This is going to be a difficult review for me to write, but maybe in the end it will be a cathartic one. To say that I have read very few books which have left me emotionally wrung out is an understatement: I could probably count them on one hand. I don’t cry easily, but then again it is not impossible to make me cry. I can care about a character without feeling desolate upon their death, and a twist in the story can be shocking without leaving me shocked.
All of this to say that Suzanne Collins, in completing her Hunger Games trilogy, has managed to write one of the most emotionally draining books I’ve ever come across, and still left me feeling glad that I had read it.
There is something to be said for a writer who at once makes you hate them for the story-choices they have made while simultaneously writes in such a way that you simply can’t stop reading. Mockingjay, more than any of the previous books, left me glued to my chair as I read, unable to put the book down as the story pulled me in and along.
Collins again nails the pacing of this book, with wonderfully political scenes in the opening third of the book where Katniss is once again being used and placed into situations she can’t fully fathom. Then the action really picks up as tragedy upon tragedy befalls our hero, leaving her beaten down and exhausted. There is no miraculous survival story, no against all odds victory and successful mission. Instead, we’re left with a mentally and physically broken character who still demands the full attachment and love of the reader.
I think that was what caught me the most unawares. I love Katniss Everdeen as I love a sister. Her pain, I share; not in any dramatic scene of tears and wailing, but in a hollowed out sort of way, unable to immediately comprehend the complete desolation of my feelings and shock.
Gratuitous violence has not been a part of this series, and I’m unsure whether it ever was. The emotional grief brought on by this book is still fresh, and may be the behind why I feel as if some of the deaths were unnecessary and uncalled for. The phrase ‘killing your darlings’ was never more appropriately used than when reading Mockingjay, and if Collins was aiming to use these deaths to bring about the emotional despair of the reader then bravo; job done!
I have already spoken about the amazing characters and story that Collins has written in my reviews of the previous two books, ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Catching Fire’, so there is no need to repeat what I have already said for a book that continues in the same wonderful vein. But while some may say that the concluding chapters to this book may have been rushed and filled with unnecessary nods to the reader, I want to say that, as a reader, I am very thankful for them. While Katniss can never be expected to find a full measure of peace, the considerations provided her by the author are perfectly matched; no happily ever after, but at least a happiness in the ever after that really highlights the terror that she has experienced, and maybe makes it, if not worthwhile, then at least bearable.
Mockingjay is one of the most entertaining, emotionally gripping, and wonderful books I have ever had the pleasure of reading; please, do yourself a favour and read it soon.
Review by Joshua S Hill
9.6/10 from 1 reviews
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