**spoiler alert** I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in The Hunger Games trilogy, and was eager to start on the final instalment. Catching Fire**spoiler alert** I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in The Hunger Games trilogy, and was eager to start on the final instalment. Catching Fire ended with the cliffhanger that there is now no district twelve and there were a lot of questions left unanswered.
In Mockinjay, Katniss discovers that district twelve has been destroyed by the Capital, and all that remains are piles of ash. Most of the citizens were killed, but a small number, including Katniss’ mother and sister survived and have started new lives in district thirteen. District thirteen was thought to have been obliterated by the Capitol in the rebellion years ago, but instead they have been living underground building up resources, training and arranging undercover missions to take down the Capitol. Katniss’ mother and sister take up jobs as medics while she and Gale travel to some of the districts where uprisings are taking place and participate in the fighting whilst recording propaganda material to inspire people to keep rebelling. Meanwhile, Peeta is rescued from the Capitol where he was presumably tortured for information, and he returns as almost a different person. He is extremely aggressive and mistrusting of Katniss, and they suspect he has been brainwashed to hurt and fear her. All the while President Snow continues to manipulate Katniss with death threats and subtle things to unnerve her. She begins to fall apart under the weight of it all, struggling with her feelings of guilt and hopelessness, so it’s quite a harrowing read.
Unfortunately there is no real happy ending. President Snow is overthrown, but at a terrible cost, leaving Katniss heartbroken, and the regime that replaces his rule is far from perfect. It was very sad to read and reduced me to tears, but that is the way it should be. The message was realistic and not sugar coated: that war sometimes needs to happen, but it’s a terrible, horrible thing and the survivors are scarred by it forever. There are no real winners, no happy endings, but there are lessons to be learnt. The final pages of the book were extremely poignant and while the ending was bleak it did offer some hope that life goes on for the survivors, even though they will never be the same. And after all they have been through, how could they? Collins wrote an ending that was true to the situation and respectful of the character’s lives rather than just giving readers what they wanted. It was a very powerful ending to the series, and offers a very interesting socio-political commentary on the world we live in. ...more
**spoiler alert** After thoroughly enjoying The Hunger Games I had high expectations for reading the sequel, Catching Fire. The Hunger Games ends with**spoiler alert** After thoroughly enjoying The Hunger Games I had high expectations for reading the sequel, Catching Fire. The Hunger Games ends with an unresolved love triangle and the hint of a looming revolution and I was curious to see how the next book would progress. The novel mostly follows the aftermath from the first games as Katniss and Peeta embark on their victory tour and new life in the victor’s village. Katniss’ trick with the berries has been perceived as an act of defiance against the Capitol, inciting revolution in some districts. President Snow threatens to kill Katniss and her family unless she somehow quells the rebellion by keeping up the pretence of being madly in love with Peeta, who doesn’t need to feign his adoration for her. Throughout most of part one she is torn between following President Snow’s instructions to protect her family and trying to run away, and also between her feelings for Gale and Peeta. There is a fair amount of self-absorption and wallowing on her part, but it isn’t too drawn out. I like that Katniss is neither a passive damsel in distress nor an indestructible bad-ass. She is clever and brave but she has plenty of weaknesses to overcome and does not always do what is morally right, which makes her more relatable and believable.
When more brutal peacekeepers are sent in to keep district 12 under control, Katniss reluctantly resolves to stay and fight against them and incite an uprising against the Capitol. Just when you are expecting a story of revolution to follow, Collins throws a spanner in the works by introducing the announcement of the Quarter Quell- a special Hunger Games to mark its 75th anniversary, in which the tributes will be existing victors. So Katniss and Peeta end up back in the arena facing opponents with much more strength and experience. This time around, the arena is much more interesting, with many clever obstacles and twists and turns. Some great new characters are introduced-Johanna, Finnick, Mags, Beetee and Wiress, so you come to know the other tributes better than those from book one and root for them too. It is somewhat unrealistic that Katniss barely does any killing herself and that she and Peeta manage to stay alive despite facing opponents much older, cleverer and stronger than themselves. It seems a little too contrived how some of the characters just accidentally die and how Katniss just happens to find out about the force field and keeps thinking about it, when it later turns out to be significant. But despite this it was still an exciting read with plenty of surprising, intriguing, funny and poignant moments. I enjoyed this section of the book more than the first two parts as it is filled with action and suspense, and it is a shame that it doesn’t last longer.
It was disappointing that Cinna does not feature much in the book, as I really like his character. Another minor complaint was that I became bored with all the beauty procedures Katniss goes through with the prep team and the endless descriptions of the outfits she wears and found myself scanning over them, eager to get to the action. However, the latter half of the book and the cliffhanger ending made up for that, and overall I really enjoyed it and am eager to read the final instalment: Mockingjay. ...more