I have been having a hard time coming up with a way to even start my review of Suzanne Collins's Mockingjay, the final book in The Hunger Games trilogy. It's almost like letting go of a beloved friend...though perhaps not as devastating as the final installation of Harry Potter, in which I sobbed almost uncontrollably at 3am. Once again I must warn you...if you have not read the two previous books in this trilogy, read no further!!!
The revolution against the Capitol is in full effect and Katniss Everdeen is, currently, on the losing side (the rebels). She's been recovering from the 75th Annual Quarter Quell Hunger Games in the underground city of District 13, along with fellow survivors: Finnick and Beetee. District 12 has been destroyed and people are dead and dying. All of the districts are rebelling against the Capitol, save a few, and are meeting heavy opposition. The fate of the districts lies in the hands of District 13 and Katniss. Will she join the revolution and take on the mascot's position? Essentially, will she become the symbol of the revolution (the Mockingjay)? This is a question that Katniss continually asks herself throughout the beginning of the text before eventually agreeing to become the poster child and unifying force of the people. Of course she accepts in her own way and demands a few things in return.
During all of this we know that Peeta Mellark is still a prisoner of the Capitol. We also know that he's being tortured in several ways for information about the districts and about Katniss. What we don't know is that this torture will have affects that can never be undone completely. The Peeta Mellark that went into the 75th Games will not be the same Peeta that comes out.
Eventually a plan is put into place to rescue Peeta and any other surviving Tributes that have been taken prisoner by the Capitol; namely Johanna, Enobaria, and Annie. Katniss is not allowed to go on this mission, but Gale, Katniss's childhood best friend and perhaps more, is. Peeta, Johanna, and Annie are all rescued during a risky and costly mission, but Enobaria is not. Once the trio is returned to District 13, the level of trauma suffered becomes apparent rather quickly. No longer is Peeta able to see Katniss as the girl he's been in love with for years. Instead, he sees her as a Muttation and the biggest threat to the survival of the Capitol. It takes everything that District 13 can offer to attempt a reversal of the damage done to Peeta. While Katniss struggles with the emotions Peeta's transformation evoke, she must also train and prepare for the invasion of the Capitol that is fast approaching.
Once the mission has been set into place, the location of the book changes from District 13 to the outskirts of the Capitol. There are major preparations and enforcements prepared to take on whatever the Capitol dishes out. Originally, Katniss's unit sets forth to film propos, promotional videos, for the rebels. What they walk into is something that sets the climax of the novel into motion. Instead of mere filming, the group is forced to take the lead role in the invasion of the Capitol. They are able to survive the onslaught of artillery that's thrown their way, with minor losses in the beginning. As they travel deeper into the bowels of the city center, more are lost. Some that leave the reader a little speechless. New evils are introduced and new tactics are used to survive.
As the novel draws to a close, the action focuses specifically on the center of the Capitol and President Snow's mansion. It is here that one of the most shocking and tragic episodes takes place. This event sets Katniss into revenge mode and we realize that she can't and won't be stopped in her mission. Collins does throw quite a few unexpected turns and twists into the end of Mockingjay. So many, in fact, that it lends the feeling of a race at the end. You don't quite know who to trust and what's happening until it's already happened and then there is no place to go but forward...into larger questions and bigger disasters.
By the time everything is said and done, destruction surrounds everything and everyone. Nobody is exempt from the tragedies that befall the citizens of Panem. Even the Epilogue throws a shocking twist into the mix. Though, despite this twist, I felt that it was the most fitting end and it renews a lot of the broken hearts that accumulate throughout the three novels. Ultimately, I have to say that Collins wrote three brilliant novels, each a complete entity unto itself.