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It’s inevitable that when I review a series, my review of the third book will be longer than the others. After all, I usually withhold some judgement until I get to the end. Mockingjay, the resolution and third book of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, was a book that I literally could not wait to get my hands on. When I finally tracked it down, I read it in a day. Read on for my thoughts on the resolution of this series.

Book 2 takes the initial plot of the Hunger Games and magnifies it beyond a level anyone could have imagined in the first book. Book 3, while expanding the plot, does not do so as book 2 does; instead it provides the end cap which wraps everything up. After the tour of the districts in Book 2, Book 3 opens in actual rebellion against the Capitol.

Of course, we see this taken to its logical conclusions as the districts rebel against the Capitol that’s held them in bondage for so long. Though no new plot twists come up in the overall story of the trilogy, I did feel that the book brought most of the plot strands to a suitable conclusion. A few I most definitely did not think so, though.

(The next two paragraphs have spoilers). The biggest plot strand which was left hanging was Katniss’ relationship with Gale. This has been a large part throughout the first two books and then at the resolution of book 3 we watch as Gale basically falls out of the story altogether. Katniss ends up marrying Peeta, her companion in the games.

While I probably would say this is the correct ending for the book, I don’t like the fact that Gale just vanishes. It’s almost like Suzanne Collins didn’t want to come up with a resolution for this particular strand, so she just didn’t. It’s disappointing as one of my favorite parts of this series was Katniss conflicting relationships with Peeta and Gale – I was excited to see how they’d come off in the end.

Another major flaw in the book is Prim’s death. All through the series we watch as she stands on the sidelines of Katniss’ life, still involved, but from a distance. Especially in the third book, we watch as she grows up and starts shouldering the burden of the family since Katniss can no longer do so. And, if you’ll remember, Prim was the entire reason Katniss volunteered to go to the Hunger Games, in the first book, in the first place. So, Prim’s death at the hands of an unknown bomb (Katniss never finds out who really detonated it) is grossly out of place in a mostly decent series ending. It wasn’t led up to, there was no reason for it to happen, and the repercussions weren’t properly explored. In my opinion it’s the biggest plot flaw in the series.

Ultimately, I decided not to recommend this book because of the reasons above and a few more. Aside from the plot problems, the book is different from the other two. While the first one is gritty and dark in its own right, the second book ratchets this up to an even higher level. I mentioned in my review of Catching Fire that I almost grew weary of reading the book because the emotions of the main character were so well-portrayed. Book 3 takes this to an extreme. While book two was emotional and sad, book three is simply dark. It’s almost like a completely different story from book 1. By the time we get to book three, I was just not even wanting to read because of all the death, gore, and random darkness shown in the book. It’s even unecessary, too. Had the writer made a greater effort to stick with the flow of book one and two, we still would have had an excellent book which matched the rest of the series.

If you’ve read the first two books, I can’t not tell you to read this one. The story has been so masterfully told in the first books that you really should read this one just to bring an end to the story (despite its flaws that I listed above). And while this book does stand alone, in a sense, I don’t recommend it unless you’ve read the others. An unresolved story is one half of it, and uneccessary darkness and grunge would be the other half. While collectively Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay make up a great trilogy, Mockingjay is definitely the weakest link among the three by far.

~ Andrew J.

Published on 27 October, 2011. Last updated on

4 Comments

  1. BushMaid

    Well said, Andrew. I agree. While it was impossible for this book to have a “happily ever after”, I think much of the death and gore was most unnecessary, and the story line was lost in the darkness of this book. Meaningless deaths never sit well with me, and this is something that had me disturbed when I read this book. Prim’s death especially destroyed what little enjoyment I had left for the series.

    While I very much enjoyed the first book, it’s the kind of trilogy you can’t simply read the first book; you need to find out what happens, and it makes this series hard to recommend with an ending like this.

    (I too was saddened that after Gale played such a major part in the entire story, Collins seemed to forget him at the end)

  2. Corey P.

    Mockingjay is quite different from the first two books, I agree: it’s more of a war story than anything else. That said, I still think it is the best part of the trilogy, for several reasons.

    In the first place, the characters are much more grown up: they’ve been through a lot, and they’re maturing, learnig more about themselves and the brutal world they inhabit.

    In the second place, I like the fact that Collins doesn’t opt for the easy way out and give us a sappy-happy ending: she lets the events of the story and her characters’ actions take their natural course. It’s a bittersweet climax, to be sure, but I think the story is all the more potent because of it.

    In the third place, the darkness of the third book was pretty much inevitable when you consider the events leading up to it. As the saying goes, “The night is darkest just before the dawn.” As things come to a head in the war between the Districts and the Capitol, there’s bound to be an increase in the bloodshed. I think that if Collins had woven the story any other way, or if she had ommitted the carnage, it would have been simply unrealistic.

    Regarding Prim’s death, it is strongly implied that Coin was responsible; that bombing the children – and making it look as if President Snow did it – was a strategic move on her part to destroy any loyalty Snow’s people still had to him. And really, as we see later on, such a brutal action is not beyond her character.

    Anyway, just my two cents. I’m glad you still enjoyed the first two books. I’ll be interested to see how the movies turn out. 😀

  3. Caleb Joyce

    Ugh. I just lost a whole long comment. 😛 This one will likely be shorter.

    First off, I think Gale is well handled at the end. He leaves Katniss behind both as a resentment towards Peeta, and as an act of kindness towards Katniss. Throughout the book his relationship with Katniss declines as hers with Peeta is reinforced. While I would have liked to see him remain as her friend, that isn’t really realistic.

    As far as Prim’s death goes, I disagree with you there, too. First off, it’s what the characters would have done. Snow would have used the blockade of children. Coin would have blown them up. Prim would have rushed in to save them. Any other alternative would have been un-realistic. Prim is the person Katniss loves most. When Prim dies, Katniss almost evolves, to a state of mind that she has lost everything. It breaks her, until the episode with Buttercup and she knows that she has to let go. You also have to ask, what would happen if Prim lives? Stay with her mother, go with Katniss? Prim’s death is almost a relief, for if she hadn’t died, she would be even more torn apart than Katniss.

    And as for the darkness and gore, it’s a war. She portrays war for what it is; any other way would be un-realistic, and would deprive her of one of her main points. At the end, she paints a vivid picture of what war does to people, and how it breaks everybody concerned beyond repair.

  4. Sweetie Pie

    I honestly enjoyed this book the most. I was always rooting for Peeta, I didn’t really like Gale, so yes he did just vanish but it didn’t bug me that much.
    I thought Prim’s death was fine. To me I thought it was important. Katniss has to realize what her life is truly about, rather than just say that she has to protect her.

    I agree with Caleb Joyce, It was Gale’s bombs that killed Prim, and Katniss knows it.

    There is a lot more violence in this book than the others. It is a war and wars are violent. I loved this series. And Loved this book.

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