Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A bittersweet ending to a brutal trilogy

Note:  Mockingjay is the sequel to Chasing Fire.  Therefore, this review WILL contain spoilers for both  The Hunger Games and Chasing Fire.  If you haven’t read it already, check out my review of The Hunger Games here and Chasing Fire here.  Otherwise, read on!

So, where did we leave our intrepid heroes at the end of Catching Fire?  Katniss is wounded, Peeta has been captured by the Capitol, and District 12 has been blown off the face of the Earth.  District 13 really does still exist, and has gone underground, both literally and figuratively.  And Katniss is still in the middle of everything, as much as she really doesn’t want to be.

As we start out with Mockingjay, war has well and truly taken hold throughout Panem.  All of the districts, except for District 2, are in open rebellion against the Capitol.  President Coin, the leader of District 13, and therefore of the rebellion, sees Katniss as a character to play up to rally the rebellion.  As always, Katniss wants nothing of it, but eventually, they come to an agreement.  Immunity for the Hunger Game victors, and she gets to kill President Snow when the finally capture him.

The final installment of the Hunger Games series is slower to start, and is much more introspective than the first two.  The combat is very well done, and reflects how hardened veterans (of the Hunger Games) see combat differently than the new combatants, who had only trained in District 13.  It also starts to go in to whether District 13 is that much different from the Capitol, since President Coin seems to be just as controlling, and just as brutal, as President Snow.

Once again, there are a few really nice twists as the story goes along, and again, I don’t want to spoil them for anyone.  I don’t think it will surprise anyone to know, though, that since President Snow still has Peeta, he’ll certainly be used to his fullest against Katness.  All of the surviving Quarter Quell participants make appearances, for good or ill as well.

There’s also more tension and exploration of the triangle between Gale, Katness, and Peeta.  It’s never explicit (not nearly Twilight-level), but the undercurrents are there.  Personally, I think the right guy won in the end, but I’m sure that there will be quite a debate about that.

All in all, by the time I turned the last few pages of Mockingjay, I was satisfied.  No book like this is going to have a truly happy ending, but the way it ends is fitting.  I’m not left wishing for more from this world, but I’m definitely anticipating Suzanne Collins’ next series.

Highs:  Personal interaction between characters, ending

Lows:  Slow to start up

Verdict:  A masterful, and fitting, end to an amazing trilogy

Further Reading:  Brave New World

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