(This is part of a series of “book reports” I’m doing – recording my thoughts on the books I’m reading as part of a general desire to read more. This will typically be talking about what I liked or didn’t and why I did or didn’t, generally related to story-telling. It won’t be a discussion of deeper themes and meanings. Comments are always open to tell me your take. Click here to see all the books I’ve talked about.)
I’m writing this much longer after reading than I’d have liked so while my details may be less in depth, I’m still pretty galvanized about the main points I’m writing about. Mockingjay is the third book of the Hunger Games Trilogy. If you haven’t yet, feel free to read My Thoughts on The Hunger Games, or My Thoughts on Catching Fire, first.
It seems that with each book, I start in with so much hope I’ll like it even better than the last one. The set-up for Catching Fire was strong, and I loved the arena, but, well, I’ve already talked about that. This was the same way, I was so ready to have Mockingjay be the book that made me LOVE the Hunger Games series. Alas…
The Breakdown: Mockingjay picks up shortly after Catching Fire ends. Katniss and a couple other all-stars have been rescued from the arena and spirited away. Katniss has become a beacon of rebellion against the Capitol , and the long-thought-destroyed District 13 is coming out of retirement to war with Rome once more.
The Hero Katniss Never Was
Katniss is basically a figurehead for the rebellion. And, God, does she border on useless. Truth is, I thought to myself at the end of Catching Fire that I would love these books if Katniss wasn’t in them. Quite a thing to think of the main character.
I’ve already talked a bit about my dislike of Katniss in the first two books – the core reason being she’s way too passive. Early on, when they talk about how Katniss finally decided to be the Mockingjay (emphasis on finally), I literally said “that’s what I’ve been saying” out loud. She actively made a decision to do something and I was ecstatic.
As previously mentioned, you can boil the Hunger Games down to (A) actions that Katniss decides to take that move the story forward (B) things that happen that move the story forward that Katniss has to react to and (C) things that move the story forward with no involvement from Katniss at all.
Sadly, the things that fall into B and C heavily outnumber A. When A-type things were happening, I loved it. I just wanted more of them.
I’m not saying Katniss had to be William Wallace here but, yeah, actually, now that I write it down, Katniss should have been William Wallace. If this was HER story – which it was – she should have been the central figure moving things forward and making things happen, not just being a catalyst for other people to move things forward and her tell us about them
But in the Hunger Games, people plan around Katniss and things happen. Whatevs.
Anyway, like I was saying, when Katniss chose to be the Mockingjay and became active in her story, I was digging it and I was totally ready to end the series on a high note.
Until the complete clusterfuck of an ending Suzanne Collins throws up for the last 15-20% of the book.
Where Did That Come From?
Let me break down what happens. Katniss and a small group of rebels set to storm the Capitol to take out the Emperor, President Snow. The Capitol’s under siege already and Katniss’ team has to travel through a veritable death trap to try and reach the palace. Katniss takes charge, makes some decisions, people die because of them, but they fight on because they have a cause. It’s a great sequence and I was hard-pressed to stop reading.
Then they get to Tigris’ shop….
Meters from making it to the Presidential Estate and her objective, there’s a bombing. Katniss is knocked out and when she wakes up THE WAR IS OVER. Let me repeat for emphasis: the war is over. After all this fighting and great build-up, once again, the story is taken out of Katniss’ hands, and the rebels have captured Katniss’ arch-nemesis for her.
Not to forget, Collins also killed off her sister in the bombing – which was the catalyst that moved Katniss to action in the first place, almost invalidating the point of the entire series. Que?
So what happens? We’ll at least get to see Katniss fulfill her vendetta against Snow –who personifies the Capitol and everything that Katniss and the reader has been against this entire time.
Instead we get a sinister – the leader of the other side is evil, too, mwahahaha, you can’t trust anybody, bitch – kind of deal and Katniss ends up assassinating the President/Leader of District 13.
It made no story sense and, to me, destroyed everything that was working about the Hunger Games. Honestly, if the Hunger Games are about fighting the oppression of the Capitol in small and then big ways, and Snow is the embodiment of that thing we’re fighting against, and Katniss is the tool through which we see the world and get to fight that oppression, then we need to see the tool do the job and get it done.
So in a nutshell, I really did love the world that was set-up and Suzanne Collins is good at setting it up, but Katniss Everdeen – an irreverent and emotional basket-case, with zero ability to connect with people, and whose only real redeeming quality is that she’s self-sacrificing – was very lacking. At least to me.
Phew. What did you think of The Hunger Games trilogy? Join the discussion in the comments below?
If you missed them:
- Read My Thoughts on The Hunger Games
- Read My Thoughts on Catching Fire
- Read Three Final Thoughts that didn’t make it into these posts.