Sunday, October 3, 2010

Spoilerish thoughts on Mockingjay

Mockingjay
2010

This isn't really a true review... more of my general thoughts on the final volume of the Hunger Games trilogy. Before that, though, a few words on spoilers.
In general, I love spoilers. It's crazy, I know! I deliberately seek them out -- why, I can't exactly say. So that I won't be taken by surprise, I guess.

Even though I normally go for spoilers, I decided to hold out on this one. So many people were saying they were going to work extra hard to avoid spoilers for this particular book - taking care not to accidentally spill the beans. After having decided to not spoil this one for myself and assiduously avoiding the internet (you know, just in case) a friend of mine told me the ending less than 24 hours after the book came out! She had stayed up till midnight at a bookstore release party, and devoured the whole book in one gulp. In her defense, she knows that I normally don't mind a spoiler, at all. Aaaaargh!

Well. That having been said, I have a few thoughts to share about the book. It's rather spoiler-esque, so if you haven't read Mockingjay yet for some crazy reason, then consider yourself warned and turn back now!


I loved the people and customs detailed in District 13. The extreme, rigid, scheduled life they lead in order to eke out an existence on the outskirts of Panem, made it clear that being rescued by them was not the answer to all of Katniss's problems. I had predicted that the third book would be when we'd see Gale get his chance to win Katniss back. It seemed like things might be going that way... but seeing Katniss so despondent at being separated from Peeta, I felt very early on in the book that Gale didn't have a chance.

How about that crazy President Snow? He's so terribly creepy. The explanation of why his breath smells like blood happened so quick, it was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it kind of thing. His unexpected gift of roses as an intimidation tactic was brilliantly evil. Snow's lies, manipulations and half-truths really get under your skin.

I was so very saddened to see Peeta mind-controlled by the Capitol. It definitely made his reunion with Katniss anti-climactic, to say the least.

The ending! My gosh, I didn't see that coming. It makes a terrible kind of sense though. After fighting so hard, surviving the horrors imposed on her by the Capitol in the Hunger Games, the whole reason for Katniss to fight is to protect her younger sister Prim. When Prim gets caught in the crossfire and dies in the final battle, Katniss hasn't got anything left worth living for.  
I think, in some ways, because their mom completely mentally checked out after their father died, Prim is more like a daughter to Katniss than a sister.   I was saddened to see Katniss vote to continue the Games. I can see why she does it, though. When Katniss votes, "Yes, for Prim." it seems nonsensical until you remember that, with Prim gone, Katniss has got this mix of hopelessness, anger and desire for revenge. So, that's why she allows the Games to continue.

For me, the very saddest part was the afterward, when Katniss talks about how she and Peeta are living by themselves in District 12, still haunted by everything that's happened to them, and how, after many years, she finally gave in and agreed to have children. It seemed to me like she was just going through the motions. Yes, she survived the gladiatorial Games... but she's not really living, just existing. There's no joy in her life. Like Haymitch, she never really recovers from the ordeal she's been through.  Obviously a totally happy ending would be kind of unbelievable in such a dystopian world, but I hadn't expected things to end quite so grimly for Katniss... living in an empty town, in a loveless marriage, with a couple of kids that she was badgered into.

In the end, Collins does beat the readers over the head a bit with her themes.  War is really terrible. Violence, also really terrible. The way the media manipulates the story is just terrible. Powerful dictators and despotic governments are, obviously, terrible. 

Mockingjay is a powerful book!  I really enjoyed the whole trilogy.  But, knowing now that Collins is the kind of tricksy writer who likes to stick you with a "feel-bad" ending... I'll certainly have my guard up the next time I read something by her.


I borrowed this book from the library.

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