I’m almost afraid to write a Mockingjay review for fear of spoilers for anyone who didn’t stay up too late last night reading it. But I really can’t help myself. I’ll keep the spoilers very minimal, but read at your own risk if you’re a fan of this immensely popular YA series.
First of all, if you’re one of the two fans of YA literature out there who aren’t familiar with this series, it takes place in the distant future in a North American country called Panem, where the capital, District 1, rules over the other districts with an iron fist and forces their children to participate in “The Hunger Games,” a twisted reality show fight to the death. In this third volume, our hero, Katniss, joins the rebels in the hitherto mysterious District 13, where she must decide how to act in her role as the symbol of the ongoing rebellion against the capital. Gale, Katniss’s best friend is at her side ready to fight while Peeta, her partner in the games, is imprisoned in the capital and keeps urging peace. The final volume fleshes out many of the minor characters, but keeps up the action of the previous books.
The complaint I’ve already seen about this volume is that Katniss continues to be a pawn in everyone else’s schemes. It’s true, but I didn’t really expect anything different. Like the other books, Katniss proves herself to be her own person, especially by her actions at the end of the story. I feel like Katniss’s refusal to be only a pawn, while still lacking the control over her situation she desires, is one of the points of the story. One of the things that bothered me about Catching Fire was how completely dense Katniss was about what was going on around her. By contrast, the schemes in Mockingjay are genuinely harder to tease apart and more morally ambiguous, making it easier to stick with Katniss’s close first person perspective.
Having read Suzanne Collins’s other series, the excellent Gregor the Overlander books, I suspected that the ending of this book would be ambiguous. It’s much less ambiguous than the Gregor books in that the political situation is resolved and we see what happened to all the characters. However, many of the ambiguous actions of the war are never fully addressed, seemingly purposefully. There’s certainly a lot of moral gray left in the story for readers to ponder. As well, Collins makes some interesting choices with the plot near the end, where the plot seems to build to a tense climax only to be jerked away. Fans of the romantic triangle may also be disappointed. There are some interesting twists, but the romantic resolution is done quietly, without the fireworks some fans might want.
So, in case I wasn’t clear, my first reflection is positive. I liked the way Collins managed to keep the story so action packed yet still brought us a quieter ending. I also appreciated that this volume was a lot less fashion-centric.