My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in The Hunger Games trilogy, and was eager to start on the final instalment. Catching Fire ended with the cliffhanger that there is now no district twelve and there were a lot of questions left unanswered.
In Mockinjay, Katniss discovers that district twelve has been destroyed by the Capital, and all that remains are piles of ash. Most of the citizens were killed, but a small number, including Katniss’ mother and sister survived and have started new lives in district thirteen. District thirteen was thought to have been obliterated by the Capitol in the rebellion years ago, but instead they have been living underground building up resources, training and arranging undercover missions to take down the Capitol. Katniss’ mother and sister take up jobs as medics while she and Gale travel to some of the districts where uprisings are taking place and participate in the fighting whilst recording propaganda material to inspire people to keep rebelling. Meanwhile, Peeta is rescued from the Capitol where he was presumably tortured for information, and he returns as almost a different person. He is extremely aggressive and mistrusting of Katniss, and they suspect he has been brainwashed to hurt and fear her. All the while President Snow continues to manipulate Katniss with death threats and subtle things to unnerve her. She begins to fall apart under the weight of it all, struggling with her feelings of guilt and hopelessness, so it’s quite a harrowing read.
Unfortunately there is no real happy ending. President Snow is overthrown, but at a terrible cost, leaving Katniss heartbroken, and the regime that replaces his rule is far from perfect. It was very sad to read and reduced me to tears, but that is the way it should be. The message was realistic and not sugar coated: that war sometimes needs to happen, but it’s a terrible, horrible thing and the survivors are scarred by it forever. There are no real winners, no happy endings, but there are lessons to be learnt. The final pages of the book were extremely poignant and while the ending was bleak it did offer some hope that life goes on for the survivors, even though they will never be the same. And after all they have been through, how could they? Collins wrote an ending that was true to the situation and respectful of the character’s lives rather than just giving readers what they wanted. It was a very powerful ending to the series, and offers a very interesting socio-political commentary on the world we live in.