Listen, I know I’m really late to this series. I acknowledge that. In fact, I’m jealous of those who read The Hunger Games books as they came out. There’s nothing quite like reading a wonderful series as it publishes, and I missed that with The Hunger Games. However, even coming to the series late (and after watching all of the movies), I enjoyed these books more than anything I’ve read in months.
I would say all three of The Hunger Games books deserve five stars, but Mockingjay really sticks out for me. I am not only awed by how little changed during the book-to-movie translation–and there was very little changed–but I marvel at how alive the characters feel. Katniss’ motivation is always understandable, even when she makes choices I might not. Peeta’s love for Katniss, and the devastating blow that his Capitol time delivers, is something I won’t soon forget. Haymitch’s deep-seeded self-loathing is strikingly relatable. Katniss’ prep team, however ridiculous and unfathomable, feel like they could be real people.
My favourite kinds of books are the ones that masterfully balance plot and character development. I want something to move both forward in every chapter, and Collins delivers in Mockingjay. There is not a single scene that the book could do without; it all weaves together to tell this beautifully tragic tale of civil war.
** Spoilers ahead. **
Among these remarkable feats, one of my favourite of Collins’ triumphs is her ability to turn readers against the person who seemingly helped save Katniss from the Quarter Quell: President Alma Coin. Just as Katniss feels there’s something shady about Coin, readers feel that something is off without being told that something is off. This is not a small endeavour.
Another of my favourite elements in Mockingjay is the way Katniss is portrayed. There is such a complexity to her and what she’s experienced–after all, she’s been the subject of a manhunt not once, not twice, but three times–and yet, that complexity is explored with expertise. I never once felt like Katniss’ portrayal wasn’t done justice. She feels three-dimensional all the way, and the intricacy of her trauma is never on the back-burner.
By the end of the book, I find a deep sense of peace in knowing that Katniss and Peeta find quiet and serenity. Their families are gone; destroyed by war that neither of them ever meant to join. Parents and siblings lost, I find great comfort in knowing that Katniss and Peeta, despite earlier musings about never having children because of the Capitol’s reign, find love and hope for the future in District Twelve.
My full review of Mockingjay is also available on Goodreads. Have you read Mockingjay? Please leave a comment below (spoiler free)!