The final part of almost every trilogy is something I’m looking forward to, but at the same time something I’m dreading a bit. The Hunger Games was no different. Between the second and the last book, I kept wondering how this one would hold up without the Games in it. As it turned out, it held up really well without a new episode of The Hunger Games, but it was a book I didn’t expect, in some ways. Even now, re-reading it, the stark contrast with the previous books is apparent, but by no means is this book without its chills and thrills.
Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.
It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans — except Katniss.
The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay — no matter what the personal cost.
When we pick up the story in Mockingjay, Katniss is in District 13 after being rescued from the arena at the end of Catching Fire. She’s there with some other people from District 12 – since the Capitol bombed 12 to shreds – while some other Quell Tributes, like Peeta, Johanna and Annie, have been abducted by the Capitol. Throughout the first part of the novel, we accompany Katniss while she’s trying to come to terms with everything that happened and we learn how things are handled in District 13. The main thing that’s happening here, is preparing for the war against the Capitol. In order to do this, Katniss has to assume her role as the Mockingjay, a firestarter, the spirit of the rebellion. This is where things get interesting cause almost every step gets televised. The other Districts has to know their Mockingjay is alive and well and fighting for their freedom, so we get a lot of propos being filmed, some staged, but others in the Districts like 8 and 2. This is quite an interesting perspective, cause even though the propos are necessary to get the other Districts fighting for their cause, it’s highly reminiscent of the voyeuristic aspect of the actual Hunger Games.
“taking it to the extreme
The first big mission, however, is the rescuing of the Victors. This is a mission that doesn’t include Katniss and whereas it’s a missed opportunity for some excitement, the fact that she doesn’t take part in it adds to the shock value when she meets Peeta again. Seriously, the hijacking so well done. I like the idea of taking something introduced in the previous novels and taking it to the extreme. Also, I like that the Capitol uses Trackerjacker venom against Katniss, in a way, where she used the ‘Jackers as a weapon in her first arena where she sparked the Mockingjay’s flame.
After going trough the motions for a bit longer, the excitement and tension reach their high when we enter the Capitol and go on an assassination mission with Snow as prime target. I really liked the way this was constructed, the Capitol actually being one big arena with the most gruesome traps and all. The latter part of the novel also picks up in terms of violence and death. Whilst expected, I didn’t think it would be like this and sometimes it left me wondering, is this YA still? Where the trip to the Presidential Mansion was high on violence, the ending of it all left me numb. I was shocked when Prim died. I have to admit, I knew she would die. Damn you Google, who told me that when all I wanted was some information on who played Prim in the movie! So, I knew she would die, but the fashion in which she died was just numbing. So fast, so cruel and just so pointless. It made me think for a while, how beautifully staged it was in terms of imagery. Back in The Hunger Games, we get to know Prim as this girl with a ducktail, the girl sentenced to death when her name is picked as Tribute. This girl changes and Katniss literally says in Mockingjay that the girl with the ducktail isn’t any more. Before she dies, however, the girl with the ducktail, sentenced to death, is back. I don’t know if Suzanne Collins meant it to be like that, but I thought that was beautifully done. Also, her death points out how pointless it all is. Sure, the Games are over, the regime is overthrown, but Katniss her initial motivation, to keep Prim safe, has been made pointless.
“So fast, so cruel and just so pointless
Another fact that left me quite numb was the idea of one last Hunger Games and the ‘go’ four out of seven remaining Victors gave to the idea. Initially, the idea came from President Coin and with her being killed by Katniss, we are left wondering if the Games actually were held. I think they were, and it creeps me out a bit. The whole idea of the rebellion was to overthrow the regime and to get rid of those Games for once and for all, not to have another go at it, even if it is the last time for once and for all. Moreover, it’s the not knowing that sticks with me.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however, and that’s a good thing, for else this book would have been terribly depressing. Annie and Finnick’s wedding was just that little spark of hope that this book needed. A little reprieve from all the sadness and cruelty going on.
When the book is finished, all gets settled but not all is well. The Games may have been banned for good, but Katniss leaves a bitter taste. You know that she’ll never be ok again. She manages, but she’s troubled. Another thing is how the love triangle gets solved. For starters, I don’t really get the thing with the love triangle here in so far that I don’t really think you can speak of one. When I think of a love triangle, I think Edward-Bella-Jacob. Here, both Peeta and Gale seems to care for Katniss and do love her, but she never gave the impression to have strong feelings for either one of them. Sure, she kissed both, but to me it never felt like more than a physical act. Whenever she speaks of her and Gale being together, she made it sounds rational and it never had the emotional depth she has with Peeta, because of what they went through together in the arena. At least to me, it was never a question whom she should end up with. It’s not like she’s Bella and faces an impossible choice between two guys she’s in love with.
“that little spark of hope
Now that we’re talking about Katniss and her emotional side, that is something I’ve missed in this book. Throughout the novel, she felt to me like I felt in the end, numb. The feisty girl from The Hunger Games and Catching Fire is gone and I wonder where she went. We see her once again resurface when she’s training to be part of the Kill-Snow-mission, but for a good part of the novel, I missed the Katniss I liked before. She gets balanced out by the other characters, however. I really like Johanna and her bluntness, and Finnick. I never really started to care for the new characters from District 13, however, so when they died it was collateral damage. Some other deaths, however, did hit home and were unexpected.
The fear that Mockingjay would not hold up without the Games was ungrounded, but it was quite a different book in comparison to the other two. In the end, I did like it a lot, but it’s not the best. Even though I think that Catching Fire and The Hunger Games were better books, this is a great ending to a fabulous series and I’m a bit sad to leave them behind once again. I guess it will be some while before I pick them up again, but no doubt in my mind that I will fight alongside Katniss once more.
★ ★ ★
Play the Games one last time.