Catching Fire, I almost feel like the word "wow" should be enough to cover a review of this book.
I'd really like to do this without revealing too much of the plot of the book, but I really can't make any guarantees. So, if you have yet to read Mockingjay, or either of the other Hunger Games novels, go away until you do. Please, continue reading my blog. I love the attention. But I really don't want to spoil anything for anyone planning to pick up these books.
Okay, first of all... Wow.
Mockingjay picks up where Cathing Fire left off. Well, it's actually a short time after the events of the second book. Tragedies seem to keep piling up on Katniss Everdeen after her actions in The Hunger Games. On top of these things, she chooses to accept the role of Mockingjay for the rebellion against the Panem government. In doing this, Katniss becomes the polarizing figure that helps to unite the districts in the war. Of course, this places a more obvious target on her back.
Throughout the book, she discovers that the target isn't only placed by her enemy, President Snow, but also by the leadership of the rebellion, President Coin. Katniss learns as she goes along that once the districts are united, she may have outlived her usefulness to the rebels. And, being such a popular figure among the people, her mere toleration of Coin as leader may not be enough to convince the country to fall in line when the new government is in place.
The war rages on and Katniss finds herself in the thick of the action, and she would have it no other way. After being forced to participate in the Capitol's games twice, she's ready for some retribution, even if that means putting her own life on the line, once again.
As with the previous books, I think that Suzanne Collins does a great job crafting the series' endgame. There are a few elements toward the end that may have been meant as twists or surprises, but I was honestly not surprised. Again, I don't want to reveal too much of the plot, so I won't reveal those twists specifically. I'm not sure why the element of surprise was lost on me.
It could be that I read these books so close together that I formed a real psychological profile of the major characters, especially Katniss. The stories have been told from her point of view, so we have incredible insight into her mind. So if you know what to look for, you can almost predict her reactions to things, based on how she's acted in the past and based on all that she's been through. All the events that have shaped her into the woman she's become by the end of Mockingjay made it easier to see how she would respond to certain stimuli.
And then, of course, there's the sub-plot dealing with Katniss' love life. For the majority of the series, readers were left questioning, "who will she choose?" On the one hand, you have her best friend, Gale. He's the one who's known her for years. They've snuck out of the District together and hunted. They know each other's thoughts simply by being in close proximity to one another. Initially she never considered him as much more than a friend, but she still had that gnawing feeling in the back of her heart. On the other hand, there's Peeta, her fellow victor from the first Games. Peeta is someone that she didn't know well before the Games. But he's someone who's loved her from afar since they were too young to know what love is. He proves this love for her over and over again, in and out of the Hunger Games.
Now, my opinion throughout has been, if it came down to it, Katniss would choose neither of them. She mentioned repeatedly that she had no plans to marry, because she never wanted to risk having children. She never wanted to risk the heartbreak of having her kids torn away from her to participate in the Hunger Games.
Aside from that, Katniss is the kind of person who is able to separate herself from her feelings. I don't think it's always easy for her to do this, but when push comes to shove, she can do it. That sort of thinking wouldn't leave much room for personal happiness, but another aspect of her character is that she's constantly thinking of others before herself. I could see her refusing to choose between them simply to keep from hurting one or the other.
As it is, the choice is made for her in the end. I won't reveal how that choice is made. But I think the way it all plays out makes complete sense. It was an excellent ending to an excellent series. I was very impressed.