Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3) - Suzanne Collins This is another book I'm not sure how to rate. I've given it three stars, as an average mark, but it'd be probably closer to 2.5, if I wanted to be really judgmental (which I'm not going to be, because I still went on reading it quickly, a usual sign that all in all, the story hooked me).

I really, really liked its setting, the backdrop of war depicted in it, with all its ambiguities and varying moral mileage. Maybe those are themes a harsh for a YA novel, but they still gave me the full feeling of a dystopian world here. The Capitol's depiction as "the side on which the bad guys are on" was clearly tempered by the fact that the rebels' thought processes aren't so pure either. Overruling a tyrannical government? Sure, but such a feat won't come without sacrifices, nor without having to think like your enemies to anticipate their actions... and the fine line between 'thinking like' and 'acting like' is a fragile one, rather easy to cross. Some characters did cross it—some who appeared above that at first, too. Others remained true to themselves, yet never got out of it unscarred either. The overall atmosphere was quite a desperate one, with its gruesome lot of realistic and no-nonsense situations, diverging opinions, tension-inducing plans, and intensity. Perhaps a little too much sometimes.

There's also a couple of characters (not always the main ones) whose evolution I liked seeing. Peeta seemed to grow a backbone at last, be more fierce, and show himself as someone who could be dangerous on his own, not only a human shield for Katniss. It came with a price, of course, yet it was interesting to see him go through what befell him—in spite of his (believable) pleas for death, in the end, he was the true survivor. Same goes in my opinion for Johanna (ah, snarky, unpleasant Johanna—I don't even know how I came to like her, but I do) and Finnick, for coming in the open about what was really going on between the scenes. Finnkic, who got me quite scared at some point, alright, since his path was mirroring Katniss's so much.

And that's the part where the author lost me: Katniss's evolution. She used to be so strong, so active, such a decision-maker. In "Mockingjay", she's a mere hull of herself, wallowing in self-pitying, shutting down to the rest of the world, uncaring about what's going to happen. Alright, she went through many hardships, and those would be painful to anyone, especially a 17-to-18-year-old girl, but... but did we really need to read about this for 300 pages? So she was more of a pawn, a symbol than anything else—but couldn't she take it into her hands again, and shape the tide actively? Instead, it took quite some time before she accepted to become the Mockinjay, and once she embraced that state, it didn't last for long: I felt that it was really all for show, that she didn't really care inside, and if she didn't, well, why should I? I can't even blame it on president Snow attempting to break her through Peeta; it looked like she was actively breaking herself, too. The other problem with her, too, was that she remained confined to the background or the sides of the war (the "getting knocked down and waking up in the hospital" moments quickly started to grate on my nerves). I wanted to see her IN the main action! Not telling me about it after seeing it on the news or hearing it from other characters or whatever. This changed in the second half with the Capitol mission, yet even then, she got to see the final battle from the background (and was once again knocked out, thus being shut out of this battle... and I the reader was deprived of another important scene).

And Gale. What the hell, Gale? Did Collins so wanted to put you out of the picture that she had to make you so annoying in this book? Why not killing you off, then? It would've been more useful. Poor Gale. I liked him in the previous novels, liked what a stronghold he could be for Katniss to go back to. However, I was under the impression that they shunned each other too much here, that they weren't even trying... and that the final choice in the love triangle was made from the start. There's no point in building a triangle then, right?

Finally, I didn't know how to stand regarding the bleak feeling pervading the book. On the one hand, it greatly contributed to carrying across the author's message about the futility of wars, and how humans do repeat the errors of the past. On the other hand, was it really necessary to enforce it through the rushed death of certain characters? People die, well, fine, I get it. But killing off Finnick and Primrose in such ways was just meaningless for the first, and way too fast for the other (not to mention that it would have had more impact on us readers too if we had got to know and see her more before that...).

To conclude: excellent setting and narrative conclusion to this triolgy, but poor execution (no pun intended) regarding a few of the characters, including, unfortunately, some of the really major ones.