Review of Mockingjay – Book 3 of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


This is the third book in this Y.A. dystopian series that was such a runaway success. Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games. Twice. But she’s still not safe. A revolution is unfolding, and everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans – everyone except Katniss. And yet she must play the most vital part in the final battle. Katniss must become their Mockingjay – the symbol of rebellion – no matter what the personal cost.

mockingjayHonourable mention must go to the unsung hero who did the blurb. This series is all about plot, despite the very strong protagonist at the heart of the action – and yet no one has seen fit to give away any major plot points on the back cover, which would have been all too easy. Well done, Scholastic – you certainly get a gold star from me over this. Would that other publishers were so careful of their authors’ content.

So… the first two books created plenty of tension, full-on action and a painful ongoing love triangle. As well as making harsh, pertinent comments about the exploitative nature of our current celebrity culture. Has Collins managed to sustain the energy and strong plotlines through to this final book in the trilogy? Does she manage to produce a sufficiently strong ending after the climactic moments her readers experienced throughout The Hunger Games?

It would have been so easy to fluff this book. Decide to go for a safe option – give us the Hunger Games, again, for instance. Ease up on her poor put-upon heroine. Lapse into the odd treacly moment, or turn her into a Mary-Sue construct who – somehow – manages to have the fate of Panem hinging on her personal agenda…

Fortunately for her readership, Collins is far too adept a writer to commit those sins and for my money, Mockingjay is the best of the series. It doesn’t take a huge stretch of imagination to visualise how quickly minor celebrities get trapped by their ‘image’ in much the same way that Katniss finds herself boxed in by becoming the poster child for the rebellion against the brutal regime running Panem.

Collins also continues to pull off those jaw-dropping moments which I certainly didn’t see coming – particularly the shocking climax. I sat down intending to give myself a small slice of Hunger Games magic – and was still reading hours later when I had a stack of other chores calling for my attention.

I find it particularly impressive the way that Collins manages to immerse her readers in the adrenaline-fuelled action, without making that the sole purpose of the books. There is passion and action without resorting to the eroticism of Twilight. And a sharp commentary that shines an unforgiving light on our Western culture. Collins certainly intends her readers to compare current middle-class American concerns with those sweet natured make-up artists from the Capital that work on Katniss. It is also refreshing to encounter all-action heroes, such as the Hunger Games’ survivors, who have been significantly damaged by their experiences. While Collins doesn’t flinch from depicting violent fights and deaths, she also shows there is always a price to pay for those left standing. And often that price is too much.

As for the romantic interest that wound through all three books – does Collins manage to conclude this satisfactorily? Absolutely. Along with the heartbreaking reason behind her choice…

If you want a masterclass in how to construct a classic plot, with the necessary action interspersed by introspection and exposition setting up the next scene – and a sudden unexpected twist thrown into the mix at intervals, then have a good, hard look at The Hunger Games series. Particularly this final book. It is provides a fitting conclusion to an exceptional series.

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