Book Review: Suzanne Collins’s Mockingjay


I’m writing this review about the entire trilogy because I feel like, as a trilogy, it’s one book with three parts, rather than just one book. Overall, I think this is a brilliant, well thought-out piece of Adolescent Literature. I think Collins could have further explained some of the science fiction elements better, but she reconciles them well enough for this being ad lit. After having read the whole series, I do think this could and should be considered cyberpunk, an argument I think will need more time to develop.

I should probably add that I read these three books in four days.

Don’t come any closer if you don’t want spoilers. I intend to discuss the novels in-depth, and I probably won’t be holding back.

Seriously, this is your last warning.

SPOILERS FOR THE HUNGER GAMES!!

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Okay. First of all, I really dislike the use of a first-person narrator, mostly because we know that Katniss is MOST likely going to be alive at least to the beginning of the third book, otherwise we lose our narrator. Then again, it is ad lit, and most ad lit uses a first-person narrator to help the kids who are reading this better identify with the hero. But Harry Potter was written perfectly well in third person. For me, at least, it kind of blew the potential surprise of Katniss’s ultimate survival. Who would narrate if she died?

I found the pace to be quick and easy. I liked how the end of every chapter drove you to the next chapter. The books themselves were very hard to put down.

I admit I was suspicious of Peeta during the beginning of The Hunger Games, and I absolutely love what Collins did with him. He’s probably my favourite character, and I somewhat knew that he and Katniss would end up together. He is the only one who really KNEW what she experienced, because he’s the only one who played both the Hunger Games that Katniss was a tribute in. Gale could never understand what that was like. Besides, if she wanted Gale before, she could have had him. She didn’t develop feelings for him until she knew she might not be able to have him. There are only two points in the novels in which Katniss feels “a stirring,” and both times are with Peeta. That’s a flashing light, if I ever saw one.

The deaths and the brutality of the novels was surprising, however. I wasn’t expecting to see so many on-screen, violent deaths. I almost felt like I was reading George R. R. Martin because nobody was actually safe, except for Katniss, our trusty narrator. I hated that Rue, Finnick, and Prim died. I saw Prim’s death almost as unnecessary, but I don’t know that Katniss would have been able to go back to 12 with Peeta if she was still alive.

I loved the dichotomy of the brutalization of children with the spectacle of the event. On the one hand, you’ve got Katniss’s prep team–three make-up artists, a stylist, and Effie and Hamitch, and on the other, Katniss has a 1:24 chance of LIVING through the Hunger Games. I think that is what made it so unbelievable that she and Peeta were going back into the arena. I had assumed that the second and/or third books would deal with dismantling the Hunger Games, but I did not expect to see the 75th Hunger Games. That was brutal, especially considering Katniss and Peeta escaped alive the first time–nobody expected them to both escape a second time. Their escape was confusing, however, and this is where I would have liked to hear more about the technological aspect of the novel. I think Collins’s reconciliation of the technology, however, is the simple sentence where she says that the hovercraft can’t use their invisible shields if they’re dropping bombs. All in all, the culture just seems to be obsessed with appearance to an extreme.

Katniss and Peeta putting the berries in their mouths at the end of The Hunger Games was such a coup that I wondered why the tributes from Catching Fire couldn’t just team up and decide to all take the berries–fuck the Capitol. Surely, that would have ruined the entire resistance plot, but would the Capitol have let them swallow like the first time? It’s something I ponder.

I feel like the trilogy was almost a game that Collins was playing with the reader, too. She gave a little and took a little. She gave us Katniss, but took Prim. Katniss married Peeta, but she appeared permanently separated from Gale.

What Collins did great, though, is describe the mentality of someone–a child–who has killed other children (and adults) and lived to tell about it. It’s not enough to win the Hunger Games–you have to live with yourself after the fact.

Overall, I think it’s a brilliant book series and I simply cannot wait for the films!

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