The Hunger Games – Book 3

See my intro, Part 1, and Part 2.

I consider Mockingjay the weakest of the three books, but when you open up a world, there’s only so much wrap-up that can be done.  It didn’t grip me nearly as much as the first two, and the final conclusion just felt rushed.  The rushed feeling also showed up at the end of Catching Fire, but it fit better in the chaos at the end of that book.

The plot here is somewhat generic.  It’s the standard story of a reluctant rebel leader fighting against the evil oppressive government.  While the characters and world as a whole remain interesting, this particular plot line was largely forgettable.

Minor Plot Spoilers Below

Katniss takes her place as the reluctant rebel leader in the form of the Mockingjay, though the reality of the situation is that she is still largely a pawn in the larger plans of the rebel leaders and the government of District 13.  One of the first orders of business is rescuing all of the Hunger Games contestants that weren’t retrieved in the initial attempt.  However, after seeing Peeta on the broadcasts, it becomes obvious that something isn’t quite right.

When Peeta is finally rescued, the first thing he does upon seeing Katniss is attempt to kill her.  After a little research, it becomes obvious that he has been brainwashed by President Snow into believing a world of awful thing about her.  They slowly work through this difficulty, and I respect Collins for wrecking a character, but the fact remains that the character was wrecked.  Peeta, while somewhat single minded, was at least interesting.  Post-brainwashing, not so much.  Thankfully, Finnick fills in the role of most interesting male character quite nicely.

It will come as a surprise to no one that the scrappy rebel crew manages to succeed in its uprising, but there was quite a large number of named-character deaths.  As they make their way through to the president, people die almost casually.  Once again there’s chaos, though this time before the very end, stemming from an attack on the children used as a shield in front of President Snow.

Once he is captured, Katniss is given the opportunity to kill him.  She takes this chance and kills President Coin of District 13 instead, due to her belief that President Coin ordered the attack on the children (with a plan originating from Gale).  One final time, chaos ensues.  I wish the book would end here.

Katniss is magically forgiven (temporary insanity) for killing the wrong president, and she doesn’t even really lose any of her status.  Peeta is healed, they return to District 12, the bluebird sings, and the Ewoks dance.  At this point I was nervous that Collins was totally dropping the “can’t go home again” theme, at which point I might have thrown the book in frustration.  Thankfully there’s a partially redeeming epilogue, where Katniss and Peeta are married, with children, but she is still haunted by the games.

End Minor Plot Spoilers

I started this book at one of the highest possible points, and I ended it fairly low.  As it moved forward, I found myself tuning out more and more due to the predictable and formulaic plot.  If I didn’t love some of the characters, I might have put it down.  Not permanently, mind you, but still.

The theme of continued distrust of the government, regardless of the origin, had potential, but District 13 wasn’t developed enough for it to really feel meaningful.

In a similar way, Katniss’s separation from Gale due to his potential (unintentional) involvement in the attack on the children seemed forced.  I was looking forward to seeing how the love triangle was resolved, but it almost felt like a deus ex machina.  Given more time, I think the guilt and mistrust between Katniss and Gale could have been interesting, but instead Gale was simply written out.

It would be fairly easy to interpret all this as me disliking the book, but in reality I still enjoyed it.  It’s just the effect of going from a B+ to a solid A to C/C-.  It disappoints, far more than a C from the get-go would.  On the whole, the series is still fantastic, and I unconditionally recommend it.

The world is fantastic example of a post-apocalyptic future.  There’s enough individuality to separate it from the pack, and Collins doesn’t make the mistake of explaining more than she needs to.  This is important in my mind because I would love to see other books (or video games) set in this world.  I almost hope it doesn’t happen, since it would probably pale in comparison, but my imagination runs wild with Panem.

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