Book Review, Dystopian, Fiction, Young Adult

Book Review: “Mockingjay”

Rating: 6.2 out of 10.0

Author: Suzanne Collins

Genre: YA Dystopian

About: Bursting onto the scene in 2008, The Hunger Games series has now become a global phenomenon, becoming a NY Times bestselling series. In four short years, two more books had been written and the movie adaptation of The Hunger Games was being released. At that time, over 26 million Hunger Games trilogy books had been printed. Its success rivaled that of Harry Potter, becoming one of the most widely-read books among teens and young adults. The success of this blazed a trail for other young adult dystopian series and books including The Maze Runner by James Dashner, which came out in the following year and Veronica Roth’s Divergent, which was published in 2011. There are now very few people in the world who do not recognize the name of The Hunger Games. It has caught on like wildfire and shows very little signs of stopping, now 8 years later.

Review: This book made me frustrated. Very frustrated.

It was probably one of the biggest let-downs of a conclusion to a series that I have read. I have fallen in love with many of the characters and have come to greatly appreciate and respect Collins’ writing ability. Her talent at weaving together the lives of believable characters into a fictional masterpiece is nearly on par with J.K. Rowling and other such gifted writers. And then she blows it.

The first 150 pages of this book were slow. Painfully slow. It took me far longer than usual to muddle through them until finally reaching a place where there was a tiny bit of action. Then they picked up speed for 100 pages and for the rest of the book beyond that the pace wavered back and forth drastically. Collins cleverly crafted it so that you come to hate almost every single character in the book and are hesitant to even wish Katniss to win—you kind of just want something to happen, though you know you will not like it no matter what happens. After building up to a massive conclusion, Collins settles for an easy way out by just killing off some people and not being as clever as her readers have come to expect. The intensity built in the previous two books amounts to nothing in the less-than-impressive conclusion.

To her credit, though, there were also various strengths with this book. She raised the stakes well and heightened the conflict (both internal and external). She also included an ample amount of character development, particularly in Katniss and Gale. She also did a phenomenal job tying in the character’s pasts and bringing them to bear on the events at hand in this novel, as any good conclusion should do.

Some more negative elements in here are that this book was probably the most graphically gruesome of the three. Terrifying violence is described in full detail, which is understandable considering the worsening of the situation, but it is still a consideration when reading these books. Also, Finnick tells of his past and how he was sold as a prostitute by President Snow. There is no further detail given beyond this, except that which occurs in Katniss’ occasional thoughts about Finnick’s past.

The good themes that ran throughout the previous two books are muddled and obscured by a simple driving theme—hate. Hate fuels Katniss Everdeen to do unthinkable things. Hate fuels Gale Hawthorne to abandon any moral code that he previously held. Political and vengeful reasons drive many of the actions in this book, diminishing the themes of love and loyalty. Suicide is contemplated by various characters and attempted by one.

Overall, this book had a much darker feel—one that even the brighter themes of love, devotion, and loyalty could barely penetrate.

So, as you will note, while the other two books rated over an 8, this one barely clears a 6. I still think the series as a whole is certainly worth a read, but do not hold your breath when you reach the final chapter of this series. At the end of the day, though, I tip my hat to Mrs. Collins for a well-written trilogy.

Book length: 390 pages (Scholastic Press edition)

Favorite Character: Boggs

Suggested Age: 13+

Plot- 1.3 out of 2.0
Characters- 1.5 out of 2.0
Setting- 1.5 out of 2.0
Unfavorable content/other- 0.3 out of 1.0
Themes- 0.3 out of 1.0
Dialogue- 0.8 out of 1.0
Quality of writing 0.5 out of 1.0

= 6.2 out of 10.0

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