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Flight of the Mockingjay
Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
Member Name: elfbwillow1
Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
Advantages: Storyline, style, characters - all brilliant
Disadvantages: Ending not to my taste
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games trilogy was certainly not a set of books I would have originally picked up if it was not for my friend really encouraging me to give them a try. I went to the library and rented all three books at once on my friend's recommendation and got down to reading that same day, and I found myself pleasantly surprised. Practically from the beginning of the first book, I found myself captivated with the story and characters and so was so glad to be able to continue straight through the three books of the trilogy;
The Hunger Games
To read my review on the first and second books in this trilogy, please see my previous reviews.
So, the question is, does this third book in the trilogy stand up to the anticipation from the other two?
"Katniss Everdeen's Final Battle has Begun"
In a dark vision of the near future, Katniss, a sixteen year old girl lives with her family in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what was once the United States, where she fights for food on a daily basis to ensure her family stay alive.
Long before, the districts had all waged a war on the Capitol and one district were wiped out as the others admitted defeat. As a result, the Capitol wanted to make sure that a rebellion like this would never happen again and so introduced The Hunger Games, a terrifying reality television show where twelve boys and twelve girls between the ages of twelve and eighteen are forced to take part. The terrain, the rules, the level of audience participation...all may change but one thing is for certain, it is a deathly game where in the arena, it is kill or be killed.
After surviving the 74th Hunger games, and continuing to exist despite President Snow's attempts, Katniss is rescued by the rebels and reluctantly agrees to become 'The Mockingjay', the symbol of rebellion against the Capitol, a symbol that she, herself, began in the very first book. As part of the deal, Katniss demands that the president of the rebels grant immunity to all of the victors of the Hunger Games who are now held against their will in the Capitol, and also demands a very specific act; that she, Katniss Everdeen, is the one who will kill President Snow. The Capitol wants revenge and President Snow has made it clear that no one is safe, especially not Katniss Everdeen.
This is certainly one set of books in which you do not want to read spoilers, and I will attempt to give you as much detail as I can without ruining it for you.
The third book continues approximately a month after 'Catching Fire' ends and so falling back in to the story is extremely easy to do. Once again, the style adopts the same flow as the first two book, bringing the whole feel around in a tight circle. The slowness at the beginning is old hat for me now, a trait I feel that may have originally put a lot of people off, though if you are reading this book then you would have already got used to this style from the previous books and in some ways, it will feel almost natural now. Despite my dislike of this style right at the very beginning of the series, I feel that this is part of what makes this set of books special. Not only has it got a great storyline, but the style is well thought out too and aids in the flow of the story and the emotions of the characters. Like with the other two books, this slowness does dissipate as the story enters the second part of the story and then really takes off.
Continuing on with the subject of the style of writing, which I feel is very important within this series, Mockingjay is written in three parts like its predecessors. Each part is specifically laid out and each have a different feel and emotion to it. Like with the second book, though, Mockingjay's parts are not as solidly defined as the first book, and whilst in the main, they do seem very well placed; I would have personally moved the title page of the sections to different places for more of a heightened emotion. The first section, or part, is like the other books and acts like a long introduction to where the story is and what is happening, introducing new characters and re-familiarising with old characters. It, once again, has the slight feel of going back to basics, as though each book runs in a small circle inside the larger, more dominant circle of the series as a whole. I personally think that this really works well as it is able to distinguish the differences and similarities of the story and the new world really well. I do admit that this slower start did take me a while to like, though once I could see the reasoning behind it, I just felt more love for the book. The second and third part of the story works more like one whole part. It feels as though the author simply added this barrier in to the story so that it would mimic the first book. There was a point in which the feel of the story did change enough to mark a new part of the story, though this was pages from where the author chose to separate the sections which is unfortunate as this later part would have worked out much better.
Although a continuation of the first and second book, it has the same feel both in style and happenings within the story. In a lot of ways it is like a stand-alone story, yet you will need to read the first to understand what is going on. The subject matter of the Big Brother type world is certainly still a very much a part of this third instalment, and if anything, the story has moved on to a much darker stance than both the previous books put together, and if possible, the characters have grown much more fuller and we learn a lot more about both existing characters as well as new characters. In other ways, though, this story is set completely different. The actual games are now behind the characters and the storyline has taken a turn which shows the whole world has turned into one large Hunger Game. This will become easier to understand when you read the series as it is difficult to explain fully without giving anything away.
Now, with the series title of 'The Hunger Games', you would be forgiven if you thought the same as I did originally; that it was a story full of blood and gore in a full on battle scenario which lacked story and had little more than cardboard characters. I am extremely happy to announce, though, that this idea is completely wrong. Yes, there are a lot of battles and certainly a lot of imaginative deaths which, at a lot of points, are very dark and shocking, though these are performed perfectly. Each death, each battle...they all have a meaning and are well placed within the storyline. They come across in the main, very powerful moments, and this is due to the strong characters and nearly flawless story found within the pages. At many moments I feel as though I am watching this story pan out in front of my eyes instead of reading it. Every moment, every death, every breath...it is all so vivid and real that I can almost smell the fear and upset in the pages. A mark of a great story, I believe!
As Collins quoted at the back of the first book; the idea for the story came from channel surfing one night and flicking between a reality show and a documentary on the Iraq war, and through the blurriness of sleep, the two intermingled and formed the story in her head. She also cites the Greek myth of Theseus, in which the city of Athens was forced to send young men and women to Crete to be devoured by the Minotaur, as inspiration for the nation of Panem. This is very apparent in reading this story, yet with a unique and interesting twist of its own.
So what about the love story of a sort which has been a dominance in the past two books?
The love story became apparent in the very first book, though certainly not one which is fluffy and light. The act of the love story was more about survival and this surfaced in the second book, though became more strained with opinions and feelings coming out from the different characters. There was also a slight love triangle effect going on in the second book even more so. In this third instalment, the love story and the love triangle as a whole has pretty much disappeared. It is still in the background, though has become a much more friend-to-friend feel which seemed fitting, yet I know there will be others like me who are willing the love story to surface one way or another. By the end of the book, my hopes did surface to a degree, though not at all as I was expecting, and possibly not in the way that many people will like.
The whole book is written from Katniss' perspective, and although some people may not like the first person format, I can safely say that the way this story is written, you may even forget that you are reading from the first person view. It is so in depth, yet in a simple way so not to confuse or frustrate. It covers both the story and also the inner-most thoughts and feelings of the character without being too in-your-face, and it touches upon politics, retribution, death and many other sensitive, and quite dark, aspects without offending anyone. It is so cleverly written that you do not actually realise that the story is questioning your own views on life aspects, and it is not until you close the final page that you realise that you have begun to question not only the society within the book, but also our own society and government.
Far from my original thoughts that the characters within the story would be little more than cardboard figures, came a whole array of wonderfully written characters, which each held a very specific personality. The characters continue to flourish and are explored even more so in this third instalment. I really found myself becoming attached to characters I did not think possible, and through this, emotions really started to run wild through the story. There is a certain amount of background information given on the characters, though certainly not an overabundance of useless information. Katniss' own memories continue to fill in any blanks in a type of flashback setting from her own past as well as those around her, as well as the use of video tape ideas which add to the backgrounds of characters Katniss did not know personally in the past. Through this information, the missing pieces all begin to slot together nicely.
The story itself is not overly long. It only took me a couple of days to read, though it is certainly not a quick-read. I quite often prefer longer books, though this book works well at the length it holds, and gives the exact right amount of emotion, story, action etc that is needed. The timeline of the story spans a little longer than in the first two books, though the time frame is not focused on too much, it is only in the writing which we understand how much time has passed.
One thing which I find very important in a book is the ending. A story can be written perfectly, though if the ending is wrong, then it gives me a really terrible feel to the whole book, almost as though I feel my time was wasted reading it, even if I did enjoy the rest of the story.
So how does the ending of Mockingjay compare?
As with the first two books, I was on the edge of my seat throughout the book, and had a few ideas and hopes of what was to come at the end, and although it delivered, I was not overly impressed. Yes, it was a really good ending, and many have said that it was an amazing ending, though I just felt empty after finishing it. There was a large confusing moment near the end and then it was as though the author had run out of words and had just decided to slot the ending in just like that, without any further story to link it together properly. Everything was well rounded up, and the excitement and shocks were still paramount, and I even found that a lot of my hopes came true, though it was simply the style and haphazard feel which put me off. Saying this, though, on the other hand, the style did serve a purpose of keeping with the circle idea and due to this, the ending was able to be saved to a degree. The author also added a short epilogue style chapter to bring the story into the future to round everything off completely. Although a sweet epilogue ending, I just felt as though something was missing and it was too rushed.
An excellent finale to 'The Hunger Games' trilogy with a shocking, and exciting ending which, unfortunately, was not my cup of tea though it was not enough to ruin the book for me!
This story was extremely captivating once the flow and energy picked up and the future twist of the world combine with the aspect that Big Brother is watching is a perfect mix. It is an emotional story whilst being quite a scary one, and incorporates sensitivity into the mix absolutely wonderfully. I do feel a little disappointed in the ending, yet it was a apt ending so the whole book did continue to excel.
This book can be picked up from most libraries or bought for its RRP of £6.99 which is well worth it. I rented my copy from the library though am certainly going to go and buy this as I would definitely reread this many times.
Do I recommend this book? Most certainly!
Themes to be aware of in this book include; Death, extreme hardships, betrayal, violence, poverty, starvation, oppression and war.
A/N: Due to the immense success of the book, they are going to be bringing out the film of Hunger Games possibly next year. As of yet, no information on set casting is available. Hopefully the film will be a success and the two sequels will be filmed also.
I wanted to add this youtube link to the end of this review as I watched it the other day and was amazed. It is a fan made video though it really captures the essence of a scene in the very first book of 'The Hunger Games'. Please do note that this is a fan made video and just an added extra to the review.
Summary: A great ending to the Hunger Games Trilogy