What can I say about Mockingjay, the third and last act in the explosive Hunger Games Trilogy … it’s a piece of work.
Catching Fire Spoilers!! [spoiler]Katniss and Peeta have survived the Quarter Quell but Peeta is now (essentially) a prisoner of war in the Capitol, tortured and used to talk down Katniss and District 13 from the rebellion that’s ‘caught on like fire’.[/spoiler]
Katniss’ family, including Prim, her mother, and the annoying cat, Buttercup, are safe in District 13. Prim has grown up so fast and is now walking in her mother’s footsteps as a nurse. Gale is there too and we finally get to see what could happen between him and Katniss if left to themselves.
The only hope of saving Peeta from President Snow is to become the mockingjay, placing Katniss in a place where she just might get to engage in real combat, or better yet, become the assassin to kill Snow herself. In doing so, she places herself and the citizens of District 13 at great risk.
Also, all the other successfully rescued winners, including Beetee and Finnick, are trained to become real soldiers for the Rebellion. Any of the tributes (like Peeta) remaining in the Capitol, are now the enemy.
The crucible of combat in the road to the Capitol is alarming, shocking and tragic. Any moment may be (and sometimes is) the last for your favorites in the series.
Mockingjay was a different sort of book from its predecessors The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Appropriately, it is a culmination of both of these books in a very visceral sense. The girl who was on fire literally becomes a girl on fire and she carries the scars and burns and internal trauma that accompanies this tragedy. The attack on the Capitol in its arena-like defense system is the greatest hunger games scenario and no-one is exempt from the mine ‘pods’ that are a harbinger of the death that follows.
Mockingjay is not a light read. It certainly doesn’t have the happy ending I hoped for, but was warned not to expect, by some over-eager Amazon.com reviewers. The warning was well-heeded and while reading this book I looked for the tell-tale signs of trouble ahead. What I found was less of a YA novel and more of a treatise on the nature of warmongering.
Some of the very adult topics that are present include: post-traumatic stress disorder; psychological warfare on POW’s, which Suzanne Collins names ‘hi-jacking’; the nature of blitzes in a war campaign; building a better mouse trap to inflict the most damage (i.e. casualties), and what’s perhaps the oldest question in warfare, where to draw the line so the violence can finally end We also see characters struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, grief, disillusionment and the desires for vengeance and murder.
And that’s why I’m really conflicted about this book. This is the sort of book that I would never write because of its graphic depictions of war scenarios and combat situations (something that I don’t enjoy reading).
I do respect Suzanne Collins for tackling some severe issues and admire her ability to create a ‘worldbuilding’ series. The series’ lasting value to YA literature may be its examination of the effects that war has on us all, a timely subject for young Americans growing up in a nation at war.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about The Hunger Games Trilogy and what you liked best (and least) about the books. Who were your favorite characters? Did you agree with Katniss’ final decision on Peeta and Gale? Drop me a note and let’s talk.