‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay’ Book Review

Author: Suzanne Collins

Plot: Having escaped from The Hunger Games for a second time, Katniss is in more danger than ever. The rebellion is in full effect and President Snow is gunning for Katniss and her friends while holding Peeta a hostage. As the truth about District 13 is revealed Katniss must decide her role in the revolution.

Review: About a week had passed after finishing the third and final chapter of The Hunger Games before I remembered to review it. This is in a totally good way, though. The finale is handled in such a satisfying way that it nestled happily in the back of my mind, content in the knowledge of a job well done. The anticipation of the next book or what has been left unsaid simply didn’t exist, and it felt like all had been said.

Many books, films or television shows seem to take two things into account when putting together a final chapter of a series. Firstly, every little loose end must be tied up. Secondly (and in strange contrast to the first) there must be something left for people to talk about. The obsessive need to do these things leaves character development and pacing as an afterthought with long, drawn out ’emotional’ moments killing the suspense (I’m looking and you Harry Potter and the Awkwardly Long Walk to Face Voldemort in the Last Book). Mockingjay seems to have put character and pacing first and foremost and as the final confrontation approaches things move at a burning pace that will leave the reader breathless.

The final chapters do pack an immense wallop. Collins pulls no punches whatsoever, which is somewhat refreshing after such an intense build-up. It seems to be a frustrating habit of many writers to constantly introduce red-shirt characters and aside from The Walking Dead comic series there’s few series’ out there that don’t have their cache of ‘safe’ characters. In spite of all the bloodshed in the final books of Harry Potter, Twilight and others there’s no actual risk to any of the main characters aside from the occasional sexy scar above their right eyebrow. Mockingjay is set in a time of war, and everyone’s head is on the chopping block. Not even the main protagonists will come out of the experience intact.

Whilst it is over-all a satisfying ending, it isn’t perfect. Directly after the most climatic and gut-wrenching moment the pace drops down to a crawl while the final major plot point gets addressed. Once the central conflict is over with anything beyond an epilogue is going to feel a little padded and does little to move things further along.

The themes of survival, media and trust are further explored in this volume, but Katniss faces a new responsibility by having to choose whether or not to become an icon for a warring faction, and the extent to which she is willing to harm others for the greater good. Things do take a turn for the more dramatic when Katniss’s motivation is no longer just family and survival but vengeance and it is a well handled development for the character.

If you have read the first two books, you don’t need me to recommend this. If you haven’t read any of them, go back to the beginning and get stuck in. Best read I’ve had in a long, long time.