**Spoiler Alert: Because of the popularity of both this book and movie, this review does include spoilers.
Mockingjay picks up shortly after where Catching Fire left off. We see Katniss shaking, crying, having a nightmare as she so often does now in her post-Hunger Games world. She’s suffering from PTSD as she tries to make sense of what happened in the Quarter Quell and as she wonders if Peeta is even alive.
She has so many questions, but without receiving answers, she is quickly thrust once again into the spotlight as Plutarch Heavensbee and President Coin, the president of District 13, choose her as the symbol of the rebellion, the Mockingjay. With most of the districts in disarray or completely destroyed after the rebellious move Katniss makes in the Quarter Quell, President Coin and Plutarch work hard to take the lead in the rebellion and join forces with the other districts to take down the Capitol. That means having Katniss star in several propaganda videos to air across Panem. The videos come in response to the Capitol’s propaganda videos, starring a brainwashed, angry Peeta, who has lost the support of the rebels.
Katniss agrees to help under certain conditions — that Peeta and the other tributes will be saved and pardoned once they are freed from the Capitol. Despite her concerns, President Coin agrees, and Katniss and a video crew shoot several videos that air across the country. eventually leading to the rebels gaining enough control that they’re able to free Peeta from the Capitol. But when Peeta returns, he is not the same. He is brainwashed and enraged by Katniss, causing him to try to kill her.
The book and movie are mostly the same, but there are a few slight changes. For instance, in the book, Katniss agrees to be the face of the rebellion only if Peeta and the other tributes are freed and pardoned, and if she can be the person to kill President Snow. But in the movie, the demand to kill President Snow is cut. It’s not a huge change. But in the book, President Coin responds by saying “I’ll flip you for it.” The demand and the accompanying dialogue serve to display the extent of Katniss’s anger toward Snow and that she and Coin have now connected.
Other changes include minor ones about District 13 — the details of the district’s daily schedules have been cut. So has the insight into District 13’s treatment of Katniss’s prep team. Again, not a huge loss, but it certainly eliminates some of the most important foreshadowing about District 13 and the people who are in charge.
Whereas Mockingjay, the novel, has an ending, Mockingjay Part 1 does not. Yes, that’s obvious, but the movie ending with the freeing of Peeta only serves as further build to the next movie — and because of that, the movie doesn’t have its own plot. It’s more of a series of scenes and happenstances with not much more than build and foreshadowing. The movie isn’t bad. In fact, it’s pretty dead-on and fantastic. But when your movie tells the story of half a book, it’s going to feel like half a movie.