“‘I want to tell the rebels that I am alive. That I’m right here in District Eight, where the Capitol has just bombed a hospital full of unarmed men, women and children. There will be no survivors.’ The shock I’ve been feeling begins to give way to fury. ‘I want to tell people that if you think for one second the Capitol will treat us fairly if there’s a cease-fire, you’re deluding yourself. Because you know who they are and what they do.’ My hands go out automatically, as if to indicate the whole horror around me. ‘This is what they do! And we must fight back!’
Panem is a chaotic and dangerous world. After the Quell, District 12 has been razed; nothing but ash and rubble remains. The few survivors (Gale and Prim included) have taken refuge in the bunkers of District 13. Peeta, who had been captured by the Capitol and brainwashed into believing Katniss is a deadly enemy of his, is still shaky in his beliefs. The tracker jacker poison used to implant false memories of Katniss in his mind is hard to reverse; there are times when he cannot discern reality from fiction, and he is overwhelmed with the urge to kill her.
After the Quarter Quell, Katniss discovers that she was part of an elaborate revolutionary plot, without her permission or knowledge. Though uncertain who to trust, and infuriated by the deception, she agrees to aid the rebels in their attempts to overthrow the government and bring an end to all future Hunger Games. As the Mockingjay, the figurehead of the rebels, Katniss undergoes combat training and prepares to undertake a mission to assassinate President Snow. The mission itself is dangerous; if Katniss or her companions are spotted, they will be lucky to be killed instantly. If they are not so lucky, they will be tortured to death.
In the final volume of the trilogy, Collins explores war, violence, and loyalty. I think she does an excellent job portraying the overall devastating nature of war: starvation, bombs, and bullets are brutal and ugly ways to die. Furthermore, it is not always possible to tell which side characters are on, and which is the “right” side, anyway. I feel like that is an accurate depiction, and something that is not always taught. The rhetoric of war and the lawmakers pushing for it often paints one side as clearly in the wrong, justifying the gross waste of human life, but Collins gives us a more complicated, realistic picture. Katniss must wrestle with her desire for vengeance, versus the need to end the cycle of brutality. It’s a challenging read, full of pain and difficult decisions, but a sensitive and engrossing end to a solid trilogy. Oh, and something I loved? The epilogue. I won’t spoil it, but I’m glad she wrote it.
Author’s website: http://www.suzannecollinsbooks.com
Collins, Suzanne. Mockingjay. New York: Scholastic Press, 2010. 390 pp.