Suzanne Collins – Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3)
The blurb:Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.
It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans — except Katniss.
The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay — no matter what the personal cost.
My rating: 4/5
Tagged: young adult, dystopia, science fiction, fantasy
Date I started this book: 19/02/16
Date I finished this book: 24/02/16
What did I think? The goriest and darkest of the trilogy, we find that Katniss Everdeen, still the 17-year old who survived two Hunger Games, is now the Mockingjay, or the face of the rebellion against the Capitol, and President Snow. This book picks up from where Book 2 “Catching Fire”, left off, after Katniss breaks apart the facade of the Arena, effectively bringing the Games to an end, and on a larger level, the whole idea of being a spectacle for the Capitol’s sick entertainment and subject to its power and oppression.
In an ironic twist, the rebels who set up base in District 13 (which had been thought to be totally destroyed), uses the very weapon that had been the crux of the Capitol’s powers – the media. As an emblem of the rebellion, Katniss finds herself airbrushed and beautified to win support from the other oppressed districts, and through trial and error, finds what works best is to get to “Beauty Base Zero”, which is “what a person would look like if they stepped out of bed looking flawless but natural. It means my nails are perfectly shaped but not polished. My hair is soft and shiny but not styled…. As a rebel I thought I’d get to look more like myself. But it seems a televised rebel has her own standards to live up to.” With sardonic wit, Collins nonetheless convinces the reader with the sobering consistency of her dystopian world.
In the previous installments, the various prep teams and stylist teams assigned to the tributes had stood out for their frivolous antics in the heavily perfumed and sanitised environment outside the arena, but here, they become part of the blood and gore, manicures and fake lashes notwithstanding. While Katniss continues to struggle with her own feelings for Peeta and Gale, she is faced with less and less assurance that she is fighting for the right team, and that her alliances can be trusted, and even if she should trust herself, scarred as she is by her brutal experiences. She questions the offensive tactics that Gale and Beetee, another fellow survivor the Quarter Quell, devise: “That seems to be crossing some kind of line… So anything goes?… I guess there isn’t a rule book for what might be acceptable to do to another human being”.
Collins gets under the skin of her female protagonist, and follows through with her growing urgency to overthrow the Capitol and Snow, and we see Katniss go beyond issues of survival and revenge, because, as more and more of people around her fall on the wayside, and not just in mortal terms, she questions if humanity is even worth saving: “I think Peeta was onto something about us destroying one another and letting some decent species take over. Because something is significantly wrong with a creature that sacrifices its children’s lives to settle its differences…. The truth is, it benefits no one to live in a world where these things happen.”
These are difficult questions, and through Collins’s artistic vision that she keeps with tight consistency in this better-than-average YA trilogy, they linger on beyond its closing pages.