The last book of ‘The Hunger Games’ trilogy: I feel it definitely was a doozy (and may contain spoilers of this or any of the others in the series, so you’ve been warned) …
‘Mockingjay’ is set about a month after District 12 has become ash because of the vengeance of the Capitol. Katniss has also learnt that District 13 not only exists but plans to bring down the President and the Capitol with her help: she is to become a symbol for the rebels as the mockingjay (a new species that mocks the Capitol itself, born from a muttation and flourishing outside the Capitol's control). Let’s face it; as a reader, the love triangle between her Peeta and Gale always takes bottom rung in consideration to Katniss’ movements through this world and in relation to the Games, to war, and to being used by political powers (though I am sure this is what sells the book to adolescents: the who will Katniss Everdeen choose million-dollar question).
And while this million-dollar question was settled in the back of my mind, this book forefronts the more intense themes and burning questions of humanity and what it really is; the dealings and consequences of war; and just how well or how poorly people adjust, change, adapt or fall in its presence. Collins goes into great detail into the atrocities of war and even the politics and how to play it, and she doesn’t skimp on the reflections of what occurs no matter which side you’re on. Some readers will not take lightly to these themes and may be affected greatly by not just the element of description but also the maturity of handling these themes for younger readers. And I don’t believe readers should walk away only hoping in the romance, they should be acknowledging and considering these elements to the book that strike a chord with realities, both here now and in the future.
This novel also seems to have increased Katniss’ inner turmoil, enabling a close connection to the protagonist and to perhaps the workings of a mind in her situation. And while we lack the ability to see into other characters’ minds and really know their motives and understandings of their world and their relationship with Katniss, Collins has cohesively written how other characters’ expressions and words relate to her, even though still jaded from Katniss’ eyes. Yet this is still a positive spin in seeing just how Katniss views her world and loved ones, whilst still slightly wishing for a third-person narrator.
All the books in the series are heavy-laden, but ‘Mockingjay’ definitely brings everything to a head in an incredibly violent and emotional way. Whether you want it to end the way it does or not, it will affect the reader. The resolutions are also there, again whether you agree with them or not. But I think the reason Collins has written this way is to make the text as realistic as she could without distancing readers from the humanity she questions. She understands that not everyone makes it out of such circumstances in one piece; and really wants to leave this concept hanging on the minds of readers. Collins has worked in more than entertainment value for her books, creating a serious depth to her series that I believe everyone should be reading.