Katniss is now in District 13, struggling to become the Mockingjay to inspire the rebels. Her film crew shoots video of her in a stunning Mockingjay military uniform, which was the last creative work by Cinna. She, Gale, Prim, her mother and the rest of the survivers from the Games and District 12 live in an underground, controlling environment run by District 13. All other Districts are in full rebellion, cutting off resources for the Capitol. Katniss wonders if Peeta is dead or alive, when she finally sees him on TV asking for a cease fire. Each time Peeta appears on TV, he seems more damaged. Many in District 13 consider him a traitor. Only after a rescue that seems to easy is Peeta’s true purpose revealed. His brain has been hijacked and his mission is to kill Katniss. Katniss’s only solice is that she will be the one to kill President Snow. Katniss stuggles throughout this story with how far she is willing to go to win this war. Once the war is won, will the same atrocities continue to happen with a different side that can be just as evil? Gale runs hot and cold as he helps Beetee develop weapons. As Katniss’s team infiltrates the Capitol it is like the Hunger Games all over again as horrors are unleashed upon them as they inch closer to the President’s Mansion. At the same time, Katniss wonders if Peeta will ever be the same again, or is he damaged beyond repair? Does she love him or Gale? Or has she had enough of both of them? A horrible attack in front of the President’s Mansion is not what we think. New knowledge and a creepy conversation with President Snow convince Katniss to take her defining moment of bravery.
The ending of the book is one of the most satisfying endings I have ever read. The way Katniss and Peeta find each other again takes time, patience and true understanding. This is the stuff real love is made of. Both seemed to be damaged beyond repair but find comfort in each other and the life they rebuild in District 12. I have reread this ending several times and have cried each time.
Suzanne Collins created a wonderful female character I think young girls should look up to. Not once does she seem contrived. Katniss is not perfect. She is brave in the face of true terror. She is also damaged. Her drive for revenge sometimes clouds her judgement. In the end, she chooses rebirth over hatred. The story is not black and white, but complicated and full of twists.
Ideas for discussing with teens:
Was District 13 what you expected?
Talk about Katniss’s struggles as she decides to become the Mockingjay. How can one person rally an entire world?
Talk about Presidents Snow and Coin. How are they different. How are they similar.
Talk about the song, “The Hanging Tree.” Have the teens read the words out loud. What is the meaning for Katniss?
Katniss revisits the meadow with Gale, calling it “a place where I was happy.” Talk about a time when you felt that way.
Discuss how Peeta’s mind was Hijacked and how he had trouble figuring out what was Real or Not Real.
Talk about President Coin’s idea to have the Hunger Games with the children of the Capitol. Why would Katniss agree to this?
President Snow and the Capitol create monsters designed to frighten Katniss to her core. Discuss this quote, “However, the true atrocities, the most frightening, incorporate a perverse psychological twist designed to terrify the victim.”
Talk about the moment Katniss made her decision with her arrow.
Talk about the parallel between roses that represent President Snow and the primrose that represents Prim. Discuss the quote, “Fire beats roses again.”
Discuss what Gale says about Katniss choosing the person “she cannot survive without.” Who did you think she would choose?
Discuss this quote, “That what I need to survive is not Gale’s fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction.” Compare this to Bella’s choice in Twilight.