Mockingjay: A Review with Spoilers

Mockingjay, the third and final book in Suzanne CollinsHunger Games trilogy, in my experience is the most controversial in the series.  People that I’ve talked to feel no indifference, they love it or hate it. I loved it. I’m embarrassed to actually say this, but reading the book felt very deep to me.  And although I usually try to keep spoilers out of these reviews, I didn’t know how to analyze the book with out giving some of the major plot points away.

The political commentary that is hinted at in Hunger Games, and brought to light in Catching Fire is on steroids in this book. As Katniss learns to take her place in the rebel District 13, the reader learns that just because the Capitol is bad doesn’t mean that the rebels are good.

In a series where control is a looming theme, District 13 with their stringent rules, tattooed schedules, and strict regulation of food intake is almost more controlling than the capital. The role of celebrity culture and propaganda comes center stage, as Katniss reluctantly embraces her place as the face of the rebellion. There is also a strong theme of ends justifying means. In district 2 should they eliminate the population hiding in the mountain? Does the victory against the capital justify the purposeful loss of Prim?

What is strange, and I think effective, about the books is that while these serious themes are on steroids so are the traditional YA elements. The love triangle is more present in this book than the other two. Katniss is shown as more selfish than ever. Leading to the next question, does what she’s been through justify her selfish behavior.

I read in the NYT review that the book, like the capital, uses the things we are attached to against us. This seemed pretty spot on for me. Peeta remained by largest connection to the book. Although his torture and its aftereffects broke my heart, it made their love story more interesting, equal, and further invested me in it. “Real or not real?” was definitely my favorite narrative device used.

The end of the book left me with a lot of questions. Namely, why did Katniss and Haymitch vote yes at the end and did Katniss plan to assassinate Coin? I also felt like the epilogue could have been a little longer. After 3 books of nonstop tragedy, a few more pages of happy were definitely in order.

For further reading and reviews:

7 thoughts on “Mockingjay: A Review with Spoilers

  1. By the end, I felt that Katniss was just a pawn for President Snow’s and Coin game. Also, that she sort just let Peeta love her is sweet and kindhearted.

    • I agree with the pawn statement, but she didn’t let herself stay in that position. I think it is hard to read a book where bravery isn’t rewarded. But maybe that is closer to reality?

      • Do you think that killing Coin was something that Snow planted in Katniss’s mind while they were in the rose garden?

  2. I haven’t read this one yet so I admit I only read the first paragraph of your review…but I’m excited to finish it and it sounds like it’ll be worth the read just to finish the series even if this isn’t the best book of the three.

  3. I believe that Katniss voted yes already with the intention of assassinating Coin. The fact that Coin posed the question was the crux of the audience agreeing, before the fact, that the assassination was the right and only decision. It’s definitely not clear, but the author points to no wavering and/or thought processing leading up to the arrow being shot. So I assume that the ideas ruminating throughout the book surrounding government structures and Coin’s immorality came to a boil with her suggestion of re-instating the Hunger Games.

    What I find more perplexing is Johanna’s willingness to vote yes as she knows the horrors of the games twicefold, and has made self sacrifices for the betterment of society in the past. Was she so damaged by the Capital’s tortue that violence and hatred replaced all other brain functioning? Especially without her own ‘loved ones’ to bring her back?

    Also Haymitch and Katniss’s relationship is very complex to me. At times he trusts her unconditionally, and he explicitly states that he is voting ‘with the Mockingjay’, not that he agrees or disagrees. Yet, he withholds an enormous amount of information from her, particularly in Catching Fire. It leaves the audience to wonder how he weighs this trust/distrust, it seems to me that he holds Katniss up as an ideological ideal (which she clearly isn’t) but does not visualize her navigating the real world successfully (which she more or less does). However, it all works out, he is generally a successful ‘mentor’. Maybe it is a commentary on the value of imperfection and complexity in relationships (contrasted with Capitol gossip/ celebrity worship and District 13 deindividualization/ celebrity worship). This theme is further explored through the increasing complexity with Peeta and Katniss’s relationship.

    • What a fantastic comment. You are really elevating the level of conversation here!

      I felt like the yes votes, were moments of personal weakness from the more “flawed” victors, not intentional or related to the plan to kill Coin, which I viewed as much more spur of the moment.

      I agree with your characterization of Haymitch’s relationship with Katniss. It is odd, when he has been trying to pull the puppet strings through their entire relationship, either through telling her things or keeping them from her, that he gives up control to her in this moment.

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