Finishing it up – Mockingjay – Cannonball Read #7

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Sci Fi Dystopian Young Adult mega hit.

After a hiatus I picked this book back up. (Mad spoilers for The Hunger Games and Catching Fire)

The third book in the Hunger Games series, Mockingjay follows Katniss Everdeen through a rebellion led by District 13 against the Capital. Peeta Mellark, her maybe boyfriend and definite ally in the games is in the hands of the Capital. Katniss is herself in the hands of the authorities of District 13 which is not exactly freedom. She signs on to be the Mockingjay, the face of the rebellion. Her longtime friend and the third leg of the love triangle, Gale Hawthorne, is eagerly participating in the rebellion. This gives Katniss a lot to think about on that front, while she tries to negotiate her role as standard bearer for forces she can’t control.

The first person style used throughout the series necessitates a certain amount of exposition to get around what Katniss doesn’t see. I like that for much of the series we are exactly where Katniss is, confused. She knows in Mockingjay that she is being used by District 13 just as much as she was used by the Capital and President Snow. She isn’t a hardened soldier or commander, she is still just a kid who’s trying to survive a series of intolerable circumstances.  She makes plans, they fall apart and she does her best just to stay alive.

The romantic angle of the books is pleasing to me because it’s so messy. Katniss is pulled into playing a romantic relationship with Peeta that she doesn’t feel or does she? She never spent time thinking about boys because she was busy trying to stay alive. She muddles through her relationships with Gale and Peeta just as hamfistedly as the arenas themselves.  She’s an inexperienced kid and she’s trying to figure out how she feels about a couple of boys. It’s quite naturalistic to have it be a total mess. The resolution to that story arc was surprisingly well handled.

The narrative structure is an echo of the previous books. Each book follows Katniss through the preparation and deployment to a life or death struggle. Each book added higher and higher stakes to that struggle. I’d be interested to see if Suzanne Collins can switch to a different format or if this is just what she writes. I know many people have written of this as the weakest entry in the series but I felt it was on par with the others and a fitting end to the series.


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