Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins

MockingjayFirst, let me say that this was a fantastic and appropriate conclusion to the trilogy. Now, I’m going to go into more detail about my reasons — without getting into too many specifics — so if you don’t want to risk a spoiler, turn away.

The conclusion of the Hunger Games trilogy finds Katniss as a symbol (and perhaps puppet) of the revolutionary forces housed in District 13. All of the districts, to varying degrees, are at war with the Capital, and a large part of this book deals with the public relations aspects of war. Katniss is allowed out into the field only so that District 13 can record her actions for PR commercials leaked illegally into the districts to inspire them to keep fighting.

It an interesting point of view for a young adult book to take. So many present the main characters as “the one” that will save the day and they become the most important aspect in the war and are the key to ending it. Katniss is vital to the war and is important as a symbol. But the war is so much bigger than her, and in many way’s she’s powerless against the tide. The war would carry on and end one way or another without her.

Katniss is certainly a strong character throughout the series, even as her emotions and actions have been coopted by one cause or another. She stands up, she fights even if she’s sure that doing so will mean her own destruction, but another important part of her internal struggle (which occasionally is reflected in her external actions) is finding a space for herself, to feel, to live, to love, to be, that doesn’t belong to someone else. For example, at one point, Katniss overhears Peeta asks who Gale thinks she will choose, and Gale responds that she will choose whomever will most help her survive, implying that Katniss is cold, calculating in how she approaches relationships. She never openly addresses the accusation, but is angered by it, as she acknowledges that she has never been allowed the emotional space to consider how she really felt about either of them on her own terms because the games and the war for so long has decided for her. I think Katniss’ emotional journey is powerful, because she goes through such darkness, and yet finds her way out of despair to light and life and hope again.

I won’t go into details about the ending, except to say that it’s a war, people die and those who survive are left emotionally and physically scared. Some people, I have heard, were upset by the ending. I thought it was thoroughly appropriate, and I appreciated that Collins gave space and feeling to reconstruction, as well as recognizing the kind of sorrow and depression that can be felt while recovering from war.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]