The Hunger Games: Mockingjay

mockingjayTitle: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay

Author: Suzanne Collins

Summary: Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But she’s still not safe. A revolution is unfolding, and everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans – everyone except Katniss. And yet she must play the most vital part in the final battle. Katniss must become their Mockingjay – the symbol of rebellion – no matter what the personal cost.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5

Review: The conclusion to The Hunger Games series. I don’t think i can review this without spoilers. I was hoping by the end of the last book, i would want to go back and give all the books five stars, but no. They stand firm at four stars, though had this last book been a little better, the series could have made it to five stars.

I got what i wanted, after finishing the second book: this book has no Hunger Games and is purely about the revolution. It’s the revolution through Katniss’ eyes, though, so there are limits to what we see. Convinced into becoming the Mockingjay, the rebellious figurehead of the revolution, Katniss is less fighting in the revolution that she is a pawn in it. She makes promotional videos that are, basically, used to advertise the rebellion and encourage other districts and citizens to join the resistance. It was tacky and made me cringe, but i loved it because, that was the point. War, with governments and rebels seeking support and soldiers is not pretty, and is ultimately played out like a game for those orchestrating the thing behind closed doors.

Katniss, in this book, is already broken. It seems she’s only put back together and broken again several more times throughout the story. At times i found her as headstrong as her original self, but a lot of the time i found her too passive, too unsure of herself and veering between different ideas, motivation and plans. The only thing she was sure of throughout the book–that she wanted to kill Snow–she managed to fail at, but, i also view that scene as her greatest accomplishment in the book. I just wish there could have been more discourse on it, i wish she’d been allowed to air her reasons. Of course that would have landed her in prison, or worse, but that was me still hoping for an unrealistic politically unachievable ending. I can settle for the fact that Katniss did it, without the world realising why it was such an important act.

This book introduced a lot of new characters. Both the previous books, of course, had a lot of characters because of the participants for the Hunger Games, but realistically, we only got to know a handful of them. Here more characters are of more importance, and honestly, i couldn’t follow them all. And with a few similar names (Flavius/Fulvia Cressida/Messalla) i was often getting confused as to who was who. I will say: I loved Boggs, Pollux, Paylor, and most of the returning characters. The rest i either disliked, or didn’t care enough about. So, really, only two deaths upset me. One that didn’t, was actually the one that affected Katniss the most. I just think that death wasn’t made the most of; it ultimately made everything Katniss has been through pointless, but nothing was made of it.

Gale versus Peeta. Well, i will say i like both of them. Peeta is so positive, so genuine and so kind, and what he was put through in this book was horrible. Gale is strong, a fighter, independent and Katniss’ equal. I liked them both, but realistically, i didn’t want Katniss to end up with either of them. It would have seemed forced, whoever it was. And it was; i felt the wedge being forced between Katniss and Gale, leaving Peeta as her only option, which was rubbish.

As the end approached, and Katniss and Haymitch headed back to District 12, the emotions got me. Both of them wallowing in their misery, alone, not leaving the house. As upsetting as that picture was, it was real. After everything they’d been through, how could they be okay? That’s where i wanted it to end, not happily, but full of emotion, and realistically. Then Peeta showed up and ruined it all.

Don’t even get me started on the epilogue. Katniss was ruined by the end; not by the Games, or the war, or her emotional and physiological problems, but by being turned from a strong, free-thinking female character, into a woman who has to settle down with a nice man and have kids. Honestly, it made me sick.

My favourite relationship throughout all three books has been Katniss and Haymitch. How they understand each other, rile each other, but ultimately trust each other. I think that’s why i found the pair of them living out their lives in parallel misery seemed so fitting to me.

I said there wasn’t a Hunger Games in this book, but the war was being played out like one. Collins is drawing parallels between the two, showing wide-ranging and mis-matching opinions of both. For anyone looking beyond the superficial love stories and traumatic personal plights, this book takes a very interesting look at government, politics, power, the media and rebellion.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Catching FireTitle: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Author: Suzanne Collins

Summary: Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are still alive. Katniss should be relieved, but now there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

As the nation watches Katniss and Peeta, the stakes are higher than ever. One false move and the consequences will be unimaginable.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5

Review: As much as i wanted to pick up this book immediately after finishing the first one, i tried to pace myself. Three books is pacing, right? I’m going to see the Catching Fire film in the near future, so i decided i had better read it before then.

This book is just as unputdownable as the first. When i had just over 100 pages left, i spent a whole work shift thinking about the book and just wanted to get back to reading it. I went home and stayed up much later than normal finishing it. How tired i was the next day was totally worth it.

I’m not even sure what it is. The setting, the situation and the plot are all just… bloody good.

There is one thing that’s not good, though. I noticed it in the first book, but for whatever reason it didn’t bother me as much. The writing. The book is written in first person, and is immensely tell rather than show. The reader is not left to wonder about things, or come to their own conclusions about anything. Katniss, almost methodically, analyses everything and everyone around her, drawing conclusions (which are not always right and are prone to change, as more information is gathered and analysed) and telling the reader what to think about things. It irked me more often in this book than the first (but never enough for me to even pause in my reading).

As much as i appreciate Katniss for being a strong female character, not defined by the men around her and not a slave to her emotions, it would be good if, now and again, she actually had emotions. I guess that’s a little harsh. She does have them; she loves her sister and hates President Snow. I guess what bothers me is how two dimensional they are. Even her feelings seem to be thought about, analysed and conclusions drawn, rather than just felt.

Basically, Katniss thinks too much.

I liked what the new characters brought to the book, though this time around i didn’t like all of the characters. I think because we didn’t get a chance to know them well enough. We saw only one side to them, in a situation where they were playing a game (two games?). But i was interested enough to want to know more about them (though perhaps not through Katniss’ eyes).

Also, the revolting and rioting and defiance of the Capitol. YES. This is what i really loved, and is also what i can’t wait for more of in the last book. At this point, i’m thinking, ‘Screw the Hunger Games, just give me a whole book about a revolution!”

The Hunger Games

hunger gamesTitle: The Hunger Games

Author: Suzanne Collins.

Summary: Winning will make you famous. Losing means certain death.
In a dark vision of the near future, twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live TV show called The Hunger Games. There is only one rule: Kill or be killed.
When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5

Review: I feel like i should have read this book a long time ago. I was finally driven to reading it after i recently watched the film (yes, before reading the book, shame on me!) and although i enjoyed it, i knew the book would be so much better. Spoiler: It is.

I basically read this book in two sittings. It was completely one of those books i didn’t want to put down. I’m still thinking about it as if i’m still reading it, and all i want to do is pick up Catching Fire and carry on reading. I am pacing myself, though.

The first person narrative was a little jarring at first, but i quickly got used to it and really, it’s necessary. The reader needs to get inside Katniss’ head and understand her motivations and conflicting, confused emotions. She’s an interesting character and it’s refreshing to read a lead female character who is truly independent and not defined by the men around her.

The basic idea of The Hunger Games has been done before in films like Battle Royale and Series 7, but that don’t make this book unoriginal. There is a lot of focus on why The Hunger Games happen, which is the real interesting topic for me. The Capitol, the 12 districts and the use of the games to keep people in their place… I love a good dystopia.

It’s almost a miracle, but i actually liked all the characters. Well, all the characters that weren’t Careers. I didn’t necessarily love them all, but i liked them all enough to empathise with them. What most surprised me was when i felt bad for Peeta at the end, because despite Katniss’ conflicted feelings about and towards him, it’s so obvious he’s a genuinely nice guy (something i did not get from the film at all, incidentally).

I debated whether to give this book four or five stars. In the end i gave four, because there was this huge ellipsis at the end of the book. Maybe that’s because i know there is a sequel, and that this isn’t the end for these characters, but equally, everything wasn’t concluded enough. I can’t possibly give this five stars until i know what happens in the two succeeding books–until i’m satisfied.