[To see an updated review of when I re-read it in 2013 before the release of the films click here.]
I honestly don’t know how I feel about Mockingjay. My reaction isn’t as strong as it was to either The Hunger Games or Catching Fire. I’m not sure if it has to do with the psychological aspect of the novel or the context of this novel or the ending of such a strong trilogy in such a lack-luster manner. As with the first two I read the novel very quickly and enjoyed the read.
However, I once again have to say that I believe the trilogy would’ve been stronger if it was a quadrilogy or even five novels. More detail of the minor characters of the skirmishes would have created a stronger ending to the series and would’ve perhaps built more realistic characters and created empathy with many of them. DON’T READ AFTER THIS IF YOU WANT TO READ THEM ON YOUR OWN (SPOILERS).
The book picks up immediately after the end of Catching Fire and moves rapidly into the rebellion and the role Katniss Everdeen will play to the anti-Capital rebellion as the Mockingjay. It is finally revealed that only Katniss, Finnick and Beetee are rescued from the Hunger Games arena, and Peeta and the others are left within the clutches of the Capital. The rest of the book follows Katniss.
We quickly arrive in the militaristic and sparse society of Section 13, the nuclear development section of the previous country and learn a bit more about the rebellion and why they abandoned the other 12 sections. After an internal struggle, that got a bit tedious after a while, Katniss agrees to be the Mockingjay, but lays down a few demands and is once again out maneuvered by the powers that be. We quickly learn that those in power of District 13 are just as power-hungry and power-driven as those in the Capital.
As the novel progresses we gain more insight into each of the districts, what they produce, how they interact with the capital and what sort of rebellion is progressing. We learn why District 1 sends such willing participants to the hunger game as their primary industry is creating Peacekeepers. Through a couple of trying visits to districts and general angst at the austere and restricted way District 13 operates, we ultimately end up with all of the victors rescued from the Capital, with no help from Katniss or Finnick due to their instability. It is at this point that we learn Peeta was reconditioned (they use another word) into a sleeper assassin whose only goal is to assassinate Katniss.
The final few chapters of the novel take place after the fall of District 2 with the invasion of the capital. Finnick and Katniss are the fastest to realize that the Capital has become another arena for the games with much more at stake. We follow their journey to the capital and the loss of most of Katniss’ party and ultimately to the psychological crux of the novels. Katniss’ sister dies in an attack which is left unknown as to the instigator (the bombs are clearly designed by the rebellion, in their deployment), but ultimately causes Katniss’ to loose her remaining stability and to sink into confusion and chaos. She has a final meeting with Snow in which he solidifies the mistrust built by Peeta against the leadership of the rebellion.
I won’t write about the end of the novel, but suffice to say I’m not sure how I feel about the vote that occurs, but can fully understand the psychological implications and inclusion of the assassination in order to allow the future to be determined by the people specifically. The final ending of the novel I appreciated and it showed her maturity and how she’d progressed, but also was somewhat tragically beautiful.
Overall I would definitely recommend the trilogy, but it is definitely geared towards a younger audience with the lack of development and details, but I genuinely appreciated the novel and what it teaches even if it’s a bit gruesome. I still keep that the novel is a conglomeration of other science fiction/fantasy novels, but what novel isn’t. It most reminds me of a modern adaptation of the Lord of the Flies, with a bit more murder and voyeurism included.