{Book Review} Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I found this book disturbing in its depression. In Harry Potter, we are taught the healing, protective and redeeming power of love while in this book it shows you how love can break you. When the only person Katniss was certain she loved dies, Katniss fell over the proverbial edge. Coupled with her experience in the Games and how all the deaths and guilt have changed her, she became a broken individual.

The Hunger Games may have started as the reality-show-free-for-all-Battle-Royale, but it ended in a war between the Capitol and the districts with Katniss as the unwilling Face of the Revolution. (Katniss refers to the war as the Game). The person Katniss was at the end was broken–mentally, emotionally, physically. In an act of defiance she killed someone important to the cause. Of course, by doing so, President Snow (Capitol) still won a part of the Game. By exposing ****’s plot to Katniss, he was able to get rid of her through Katniss. It’s not like he was ever going to get back in power but I bet the moment Katniss turned on **** filled his want for revenge against 13. ‘Til the very end, Katniss was a pawn. A game they play in the book to distinguish illusion from reality became ironic as she herself, so broken at the end, could barely tell the difference between the two.

As for action, it was a bit lacking since Katniss as a pawn meant that she was to be virtually unharmed. Even in the climax of the war, Katniss got taken out of commission and did not fulfill what she had initially set out to do.

I’ve mentioned (in my review of Catching Fire) that sometimes it feels like emotional manipulation with Peeta and the epilogue didn’t help dispel my thoughts. For fifteen years, he begged Katniss for children. Not pleaded, not asked, not talked over with. The use of the word ‘beg’ gives me goosebumps because Katniss is helpless to people who beg, helpless to people who are in pain (Gale hints at this, that Katniss will only show affection to those who are in pain and there are several examples that solidify this throughout the three books–particularly when they are dying or tortured).

I also feel that Gale was not given enough credit or character development. For a character who has been present since the first book, this is the only book where his character is explored. And what we saw is a man who has seen enough hurt caused by a greater power and wishes to end it and is willing to fight using the same standards that have been used against them. He stood on no moral high ground because he knew what it took to win, and believed that in winning, things will be better. Here we have someone who has the capacity to care about family, friends, neighbors and the future. Unfortunately, we saw the story from Katniss’ point of view, and at this point, Katniss was outgrowing her childhood friend.

For two people who were in the same position of feeding their families at a young age, being partners in crime, knowing each other inside and out and helping each other survive for four years, their friendship took a downturn in this book. Why? I don’t get why either. A lot of characters–her friends–have Gale’s mindset in the books–Beetee, Haymitch, Johanna, Boggs–but it’s only Gale she got annoyed with at this book from beginning to end. Was it contrived to get Katniss out of the so-called “love triangle” the author put her in? I think so. Their friendship took its final toll when Katniss blamed Gale for coming up with the idea that the head of the rebel forces used to end the war and when Katniss forgets to shoot Gale at a crucial moment and vice-versa. Katniss released a pessimistic thought about this, “Sorry excuses for hunters and friends. Both of us. I’m on my own.” It feels contrived to me, a final break deployed by the author. I wonder why she didn’t think that these two people, who have been inseparable, best friends for years, knew each other inside out and have essentially been helping each other (and their families) live and survive for years after their father’s deaths, and “had each other’s backs”, would not be able to kill each other because doing so would be against everything they’ve gotten used to. They helped each other hunt food to survive. They shared what they had. And in a span of two minutes, did the author think they could honestly summon enough bravado to kill each other? When all those years, they have been trying to keep each other alive?

Katniss’ final bitter thought about Gale ‘probably already kissing another pair of lips’ just irked me. Not because I ship them together, but it feels so out of place and once again put there by the author to stamp Gale out of the “love triangle”. (I’m sorry, but I will keep putting quotation marks over that phrase becuase it was a sad excuse for one and wasn’t needed for the story). And if anything, Gale’s life may not have revolved around a single person and he may not have loved her upon first sight (for which he already earns 10,000 points for each in my book) but he did love her and Collins putting that sentence there just demeans it.

All in all, this book was an intriguing end to the series. It was despondent and had little hope after the war. It could be a realistic take on war heroes–or not. I was surprised the mass grave did not even have a memorial or tombstone or anything to remember the other residents of Twelve. (Are the dead not worthy of being remembered? Do the current citizens of 12 already wish to forget what cost them their freedom?) I also found it confusing that some characters–who had no penchant for survival–managed to live, while other characters who have been through hell and back were suddenly taken out of commission. That said, this book had the singular death which I legitimately sobbed over.

I gave it a 2 out of 5–“It’s ok” on Goodreads–because it didn’t match up in terms of suspense and action with her first two books. It was quite boring at times, although the morality and philosophical discussions were enjoyable. Then you can add the death/s–some of which weren’t needed to advance the plot or even to show war casualties–; the falling out of a friendship that honestly didn’t need to happen; And I guess it jarred me to see how sad it became for Katniss in the end, from being this great female spitfire character, lost all that in the end to become a broken shell of the girl she once was. It’s a very unconventional ending and I did appreciate how that that turn of events to show us how a heroine does not always get a happy ending.

There were also a ton of underdeveloped characters (both main, tributes, and some friends) in the series and I wish we could’ve gotten to know more about them

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6 thoughts on “{Book Review} Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins”

  1. While the characters you mentioned (Haymitch, Johanna, Boggs, and Beetee) may have a similar mindset, remember that that particular bomb was the brainchild of Gale. Her closeness with her hunting buddy also breeds a lot of room for disappointment. She couldn’t care less about the war philosophy of the other characters, but not Gale’s.

    I also lament that there were a number of underdeveloped characters and that we were not given much impression of the other districts but I suppose that’s the issue when you write a novel from a first-person point-of-view. Even then, I loved the novel even if it was a stressful read.

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    1. Why would I forget that Gale thought of the bomb? Even if they share a similar outlook, those characters were raised differently and had a different set of skills. It makes perfect logical sense that he, as a hunter, would have thought of that kind of trap.
      Besides, even before Katniss heard of the bomb, she was already annoyed with Gale. The bomb just pushed her off the edge.

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  2. I was just answering your question on how Katniss especially disliked (hated?) Gale when there are other characters who may have the same war philosophy as him.

    Since the first book, we were already shown the difference between the two hunters (Gale told Katniss that killing tributes in the Games was just like hunting animals). The annoyance broke out in the last book because Katniss had not thought that Gale would realize his random-radical-musings-in-the-forests into something real.

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    1. Gale told Katniss that killing tributes in the Games was just like hunting animals
      Something which upon reflection, Katniss actually agreed with and was one of the reasons she sought to fight the Capitol–to show she just wasn’t a pawn in the Games.

      Anyway, I doubt that Katniss not thinking that Gale would do something he’s talked about as the reason. From Gale’s character since book one, we’ve got a guy who was a ‘doer’, as shown by him learning how to hunt and becoming the breadwinner for his family. After all of Katniss “the person that knows me best etc” lines, I hardly believe that she doesn’t know him enough to realize that he will jump at the chance to do something if the opportunity arose. Unless the friendship wasn’t equal in terms of them knowing each other, which could be possible as now that I think about it, Katniss mentions that Gale knows her best (etc) but not vice-versa. She also didn’t bother to communicate and make Gale understand what she went through at the Games either, to tell him what she had realized about human lives and humanity and instead just let her annoyance with him grow and build.

      Katniss was in a very dark place after being scarred by the Games and losing Peeta and it affected all her relationships in the third book, especially with Gale. Aside from stress, worry, anger and guilt about the rebels not saving Peeta, she’s also feeling guilty for Peeta thinking that she’s in love with Gale. Add all of that to her shift in ideology, she kind of channeled all the frustration out on the guy that was there. Only her relationship with Prim remained the way it was since book one and she only honestly liked one person in the third book–Finnick, and only because they were in the same position.

      Thanks for your comments, I now realize why a lot of reviewers said they got annoyed with Katniss in this book! Haha Nafeel ko na din :))

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      1. Haha! To each his/her own, I guess. πŸ˜€ I just felt that she deserved some consideration and empathy after everything that she had gone through.

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      2. As the readers, we were definitely in that position. That was my initial reaction, I empathized with what she went through, because I was in that position. It was later, while she was demonstrating her menopausal symptoms towards Gale (haha can’t find anything else to aptly describe it) that I realized that she herself wasn’t doing anything to make the people around her understand what she went through. Yes, they won’t fully know because they didn’t go through the same experience, but she didn’t even try to explain and let other people sympathize/empathize with her. So she has a bit of fault there as well.

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