The third and final novel in the Hunger Games trilogy, Mockingjay wraps up the story of Katniss Everdeen and her struggles against the Capitol and the corrupt government of Panem. Continuing the events set in motion in Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins weaves yet another tale of intrigue, suspense, and surprise. So does Mockingjay live up to the rest of the series?

Synopsis for Mockingjay:

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Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12.

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Cover-mockingjayCollins continues to tell a tale of great imagination, doing so with the same level of expediency as the first two novels. The story is well-paced and keeps readers motivated. Though the action is ramped up rather significantly in parts, there are a lot of jumps forward as Katniss is injured, then wakes to find herself in the hospital. At times, it seems Katniss spends most of her time throughout the book in the hospital. It’s a bit unfortunate as it tends to ruin the inertia of the story at times. Just when things start to climax–Katniss wakes up somewhere, and events have transpired that have to be explained by those around her. It doesn’t ruin the novel, but puts a damper on what could have been some amazing moments.

The dialogue in Mockingjay is nothing if not believable; if anything, it’s better than the first two books of the series. Similarly, the characterization continues to be excellent, though concentrated on the key figures. Haymitch, Peeta, and Gale all see decent amounts of time, but this series is about Katniss, and readers will see further into her mind and her emotions than ever before. It’s refreshing to see Prim coming-of-age, and actually be the one to comfort Katniss from time to time. It’s obvious that Prim is growing up, and becoming her own person.

Though the two previous novels centered heavily on the Hunger Games, Mockingjay doesn’t include an arena, or an annual Games, except in passing. The war for Panem has started, and Katniss is the reluctant face of the Rebels. The war takes readers all across the Districts, and into parts of the Capitol never seen before. There are many chilling scenes, in which people are slaughtered for no apparent reason, and Collins ups the ante in the series at the very end. Overall, this book is far more emotional than the previous entries, and is quite a bit darker in tone. It’s quite a journey readers are taken on, right up to the climactic battle on the steps of the President’s Mansion in the Capitol.

Leading up to the finale, fans will wonder who Katniss will end up with? Peeta? Gale? Will she abandon both, even if they survive? Many characters perish, giving their lives to protect the others. Katniss is clearly an emotional wreck by the end of the novel, and it’s obvious that she’ll never recover completely. The Games have taken too much from her, and the Capitol far more. Still, it’s a fitting end to the series, and one that draws readers in just as much as the previous chapters. Mockingjay is highly-addictive, and nearly impossible to put down–even briefly. Though some fans will be turned off by the twists and turns it takes, sticking with it to the end provides a satisfying, if not melancholy sense of closure, and caps off one of the most memorable book series in recent memory.

– Reviewed by Bradley K. Brown