“Because something is significantly wrong with a creature that sacrifices its children’s lives to settle its differences. You can spin it any way you like. Snow thought the Hunger Games were an efficient means of control. Coin thought the parachutes would expedite the war. But in the end, who does it benefit? No one. The truth is, it benefits no one to live in a world where these things happen.” – Excerpt from Mockingjay
In every coming of age fiction, there comes a point when the protagonist takes control and starts driving the story. After this point, the turn of events in the plot should be in response to the decisions taken and choices made by her. At this point, the protagonist should be sure, confident, and taking decisions which are critical to the way the plot proceeds. This is exactly what I expected from Katniss in Mockingjsy and this is where I was hugely disappointed.
Katniss is never able to take control, dominate or even strongly influence the course of the struggle against the capitol. Although she is the symbolic leader of the revolution, she is never involved in any key decision. The revolution is still controlled by others and many a times, she is not even aware of what is happening and why. Her actions and decisions do influence the overall story but most of these are not planned or intentional (expect for a few pages at the end). She is not even present during the climax – the fall of the capitol and the capture of President Snow. There is no metamorphosis from a symbolic face to the resistance to someone who is really leading it. This, I believe is the greatest flaw of this novel.
In terms of the style and pace of the narrative, this novel is very similar to the previous two. There are some unpredictable and interesting twists and turns (without giving away the details) in the plot. Further, this one is definitely the darkest of the trilogy (especially the way rebels behave towards the end). The violence is imaginative and visceral, but after a point the whole thing gets boring. Some very important characters are killed, but their deaths could have been written in a more impactful manner. President Snow was a character with a lot of promise and I was disappointed to see him get very little page space.
The ending is not very happy, but believable. The love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale is handled sensibly and brought to a realistic conclusion.
The highlight of the book is the blunt and unapologetic way in which the author has presented the hunger for power from both sides and shown how both the leaders (Snow/Coin) are willing to go to any extent to retain/gain it. There are no rights and wrongs here, only winners and losers. This may make you cringe, but look all around yourself – this is what is happening everywhere. This truth about human nature is presented bare naked.
If you have read the first two novels, there is no way you can (or should) avoid reading this. With all its flaws, it is still a good piece of fiction.