Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Scholastic: paperback published 2011: 458 pages
May the odds be ever in your favour.
“If we burn, you burn with us”
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.
This trilogy suffers from a huge dose of shit-ending-itis. I mean, really. I enjoy these books because they’re not difficult to read and they’re quite entertaining as entertaining goes. Okay, so Katniss drives me nuts as a character, and in the end you sort of hope she does die, as she wants to be such a martyr. But that’s not really the part that’s wrong. I just loathe the “and they lived happily ever after” sort of endings – the ones with an epilogue of all your characters grown up and what they’re doing now. Harry Potter did that, for instance. No, no, no, and NO. Just leave us at the end of the story! We don’t need to know so-and-so grew up and lived out his dream as a pilot and had three kids with his average looking wife (who isn’t the love interest in the books because that would be “too obvious”, and she copped off with a rockstar and became a drug addict anyway). We read the book for the story it was telling – not the story it could have told.
Anyway, rant over. (And before you worry – there’s not really any spoilers in the above paragraph – Katniss does not become a drug addict or marry a rockstar… or fly planes).
Ultimately, we’re at the point in the trilogy whereby you’ve got to have the BIG FACE-OFF – the Good vs. Evil showdown. And credit where credit is due, Suzanne Collins doesn’t make it easy on the reader. Both sides are pretty nasty, and there is a constant question of who is right and who is wrong, all the way to the end. We have some fairly entertaining fight scenes, and some navel-gazing scenes, and other wistful glances that make up a pretty good story. We all know what it’s building to, and that’s why it’s so damned entertaining, because there’s the element of not-yet-not-yet-wait-for-it in every chapter.
And she’s doesn’t go easy on the characters either. She’s not afraid of killing a few of them off at choice moments – just to make you question yourself. Oh, and the final dum-dum-dum moment? It’s pretty darn good. I’ll give her that too. It’s just the chapters after that big *GASP* bit that it loses its way a bit… a lot.
It’s almost as if she couldn’t bear to part with the characters, and there were too many loose ends, and she had to write herself into that awkward corner of “and they all lived happily ever after”.
Good things about this book? It’s very filmic (if that’s a word), and you do get caught up in the drama. It’s like a post-apocalyptic Eastenders, only better. And the characters aren’t horrifying – they have depth and you become deeply invested in them.
In short? Read it if you’ve read the first two, but be prepared for a disappointing end.
Next book: Another quality recommendation from Ana, it’s been described as a blend between Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere and Jim Butcher‘s Dresden Files series. What’s not to love!? Which means that next up on the list is Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch.