This is officially the first whole book I read on my Kindle (even though I own the hard copy) and I must say it was a very pleasurable experience!
I have to say that this book is one of the strongest and most moving pieces I have read in a very long time. Having recently read a lot of novels out of obligation to finish a series (none of which were bad, but not exceedingly brilliant either), Mockingjay was an incredibly welcome read. I really cannot emphasize enough how much I loved this book, how invested and attached I was, and how satisfying I found it as a conclusion to The Hunger Games trilogy.
To start off with, Collins finally gets into the nitty gritty of the rebellion (this being the central focus of the book) which was sparked by Katniss and Peeta's stunt with the berries at the end of their Hunger Games. This book is essentially about war - full out civil war. We get to meet a lot of new key characters and through Katniss, finally experience first hand what is happening in the rest of Panem. What I loved was it wasn't all about 'shoot-em-up' action - although we do get a good dose of this - but more about the psychological effects the Games and the war has on the characters and their relationships.
While for some characters Collins has delivered a well earned reprieve from suffering, this merely lulls us into a fall sense of security as she then deals out some terrible fates for others. It becomes a little Deathly Hallows-esque in that no character is safe from a sudden and brutal death, no matter how important or liked they were. This is just one of the elements that make the rebellion and the story in general so believable and also so gut-wrenching.
Mockingjay is a Mary-Sue free story, and I would go as far as saying that some of the protagonists are the most flawed I have come across. In terms of Katniss, this makes for an especially interesting read. Usually the main protagonist/point of view is the centre of action, the instigator and a lot of the time, the most talented or gifted and while Katniss has her strong points, she is rarely any of these things. Realistically enough, Katniss becomes a pawn of the leaders of the rebellion, which has predominantly been taking place without her. Unlike Gale or Peeta, Katniss is not a political activist, but is driven by completely different motivations - to protect the ones she loves and to seek revenge on those that hurt them. She is extremely uncharismatic at most times and lacks a lot of emotional foresight.
The best thing, the very best thing about this is that, like nearly every person out there, she is mostly unaware of these flaws - and because we experience the story through her, we are also unaware, but our experience is still strongly affected by them. When she experiences a revelation about herself, so do we. It's beautiful! The best example of this is her relationships with Peeta and Gale, both of whom she loves (to different extents) and who also both love her. We don't stop and think about how she is treating them, how they feel and what they are going through because initially it does not occur to Katniss ... and when it does, it is heartbreaking.
Peeta's role in Mockingjay is one of the more brilliant (and tragic) elements for me. From the beginning of the series he has such a complex relationship with Katniss, which is then not only further complicated in this book, but then also turned on its head. Watching him figure out Katniss' flaws after being so blindly in love with her is beautiful and the hopelessness of his situation in the latter half of the book is refreshing in such a key protagonist.
The most touching thing and the one that kept me on the brink of tears was watching these young people struggle to retain their mental stability after experiencing so much horror and pain. Bit by bit we watch them unravel as they serve a cause that promises them justice, but at the same time makes them deteriorate faster. Hunger Games survivors such as Finnick, Annie and Johanna are used and swept aside by the rebellion effort, yet it is these characters - not the rebellion and the key political leaders - whose lives we experience. It is the exploration of this microcosm of the whole rebellion that makes it so emotional and beautiful.
The conclusion and ending are simply stunning. I won't say much more than that I actually began to sob. Katniss reaches a breaking point which sees nearly everything in her life come apart. Her irrationality, blind anger and (albeit totally understandable) selfishness begins to consume her, which is a further and welcome departure from the usual fantasy heroine. Yet, as Gale predicts, she finds and chooses what she needs to survive.
While The Hunger Games and Catching Fire are excellent books, I still had some fundamental criticisms. Mockingjay for me however, was absolutely flawless and if anyone was dissuaded from finishing the series because they didn't like the first two, I strongly urge you to keep reading. I cannot recommend this series enough - move it to the top of your list!