by Suzanne Collins
Book Three in the Hunger Games trilogy.
This review contains spoilers for The Hunger Games and Catching Fire.
Still reeling from the loss of District 12, Katniss reluctantly agrees to join the rebellion in District 13. In exchange for embracing her role as the Mockingjay, a symbol of freedom meant to inspire hope throughout the districts, Katniss demands that all former Hunger Game tributes be granted immunity in the upcoming war. Her fellow tribute Peeta is a prisoner of the Capitol, and Katniss knows that the only reason he’s being kept alive is so that the Capitol can use him to control her. As the districts prepare for war, Katniss begins to fear that the lines of good and evil aren’t quite as clear as she once believed. Hit by one personal tragedy after another, Katniss no longer knows if she can trust anyone, even the people she was once held closest to her heart.
If the other books in this series made you sick to your stomach, this one decides to punch you in the gut over and over. With the Capitol in lockdown mode, Panem is a dark, terrible place to live – but as Katniss joins the militaristic District 13, it doesn’t seem as if life will be any better. Already an emotional wreck from surviving two Hunger Games and seeing her home district destroyed, Katniss suffers her greatest traumas here as the people closest to her are captured, tortured, and/or killed. The high cost of war and rebellion nearly sink Katniss with despair, but in the end she still finds that small spark of home, finally becoming the emblem that she has been play-acting as the Mockingjay.
The drama from Katniss’ awkward love triangle often dominates the narrative, even as far more desperate things happen around her. With one guy turning into a militant radical and the other brainwashed to kill her, Katniss spends more time fretting over her relationships than she ever did in the previous two books. She still manages to be a badass, though. When she agreed to become the Mockingjay, Katniss insisted that she have the right to execute Snow after he’s captured. When that day finally arrives, Katniss is fully prepared to do her duty. However, the events since she made the demand have changed her, and while her bloodthirsty desire for revenge burns hot she is also tempered with the knowledge of what Snow’s death will mean for Panem. Her actions ensure that her vengeance is fulfilled, but also preserves her hope for the future of Panem.
There are some good moments, and a pleasant plot twist or two, but for the most part it’s a desperately rushed, horribly depressing conclusion. Collins’ attempt to end on a happy note after all the suffering sorta works if you’re feeling optimistic, but since no one can be an optimist after reading the rest of the novel it instead seems forced and hollow. I wish that Collins had written The Hunger Games as a standalone novel instead of the first book in a trilogy, because the other two books are definitely weaker than the first one. But I also enjoyed spending more time with some of the characters and seeing how the war shaped and changed them.
3 out of 5 stars
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Peeking into the archives...today in:
2013: Photo: Blitzed Out London Library during WWII
2012: Vacation: Off to Disneyland for a few days!!
2011: News: Brian Jacques, author of Redwall series, dies at 71
2010: News: Monsters are taking over the classics!
2009: The Book of Nonsense by David Michael Slater