Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Mockingjay: Suzanne Collins, February 2—14, 2015
My rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
The third novel picks up directly after its prequel, with the aftermath of the rebel plot to sabotage the Quarter Quell. That, and the dramatic ending which saw District 12 annihilated by the Capitol in response.
Throughout the series, Collins has carefully balanced two distinct but inter-related narratives: the epic tale of the ruling Capitol’s oppression of the people of Panem, and the personal struggle of Katniss Everdeen’s transition from child to figurehead. Never more so is this apparent than in Mockingjay, where the dramatic rebellion spearheaded by Katniss comes with the very human evolution of her complex relationships with Gale and Peeta in particular.
The final book is different in that there are no Hunger Games taking place, though many of the features of the Gladiatorial battles remain key to the plot. Instead, the plot is one of attempts to overthrow President Snow and Capitol in a hearts and minds campaign with the Districts, as much as with the brute force required against the Capitol loyalists and Peacekeepers.
Collins has structured each of the books into three parts; the ever-faithful beginning, middle and end. But with Mockingjay it’s clear the same is true of the trilogy itself, and with this instalment the action swells to become not just the crescendo of the book but the finale of the series. There is a real sense, especially in Part Three, that this really is an endgame for the entire series and the magnitude is brought home throughout. This, in part, may be due to the subtle well-placed homages to the earlier books that pepper the novel. They provide context and, yes, an emotional punch.
As the climax looms, the outcome is refreshingly, exhilaratingly unpredictable. Sometimes Collins hints at an Orwellian dystopia where a happy ending will never be realised; other times there’s so much energy that it seems impossible the rebels won’t succeed. But how can so much atrocity be happily resolved? With twist upon twist, Collins delivers a strong and satisfying conclusion that deals with both the Panem-wide and the Katniss-centric plots. Collins chooses her message, and delivers it with a punch.
Throughout, the complexity of human relationships remain central with the ever-shifting dynamics between so many of the central characters. From the colourful eccentrics of Capitol fame to the bold personalities from the Districts, characterisation remains spot on, and investment in the cast is well embedded which leads to so many emotive payoffs.
You will go into Mockingjay not knowing what to expect, and the further into it you get, the less you will be able to predict. But one thing is for certain, this is a stunning end to a superlative series and as far as critics go, the odds are likely to be ever in Collins’ favour.