London, Scholastic, 2010, 455p
It is not every day that I enter a state of mourning when I complete a book.
Mockingjay was everything I wanted it to be and more. The action and drama was intense and exciting, but the underlying political commentary was also fascinating. Collins is constantly questioning society, right through to the end. She asks if the Hunger Games will ever end. Not the literal Games, but the day to day suffering we cause each other and we create for future generations.
Also, I found myself becoming increasingly hesitant to trust any of the characters in this book. Everyone seemed to be corrupt, or corruptible. And people changed. Mental illness was a massive theme throughout this book. It had been hinted at in previous books, especially in relation to Katniss' mother, but here it hit Katniss straight on, in her own experience and in the suffering of those she loves. The circumstances are extreme - Johanna and Peeta's experiences come to mind - but Collins' language and detail make it imaginable and almost real. By the end of this trilogy, Peeta is not the same Peeta, Prim is not the same Prim, and even Katniss is not the same Katniss. They have come on a long journey, and they have changed.
I even started to question if I actually like any of the characters. No one is pure, or innocent by the end of the story. Katniss is particularly difficult to like. But, on reflection, that might be because she is just so real. She has doubts, she questions herself, she questions others. She lies, she runs away, she hides. She has weaknesses and she loves powerfully. She isn't perfect. She is human. And that is what is incredible about her characterisation.
So now I have to find something else to read. Unfortunately, I know whatever it is just won't be as good.