if you know me at all, you know this:
i effing love the hunger games.
i do! these books are as wonderful to me as a giant cupcake full of dancing ponies and lattes and saturday mornings. i don’t care how many times i have read these three books (plenty), i will always sit down and re-read and re-imagine and re-fall in wonder with katniss and peeta and (sigh) finnick and, of course, the arena itself.
and so, ladies and gentlemen. my big big big review day has finally arrived!
(also, obvi spoiler alert. if you haven’t read the first two books of the trilogy, you prolly don’t want to read this review.)
Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
“My name is Katniss Everdeen. Why am I not dead? I should be dead.” So continues the story of Katniss, champion of the Hunger Games and the face a revolution. In this third book (that I lined up at the bookstore to buy at 6:54 a.m. on the day of its release) of the Hunger Games trilogy, wars rage on many fronts: Katniss fights to maintain her sanity and to protect the people that she loves, including Prim, Gale, and Peeta, and the country of Panem fights a physical war and a war of propaganda. And what’s worst is that no one, not even Katniss’s beloved Peeta, can be trusted.
A Hunger Games devotee, I had high hopes for the final installment of this trilogy. And there were a lot of things to love about this book: I applaud Collins’s portrayal of Katniss as a shattered and traumatized victim of the violence and abuse that she has undergone at the hands of the Capitol. It was shocking, compelling, and completely unique to witness these devastating effects on a character who has, until now, been painted as brutal in her will to survive. (The vision of Katniss and the equally shell-shocked Finnick tying knots to tame their demons is particularly disturbing in its realism.) Collins’s willingness to explore the shades of gray between the ideas of “good” and “bad” departs from the idealistic, moralistic, and didactic identities that fantasies often embody. However much Mockingjay soars with its heartbreaking portrayal of Katniss, though, it falls equally flat in its uninspired renderings of Gale and Prim. Gale is barely believable—and certainly not likable—in his one-dimensional militancy, and Prim’s few conversations with Katniss seem forced and don’t reveal anything compelling about her character. These failings are especially frustrating because they clash with the masterful job that Collins has done of breathing life into the fantastic ideas of the Hunger Games and the Mockingjay itself. Upon finishing Mockingjay, one of my friends mused, “Basically, Katniss gets the guy. But ONLY the guy.” By forcing us to confront this sad truth, Collins asks us to consider if, in the end, it was all worth it. And there is no easy answer to that question.