Author: Suzanne Collins
Release date: August 24, 2010
Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.
It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plains–except Katniss.
The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay–no matter what the personal cost.
As with the two other books in this series, I decided not to review Mockingjay and instead simply post my thoughts about this book and series. This would have been the most difficult book, by far, in this series to review. And I definitely feel that my thoughts would have been inadequately expressed in a review format.
And as with both other books in this trilogy, I have rated it on Goodreads, giving it 4/5 stars. Throughout much of the book I felt it was more of a “like” than a “love” and would have rated it a three, but for the ending. However, now that I’ve sat with it for just a bit, taking into account some of the messages I felt the author was putting forth, I would have given it a four regardless.
While I very much enjoyed the author’s writing once again in this third book in the series, I wasn’t captivated by the story. I found myself easily distracted and set the book aside on numerous occasions. There were even points during the read that I was so frustrated with the main character, Katniss Everdeen, that I almost didn’t want to go on. But mostly I just felt no real connection to this book or series.
I still blame much of this on being so late to the party. I’ve come to expect a lot more in the books I read in terms of making a connection with either the character or the story. And I expect a lot more depth to the characters than I felt when reading these books. Especially by the third book in a series. But I just didn’t feel that depth. And I had almost no connection.
I also expected to care one way or the other for the main character. Love her or hate her, I expected to feel passionately about her. But again, I only felt lukewarm toward her. However, this may have had to do with the buzz. I had expected her to be an incredibly strong character. Someone who was brave and independent and sure of her decisions. I kept waiting for that awakening by her character. But that, too, never came.
After reading this third book I feel fairly certain, however, that the author didn’t create this character to be easy to connect with. She wasn’t incredibly likable. She was a hunter. She was a provider. She was a protector. She was a killer. She was calculating.
And for some reason these qualities made her the perfect symbol for the revolution in this story even if she was really more of a figurehead than a true leader. Perhaps it was because they weren’t looking for a leader but someone they could control and manipulate.
Katniss was indecisive. Her loyalties couldn’t be trusted. She lacked the passion that Gale had toward the revolution. She lacked the skill that Peeta had in rallying the people. She lacked the kindness that either of them had. And I think the author described her best when she said: “Finally, he can see me for who I really am. Violent. Distrustful. Manipulative. Deadly. And I hate him for it.”
Except for where it concerned her sister, Katniss approached things like a predator. And I think this is why I just couldn’t connect with her. Even when she finally broke down I didn’t feel pity for her, when I felt saddened for everyone else.
Again in this third book, I wasn’t surprised by anything that happened. I expected it to end pretty much as it did. I didn’t find myself getting caught up in the action, even when the characters headed to the Capitol. And I didn’t find myself falling apart when several of them were lost along the way.
Even for the one character who I was very much hoping to see more of in this book. Everything happened so quickly, leaving no time to reflect or mourn and it felt as if the author was trying to create a distance from the character long before their demise.
But I did keep expecting to become angry with this story. From all the chatter about this third book I anticipated a huge letdown with the ending. But that never happened for me. I thought it was the perfect ending for this trilogy.
The way the author ended her series in this book made me like it all the more. It was believable. It felt real. It felt honest. There was no way this could have ended on a high note. Not if it were to stay true to the storyline. Just looking at Haymitch and Annie and all the previous victors told me that there could never really be that fairytale ending.
And this was a story about war and cruelty and suffering. With everything that happened, everything that was lost, the burden that was placed on Katniss’ shoulders, there was no way she could have shrugged that off.
While this series didn’t tug on my heartstrings like I had expected it to, I find it to be one of those sticky ones. One where certain elements affect me after the fact. One that felt sort of shallow while I was reading it, but actually is much deeper upon reflection. One where each book in the series didn’t grab me, but as a whole I find it to have much more meaning. But all of that came together in this final book in the series.
I was fascinated by the gamesmanship. I was intrigued by the notion that everything was just a game. That these two political leaders were fighting a battle for dominance and that all the characters who thought they were of value were really just pawns. And no matter who the victor, history seemed doomed to repeat itself.
I was not surprised about Coin’s maneuvering because of the hints the author gave throughout. From the moment I was introduced to District 13 I was suspect. About the leadership. About their motives. So I very much enjoyed seeing Katniss’ reaction as the truth came out.
While I felt that many of the characters’ stories throughout the series felt incomplete, I loved just how well-developed the story arc was from first book to last and how well-developed the main character was. Her behavior was predictable because it was established very clearly at the beginning of the series. I had just hoped there would be some growth.
And while I didn’t have too much of an emotional connection to the characters in this series, I did break down just a bit at the end thanks to my favorite character, Buttercup. That darn cat snuck up on me. He was the most expressive and emotional character in this story and where no other character could, he managed to bring on the tears.
I have yet to read a review of any of the books in this series but I will have to check out the reviews for Mockingjay to find out just what people didn’t love about the ending. I think the way things resolved themselves with the love triangle felt right. After everything that happened, I don’t see how Katniss could forgive the boy she chose to let go.
And I thought the way things ended for her was the right way to end things. She always was a survivor. From the very beginning. As wonderfully dramatic as it would have been to see her wither away to nothing, it wouldn’t have felt true to who she was.
All the characters left standing at the end were coping in the only way they could. They lost a lot. They lived. They began to rebuild their lives. Or perhaps they didn’t. And they never fully recovered from all they experienced. I don’t know any ending more honest than that. But maybe readers were expecting the fairytale.
I don’t typically enjoy epilogues that take place years after the story ends. I like to leave the characters where they were at the moment I last “knew” them. But I loved the epilogue in this story. It reinforced everything the story was trying to convey. That time passes, there is a rebirth and that remembering and honoring the past is important to not repeating it in the future.
While I can’t say this will be listed among my favorite series of all time, I am glad I read it. Even though the war aspect felt a bit more real than I typically like to read about in fiction. And after finishing Mockingjay I’m left thinking of the cruelty of human beings, the senseless violence they will engage in and the devastating and long-lasting effects of war. So, yes, this story itself will stick with me for a long while, where the characters themselves may not.
Oh, and yes, I am Team Peeta.