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 plains - 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.
How have I not already reviewed this!? While writing my Hunger Games week post, I meant to link to each of my reviews to the trilogy. But...no Mockingjay! Thankfully I just finished rereading the series after watching movie, so thoughts are fresh!
And those thoughts are: I HATE this book. And I LOVE it because I hate it. Here's what I mean: this book is painful to read. Every character that I have doubted, loved, worried for--they all suffer, whether from mental collapses, torture, death, or manipulation. Collins puts her characters through the most horrible things, and while I hate seeing them in pain.....I love that there are consequences.
Collins has masterfully written a series about war. Not a glamorized war full of pure-hearted heroes and straight up evil villains. Real people populate these books, with cloudy motivations, inherited worldviews, and real doubts as to what is right or wrong. My heart is pretty much a twisted rag after reading about Katniss's inner turmoil. She was unwillingly made into an icon of the rebellion. She knows the Capitol is abusive and should be overthrown, but every move she makes toward freeing the Districts only results in more dead bodies.
I just found this quote from Collins that pretty much sums upthe necessity of the horror and the complexity in her series, and especially this last installment: "One of the reasons it's important for me to write about war is I really think that the concept of war, the specifics of war, the nature of war, the ethical ambiguities of war are introduced too late to children. I think they can hear them, understand them, know about them, at a much younger age without being scared to death by the stories. It's not comfortable for us to talk about, so we generally don't talk about these issues with our kids. But I feel that if the whole concept of war were introduced to kids at an earlier age, we would have better dialogues going on about it, and we would have a fuller understanding."
Despite all this darkness, there are some truly funny moments. In fact, they are probably extra funny because of the sadness all around. I laughed out loud at Finnick tossing off his hospital gown with a flourish, and later a guard commenting, "We can't be too impressed...we just saw Finnick in his underwear." Then I laughed again when I described the scene to a friend.
With all the ways Katniss' life spirals into deeper levels of depression, it's amazing that Collins manages to give a happy ending at all. But it's an ending I adore: two broken people helping each other cope, survive, and grow together.
Five out of five dandelions.
Release Date: August 2010
Reading Level: Grade 7+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: YPL COL