Last year I decided to jump into the world of the Hunger Games and see what all the fuss was about. I thought the first installment was inventive and compelling (if a little light on characterization), and the second was a fantastic driving force, pushing the reader towards the inevitable climax. The third installment, Mockingjay, left me disappointed.
First off, I want to be fair. This wasn’t really the book I was expecting, and that contributed largely to my disappointment. Suzanne Collins focuses on the internal conflicts and how Katniss deals with the dramas being played out around her, primarily being treated like a pawn in the war, as well as Peeta’s capture and subsequent change in attitude towards her. I get it, it’s an internal war, not an external one. The problem is, her internal struggle, as written, was not terribly interesting to me. Katniss comes off more like a whiny teenager than a strong woman who has survived an un-survivable situation twice. Perhaps this is Collins’ way of depicting post-traumatic stress disorder. I’m certainly not an expert in that field and have no way of knowing how accurate that depiction is; but again, the writer still has to make it compelling to the reader. It’s a perfectly legitimate approach; unfortunately, the writing fell flat and left me feeling vaguely unsympathetic.
I also felt like this novel was a bit of a bait and switch. After two installments of Katniss and Peeta surviving everything the Games could throw at them, Collins sidelines Katniss for nearly every major battle and action sequence in the novel. I loved Katniss in the first two novels because she was a strong woman who kicked ass! It may not be realistic, but I wanted to see her kick ass again. With so little for Katniss to do other than cope with her inner demons, I couldn’t help wondering how Hollywood is going to break this book down into two movies. In my head, I was editing out unnecessary scenes and to be honest, quite a lot was ending up on the editing room floor. (Then again, if Hollywood weren’t dedicated to milking novels for everything they are worth, we wouldn’t have three installments of The Hobbit.)
I’m not the demographic for this novel. It’s Young Adult literature, and I hope young women can find inspiration in this last installment and maybe help dealing with their own internal struggles. From an adult’s perspective, though, the choices the writer made just did not work in this, the weakest installment of the Hunger Games trilogy.