this book does but there is still hope for a better tomorrow. This trilogy is certainly worth a read though and lives up to its hype. Katniss is a unique heroine unlike any I have ever read. She is a strong role model for many young women readers. There isn’t the over the top gooey teenage romance that many YA novels have….the mixture of dystopian lit and unique storyline and characters make this an excellent trilogy for both YA and adult readers alike.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins

  • Hardcover, 390 pages
  • Published August 24th 2010 by Scholastic Press
  • ISBN 0439023513 (ISBN13: 9780439023511)

This book counts toward: The Dystopia Reading Challenge

Recommendation: 4 out of 5 (an exciting survivor-ish tale)

Genre: YA, dystopian literature, post-apocalyptic literature, speculative fiction

Memorable lines/quotes: 

It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.

Some walks you have to take alone.

‘You love me. Real or not real?’ I tell him, ‘Real.’

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