In case you don't read Publisher's Weekly, Twilight has new competition. The Hunger Games Trilogy. The last book, Mockingjay, sold 450,000 books in the first week. If you haven't read the first two in the series, then you should probably skip this review since spoilers are inevitable. (unless you are like me and promptly forget anything that's not pertinent to what you're actually reading).
"Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena alive, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what's worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss's family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins's groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year."
I wasn't sure what to expect when I first opened Mockingjay. And to be completely honest, I still wasn't sure what to expect half of the book later. Was the story going to focus on the battle for the freedom of the districts? On the internal power struggle in District 13? On Katniss herself, and her own increasing emotional fragility? That's not even factoring in the Twilight-esque love triangle.
The book has been heralded as brilliant, heart wrenching and a page turner. I'm a bit woebegone because while I did keep turning the pages, I had a hard time feeling what I was supposed to feel. Scratch that. I'm not even sure what I was supposed to feel. In the first two books I cried and laughed and rooted Katniss on. In this book I felt oddly detached, like I was viewing everything from a distance and wasn't allowed to get emotionally involved. Same as Bethany, I couldn't really figure out what the theme was, it felt like Susanne Collins put a lot of plot devices into a fish bowl, then shook it up. I wanted to be in the fish tank, swimming with the fish, not looking in from the outside. Granted, we're seeing the story unfold in present tense through Katniss's eyes, so if she's feeling numb and emotionless, then we're feeling dull and emotionless too. I'm not really sure how you could even avoid this, so I'm not blaming the author. Maybe if I'd read all three at the same time, then the emotions from the first two books would have carried me through the last book, but instead I felt like a little kid who had their tree house smashed to bits. Completely broken. Although in full disclosure, I should mention I don't like dystopian fiction very much.
On the other hand, I love dystopian fiction. I would have been intrigued by the premise of The Hunger Games even if it had been an obscure standalone novel without a love triangle. I do agree with Esther that I can't think of what could have been done to make me feel more involved, but I wasn't even all that eager to turn the pages (although some of that might have had to do with the fact that I was attempting to read in a public place with a fussy child hanging from my front).
Mockingjay has received many many rave reviews, and I find myself wondering if perhaps what happened for me was that the choice of what to describe and what to casually pass over pushed me across the line into indifferent. Maybe for someone else the concoction was the perfect pick-me-up, but for me it was an emotional sedative. I still cared, very much, but I couldn't feel it anymore beneath the layers of frustration and confusion.
Which leads to the truly frustrating point of this book. What happened? There were so many non endings I was underwhelmed. I had the same feelings at the end of Suzanne Collins other series Gregor The Overlander. And while I still think she's a great writer and her books have made me and all my siblings happy, I'm beginning to think she and I just don't see eye to eye on how to properly wrap up a series. I give a grudging 3 1/2 stars to Mockingjay, but I so badly wanted it to be a 5.
I'm really not sure how to rate Mockingjay. It ended the story just about as well as it could, and I even actually felt like the last page and epilogue were a fairly fulfilling conclusion to the trilogy, but the road to that ending was so strewn with tragedies that seemed meaningless and plot trails that felt undeveloped that I finished the book baffled by unanswered questions rather than satisfied. Maybe I've been spoiled by epics like Crown of Stars, which tie up every loose end and dwell on the significance of each sorrow.