Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Book 53 of 2012: Mockingjay

I have been looking forward to the third instalment of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy pretty much since finishing Catching Fire. When I realised that I’d forgotten to read Dubliners I very nearly put it off so I could go straight on to reading Mockingjay (but I was good and resisted, though it was tough ;-D). Whereas with the previous two books I kind of had an idea about certain things happening because I’d been accidentally spoiled online, with Mockingjay I was totally spoiler free. I had even avoided the TV Tropes articles which mentioned it (normally when I read a book I go onto TV Tropes to read up on it, there and Wikipedia to find out extra bits and pieces about it) but after going on to read about Inkheart and discovering that there were mentions of the entire Inkworld trilogy, I wasn’t planning on making the same mistake with these books.
If you’ve not read the Hunger Games trilogy, are planning to but don’t want to be spoiled, might I suggest you admire this picture of the book and then move on to something else. I’m totally going to give away the ending in this review!

In Mockingjay, the story continues on from where it left off in Catching Fire. Katniss has been rescued from the Quarter Quell Hunger Games arena, Peeta has been captured and Gale has now joined the rebel forces in District 13. In fact, District 13 (which is mostly underground to allow the Capitol to keep up the pretence that the district was destroyed) is playing host to a number of refugees from District 12 which has been totally wiped out. Katniss has become the symbol of the revolution and President Coin, the leader of District 13 and, by association, leader of the rebels, needs Katniss to help her overthrow President Snow.

I so very nearly read this book in one day. I just didn’t want to put it down. Luckily I’d taken the 12th and 13th of June off work because of Mr Click’s exam so by carefully timing my reading material (read: staying up far too late to get to the end of Fire & Ice) I was able to start reading Mockingjay on my day off. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I didn’t want to stay up too late reading that night, I would have finished it on the first day, I reluctantly put it down at 10pm with less than a hundred pages to go and then polished it off the following night. It’s just as gripping as the earlier books, if anything more gripping than Catching Fire because the second book is largely repeating the premise of the first, this one has a new setting so although it’s kind of another Hunger Games, it’s on a totally different scale than before.

And here is where I give away the ending, so if you’re really serious about not wanting to know the ending but weren’t sure about it til now, go away!

I wanted to cry towards the end when Prim is killed. It was very unexpected and the way that she is revealed means that as Katniss becomes aware of her, so do you, at which point you know that this is it for her. Despite being devastating, it’s a really clever way to bookend the series. If it wasn’t for Prim being drawn for the Hunger Games in the first book, none of what follows would have happened. Katniss volunteers to take her place to prevent her death, thus setting off this chain reaction which leads to her being the face of the revolution, in turn causing Prim to arrive with the medics at a crucial moment in the battle and so Katniss witnesses her death.

I think I always knew that there could never be a happy ending to this series of books but I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see Katniss’s trial following her shooting President Coin. I realise that the story had to be told through Katniss’s eyes so she would’ve had to be there, rather than in solitary confinement for that to be possible, but it felt a little like Collins’ had written the execution and then realised that a trial could potentially mean a fourth book so glossed over it to get to the end. A little bit of me hopes that in the film they can explain that bit in a little more detail.

I can’t say that I was overly concerned one way or the other whether Katniss got together with Gale or Peeta. For much of the series I thought it would be Gale, considering they had grown up together and had so much in common (until the Hunger Games) which I guess is kind of the reason why they then couldn’t get together later. I had a funny feeling once Gale started working with Beetee on weapons that it spelled the end of his relationship with Katniss because having witnessed what she had in the arena, that was never going to sit well with her.

Then again, when Peeta was hijacked, I began to doubt that Katniss would end up with him either. I suppose I was expecting her to end up alone, perhaps a bit like Haymitch though without the alcohol. I think that by the end they were probably better suited to each other than Katniss and Gale were, what had started out as a fake relationship had kind of turned into something more. I’m glad that nothing was made of the romance element in this book until the end, there just wasn’t really the time or place for it during this section of the story. The epilogue worked well to sum things up and, just as J.R. Rowling did with the end of the Harry Potter books, it leaves an element of speculation open for the fans.

I’m a little bit sad that it’s all over now, that I’ve read all three of the books. In a way I’m glad that I was able to read them more or less all in one go, rather than having to wait a year in between each book. I’m yet to see the first of the films as well, so I’m quite looking forward to that, I did win a £5 voucher the other day so I’m wondering if perhaps I should put it towards getting the first film on blu-ray. I’m also going to keep my eyes open for anything else by Suzanne Collins' because I loved the way the Hunger Games trilogy was written and I’m curious to see what she’ll come up with next.
My mockingjay pin now lives with Cinna’s outfit, but there’s the gold locket and the silver parachute with the spile and Peeta’s pearl. I knot the pearl into the corner of the parachute, bury it deep in the recesses of the bag, as if it’s Peeta’s life and no one can take it away as long as I guard it.
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