Thursday, 1 September 2011

Book Review: Mockingjay (Hunger Games, Book 3)

Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins - 2010 - 448 pages

Wow. Just... wow. I was expecting an explosive finish to the trilogy and Mockingjay more than delivers. The writing is as punchy as it has been throughout but Collins ramps up the stakes and shows a vulnerable side to Katniss that has so far only been seen in rare moments. The characters have to make some tough choices and face dire consequences for daring to stand up against the Capitol, and as ever the Games are never far away.

I can safely say this book was my favourite of the trilogy. Where it's headed is pretty clear from the outset but the journey there is full of surprises, shocks and character development like you wouldn't believe. If you have not read the other two books look away now and come back once you're done. It's okay I can wait... Done? Good. And for skim readers who may have missed that warning; *SPOILERS*. So, Katniss has escaped the Games, but at a terrible price; Peeta hasn't been so lucky and he's trapped somewhere in the Capitol and what they may be doing to him preys heavily on Katniss' mind. Especially when she finds out that it's an underground resistance movement that got her out, after specifically choosing her over Peeta. Now living and working with them to continue the rebellion in the districts she accidentally started, Katniss is a wreck of her former self, but must once again put on a show. Only this time it's with the hope of freeing the districts, Peeta and maybe getting a bit of good old fashioned revenge on the President.

A lot of the characters change significantly in the third instalment of the Hunger Games, especially Gale, Katniss' maybe/maybe not love interest and her sister Primrose. Katniss is the one who develops the most however, as she has to deal with guilt, responsibility and expectations she never wanted. She doesn't always handle it that well either, which is a feature I love in stories. Heroes being heroic is fun, but it's a lot more interesting seeing them crumble under the weight of their own reputation.

The relationship side of things is also made that much more complicated in Mockingjay. Unlike the toing and froing of Bella from Twilight, Katniss has told herself she wants neither of the potential suitors at various points, but now that one is snatched away from her, she clearly begins to wonder at her own reticence. She is struggling with her feelings, being someone who has never really given in to them due to her sense of responsibility for the family. That responsibility has now been transferred to the whole of Panem. But in Mockingjay her walls start tumbling down and by the conclusion Katniss is a very different person to the one she started out as.

I did have a few problems with Mockingjay, even though I still think it's the best of the series; the military scenes later in the book felt a little small, and I often wanted a bigger scale to the action. But I should hastily add I totally understand why this wasn't possible; Mockingjay is only about Katniss' direct experiences and as everyone is so determined to protect her, it's tricky for her to get deeply involved in the rebellion. My only other slight complaint is that one aspect of the end is dealt with very quickly and, I felt, as more of a placation to the readers wanting to know who Katniss would end up with. But it still works as a story development; I just felt it needed a little more time, a little more... well romance, ironically enough. With that it would have been the prefect ending, in my opinion, though the current ending of Mockingjay gets the job done.

Overall I have loved this trilogy and I will read them again at some point. They are all easy reads and with the books being pretty short (by my standards anyway) they are great entertainment. Of course this now means I have HUGE reservations about the film, as I desperately want it to match my experience of the books (which I already know is unlikely - I've been burned one too many times before). However the early signs are promising, as the casting is pretty spot on and if the screenshots are anything to go by, they've captured the look of the wilderness. My reluctant optimism has only been growing with the sneak preview they've released. It's not a lot, and it won't make much sense to non-readers (or even necessarily look that interesting) but it had me grinning and saying "cool" to myself. Fingers crossed they get it right, so we can have the whole trilogy adapted.

May the odds be ever in your favour!

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