Suzanne Collins – Catching Fire and Mockingjay


Author: Suzanne Collins

Series: The Hunger Games trilogy
Titles: Catching Fire/Mockingjay
Published: September 2009/August 2010
Publisher: Scholastic
Length: 391/390 pages
Genre: Dystopian scifi
Target age: Young adult
Why I picked it up: So many people have been raving about it, I felt like something had passed me by when Mockingjay was released so I bought a boxed set of the trilogy
Rating: 3 stars/2 stars
Buy: Chapters | Barnes and Noble | Check your local bookstore!
Related: The Hunger Games review

I am sad that I have so many negative things to say. To see an author put out a fantastic book followed by a good book followed by a terrible book is very sad to see. Let me be upfront: This review is going to be full of nothing but complaints. The reason is, I’ve been paying far more attention to authorial choices, if you will, when I read and these two novels made it very easy for me to see something and think ‘Why would she make that choice?!’ I wasn’t quite so frustrated with the two books while I was reading them, merely annoyed. I was somewhat disappointed in the ending, but the feeling grew as I thought of more and more things I didn’t like. I would still recommend the trilogy as a whole. Read the books, just don’t get your hopes up for a satisfying conclusion.
CATCHING FIRE SPOILERS AHEAD
My first and only point is more of an observance rather than an objection. I wasn’t anticipating the premise of the second book at all. I was fully prepared to follow Katniss as she mentored a girl for the next Hunger Games. I should have known better than to think it would be something like that, but I definitely wasn’t expecting to find her and Peeta back in the arena. I was so surprised by that at first, I didn’t have time to groan about it. But, it turned out to be a much more interesting story than I could have expected. Not quite as exciting as their first time around in the arena, but still a good read.

MOCKINGJAY SPOILERS AHEAD

 

It’s easy to screw up death scenes. But sometimes they’re just so blatantly bad you wonder how come nobody noticed. An author should make an effort to make the reader feel some sort of emotion when a character dies. Two deaths happened that should have made feel something but neither did. Finnick’s death was so poorly portrayed I read past it a few pages and then thought ‘Wait, I think Finnick just died back there’ and I had to go back. Finnick was my favourite character and if he had to die, he deserved a much better death. I didn’t like how Annie was shown dealing with his death, it didn’t seem to fit her character at all. And Prim’s death…ooh, that just infuriated me. Poorly executed scene. Unemotional. Who cares. Ultimately had little affect on the story. Her death could have been handled far, far better and actually served some purpose to the plot instead of just ‘Oh, it’ll be sad if we kill off the cute little sister.’ Gahh.
My complaints about how Peeta was handled tie in with my complaints about how the romance was dealt with. One of my notes for this post reads: ‘Lack of Peeta/hooking up with Peeta at the end/lack of support for Katniss’ choice FUUUUU PEETA.’ It’s not Peeta’s fault that he had to play such a terrible role, though. I feel bad for him. I don’t think Peeta was present enough in the story for being such a crucial character, but I’m not sure if that’s a valid criticism or just my own personal preference. Earlier in the trilogy, I felt like there could be something between Peeta and Katniss. That vanished in Mockingjay but somehow the two have no problems reconnecting and picking up their ‘love’ despite everything that did/didn’t happen between them in the final book.
Perhaps the most shocking/disturbing thing to me was the decision to hold a final Hunger Game, a decision which was decided ultimately by Katniss. That was a true WTF moment for me. It was such a quickly decided thing, with no little explanation and no actual impact on the story. It was just ‘Yeah, sure, let’s hold one more.’ No! No! I want to know why, I want to know more about that, that’s such a huge decision! But it wasn’t, it was totally played down in the novel. Maybe it was just me, but I don’t understand why Collins would include something like that if she was just going to sweep over it.
Those are my biggest issues with the conclusion of The Hunger Games trilogy…other things include there being too many dull passages, cheap tricks (like knocking out the protagonist for the climax. I find that so irritating, I understand why an author might do that, but it feels like an easy way out) and the epilogue (Katniss just settles down and has kids and everything? What a disappointing message. I think the story would have a much better impact if Katniss had been destroyed by her whole ordeal but I like my stories bleak).

I couldn’t resist looking on Amazon to see if I was the only reader so frustrated with this conclusion. Apparently the opinion is split, the two most helpful reviews when I looked are a five star review and a one star review. For a lengthier, more eloquently written review (the review took the words straight from my mouth, if I could have said them as well :P), I’d actually recommend this. I found myself nodding and muttering yes as i read it. I wish I didn’t have to feel this way about Mockingjay. It’s a tragedy to see a story fall apart in just three books.