When I first posted my review of The Hunger Games I did so knowing fully well that it would be a lone review of a trilogy because if I reviewed Catching Fire, I would certainly have to review Mockingjay. Since then, I have had issues with many fan posts and reviews. My issue is that neither side seems to actually form a review with just facts. Some people are so steadfast with their love for Collins that they would defend anything she puts out, and the other half seem so attached to specific characters that they don’t wish to see the story pushed to its obvious end. Last night I spoke with one of my friends about several book series, and The Hunger Games trilogy happened to come up, spurring this post. Hopefully I can put out a more unbiased review then most others I have seen.
The main concern most people seem to have is that it is very dark. I see no issue with the setting or tone. This is a war taking place, and in all actuality yet another hunger games. Was Rue being killed not dark? Cinna being beaten in front of you? The fact that children compete in a game of death until only one is left? I could list off a ton of dark themes and events through the entire series that no one seemed to have an issue with previous to this book.
My main concern? The actual pacing of the book entirely. To say I have read numerous books over the years is a gross understatement, and of those books many have been a series of 3 or more. So I am quite understanding of how difficult it can be to close out a series. The issue I can not forgive however, is the literal feeling of confusion and a feeling of being almost adrift not even midway through the book. I am not familiar with her publishing schedule but was she rushed for time? It was only a 390 page book, and even at that, there was quite a big type chosen for the text. I see no reason why she had no idea where the book was going at this point in the series. In fact, she seemed to change character archetypes to suit her needs throughout this book as well, which is another one of my issues I will speak of later.
Another issue people seem to have is the death of Prim. Some outwardly defend it and others consider it a sort of blasphemy. The people who it bothered saw her as Katniss’s reason for being in the first place. Her reason to keep going. The ones against saw it as a necessary evil.
In this case, I do agree with the defenders of this death. To the people it upset to the point of hating this book, did you not read the entire book? This death, this specific death is what gives her the slap in the face she needs to realize what is going on. This is also her out to have Coin trust her until the end. Some people said kill anyone else but Prim. Seriously think about that for a second, anyone else? Would it have had the same effect? The answer is no. Prim needed to die and in that way for the book to have an ending.
One death I cannot, and will never understand is the death of Finnick. He is someone no fan seems to bat an eye at. Did no one see how much he tried to help Kat? How much he personally sacrificed for the games during and after? How about the immense amount of rape he had to endure and still he gets through it all, marries, gives his life for Katniss, and no one cares. When reading this, with all of the deaths going on, and there are numerous deaths thrown at us within these pages in quick succession, it seemed meaningless. Enough people we were attached to as attentive readers died that he had no reason to. It gave the feeling that Collins really had no idea what to do with him. Was he just some loose end she couldn’t be bothered with? It almost comes off as disgusting. If he was so tragic but not meaningful enough to live why not give him a more meaningful death instead of sweeping him under the rug for everyone to forget?
I could go into quite a few more paragraphs about what I hated/was disappointed in. How meaningless Haymitch actually ended up being, Gale is swept under the rug even more so then Finnick, Peetra never becoming normal and posting a threat at the very end to Katniss and even possibly their children. All of those I can write about, however I choose one of the few characters I actually cared about in all this mess, Katniss Everdeen.
When I previously wrote a review for The Hunger Games, I was so pleased with how wonderful Katniss was as a strong female character. Between The Hunger Games and Catching Fire it was a book series that if I ever had a girl I could happily show her that you can be strong and be a female at the same time. To my disbelief, in Mockingjay, Katniss is reduced to a crying, drugged up, indecisive miscreant that becomes more of a pest to the cause than anything else until the very last second of killing Coin. This is by far the most drastic change of character I have ever seen in any book series. Not to be an accuser, but Collins must have been in a very dark place at the time of writing this book. Nothing else I can think of would explain away how much of a mess Katniss becomes. As a reader of all three books, I can understand all she has gone through, but the lack of any strength within her is downright depressing. I really don’t believe this transformation would have been possible if Katniss was a boy and started out with the same strength in the first book. Katniss in Mockingjay is no longer Katniss, which means I can no longer root for her. But, if I can’t get behind Katniss, then what becomes the point of the book? Honestly… there is none. Nothing is resolved. There is no shock ending. If several pages prior to Katniss readying her bow you couldn’t see what was happening, if you couldn’t see it even moments before the flower, you must have been watching television while you read. It was a paint by numbers ending. She gets to go home after? Of course she does no one would jail the mockingjay. As I said previously, Peetra is still mentally destroyed at the end which means at any moment he could kill Kat, and by association kill their children. So there is no real ending.
This book series was definitely overhyped with the bigger picture in mind. I do believe that the first book, The Hunger Games, should be read by everyone. However, if I do suggest that then you need to read the next two because of how Collins writes endings. So, unsure of what to do I will give my final score to all three books and hope people do give the first book a try. From now on my scoring will consist of just a star rating, no more letter grades as this is easier to differentiate.
The Hunger Games 4 1/2 Stars
Catching Fire 5 Stars
Mockingjay 2 Stars