Book Review: Mockingjay (Hunger Games 3)

THERE ARE SPOILERS EARLY IN THIS REVIEW RELATED TO EVENTS BETWEEN CATCHING FIRE AND MOCKINGJAY. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

And so finally we reach the concluding part in Suzanne Collins’ celebrated Hunger Games trilogy. Just one month has passed since the explosive finale of Catching Fire. Katniss and her family, Gale and Peeta are refugees after The Capitol carpet bombed their District 12 homeland. They were not the only ones to suffer as the tyrannical city that rules the country realised that a plot was being hatched against them in the arena.

Katniss now lives in District 13, a land that had apparently been bombed into oblivion. It is revealed that it was not destroyed; the society carried on in underground cities biding their time for a return. But many suspected that this destruction was a fabrication and fled there to enlist their help against the new aggression of The Capitol. But District 13 is no utopia and early on it doesn’t seem as though it is going to be the liberator that everybody hopes. It is a regimented and dry place, too claustrophobic for Gale and Katniss (Peeta, by the way, is a hostage of The Capitol and is being forced to be the voice of their propaganda in an attempt to call a ceasefire).

It is very telling that the rebels and their District 13 allies are using many of the same propaganda tools against The Capitol that the enemy used. The war isn’t just a fighting war, it is a war of information, of symbols, of figureheads, of propaganda, of fabricating storylines, of making Katniss seem beyond human: a warrior, liberator and moral guide. She is a reluctant Joan of Arc, a mix of Boudicca and Paul Atreides, and of a Big Brother winner who turns politician.

This is how we create our celebrities and expect them to conform to what we want them to be regardless of what they actually are. The cult celebrity figure must always be perfectly beyond human, higher than the rest of us yet their detractors often come from within and are determined to destroy them. A parable for our times perhaps?

Again I found I cared little for Gale who confirms my last suspicions that he is effectively a talking sheet of plywood. In contrast, we find our sympathies for Peeta go through the roof as he fights his own personal war. He is strong and we admire him his suffering which makes it even more confusing when it seems at times she would still choose the plywood. Peeta has gone through some horrendous experiences so it is with him our sympathies ought to lie.

I’ve nothing really to add about the style. It still reads well; Collins has a clear writing voice that will please most readerships. I’m not going to repeat myself because I commented extensively on the style of her writing in the first two reviews and if you’ve already read the books, you will know what to expect anyway. I find the beginning of the book slightly jarring as we have no lengthy build up but are thrown straight into a war.

An excellent end to a superb trilogy.

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