Review : Mockingjay

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Pages : 390
Genre : YA, Speculative fiction
Series : The Hunger Games, Book 3
My Rating :

(review may contain spoilers on the series)

I first read Mockingjay when it was published back in 2010. After a year of waiting, I was too excited to wait anymore and read it almost in one sitting. Reading the last few pages, I was left both satisfied and dissatisfied, but mostly confused about whether I had enjoyed it or hated it. There was just too much information, too many events and twists and turns, for me to process in what had been a few hours.

Despite not writing my review of it, I went online and read tons of them, hoping something would click and that I would finally understand my feelings about it. As it turned out, some people absolutely loved it, others hated it, and I could relate to most of their arguments. A book has rarely left me so confused, and a year and a half later, all I could remember, except for Prim’s death, was that Katniss spent most of the book drugged and sleeping.

A little over a week ago, I decided to reread The Hunger Games to be prepared for the movie. After watching it, I really felt like rereading the following two books, as I had never read them all as a whole before. So here we are!

I am pleased to say that, reading it just after the two previous books, in a calmer state of mind, I truly enjoyed Mockingjay. It was fast, heartbreaking, horrifying, intriguing, and even though I had read it and knew where it lead, I kept being surprised and the emotion from the scenes still got to me (I had forgotten a lot of what happened to Peeta, apparently!)

I related a lot more to Katniss this time around. Knowing in parts what was coming in the story, I was able to focus on her character and her interior battles much more. My first reaction : how can this girl still get up in the morning after all that’s happened to her? I was also pleased to see that, though she does spend a lot of time sleeping and healing, she also participates in many events. In fact, I found it refreshing to have a main character who isn’t always standing in the middle of every  important scene happening in her world. It was realistic, because no matter how important she is to the cause, I don’t believe adults would happily handle all of their very important business to a 16, 17 years old girl. While as a reader I found this frustrating the first time around, I ended up appreciating this aspect of the book. There’s enough action in Mockingjay, and adding more would probably have taken away from Katniss’ personal story.

Speaking of Katniss, I appreciated her state of mind more after a second reading. Reading the three books in a row, it made it easier for me to understand what she had lost, lived through, suffered in less than a couple of years. I feel that P.T.S.D. isn’t even enough to describe what she was going through. Katniss isn’t strong in every scene because she is, in many way, just a regular girl who wants to be left alone. But she doesn’t get a break, with all sides using her, and though I enjoy strong characters, it is extremely refreshing to have one who seems human in her reactions and decisions. Katniss is a complex character, just like I love them, with flaws that become strengths and strengths that become flaws. Like the world she lives in, Katniss isn’t black or white but somewhere in between, which is very true to life.

If there is one thing though that hasn’t changed since my first reading, it’s my opinion on the epilogue. Now, I do appreciate knowing what goes on in her life, many years later. It’s nice to know that life goes on, even though she’ll forever live with that dark cloud over her head. The problem is, I found this epilogue to be so weak after the book’s conclusion! The last sentences of Mockingjay, before the epilogue, are some of the strongest I have read for a series’ last words. They are perfect for the characters, the story, they have a strength and an emotional weight that the epilogue doesn’t. So for me, the book’s last word will forever be, “Real”.

Before concluding, I also want to give huge props to the author for making what has been, I am sure, some very difficult decisions. There’s a lot of heartbreak in Mockingjay, even more than in the previous books. I am sure some readers found it gratuitous, but for me, it was realistic : we don’t choose who goes first, nor do we choose how or why. And so it is in the world of Panem.

I am so glad that I reread not only Mockingjay, but the complete series. It is clear to me now why The Hunger Games is always the book I compare other YA novels of dystopia. Even though I often find them thrilling and entertaining, there isn’t one that has captured both my imagination and my heart like The Hunger Games.

Series Reading Order :

  1. The Hunger Games
  2. Catching Fire
  3. Mockingjay
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20 responses to “Review : Mockingjay”

  1. bermudaonion (Kathy) says :

    I just read The Hunger Games and didn’t love it. I can’t decide if I want to continue with the series or not. Maybe seeing the movie will help me decide.

  2. diary of a dashinista says :

    Great review! I have just finished reading the series this week, I downloaded Hunger Games on Monday so I’d have something to read during a long coach journey and had to download the other two in the series as soon as I got home. (This is the problem with having a Kindle, if I get addicted I don’t even have to wait until I’m next at a bookstore to buy the next in series!)

    I also loved that Katniss was a complex character, and at times that she was a bit of a jerk. I hate Mary Sue-ism in fiction and it would have been so easy to turn Katniss into one.

    I think Hunger Games was my favourite of the three novels, but I am re-reading them again this week to pick up on anything I missed the first time around. It’s so easy to miss the lovely little details when you are desperately waiting to find out what happens next.

    • Lou says :

      I so agree with you. I have just read the series of 3 books back to back in under 1 month which is a record for me. I was addicted and thought they were great but also agree that – you miss so much because you are racing to get through them. I love at times how Katniss is a real and normal person and can’t cope and breaks down and the way she thinks in her own head and does get defensive – like normal people.

      I totally agree with Kay who’s blog this is that the last couple of chapters leaves you out of sorts because for the whole series you have been propelled and pushed along in such a momentum that the end conclusions leave you questioning if they should have been finished that way. Like the way she got fire bombed and the war ended will she was out of it – was totally expecting her to storm the mansion and have a big show down with Snow and take him out in a blaze of glory. But that be said – I have never enjoyed a book/series more the the hunger games and have never been drawn so intently into consuming the written word.

  3. sabrina says :

    Mockingjay is a bit of a mixed bag, but it’s probably the only way the series could have ended. I didn’t expect for so much of it to stay with me, particularly some of the deaths. I also love that Katniss is a real girl, like you said. She doesn’t have to go out guns blazing every time to be an intriguing character.

  4. Kristin says :

    I agree about the epilogue. The same kerfluffle was had over the epilogue to the Harry Potter series, which I actually found appropriate. However, this one seemed unnecessary and out of place, especially after the strength of the closing chapter. There is hope in that place, and that is all one really needs to survive.

  5. toothy says :

    i read all three books back to back to back last year for the first time and felt quite confused by the third book too. i felt like the author took the easy way out with the whole katniss, gale, and peeta triangle and i also thought all the characters were insane! they weren’t the characters that i fell in love with in the first book. but i was talking about the series with another friend and she was telling me that the change in the characters made sense because of the situation they were thrown into and i guess i could see that.

    i also completely agree with you on the whole epilouge thingy! i would of liked it alot more if “real” had been the last word. that had a much stronger finish then the little story she added onto it.

  6. destinyisntfree says :

    Thank you for such a thorough and insightful review. I have been on the fence about reading this series, but thanks to what you have written here, I think I will pick it up and give it a read. I was worried that it may not live up to all of the hype that has surrounded it and I would be disappointed, but maybe now I can see things differently.

  7. Greg says :

    Saw Hunger Games movie on opening weekend. Decided to read the book. Took a week to read. Hooked. Read Catching Fire in 2 days. Read Mockingjay in 1 day. I rarely finish any book I start much less in a day. Mockingjay really messed with my mind. It caused many serious emotions. I’ve never had that happen to me from a book. I was genuinely depressed after Katniss’s reunion with Peeta. I’ve started reading it again. This time I’m going to take my time. While I agree the epilogue seemed like an after thought, it was good to see that Katniss and Peeta FINALLY get together. I could go on for pages.

  8. rcl90 says :

    THIS IS MY REVIEW.

    I think it was an absolutely breathtaking and masterful piece of work Collins has created. Though some of you are annoyed with how there wasn’t the ‘usual’ happy ending, where heroines fully regain their power and strength and lover and happy ending blah blah blah, I think this is what sets Mockingjay apart from other great novels like Harry Potter and Twilight (if you think so). I’m sure all of us are fortunate enough to never have been involved in a war. We don’t know how giant the emotional scars it can cause. The fact that Collins made the story sort of hang in the air and Katniss without a fully complete recovery of her old self makes the reality and raw consequences of war shine through. It makes us wonder if war has really that big a power to destroy a part of someone’s life. In this case, yes.

    ABOUT THE ROMANCE. Firstly, it was never really the main point of the book. The fact that the last line of the entire series says “Because there are much worse games to play” (which by the way is a beautiful, beautiful line) shows that the message of these 3 books after all is about war. How peace is important and war does nothing but wreck the lives of millions including previously thought indestructible girls on fire. It shows not a single soul can ever escape from the harm of war, not even the bravest.

    A fitting ending to a fantastic series. Real or not real?

    Real.

    Also, I loved Peeta from the very start, and he is still my favourite character, and it kills me to know he was never the same again. But the choice to make him this further enhances the meaningful message on war Collins wishes to send to millions of people who turn her pages. I cried like hell when Finnick died (didn’t you?) , and just as Katniss didn’t even have time to mull over her close friend, her readers didn’t too, and so we experienced first-hand that pain of having to let a loved one go without even a final word of goodbye. The thing is, because of the skillful way Collins picked up her pen, we were able to feel exactly how Katniss felt. Pain. Grief. Joy. Hope. Love. Hate. Every single bit of it, in its truest form. That’s why this book will stay in readers’ hearts for a long, long time to come.

    In conclusion, I feel Collins have crafted a raw, realistic, hauntingly beautiful piece of 388+ pages that breathes new life into the themes of love, war, and sacrifice.

    • Greg says :

      Re-read Mockingjay. I feel much better about the last third of Mockingjay than I did in my first reading. Everything seemed a little clearer.

      Seems the last couple of chapters are the parts of the book that most folks had a lot of problems. Was for me on my first reading. Prim’s death was still painful. I really felt for Katniss as she sorts things out after talking to Snow. I don’t think that her vote for a final hunger games with the children of Capital officials was real. I was also painful to see Katniss after she killed Coin. She wants to die. The mental illness verdict was interesting to me. Maybe it was clear to all of “new” panem that Coin was really a ruthless leader, not much different than Snow. Katniss did everyone a favor.

      There are several poignant sections in the last few chapters. The conversation between Gale and Peeta. Who’s she gonna pick? The one she needs to survive. She says she doesn’t need either of them. Same ‘ol Katniss. She sets Peeta free, releasing him from his bracelets and hugs him. The hugs will never be the same. The return of buttercup. Her inability do anything in the victory village house. Greasy Sae taking care of her.

      The last few chapters and epilogue were great. I didn’t feel this way on my first reading. Collins really does wrap up the Gale-vs-Peeta and Katniss “Peeta and I grow closer”. Gale pretty much knows it over when Katniss asks him if it was his bomb that killed Prim. “That was the one thing I had going for me. Taking care of your family.” It’s over. You can see a glimpse that the old Peeta is back. It’s implied that he wanted to be with Katniss before “Dr Aurelius wouldn’t let me leave the Capital until yesterday”. Finally that special kiss with Peeta happens. “It would have happened anyway”.

      There are such a wide range of reviews of Mockingjay. Love or hate it. Not many in-between. This speaks to the genius of these books. Hats off to Collins.

      I think I may finally be ready to put these books behind me.

    • alanjay1 says :

      Well said, I completely agree. The carnage of the Assassin section is a true dose of reality. The fact is, in the real world, there are people whose lives are decimated by war, and somehow, incredibly, they actually do figure out a way to get on without their loved ones. I admire Collins for not diluting the effects of war.

      At the end of the day, there was zero point in Katniss making it to the presidential mansion. All the characters die in the service of a mission that was misguided from the start, and I think that is an awesome and gutsy. In not accomplishing their mission, they actually end up living and dying for the principle of not being pure pawns.

      It’s not an easy book to swallow, and it suffers from some of the stylistic imperfections of the first two books, but Mockingjay is definitely the masterpiece of the series.

  9. Amanda says :

    I’m really glad to hear that you enjoyed it, and I’m glad to read your review! I still enjoyed the epilogue, and I need to reread this series, especially after seeing the movie. Back when I read Mockingjay the first time, I reread it, and then reread the whole series, and maybe that contributed so much to loving it.

  10. Matthew (Bibliofreak.net) says :

    This is really interesting. I’ve just read the series for the first time and, having been a little undecided up until Mockingjay, really took against it after the series. However, I’ve read plenty of things that make me think I need to reconsider it. I wonder if, like you, I might appreciate it more on a second reading.

    My review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

  11. cazz says :

    I read the 3 novels almost back to back and each in a matter of hours. And my heart is broken and I feel down. The issues surrounding these three books go way further than the charcters, storyline, plot, romance etc. It is the nature of the human race, power, motives, leadership and our depravity. Made that much more real by “likable characters” and “friends”.

    That is what makes this final book a conundrum! The story vs the reality, vs the truth. The truth is Katniss is not real. But we are and the human race is. And that is scary.

    Hope – what they tried to steal from her, can be so easily stolen from us too unless we as humans make sure we never get to that place. That is the scary and depressing part, because when i look around and see the news, i realise that her world is not far fetched and that in some ways i may be one of those characters in the book – and how will my life be? Will I be one of those who dies hiding or dies standing up or lives at all.

    This is more than a story but should in fact be a reality check.

    • alanjay1 says :

      It’s actually not far fetched at all. Human history is filled with tyrants being deposed by still-more-evil tyrants, and popular revolutions turning their backs on the ideals that sparked them. Regular people being destroyed in the middle, as if their lives were worthless. France, Russia, China, Spain, Cuba, Iran, Liberia, and on and on. The tragic reality is actually far more horrifying than this book.

  12. Emily says :

    I loved the trilogy but am left with a sense of dissatisfaction. I know it was the only plausible way to end the books with Peeta and Katniss getting together but I feel so sad at the loss of Gale. It saddened me much more than any of the deaths (except maybe Finnik’s which also seems a little overlooked). Why does no one else miss Gale?!

    • Scottam says :

      I do! It should always have been Gale. As If she didn’t have enough choices taken away from her, Peeta had to drag her into his speech and decide, without her input, that he’s going to sacrifice himself for her, making her feel she owes a debt and taking from her the choice of who she gets to fall in love with. She should have just shot him.
      In fact I’m absolutely devastated she ended up with him. Solely his name frustrated me beyond belief, along with the word ‘muttation’. It’s mutation. And Peter. If you’re going to make up new words at least try and put some effort in.

  13. Sierra says :

    This is the best review I have found yet about Mockingjay an I have to commend you, especially since I feel the exact same way.
    Up early December of last year I didn’t even know the Hunger Games existed to be entirely honest. I saw the preview when I went to see Breaking Dawn and something captivated me about how entirely different this movie looked. I could tell just from the 2 and a half minute preview trailer that it was not a love story like the one I was about to watch, but an actual Young Adult war story, dictator story etc.
    I asked my mom to buy me the series for Christmas so I could read the books. (I am very into books and will read about anything but have been a huge Twilight (book) fan and MEGA Harry potter fan (almost too a point of extreme or obsession!).

    So She bought me The Hunger Games as well as Catching Fire but could not find Mockingjay anywhere.
    I did not read the hunger games at first. In fact until Two weeks ago I had never gotten past the 46th page!
    I decided to start at the beginning since I didn’t go far and let my mind wander into this story. Normally when I am very into a novel I read it in a matter of hours (took me 6 days to read all the Harry Potter books and 4 to read all the Twilight!). But with The Hunger Games it took my 4 nights (even being as short as it was) I loved it. In fact fell IN love with it. With the characters. ALL of them. They are more unique than any characters I have ever read in my life (and that is REALLY saying something). There is no perfect character in the hunger games. Not a single one. They all have personalities that conflict. All have strengths and weaknesses. And for the first time, the main character (Katniss) is perhaps the weakest character from the beginning of the trilogy to the end. The only thing that fuels her is her family. She lives to survive, not survives so she can live. She is a strong character in SOO many ways but has so many weaknesses that she doesn’t deny (like the fact that she always finds herself owing other. In another persons debt).

    So immediately in the 4 nights I took to read the book fell into It. Was completely captivated.
    It was so real and so true because of there being nothing perfect about it, while in contrast, I couldn’t see the book being any more perfect as a whole.

    I especially fell into it because although it was 800 page novel like half the Harry Potter books, it had 10 times the content. 10 times the action (and this is coming from a Harry potter obsessed fan!) the short novel in page length had so much too It and was so complex it blew me and everything I ever thought about literature away.

    This continued to remain true in Catching Fire. Perhaps even more so. The part of the novel involving the Quarter Quell was so short page wise, and took up so little of the book, but it didn’t lack in emotion. The second book is fantastic because of its ability to bring new characters in, have them grow, have Katniss and Peeta and Haymitch surely grow. The relationships between ALL the characters grow immensely. Not necessarily meaning that people grow closer together, but for instance: Katniss and Gale gain so much during the beginning of the novel in their relationship, but it is pretty much lost when Katniss decides to let him and her family go when she knows she will never go back. This was incredible for me because we go through the entire Hungrr Games book doing nothing see Katniss fight for her family, mainly Prim.

    She really hates Snow now and is so intent on the rebellion to come because she hates that he would subject Peeta (and her but mainly him) to another even more grotesque Hunger Games after her an Peeta and all the other victors were granted immunity after winning a Game. Her love for Peeta is beyond something of a love story. She needs him to survive mentally. She feels so in debt to him and to others because of the events during the Quarter Quell.
    Peeta faces the challenge of wanting to save Katniss (again!) while knowin that their chances of surviving is slim to none. The whole novel is intense and the ending is so unpredictable but so realistic and so heart wrenching.

    I waiting desperately a week after reading the first two books to get Mockingjay an read it. I had went and read reviews on the book and was hesitant to even read it. All I saw was negative after negative after negative after negative after negative! How they hated how it ended, how the whole book Katniss does not grow as a character, no one does, she just sits in a closet the whole time addicted to drugs, that Peeta looses his mind and becomes insane, etc etc etc.
    I realized then when reading these reviews that the reason people had a problem with Mockingjay is because it stayed TRUE to the Hunger Games. Honest true and perfect for a storyline after what the first two books (that everyone loved) held. So why did everyone hate it? Because it was not another Twilight. It didn’t have some unrealistic fantasizing ending and was not some love story which people seemed to think it was.
    The Hunger Games trilogy is about a war and government control. A war that is the result of The DICTATOR having a rich and bountiful Capitol while the other 12 districts that provided their food and materials suffered from hunger and had to participate in the Hunger Games each year as punishment for the rebellion 75 years before.
    The war was to stop the Hunger Games and let people have happy lives without fear an cruelty to their families and friends and children.
    This was the purpose from the start of the hunger games. From Gale talking about the Capitol and how cruel they were. This was what it was all about.
    Not some love story or triangle people thought was happening.

    The truth is that Katniss not ever once wanted some love relationship because she knew that unless the hunger games was abolished, she never wanted a family of her own, condemning her children to the same fate she and hundreds of others faced in the Arena.
    Mockingjay is no different of a story than the others, it Is just the climax. Finally luck didn’t play Katniss in favor (which is again, a first for a main character in a novel), and everything in her world crashed down when the Quarter Quell was ended and Peeta was taken prisoner.

    Her life from the second Prim’s name was called at the 74th Hunger Games reaping just consisted of one tragedy and battle after another. After the result of Catching Fire, there is no wonder why she broke down. She didn’t hide in the closet though. She was battling everything that happened during her TWO Hunger Games experiences. No different than Finnick or Haymitch. They struggle to function normally after the horrid experience in the arena. For Katniss, losing Peeta meant losing herself. She went into the Quarter Quell arena prepared to face death head on, and do everything in her power to make sure Peeta one. Everyone else in the arena that was her ally also had this same intention (well saving Peeta because it was the only way to save Katniss as well).
    Now that everything fell apart for Katniss and Peeta was gone, possibly being tortured by the Capitol, she had no reason to function. She couldn’t stop facing the horrors of the recent past.

    She does function though to the best she could. She is active in the life of District 13, she just isn’t all there 100%.

    She eventually does play up to become the Mockingjay and once Peeta is saved she wants nothing more than to kill Snow when she realizes how much Peeta has suffered and has become cold as cruel and DESPISES Katniss because of being tortured.

    She doesn’t give up. In fact she does so much to support the rebellion. What she does in district 8 and district 2, this is huge growth in her character as it is something she never would have done before without Peeta by her side guiding her along with his words.
    She has acted on her own and has strength she neer had before, but it is all with intention that Snow must die.

    Really the events in Mockinjay I thought were entirely appropriate. From beginning to end (almost). Everything that Peeta went through and what happened to him and how changed he is , was just remarkable to do to a character so liked throughout the series.
    It is obvious that Peeta’s kind heart still existed, his mind is just confused and altered. His kind words to some of the people in the capitol when their military group goes there is the true Peeta. Him knowing he must be shackled and ties up so he doesn’t hurt Peeta is a true sign that he knows that He as Peeta cares about her, but the capitol altered mutt Peeta wants no more than to brutally murder her and make her suffer.

    Prim’s death and Finnick’s death was tragic because it is when a real book reader and hunger games fan sees that their death is President Coins fault. Things that we know personally about Snow and the Capitol is that they would NEVER murder children of the capitol (why they wont enter them in the Games). Katniss sees this and especialy after talking to Gale, that Coin is the reason Prim was dead. In fact wanted her dead. Wants Katniss dead too. When Coin says about another Hunger Games, Peeta says no way because no matter the fact of using Capitol kids, the whole point of the games was to get rid of the Games, not seek revenge on the innocent capitol people after snow was dead

    Katniss realizes how wrong this is. Eventually of course the book begins to close and when I realized that there were about 15-20 pages left to resolve the novel, I would not be satisfied.

    I was content until in the last chapter when Katniss talks about how she wants to start a book. Reflecting on everything that happened since Prim’s name was pulled from that ball: I knew hated the rest of the book. That whole part was fine, but the next couple pages conaists of just describing how Peeta and Katniss eventually grew back together. Then the epilogue was just horrendous waste of a page and a Half.

    The thing with Mockigjay is this: I LOVED the book. Perhaps was my favorite. I like the trilogy even more than the Harry Potter series.
    BUT the book HAD a happy ending.
    Snow was dead, no more Hungrr Games, coin dead, Paylor president, many people still survived. Annie has a baby. People can move back to districts. People can move between districts and have incredible freedoms they never imagined. Peacekeepers no longer exist. And Katniss and Peeta are together in the end.

    THIS is a perfect happy ending.
    But the ending of Mockingjay was as far from perfect as it could get! It was like reading go. Another book really.
    After Katniss talks about the book she wants to write, there should have easily been another 100-200 pages.
    Instead a Happy Ending was described in 3 pages.

    There should have been an epilogue but I could have been closer to 100 pages long not a page and a Half and after that part with Katniss when for the next 5 pages it is just her describing how Peeta and her grow close together should have also been another 50-100 or more pages.

    I LOVED the last page of the book. Where Peeta and Katniss are lying together and Peeta asks “love me? Real or not?” and Katniss answers “Real”. That was perfect. That should have been the ending of the book. But again, between Katniss saying about writing her book and that last page could have been 100 pages of Katniss and Peeta growing together. Seeing their struggles to return to a new normal life and actually falling love off camera. But this is again, just describe. Then the Epilogue could have came after that last page and we would be more satisfied, in fact very satisfied. Because Mockingjay had a happy ending but it is pointless because it leaves us all unsettled. It is almost not fair. The epilogue would have been a great ending if it actually meant anything to us. We are told they are back together. Still atruggle and wi always struggle, have. Some kids. The end.

    I still love the novel, but I will always think of my own ending. Really not my own just a longer more descriptive version of Suzanne Collins. Actually Katniss and Peeta becoming a couple leading up the that famous last “Real” and an unforgettable epilogue.

    Just don’t forget: This book has a VERY happy resolved ending, even with all the death, but it is what it should be, just the way the ending was in the boom was horrendous do to the resolution being literally less than 10 pages.

    I am going to read all the books again. Just a little slower. I read Mockingjay in one 8 hour straight sitting. The others I also read quickly. I know how I feel about the novels and I won’t change my feelings

    I love them. Actually I adore them. I think that the ending of the MOVIE Mockingjay wi however satisfy all of us when the time comes because I am sure they will actually put it to a higher standard than the author did.

    I love the Hunger Games because of its reality and how complex it Is. How fantastic it is because of the character. How wonderful the entire plot is from beginning to end. The resolve of the novel is happy even though the entire trilogy is raped with tragedy after tradgedy, death after death, conflict after conflict: all the results of a very serious war.

    The Girl of Fire will never lose her flame.

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