Monday, December 13, 2010
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
At long last, I've finished the Hunger Games trilogy. At the end of catching Fire, Katniss is rescued from the Quell by the rebels in District 13, and we find her adjusting to her new life and role there in Mockingjay. District 13 has survived in part by becoming very regimented and militaristic. Each citizen there has a schedule printed on their wrist each morning by the master computer program, and they must follow it, or risk censure and punishment. Katniss has been given a lot of leeway at first because of her celebrity status and obvious mental issues after her ordeal, but soon she will be expected to toe the line and make herself useful to the rebel cause again.
Peeta, unfortunately, was left behind when Katniss was rescued, and he has been tortured and brainwashed by the government in the Capitol. He retains enough of his sanity to sneak a message to District 13 about an impending bombing during one of President Snow's propaganda broadcasts, though the rest of the things he is forced to say get him labeled a traitor by the rebels. Katniss eventually decides to step up and assume her role as the Mockingjay, the symbol of the rebellion, and one of her conditions for doing so is that Peeta will be spared, if ever he is rescued or captured. Most of Katniss' other allies within the Capitol have been tortured and executed, but she is determined not to lose Peeta.
There's still some unresolved tension in the air about whether Katniss will decide she loves Gale or Peeta more, and she agonizes over her every decision concerning them through much of the novel. I'm not real fond of whiny little protagonists, and her angst nearly pushes me into hoping that Collins will simply kill her off in the end.
There's an underlying theme in this novel regarding terrorism vs. freedom fighting. Some of the tactics proposed by the people in District 13 command and weapons development are ripped directly from Al Qaeda, making you wonder who the good guys are in Mockingjay. We already know that the Capitol doesn't hesitate to sacrifice children to maintain its rule, so there really aren't any surprises there.
Without spoiling anything, I think that Collins does a nice job of avoiding the usual cast of characters roundup - the "where are they now" - by the simple expedient of killing off just about everyone that we've come to know through the trilogy. Not much of a happily ever after, but after Catching Fire, we pretty well should have abandoned that hope. This trilogy provides a good YA read, and people who aren't normally into apocalyptic science fiction may like it, too.