I have a rule, and that is that if a movie that’s coming out is based on a book, I read the book first. The last time I read Suzanne Collin’s third and final “Hunger Games” novel, “Mockingjay,” was over two years ago, right before the adaptation of the first book came out. Now with the adaption of Part 1 of the final novel coming out in less than two weeks, I figured it be wisest to prepare myself for it and refresh my memory on what “Mockingjay” is about.
17-year-old Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire, has miraculously survived two Hunger Games. She had been rescued from the ruins of the merciless Quarter Quells and is taken to the very much, still in existence District 13. With Peeta a prisoner of the Capitol, her home destroyed, and nearly all the districts at war, Katniss steps up as the face for the rebels and becomes the Mockingjay- despite not being told of these plans in advance. Amidst the supposedly good message she’s representing, becoming the Mockingjay doesn’t come without consequences.
I find it very smart on how Collins developed the world. She took what we currently have now in society- reality and games shows, pop culture, drama, gore, war, etc.- and takes it to a whole new level in this dystopian world. It shows just how damaging it can all be, if we let it go out of control and to our heads.
I do have a problem with how Katniss is written. It seems like beginning with the moment she found out she was going to be in the Quarter Quell in the previous book, she hasn’t been as strong of a character as she was in the first book; and it especially doesn’t help when in this book, she’s constantly ending up in the hospital over and over again. While she may have put on a brave face in the first book due to the fact that she was constantly being watched by cameras, I felt that that helped her focus more on the task at hand at the time.
At the same time though, I can’t entirely blame her for her behavior, for she goes through experiences that most adults never encounter, and that’s obviously going to go into a lot of baggage she has to carry- some of which likely for the rest of her life.
I like how all the characters are all flawed in their own way. They seem more real that way, and even more so when they have a war on their hands. Everyone has their struggles- some of them deal with their inner demons better than others- but despite it all, that doesn’t stop them from wanting to make a change for the better for the nation of Panem.
Many people have praised both the books and the films for putting a strong female character in the forefront, giving feminists a field day. While I agree with this as well, the series- in particular this book- also is very analytical in terms of examining psychological and mental illness that’s obtained when at war. In a time now where we as a nation are trying to get better at understanding the effects of such illnesses, I would consider giving “Mockingjay” more credit than people may tend to give by addressing that throughout the course of the novel.
I would certainly recommend that everyone who’s planning to see the film to read the book before they do, for there are some things that can be gained from reading “Mockingjay” that you can’t gain from the film adaptation. In which case, that is Katniss’s descriptive inner monologue on a profound experience that no one- whether teenager or adult- should ever have to go through.