Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Today is the day I post the review for the final chapter in the Hunger Games trilogy. Now I bet you’re really interested in reading it, seeing how the first adaptation will begin filming later this year. Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence has been cast as my beloved Katniss. (Reminds me: I need to see Winter’s Bone.) Anyway, here we go. Next review will be On the Road, which I’m almost done with. Man, Dean Moriarty is such a jackass.
With Mockingjay, I finished the trilogy! I am so joyous because I feel like I’ve overcome something major. Once I started Hunger Games, this series was constantly on my brain. It’s so addicting; well-written young adult lit is like high-fructose corn syrup. You know there are things better for you, but it is just so sweet and immediately satisfying.
Mockingjay begins with Katniss visiting the ruins of her former home in District 12, struggling to determine reality. In Catching Fire she was sent into the Hunger Games again, and as this is the third book, you know she survived. But it wasn’t due to her ingenuity or the assistance of a loved one; she was set up to win—or at least escape—and has now become a cog in a much-larger machine, the rebellion. Now, this is something the reader has been cheering for all along, as the Capitol’s oppression was disheartening, to say the least. (Routine starvation, strict discipline, torture, meaninglessness.) However, now that the rebels have banded and are seizing control of the districts en route to the President’s manse, we readers hope for a brighter future for everyone. Katniss has accepted her role as the symbol of the rebellion: the Mockingjay did its job to ignite.
But it would be too easy to end the book with such a swift happily-ever-after. (Yay, Katniss is out of the Games and the Capitol is going down! The end.) Katniss has never taken direction well, and even though her team shares her intentions, she isn’t going to be used. Even though she suffers from PTSD like the rest of the Games alumni, Soldier Everdeen still manages to train in anticipation of seeing battle. She is disappointed to find, however, that her training was only to create more believable “propos,” or propaganda pieces. She’s still a pawn.
Katniss & crew end up in the midst of battle, though. Collins continues the motif of having a Game in each novel, as the Capitol is laid out with traps (pods) much like the arena. Luck, wit, and selflessness combine so that Katniss survives the trip through the city (unlike most of her platoon). But right as she sets sight on the President’s mansion, tragedy strikes: the worst thing that could happen, does. (I’m not spoiling it!)
However, this übertragedy, as predictable as it may have been, is necessary. As a result of it Katniss fully realizes her role as pawn for the rebellion, and that they use tactics common with the evil Capitol. It’s all very disheartening and disillusioning. But is anything ever positive in war? I was taken back to an essay question I had to answer on the AP US History test in 11th grade. It was something like: “Why did the U.S. drop atomic bombs on Japan? Was this the right decision?” I recall writing in my essay that, yes, it was the correct decision, because although we nuked 200k Japanese innocents, we prevented deaths of potentially millions of people. Now, of course, I recognize I was brainwashed by my history books—the ones written by the victors. Katniss faces this struggle in Mockingjay: she is currently on the winning side, but is it right?
The themes are more subtle in Mockingjay than the first two books in the trilogy, but I move just as valuable, but perhaps as not easily relatable. Therefore, I recommend Mockingjay and will recommend you read the trilogy as a whole. Each novel is a quick read, and although it’s young adult fiction, there are themes everyone can relate too. You lie if you say you are immune to romance, kicking ass, and heart-wrenching tragedy.
PS I don’t have any earth-shaking quotes to share from this book…I returned it to the owner, thinking, “meh, there’s nothing that really stands out as a blindingly amazing tidbit worth drop-quoting.” But on my notecard, I wrote “[page]377—being human.” I wonder what that means. If you read it, try to figure it out.