Let me start this review with a disclaimer. I think the entire Hunger Games trilogy is a great read for anyone who enjoys YA novels, dystopian societies, and so on.
That aside, if I’m going to be brutally honest, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed by Mockingjay. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t hate it … it’s just that I didn’t really get the closure I needed.
Mockingjay begins where Catching Fire left off–right after Katniss and the others are rescued from the arena during the seventy-fifth Hunger Games. We discover that District 12 has been blown to bits, and the few survivors are now residing in the rebel District 13. And every time Katniss has any kind of emotional breakdown, they sedate her … for a good portion of the first half of the book. Considering the traumas this poor girl has gone through in the last year or so of her life, it’s no small wonder that Katniss is in as good a state mentally as she is. My first letdown came when Katniss, the newly crowned Mockingjay, and her crew visited District 8 and she witnessed the bombing and injured for herself. It was the first time in this book that we got to see the fire and passion we’ve come to love about her. After that scene, I kept waiting for her rage to ignite her and propel her into action with the other rebels, but it didn’t happen until the latter half of the book when she’s forced into accepting the Halo because Boggs dies. I felt like I kept waiting for the action to start until chapter 15 when everyone finally agrees to rescue Peeta.
And speaking of Peeta, I’ll move on to my second letdown. When we finally see him in this book, it’s obvious to the characters and the readers that he’s been tortured–hijacked, as they call it. I wish the author had let us see (or know more details about) Peeta’s recovery, because I felt like his personality change at the end of the story was fairly abrupt. When Katniss kissed Gale in District 2 and said she was letting go of Peeta, as a reader, I let him go too. And then when they were in the Captiol, being chased by the mutts and Peeta starts to slip back into the brainwashed state the Capitol left him in, Katniss kisses him and it seems to shock him back into reality. But why did she kiss him if she was letting him go for Gale? And why did Peeta let Katniss kiss him if he should’ve been trying to kill her?
I was also shocked when Prim was killed. Because there was no hint or foreshadowing earlier in the story that Prim would end up at the Capitol, her arrival pulled me out of the story somewhat–especially when we finally learn that she had been killed in the bombing. When I read that section, I immediately wondered if that had been necessary. It seemed almost an afterthought, like the author had originally planned to do something else to Prim but forgot to weave it into the story, so she added it in later. I realize that Prim’s death was part of the reason that Katniss could never choose to be with Gale, but I wish there had been some foreshadowing along the way.
I wish the author had slowed the plot down and stretched it out into a fourth book. There was enough information and subplots in Mockingjay that Collins could easily have fleshed some of them out a bit more, moved the final battle to the fourth book, and tied up everything nicely at the end.
All this aside, Mockingjay kept me awake long into the night as I read. The world that the author has created is rich and realistic, especially in terms of battles and how easily a society like this could creep upon us. As I mentioned before, I still recommend this trilogy, and I can’t wait to read more of the author’s works.