Book Review: Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3)


Image via Goodreads

WARNING: If you have not read The Hunger Games or Catching Fire, do NOT read this review. SPOILER ALERT!

Rating: 3 out of 5 (the ending itself: 1 out of 5)

If you’re like me, you rushed right into Mockingjay because Catching Fire left on such a cliffhanger. Katniss destroyed the arena by shooting a weak spot in the force-field, and then was rescued by Haymitch and the District 13 rebels.

Unfortunately, Peeta was captured by the Capitol, and District 12 was obliterated in retaliation. Now the finale documents Katniss’ journey to rally the districts together, save Peeta, and kill President Snow. Sounds hard enough, until she starts doubting the rebels’ motives and questioning whether she’s being manipulated yet again.

It was extremely difficult for me to process this novel. I couldn’t sleep last night, because my mind was whirring with reflection. I decided that I have two opinions, one for the majority of the book and the other for the ending (the last 50 pages or so).

First, I enjoyed most of Mockingjay. Like the previous two in the series, I was riveted to the story. I had to be dragged away from it. I cared about the characters and wanted the best for all of them. The fear over what was happening to Peeta drove me just as crazy as Katniss, and I was equally as impatient to end the war and breath a well-deserved sigh of victory.

Well, that sigh of victory never came. As soon as the rebels I loved started dying off (especially Finnick), I knew that something was wrong. And when Prim was killed, I felt that any hope for poetic justice was also burnt to a crisp. This whole time I waited for Katniss to find her courage and bring Panem into a golden age, but I was sorely disappointed.

And before you start arguing that that was Collins’ whole point, that war destroys happy endings, that life isn’t fair, JUST STOP. I don’t want to hear it. I never said I needed a cliche happy ending, but I did need a sense of closure. Collins dangled hope in our faces, and then cruelly jerked it away at the end. I get it, war sucks, but there are books out there that address that message and still manage to leave the reader satisfied.

Case in point, Harry Potter. Imagine if the entire series built up to this epic battle between Harry and Voldemort, and then instead of destroying the villain from the inside out via Horcrux, Harry becomes hospitalized while Voldemort dies from choking on his own laugh. Harry misses the entire climax of the war, and when he wakes up, Ron’s dead, all his friends are shipped off to different countries, and he hooks up with Ginny not out of true love but because there’s nothing else better to do. Oh, and then he’s coerced into reproducing, bringing his children into a world that you feel hasn’t quite learned its lesson.


If you’re not pissed, then either you enjoy feeling like a Dementor just sucked all the happiness out of your life or you don’t require enough from an author. I’ve loved every minute of the series, but just because Collins decided to take the “Sorry, life’s not rainbows and butterflies” escape route, I regret recommending this series to everyone around me. I would never wish that depression and frustration on anybody, but if you’ve already started reading the trilogy, hurry up and finish it so you can move on with your life.

I’ve read reviews by other hurt readers, and I agree with their points. Katniss was a total weakling in this novel: where was the girl on fire who defied the Capitol in her first games? Instead we get a girl who’s medicated and out of the loop most of the time. Sure, she’s only 17, but she had absolutely no agency whatsoever. In the end, she’s shoved back to District 12 while more corrupted adults tell her what to do, even who to choose–since Gale’s shipped off so unceremoniously to District 2 you don’t have to time to react.

I know that Katniss would pick Peeta regardless, after Gale most likely murdered her sister due to his obsession with violence. But it’s a default choice, like all the others she makes in Mockingjay. I understand that nobody would ever be the same after experiences like hers, but then you pull a Frodo and travel to a place where your pain won’t affect others, where you can live in true peace. Could you imagine Frodo marrying some hobbit and having kids like someone normal, after all he’s been through? (And yes, this argument also applies to Harry Potter, as I didn’t particularly like the Epilogue in Deathly Hallows either. But at least there will never be another Voldemort…I can’t say another President Snow or Coin wouldn’t rise again in Panem).

I also agree with readers who say that this series should have never been written in first person. Katniss is a pretty boring character in Mockingjay, and I would’ve appreciated insight into Peeta, Gale, even Prim, Johanna, or Finnick. I missed out on the end of the war because Katniss got herself turned into a fire-mutt–a rather lousy attempt to wrap things up. I couldn’t even cry over characters’ deaths, because the story wasn’t emotional enough to draw out my sympathy.

Overall, Mockingjay had redeeming qualities, unlike Meyer’s Breaking Dawn, but I felt extremely cheated anyway. I went to bed in a deep depression, but woke up angry. How dare Collins do this to her fanbase! In fact, I actually wouldn’t mind if the movie producers went in a completely different direction with this novel, because I know I would.

If you want a story about a corrupt alternate universe with characters that pull at your heart-strings and a story that changes your life in a sorrowful, but satisfying way, read Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. Ishiguro expresses true human emotion without sugarcoating it like Meyer or hacking it to pieces like Collins, and because of that, he is one of the authors whom I admire the most.

I’ll continue to look forward to The Hunger Games film, but with less excitement than before, because now I know how it will all end. I know I’ve ranted quite a bit, but I’d love to hear what you all think, whether you agree with me or not. Just don’t tell me to give it a second chance, because I promise you I won’t be reading this series again.

19 thoughts on “Book Review: Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3)

  1. I do agree the ending was kind of a cop-out, and I was disappointed with the fact that Katniss basically missed the whole end of the war. But I don’t take as much issue with Mockingjay as you did.

    You might be right that I don’t require much from an author; or, rather, just this author. I think she has an incredible imagination, but I also think she petered out right at the end, right where it mattered. I wasn’t a huge fan of her writing in general, and I agree that it shouldn’t have been written in first person. But I still think the series was great for what it was.

    I mentioned in my review that I was mostly glad that Katniss ended up with Peeta, but I wasn’t entirely satisfied. But I think we’re falling victim to something that happens in Harry Potter, too: Katniss is a KID. We can’t expect her to retain her teenage angst/determination not to have kids/whatever for her whole life. I thought a lot of things at 16 and 17 that I can’t imagine thinking at 21. And I’m sure I’m thinking a lot of things now, at 21, that I’ll think are crazy when I’m 26 or 27.

    Anyway, I’m not much looking forward to the movie because I’m convinced they’ll kill it (I rarely – RARELY – enjoy movies adapted from books) and I would prefer to keep my vision of the books my own, a luxury that was not afforded me with Harry Potter. I also just can’t stand violence in movies, and I can’t imagine a movie adaptation of The Hunger Games NOT being violent. Sigh.

    • I read your review as well, and you’re right that the story was heartbreaking, it was just that the series seemed to steal my sense of empathy, breaking me down like the Capitol did to Katniss. Some would say that’s poetic, but I just felt empty. I didn’t really care about Fred’s death in HP, but I cried a river over Sirius, Dumbledore, and Snape. But with Prim and Finnick…nothing.

      And you’re also right that Katniss is just a kid, and that her mind can change over time. I just don’t really like books that end with children, especially ones whom the husband pressured the wife to have in the first place.

      As for the movies, I’ll see them just to be part of the conversation, but it’s like how I feel about the Twilight films: not so bad in the beginning, but the finale will leave a bad taste in my mouth. It’s just a shame that The Hunger Games can’t be rated R, because I at least would appreciate preserving its brutality as it was experienced in the books, even if it would be hard to stomach on-screen.

      Sorry if I sound awfully melodramatic in my reviews, I just had such high expectations with this series! 😦

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  4. I’m more than halfway through “Mockingjay” and I’m having to force myself through it, unlike “The Hunger Games.” “Catching Fire” really didn’t capture me, and toward the end of the Hunger Games Quarter Quell, I was sort of lost and bored. This last book is sort of losing me too–don’t know if there are too many characters or what, but it just doesn’t have the same pull the first book did. I thought there should have been a few years’ time between books. I can see so many alternate endings and twists that would have made it a bit more interesting to me. I will have to say I’m a bit disappointed. Sometimes great books shouldn’t have sequels. And I have to say “The Hunger Games” is one of them. I loved the first one, but not the second and third.

  5. “Case in point, Harry Potter. Imagine if the entire series built up to this epic battle between Harry and Voldemort, and then instead of destroying the villain from the inside out via Horcrux, Harry becomes hospitalized while Voldemort dies from choking on his own laugh. ”

    LOL. LOOOOOOOOOOOL. This made me laugh so hard. Granted, I’m a little tired but still. LOLOLOL.

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  9. I’m sorry you felt that way \I finished the third book in a day and reread it in another day because I was just like you into the story and wanted to know what was going to happen. I like the fact that they show Katniss as a young woman still not in control of her life and those around her. I relate to her in all three books and loved the ending because she did after all she had been thru have children for her husband Peeta. The only part I didn’t like was her mother didn’t come home with them and Gale even tho he’s happy and living a great life was so far away from her. She had lost so much already. I’m happy she realized how much Peeta really meant to her and that she was treating him worn when it came to getting him back from what they did to him in the capitol. I think it ended likt that so there will be no more books.

    • Thanks for the comment! The problem I had with the ending is just how you put it: she had children “for her husband Peeta.” Personally I feel that no woman should have children for anyone but herself, and I was disappointed that she brought children into a world that had not learned its lesson. You’re right, she’s not in control of her life, and I don’t think she ever will be. Just a heartbreaking ending overall, for me.

  10. Hi, I agree totally with your review. I loved the books because there were so many good lessons here – don’t have sex until you are ready, don’t choose who to date because you feel pressured, don’t have children too young, don’t feel pressured to feel beautiful because you can still be desirable and achieve great things with passion in your heart. Question things around you. Life isn’t a happy ending but work with what you have got. I did feel that the last book tried too stuff a sweeping, majestic storyline into the ‘hunger games’ box and that didn’t work for me. It left me feeling annoyed and also I felt the book lost its way somewhat. I didn’t even mind that Katness had children for Peeta, she took a long time to think about it (15 years!) and she clearly loves them to death. Peeta sacrificed a lot for her too and relationships are all about give and take. After all, aren’t all our children born into worlds full of uncertainty? It’s a good book club topic – why are women contining to have children with all the war and death and violence around? I really struggled with the refusal in the last book to give the reader the outlet to mourn Finnick and Prim and ultimately Gale. I also struggled really hard with the ending between Peeta and Katness – there was no explanation of whether he was actually still in love with her or whether he was back because he had nowhere else to go. For a couple that had been so passionate about each other I didn’t feel that the ending between them was believable. Is that what we are supposed to believe would be the ending for the girl on fire? Burned out and bitter? It’s been going through my head since I finished the book last night and I agree, there should have only been the first book OR it should have been a longer series so the ending wasn’t so rushed.

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