I rounded off a wonderful month of reading in March with Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, which completed my planned re-read of Collins’ highly successful, young adult dystopian trilogy, The Hunger Games. That spawned an equally successful film franchise. After enjoying the films a lot, I was excited to remind myself of the extra details in the books. (Warning: this will contain spoilers for the previous two books).
Against even worse odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived a second Hunger Games, after being dramatically rescued from the arena by the rebels from the believed to be destroyed District 13. However she awakes from her drug induced sleep to be confronted with the devastating news that in retribution for her perceived rebellion, The Capital has utterly destroyed her home, District 12, killing almost all of its poor, innocent inhabitants. Also the rebels were unable to save Peeta and so he is now a prisoner of the ruthless President Snow, who can use him as a tool to hurt and threaten Katniss.
Feeling betrayed, guilt-ridden and bereft Katniss finds it hard to settle with the small group of District 12 survivors – which thankfully includes her mother, sister and best friend Gale – into the strict, unfamiliar life in District 13. Often shirking her responsibilities by hiding and losing herself in the sweet oblivion of sleep. The first time I read this I really struggled with Katniss’ apathy, lack of action and bitterness, however I sympathised much more this time. Reading these books closely together I have better followed Katniss’ character arc and perhaps love her even more. Although there were still moments I was hurt by her lack of patience for a certain character.
All in all though who could really blame her, being desperate to save Peeta, she made a secret pact with their mentor, Haymitch, only for him to help District 13 rescue her instead. There is also the fact a rebellion has been started in her name, which she neither wanted or was asked about, and now Peeta is being punished for it. However if she wants to make all this loss and suffering mean something, she will have put aside her anger and distrust to become the ‘Mockingjay’ and head a rebellion to topple the tyrant President Snow and destroy the Capitol’s stranglehold on the downtrodden districts.
What I did still struggle with on this second reading was the pace and flow of this final instalment. This is heightened by the fact book one and two just gripped and swept me away in the drama and tension of the arena. While this book with the loss of the arena feels a little slow, sluggish and clunky, as Collins tries to fit everything in and tie up all the loose ends. Except for a small section, where Katniss is finally released to fight alongside the rebels facing some nasty traps, akin to the arena scenes in the previous books.
Even with the pacing issues however The Hunger Games: Mockingjay is still a powerful, gritty, dystopian adventure, that has lost none of its edge or shock on re-reading it, and it is a fitting end to this brilliant trilogy. Good read.
Have you read this? Have you watched the films?