Mocked By The Mockingjay

The Hunger Games books took the world by storm and will forever be immortalized. The first book, The Hunger Games, is original and engaging--a world of unfairness, strict governmental control and children death games. Katniss sacrifices herself for her little sister and unwittingly takes up the rebel cause, garnering recognition as she fights for her life. The story is addicting and the characters are dynamic; it's impossible to not be captivated.
In Catching Fire, we watch as Katniss' ambivalence breaks Peeta's heart as they fight to survive, again, as punishment for their rebellious actions. Previous winners are introduced and we're given more strong characters to root for. Readers were captivated by the Games and we're given another one here. The 75th Hunger Games is built even better than the 74th and their survival in the field is well written.
But upon closing the pages of the final book in the trilogy, Mockingjay, the story feels incomplete, heavy-handed and disheartening. At its core, the series is about fighting to survive; Katniss and Peeta fighting for their lives in the Hunger Games, the Districts fighting for freedom from the Capitol, a rebellion fighting for change and an end to tyranny. The first two books build up to the ultimate fight, the rebellious Districts against the tyranny of the Capitol. But this is not what happens.
The recently discovered District 13 and rebellion take in Katniss and the surviving rebels. The rebellion seizes control of the Capitol and the Districts and one of the first decisions they make in power is to uphold the abomination they so hated; the Hunger Games will continue, but with Capitol children rather than District ones.
As part of the rebellion, Katniss isn't allowed to fight but instead must star in propaganda films. She is manipulated as the poster girl for the rebellion and decisions that should have been made out of goodness and the moral right, such as rescuing Peeta, are only made to ensure her cooperation with the cause. Ultimately, Katniss discovers that Coin, the rebellion leader, plotted to have Prim killed (using Gale's war tactics) and framed the Capitol for her death. Learning this, Katniss realizes that there is no winning; not only has the rebellion been hypocritical immediately upon gaining power, it is no different than the leaders they just overthrew.
Mockingjay brings adult politics and deception to this children's book that had, up until this point, centered around the concept of freedom. If Collins was going to use this level of political scheming, she should have woven it throughout the trilogy and not thrown it in at the end. The lack of consistency is jarring and it undermines all that came before it.
The book ends in hopelessness; there is no triumphing over an evil regime or hope for a better future. This impacts every event in the book. The marriage and subsequent death of Finnick is especially painful because not only is one of the few happy events in the work tainted, Finnick didn't even die for a good cause. He died fighting for a leader just like Snow. Gale's warrior-like commitment to the rebellion makes him the equivalent of a Capitol guard, Peeta's loss of limb, torture and brainwashing were for naught, and the Districts empowered someone who seeks to reign as Snow had.
At the end of the series, we have learned that all leaders and governments have an agenda that goes against the will of the people. Revenge is a powerful motivator, power exists to be abused, and hope is a dangerous thing.
The sense of expectation and the subsequent emptiness left by the books is summed up rather eloquently by the opening line:
"When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold."

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This work by H.E. Saunders is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.