Katniss has escaped the arena twice now, but is no safer for it. After being rescued from the arena, Katniss is whisked away to District 13, the headquarters of the rebellion. Panem is now in a state of open rebellion, and the leaders of the rebellion want Katniss to be the Mockingjay – the symbol of the revolution and rallying point for the people of Panem. The problem is Katniss has no idea how to be the Mockingjay and the injuries she sustained in the arena do not make it any easier.
Adding to her distress is the fact that the Capitol has taken Peeta prisoner and is using him not only to counteract the cause, but to also mentally and emotionally break Katniss. While Peeta is eventually rescued, he is no longer Peeta that we have all come to know in the previous books.
Mockingjay answers all of the unanswered questions – Will Panem win its independence? Will The Hunger Games become a thing of the past? Who will Katniss choose – Gale or Peeta? Who will survive the revolution to pick up the pieces? What will replace the Capitol if it should fall?
Mockingjay is pretty action packed. There are a lot of unexpected twists and quite a few of the main characters do not survive. The first time I read this book, it seemed to take forever to reach the climax of the story. For some reason the story seemed to move very slowly, even though there was a lot happening. Having read it for the second time, I didn’t feel that as much, but that is probably because I was familiar with the story.
Nevertheless, the second time around I still found myself wanting in a few areas. I thought the love triangle was a little too drawn out, and while I was originally on Team Gale, it quickly became apparent to me that Peeta was the one Katniss should end up with. However, throughout Mockingjay Katniss continually flip flops between the two. It leads one to wonder if she knows herself at all, or if she is capable of making a decision for herself. She continues to lead them both on, incapable of making a decision, which is somewhat cruel. I think in the end, it’s really Gale who makes the decision for her. While Katniss is sent back to District 12 to live, Gale remains in District 2. It seems that he got fed up waiting for her to make up her mind and chose him. Katniss is all too willing to go along with this decision, because it lets her off the hook completely. She doesn't really make a decision, she simply respects Gale’s decision to stay away.
I am happy she ends up with Peeta. He is broken and destroyed just like she is. However, what makes Peeta special and perfect for Katniss is his ability to remain optimistic. Peeta and Katniss have been made to suffer and they have both lost a lot, but Peeta still has hope that the future can be better. Katniss is definitely a pessimist, and has great trouble seeing the beauty in life, which is why Peeta is the perfect balance for her. Gale’s fire is too driven by hatred and rage. He would never be able to be what Katniss needs to survive. He could never give her the hope that she needs. However, I’m not sure that I could argue that she really chose Peeta either. He was the one who stayed, and through the process of healing they grew together. There is no grand, passionate confession. He’s just there, and she realizes it is better to live with him then without him. I don't doubt that she does care for him, but I also was not left with the impression that Katniss has a burning passion for him. This leaves a romantic like myself slightly disappointed.
I was also a little disappointed with the character of Katniss overall. When we first meet her she is a clever, resourceful, strong, and independent female. She alone has carried the burden of keeping herself and her family alive. It certainly has made her somewhat cold and distant, but you know that she will do anything in her power to survive and keep her family alive, even if it requires doing something illegal. By the time Mockingjay comes along, few of those traits remain. She is reduced to a broken child who really only seems to complain and do what others tell her to do. She can’t seem to make her own decisions about anything. She constantly second guesses herself, and allows others to influence her thoughts and feelings way too much. She throws pity party after pity party and runs away from her problems rather than deal with them. While some of that makes sense considering what she has been through, it did get a bit tiring and annoying. I found myself missing the tough girl from the Seam.
There were glimpses of the old Katniss throughout Mockingjay, but she always seemed to revert back to this less than ideal version of herself. I wanted her to get over herself and charge into the fray and be the Mockingjay. I wanted her to lead the revolution, rise above all that had been done to her, and prove that she was a survivor. I wanted her to prove that she could survive not only all of the physical stuff they put her through, but also prove that she wasn’t broken mentally or emotionally, that she was stronger than anything they could ever do to her. I wanted her to harness her own personal strength and refuse to be defeated. That moment for me never materialized, which left me disappointed in her character. While she did have moments, they never felt fully realized to me and they were usually followed by less than lackluster moments.
Despite these slight disappointments, I still highly recommend the series. It is definitely worth the read. The stories are well written and are certainly entertaining. They are also really quick reads – I read the entire series in a weekend.