"It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart."
Again, like with Catching Fire, DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE FIRST TWO BOOKS! SPOILERIFIC BY DEFAULT!
I finished this book last night (marking my completion of the series in well under a week, even with a full time job and plans over the weekend), but I needed time to recover before posting. Anyone who says this series is overrated after reading all three volumes is probably just covering up for the fact that they spent so much time ugly crying over this book. If the scene with Katniss and Buttercup does not make you ugly cry, you are broken and empty inside.
On to content. As with the other two books in this series, it’s hard to share too much without ruining what happens. The last book ended with Katniss being told by Gale that District 12 had been blown up and no longer existed. Mockingjay picks up with Katniss visiting the ashes of her home. Peeta, Johanna and several others are being held by President Snow, Katniss is recovering in 13, and the Districts have entered a full fledged war on the Capitol. Plutarch, who we met in Catching Fire as the new head of the Hunger Games, is working for the President Coin, who runs 13. He and Coin have plans to use Katniss as The Mockingjay in a series of “propos” (propaganda spots) to inspire the rebels. Katniss, as is her usual M.O., is incredibly reluctant to jump into this role. She is adjusting to life in the incredibly regimented 13, and her guilt over the loss of 12 and the captivity of Peeta and the others.
Most of this book delves into the war prep and the war itself, as well as Katniss dealing with her guilt over every life she feels has been lost due to her actions (or inactions, as the case may be). If you thought Suzanne used up all of her ideas for horrible things to do to people, you’d be wrong. She comes up with some truly awful things that happen to the characters you have grown to love. In order to shock Katniss, she has to come up with new things to shock the readers as well. The first of these comes in the form of what is done with and to our beloved Peeta. The majority come in the form of the new myriad horrors the Capitol releases on the rebels as booby traps.
This is not to imply that the entire book is one great big downer. There are some really lovely moments that happen amidst the atrocities of war, which I feel is a good reflection on reality. While a lot of what goes on is soul crushingly awful, both for the characters and the reader, there is still hope and joy to be found.
The end of the book feels a little rushed, although that may be because you never really catch your breath. I’m not sure it’s a bad thing with how bad things get – dragging out some of the bad points might have felt more like torture. There’s a lovely, brief epilogue (which ALSO made me cry) that lets you know a little more than the last chapter would have left you with.
This is really a lovely, heart wrenching conclusion to some brilliantly written books. Ignore the YA label and just enjoy them for the great lit that they are!