*This review contains spoilers (ish).
I was originally going to subtitle this post: Same Song, Third Verse, Please Stop Singing Now. However that is too harsh, even for me. True, I did not enjoy this book the first time I read it. Rereading it however, was a pleasant surprise. I don’t love it now or anything. It’s just not as terrible as I remember. I still have a lot of problems with it as a novel though.
Mockingjay suffers many of the same problems as its predecessors. There is a lot of information that does not move the story along. Katniss’s voice-activated bow was one of the biggest examples of this to me. It’s an awesome weapon that doesn’t function any differently than a regular bow once she’s in battle. So why give her a special weapon at all? It adds nothing to the story. I had the same problem with the violence. In the other books, the violence and graphic imagery within the games served a purpose. In Mockingjay it just felt gratuitous, like a cheap, easy way for Collins to up the stakes.
Also I felt the pacing was really inconsistent. Before I reread the book, the only part of the story I could remember was when Katniss took her team through the Capitol to President Snow’s mansion. That is a tiny portion of what happens in Mockingjay. The rest of the novel does lay groundwork to show the rebellion growing in force and to set up the ending, but it doesn’t feel important. It made no impression on me the first time I read it.
This is a problem I have with all of The Hunger Games books. They take too long to get to the real story, there is too much time concentrated on Katniss being on her own, away from the action. In The Hunger Games it is forgivable since time and space are needed to first build the world of Panem. However, in Catching Fire and Mockingjay, it just makes it look like Collins has no control over her story. So much of the novel is Katniss experiencing things, Katniss directly explaining what the experiences mean. Or Katniss missing out on the action and having everything explained to her. That is the opposite of compelling storytelling. Show, don’t tell.
I definitely love the ideas that Collins has and the world she created in The Hunger Games. However, I dislike the way she tells her story (again: show, don’t tell). Collins kills some of my favorite characters, but I felt so disconnected this time around that I didn’t really care. I knew the basic plot structure and there was nothing else to discover. I didn’t learn anything new upon this reread. No new revelations about any plot twists (were there even any plot twists in the book?), no new information about the characters, nothing. I again found myself reading to remember, but for no other reason.
The one thing I did enjoy in Mockingjay - surprisingly enough – was the love triangle. I still think it is too heavily emphasized. However, as Gale and Peeta differentiate themselves in this book in relation to the rebellion, finally the question of who Katniss will end up with becomes relevant to the story and therefore interesting to me.
The Hunger Games books are compelling reads the first time through. It is almost impossible to stop reading after book one. However, as a series, I don’t think they will stand the test of time. Catching Fire and Mockingjay are worth reading once to get the rest of the story, but I will probably not be picking up either of them again.