Okay. I have done it. I have finished the Hunger Games Trilogy. Prepare to be reviewed! Yes, it did in fact take me longer to finish than anticipated... weirdly I got inspired the other day and went on a writing tear. Felt kind of nice. No one cares. Getting to the point.
Alright, so, book two AKA Catching Fire and not Mockingjay felt a lot like the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It picked up where The Hunger Games left off, there was some seriously action driven plot and then BANG! it ends but clearly, things are only just beginning. To me, it wasn't as compelling as the first instalment of the series. However, what happens is crucial to the overall plot. And that's not to say that I didn't enjoy it, I did, I just didn't really connect with the characters in the same way. There weren't any really poignant dramatic moments. For the most part I found it very... what's the word... consistently suspenseful/tense? I know, not one word, but that's what I'm going with. You know there's more going on that Katniss doesn't realize and you're happy for the fast pace of the novel because you're racing along with her to figure out what it is. If you had a story and cut out the beginning and the end, you'd have this book. It's the build-up that ends in the climax for the trilogy.
Having said that, the Mockingjay is pretty fast-paced, even more so than the other novels in this series. Particularly at the end. I was confused for a while wondering what the hell happened, which I think was the point, but the wrap up happens almost too quickly. It's also much more... depressing in terms of Collins' view on human nature. In essence I suppose she's right, but a lot of this novel is just filled with horrific ironies. Without giving anything away (which is kind of difficult) I thought it was all very sad. As with The Hunger Games, I think this novel makes pretty powerful statements about our world, resiliency, determination, morality, heroism, innocence, corruption, history, ambiguity, degeneration and the cost of it all. Which is a whole lot to cover in just over 300 pages. I particularly enjoyed the way Collins' contrasts Peeta and Katniss. It's fascinating to see how they lose themselves but ultimately managed to find themselves again. The Mockingjay was definitely more... I don't want to say more violent, but you can see the characters participating in the violence more actively and more freely than in the previous books. Still, I think Collins' really handles it well by bringing up the moral ambiguities of war quite frequently.
Also without giving too much away, I was very pleased with how the whole love triangle worked out. I like how Katniss' choice is explained and I like that it was a choice. I think a lot of books for teen girls have been indicating that the chemistry and the attraction between two people are all that really matter. The heroines don't necessarily choose the healthiest option, they often choose the option that is most exciting in that particular moment or situation. That's not love and that's certainly not the foundation of a solid, real, happy, healthy relationship. I like that Katniss' choice happens on a physical, emotional and psychological level. She also happens to choose the person I was rooting for. So... not biased at all. But I was rooting for him for all the reasons listen above.
I'm not going to lie. Got a little misty during a scene with Buttercup (the cat). You'll have to read it, but it was tragic. Just felt like adding that for book 3 since I made a point of saying that there were no such moments in book 2.
An aside for my personal point of interest: dealing with soldiers prior to, during and post war. Brilliantly done.
Final Verdict: Must Read. It's really an excellent series. It's full of thought provoking, relevant, modern concerns. It's full of all kinds of emotions. Best of all, it's well written and even the most complex, difficult situations are written with a deft, sensitive hand. In a time when many people seem to seek instant gratification and easy solutions, I think this book perfectly underscores that there are no easy solutions, there is no instant way to make things better, but in the end, after someone stands up, after the mess, lie untold possibilities for happiness.
Thoroughly enjoyed it. Excellent exam reading. Pass it on!