The more I learn about the Hunger Games trilogy and the more I experience the fandom that surrounds the series (thanks Hunger Games Fireside Chat!), I keep hearing that many people think that Mockingjay is their least favorite book. I agree that the novel has a ton of plot lines and feelings to wrap up, and that it has to bring to an end a story that is near and dear to the hearts of many readers. I can see how this ending would be received with mixed feelings, and I respect the views of my fellow readers. As for myself, I feel completely different. I think it is the greatest book in the series, and with my reasoning explained below, I hope many people will begin to see it in a different light.
Mockingjay begins with Katniss in the custody of the rebels, having been rescued from her second forced stint in the Hunger Games. A last-ditch attempt by Katniss, Peeta, and a few remaining tributes to save their lives from traps that the gamemakers placed in the arena blows up the protective force field that surrounds the arena. This allows the rebels to enter and pluck her out, while the Capitol appears and takes Peeta away right before their eyes. Now safely in the hands of the rebels, Katniss eventually relents to be the figurehead of the rebellion, known to all as the “mockingjay”. Unfortunately, the Capitol wages their own propaganda war against the rebels, physically and mentally torturing Peeta with tracker jacker venom to think that Katniss is his mortal enemy. Already precarious in her mental state, this new revelation makes Katniss even more confused and angry.
In a daring raid, the rebels rescue Peeta from the Capitol, but upon his return his mental state is so deteriorated that he attempts to kill Katniss when they are reunited. Meanwhile, the last of the outlying districts are taken by the rebels, and they begin planning to take the Capitol itself. In a previous agreement, Katniss and President Coin (the president of District 13) agree to let Katniss kill President Snow personally. Although she has made this promise, Snow declines to let Katniss anywhere near the center of the Capitol. However, after a freak accident, Katniss and a small contingent of rebels find themselves close to the center of the city and therefore President Snow himself. Will Katniss be able to kill the man who has brought so much pain to her life? Will she ever be able to gain back Peeta’s trust and memory? Will the rebels be able to take back control of Panem?
As I said previously, this is definitely my favorite book of the series. I feel that Collins builds so many layers of conflict and emotion throughout the course of the previous two novels that are finally released in this work. Along with the incredible action of the first two novels, there is also a great deal of inner conflict that Collins introduces through Katniss. In this novel, I feel that all of this conflict comes to a head, and thus Katniss must deal with it instead of continuing to mentally battle with her emotions. This made the novel move quickly for me, and along with the breakneck action that permeates the rest of the novel I found myself racing from page to page. The last few chapters flew by as I felt like I was right next to Katniss and her rebel group as they infiltrated deep into the Capitol itself. Additionally, along with all the attention that is paid to Katniss (and rightfully so as she is the main character), I was pleasantly surprised by how much page time was given to additional characters. I really became invested in the well-being of Katniss’ fellow rebels, and Collins did an excellent job in making the revolution a living, breathing, entity that all of Panem could get behind. Because at the end of the day, this series is about the overthrow of oppression, the power of individual freedom, and the notion that the rights of a privileged few should never matter over the rights of the masses. Collins definitely drives these points home, and for that I heartily recommend not only this book but this entire series.
5 out of 5 stars
Scholastic, Inc (2010)
Hardcover 390 pages