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REVIEW: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Note: This review contains spoilers. I would also expect any potential comments to contain spoilers as well. Readers wishing to avoid spoilers will want to skip this. But for the people who’ve already read the book, as well as the spoiler-loving seekers, come on in. Let’s discuss.

Dear Ms. Collins,

When The Hunger Games came out two years ago, I initially dismissed it as a clone of Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. I read that book already. Why do I need to read an Americanized version of it? But I’m glad I worked past my first impression and gave your book a chance because similarities aside, I ended up loving it. Catching Fire was released a year later and while it didn’t quite leave the same impact as the first book, I enjoyed it and grew to appreciate it more on subsequent rereads. Which brings us to Mockingjay, the conclusion to the Hunger Games trilogy and easily one of the most anticipated books since Stephenie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn.

Mockingjay CoverFirst, a refresher to bring newer readers up to speed. The Hunger Games trilogy is set in Panem, a dystopian, post-apocalyptic North America consisting of a Capitol wielding totalitarian control over twelve Districts. In the past, there used to be thirteen Districts but a rebellion against the Capitol resulted in the annihilation of the thirteenth and the creation of the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games are a televised event in which each District sends one boy and one girl to an arena where they kill each other until one remains. In The Hunger Games, we are introduced to Katniss Everdeen, a girl who goes to the Games as District 12′s Tribute in place of her younger sister whose name was originally drawn. Katniss — along with her fellow Tribute, Peeta Mellark — manages to win the Games through sheer survival instinct and an engineered romance geared to pull the audience’s heartstrings. But while Katniss saw it as nothing more than a means to bring the two of them home, Peeta viewed it as something more. In Catching Fire, we learn the Capitol’s President Snow is enraged because Katniss managed to outwit them by ensuring an unprecedented two Victors, an act of defiance that fans civil unrest throughout Panem. As punishment, for the Quarter Quell — a sort of uber-Hunger Games held every 25 years — the Tributes are reaped from the existing pool of Victors. Because Katniss is the only living female Victor from District 12, she is guaranteed a spot and sent back to the arena.

Catching Fire ends with Katniss, along with two other Tributes, sex symbol Finnick Odair and quirky genius BeeTee, being broken out of the arena and brought to District 13, whose reports of having been destroyed were greatly exaggerated. Unfortunately, Peeta, as well as another Tribute, Johanna Mason, were left behind, thus subjecting them to the Capitol’s tender mercies. By which I mean mind-breaking torture. We also learned that for Katniss’s unwitting instigation of the rebellion against the Capitol, District 12 was destroyed.

Mockingjay opens with Katniss recovering from the physical and mental trauma caused by the arena breakout and its subsequent repercussions. But the rebellion waits for no one, and Katniss must step into the role foisted upon her once again. The rebellion needs their living symbol out and about, front and center — to keep morale up within the resistance and to show the Capitol that they will not lose. When initial plans to use Katniss in scripted television spots tailored to bolster rebellion hopes fail, she is then sent onto the battlefield, traveling from wartorn District to ravaged District with a television crew in tow. It’s not the safest place for the rebellion’s walking symbol, but it’s where she’s best suited and it takes her mind off Peeta’s fate.

Although most of District 12′s residents died in the bombings that wiped out their home, the survivors are taken in by District 13. This isn’t out of the kindness of their hearts or the District’s President Coin, however. While District 13′s underground bunkers protected them from the Capitol’s assault 75 years ago, it could not protect them from smallpox and the plague wiped out a good chunk of their population. The influx of District 12 refugees introduces variety into their gene pool. This speaks volumes about District 13′s mentality: everything is controlled right down to how many calories a person can consume in one day. If the Capitol controls through fear and deprivation, District 13′s residents are controlled through micromanagement. They even have daily schedules tattooed on their skin every morning, giving each person a strict agenda to follow. It’s a life but I wouldn’t call it freedom.

Now instead of simply trying to survive the arena, Katniss must survive a war, not only with her body intact but her mind as well. President Snow has every intention of breaking Katniss, and Peeta offers the perfect avenue. In addition, she must embrace the Mockingjay persona pushed upon her while also maneuvering the unexpected complication of having a District leader who by all accounts should be an ally but who instead views Katniss as a threat to be tolerated only until her job is done, after which she becomes a threat to be eliminated immediately.

One of the things I regret as a reader is the risk of high expectations. I know this is something that has burned me in the past and in fact, was part of the reason why I wasn’t so enthused by Catching Fire when I read it for the first time. It’s so difficult for a book to live up to those expectations. But what’s even harder is when I, as a reader, expect one kind of narrative but the author proceeds to deliver something else.

I anticipated the story arc of the Hunger Games trilogy to be one in which Katniss gains agency and freedom. In The Hunger Games, she’s a pawn of the Capitol, a Tribute participating in a televised bloodbath for the entertainment of some people and for the despair of others. In Catching Fire, she’s caught between being a pawn of the Capitol by being a Tribute once more and being a pawn of the rebellion by being their Mockingjay. My expectation of Mockingjay was that Katniss would begin a pawn of the rebellion and fight her way out of that role. This never happens. Katniss remains a pawn until the end. Even in the climactic act, which should have been emblematic of her reaching autonomy, Katniss was driven to it, reacting to her circumstances. Perhaps we are meant to view it as a decision reached through calculated thinking, but I was never convinced.

Instead Mockingjay gives us a story that is not about a girl growing from being a pawn to being an independent figure with agency but rather it is about war, its effects upon the innocent, and most especially its effects upon the soldiers it uses and burns through. In the opening pages of Mockingjay, Katniss is recovering from a mental breakdown, weaning herself off the drugs that have been sedating her. She spends the majority of the book swinging back and forth from almost normalcy to breaking apart once again. Finnick is a wrecked mess who wanders around in a hospital gown and his underwear. When Peeta is finally rescued, he’s been brainwashed and has trouble differentiating between his real memories and those implanted by the Capitol. In the end, Mockingjay is a story about people broken by war, PTSD survivors and shell-shocked soldiers.

When combined with a strong tone shift, as I considered the previous two books to be more action-adventure survival narratives whereas this is a more introspective narrative, the book becomes a bleak, grinding read. I do believe this was intentional on your part, to depict the true horrors of war. But it can be tough for a reader who comes into this book expecting something more like the previous books.

As for the question of Peeta versus Gale, I admit I haven’t been interested in that aspect since Catching Fire when it became apparent to me that the final choice would be Peeta. That said, even though Katniss does end up with Peeta, I have a difficult time calling it a happy ending because that’s exactly what happens: Katniss ends up with Peeta. She doesn’t really choose him because circumstances made it so that an ending with Gale would be near impossible. Again, I do think the ending is realistic when viewed as that of a conclusion to a war narrative — existing and living on as best you can in the aftermath, finding your peace and healing, but it might not be exactly what the most ardent of Peeta proponents were expecting.

As for Gale, I have nothing but sympathies for the Gale supporters. He does finally have more page time in Mockingjay but his portrayal here may be off-putting to his fans. I don’t think his actions were unexpected — in fact, I expected his rage and bloodthirstiness — but I do think his motivations were underdeveloped, mostly because he had such little page time in previous installments. I know how readers can sometimes fill in the details left vague by the narrative. I’ve done this myself. I think that sharp contrast between vagueness to detailed presence can be very jarring here.

And finally, while I realize these are odd comments to make about a trilogy whose premise is essentially a post-apocalyptic Lord of the Flies, there is violence in the book that readers may not be able to stomach. Wartime violence is never pretty and Mockingjay captures that extremely well, but I suspect it may exceed some readers’ tolerances. It is a different sort of violence than what we glimpsed in Hunger Games and Catching Fire. We go from violence committed to survive to random and senseless violence we often see in war. In addition, there is a scene towards the end of the book involving child hostages that many readers may find objectionable whether or not they dislike fictional violence towards children. I realize the violence was depicted to show how horrifying war is, but perhaps amount of violence was more than necessary.

Despite all this, I don’t think Mockingjay is a bad book. I think it had a specific goal in mind and from an objective point of view, I think it succeeded. But I am not an objective reader and from an honest standpoint, I will say that I did not like this book. I did not hate it and I don’t regret reading it, but I have no intention of ever reading it again. If I want to think about the horrors of war and its aftermath, I only need to wake up and go to work every morning. Others may denigrate me for this choice, but this is not why I read. I read to escape.

Assigning this book a grade is very difficult because I have such a split mind about it. Objectively, I think it is an excellent book, gripping and realistic. I think it accomplishes exactly what it set out to do. But it’s not the story I expected and it is the not the story I wanted to read. These two reactions are irreconcilable and as far as I can tell, will remain that way. So balancing out those two very strong opposing reactions, I can only give it a C.

My regards,
Jia

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Jia is an avid reader who loves fantasy and young adult novels. She's also currently dipping her toes in the new adult genre but remains unconvinced by the prevalent need for traumatic pasts. Her favorite authors are Michelle West and Jacqueline Carey. YA authors whose works she's enjoyed include Holly Black, Laini Taylor, Ally Carter, and Megan Miranda. Jia's on a neverending quest for novels with diverse casts and multicultural settings. Feel free to email her with recommendations at [email protected]!

114 Comments

  1. Jane
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 10:51:49

    I think my biggest problem is between the story that Collins wanted to tell and the story she told. The story or moral that Collins wanted to convey was that all war was bad. District 13 no better than the Capital. Gale no better than the Capital rulers. Vengeance is an ugly worthless thing and so is rebellion.

    Yet, Collins never offers up an alternative. Instead she sets up the Capital as the most horrific thing ever because it uses children to keep everyone in line, abuses them in the worst ways ever. A rebellion springs up born out of terror, hunger, anger, revenge and the results are unsightly and bloody and horrible but the end is no more children being used as tools for the Capital and that end is a just and good one. So to say that all wars are bad is to escape the rightness of certain revolutions.

    For all that she wants us to despise Gale or BeeTee or anyone else for their revolutionary actions, Katniss herself benefits for without the revolution where would they be?

  2. tehawesomersace
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 11:09:44

    I agree with everything you said. The difference between this book and the other two was that by the end of this book the sense of hope we had in the earlier two is completely gone. Collins sets up the first two books with an expectation that a revolution against the Capitol would be better than the status quo, but then we have that Revolution, and in many ways it is worse (unless you’re Distrcit 12). That’s what I found so different about this book from her earlier works, and YA in general. I always feel that YA (even the bleakest of the bleak) has a thread of hope, a feeling that somehow things will get better. This is completely absent from Mockingjay.

    That said, I wouldn’t have given it the A I would have given the earlier two books, mostly because the anti-war message is so very heavy handed (Plutarch’s last few lines in the hovercraft border on the ridiculous), but I would give it higher grade than a C, maybe a B. If for nothing else than the emotional whollop it packed. Say what you will about the narrative, Collins knows how to utilize violence and pacing for maximum impact.

  3. EGS
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 11:13:30

    I’m currently about half-way through Mockingjay and trying to keep myself from becoming too depressed. I agree that this one lacks the sense of (slight) hope that the first two had. This one is just flat-out sad and hopeless. Powerful, but probably not one that I’d want to reread.

  4. Jane
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 11:13:45

    @tehawesomersace: I told Jia in an email that I have read war memoirs that have been more hopeful than this book. It was grim grim grim and more grim.

  5. becca
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 11:19:20

    Thank you for this review and the spoilers. It confirms my intent to never, never, ever read this series.

  6. Jia
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 11:21:03

    @Jane: I work with military personnel, some of whom came back from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. They’ve told me stories, some of which are very grim but others of which contained hope and humor.

    @tehawesomersace: I told a friend in an email that I felt Mockingjay lacked that catharsis I usually seek in fiction. Yes, the Revolution happens but there’s never that moment of triumph in Katniss’s character arc, that moment where I can stand up and say YES. Maybe that was part of Collins’s point. In fact, it probably was. But those kinds of books don’t make good rereads.

  7. Jane
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 11:31:19

    @Jia It sounds like everyone needs therapy/support group after reading the book. @EGS

  8. tehawesomersace
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 11:41:46

    @Jane I agree. I thought that many times throughout the book.

    @Jia I think that’s the worst thing about the book. Even after reading the epilogue you don’t get the feeling that Katniss’ world is any better. Or that if it is, that it wasn’t necessarily any better for her. Even with Katniss getting her happily ever after, you don’t get the feeling that she can ever be happy ever again. She doesn’t even seem to enjoy her children. I almost wish Collins had just left off the epilogue.

  9. May
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 11:42:34

    thank you for the awesome review – and Jane for your added comments too. I’ve held off on this trilogy (same reason I waited until breaking dawn was out to start twilight) because I wanted to know… would I love? hate? would it be something I’d enjoy?

    sounds like no. THANK YOU for the ‘spoiler’ filled review that has saved me both time + money now.

  10. Courtney Milan
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 11:43:23

    I think I agree with much of this, although I would give it a much higher grade in the end.

    For me, I felt like the defining moments of HUNGER GAMES that really made the books were times like Katniss singing Rue to sleep–that moment of humanity in a book that was about absolute barbarism. Those perfect little gracenotes elevated the story above the violence, and made it not about inhumanity, but about humanity.

    I kept waiting…and waiting…and waiting for that moment with this book. And for a long time I wasn’t sure any were going to come.

    Until the cat came back at the end. For me, that was kind of the defining moment of the book–when a creature that is essentially Katniss’s counterpart survives despite all odds, and is able to take a step forward. (And it tells you what a sucker I am for animals, that I’m able to forgive Collins Prue because the cat survives.)

    There are some parts of this book I’m still processing–and yes, it’s a very dark, grim book in many ways–but I don’t think that it’s entirely relentless. Maybe it’s my romance-friendly-optimism, but I like to think that when all is said and done, Katniss has many, many days to spend in the sunshine, and to gain back everything she’s lost.

    And while Katniss never has agency on the larger political scale, I think the book does show her having control at the level of her life: reclaiming Peeta after what the Capitol did to him, forcing the rebels to give amnesty to the Hunger Games victors. And that much hasn’t changed: in the face of forces too big to be moved by one person, Katniss still holds on to herself, even if by her fingernails.

    Don’t get me wrong–I completely understand where this review is coming from, and I agree with much of it. I guess the book just struck me differently.

  11. katiebabs
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 11:44:56

    I hope to read this soon, but it sounds like a very depressing and harsh read.

    How can there be a HEA through all of this? Can Katniss and her followers really take down the Capitol and those who support them?

    And I don’t think Collins wanted the love triangle to be so front and center. But her readers wanted it, so perhaps she has given them what they wanted?

  12. Elyssa Papa
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 11:51:27

    I’m still reading the book, and usually I can tear through a book in a few hours, especially a highly anticipated one. But with MOCKINGJAY, I keep having to set it down–not due to the violence–but due to the grimness of the book, the overall bleak tone. I keep looking for moments of hope, of levity, and maybe that’s too much of me to expect with the rebellion in full force and the severity of the situation.

    I knew from the first book that things weren’t going to end in rainbows, unicorns, and care bears. I think if Collins had handed me a ending of such Disney-like quality, I would have felt cheated. I expect bad things to happen. I love when an author goes there and can really wring emotions, angst, and anger from me. My problem is that from the end (yes, I skipped ahead–I love spoilers), that it is not that hopeful.

    And maybe that’s Collins’ point, which harkens back to what Jane referenced. That war changes and is bad on the psyche, etc. Yet, like Jane, Collins never paints the other side . . . because without the war, would there have been change? I think of LES MISERABLES

  13. Jia
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 11:55:42

    @katiebabs: I do wonder about that. There’s a part of me that thinks Collins originally intended for Katniss to end up by herself at the end. On the other hand, maybe that would have been too bleak an ending. I’m of two minds (like everything else about this book!) about whether or not that would have been more fitting.

  14. Elyssa Papa
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 11:56:37

    Sorry! Apparently I pressed the wrong button and submitted before I was finished.

    But I think of LES MISERABLES, specifically the musical, where Marius sings “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” and where we get exactly what and who was lost, but with those losses brought new hope, new change, a new way of living.

    At the end of MOCKINGJAY, I didn’t necessarily see that culmination. BIG SPOILER

    Yes, the Hunger Games are ceased and Katniss and Peeta are together, but there wasn’t a point so far where I felt satisfied that their society could go back to how it used to be.

    And maybe that is also Collins point–that society is fragile and malleable.

    I don’t know. I wasn’t expecting a whole HEA but I think I wanted the message to have more hope in it than what it does. (Like at the end of the last Harry Potter book and throughout, the message is one of hope, I felt.)

    Either way, I do think this book is magnificently written. It’s just taking me longer to read because I can only handle so much grimness in a day.

  15. Jia
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 11:57:19

    @Elyssa Papa: I took a lot of breaks while reading this book. I still read it in one day but normally I can read a book of this type and length in a couple hours. Instead it took me an entire day because I took so many breathers. Plus the time spent emailing Jane about it.

  16. Courtney Milan
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 11:59:00

    I think maybe I’m not getting the same message that others get from this book.

    I am not getting, “War is always bad” from this book.

    I am getting: “Death takes a heavy toll on those who carry it out, even when it is necessary politically.”

    There are a number of personal and idiosyncratic reasons why I would be reading the book this way.

  17. Mary
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 12:00:34

    Thanks for this review, Jia. I think your review reflected my reaction exactly.

    My thought on finishing was that the story got lost in the message Collins was trying to convey.

  18. katiebabs
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 12:01:03

    @Jia: It seems that in order for the heroine to have her HEA must end up with a man, but that’s just me. I see this all too much in the current YA’s I’m reading. And I can’t help but wonder if it’s because of The Twilight series. As I read Hunger Games and Catching Fire, it was more about Katniss surviving and rebelling. So much emphasis was placed on who Katniss would be with by the readers, which I think ruins the overall message Collins was going for.

    The reason I want to read Mockingjay is to see Katniss overcome the opposition and not necessarily which man is right for her.

    What if Katniss is fine being alone and helping rebuild and support those around her rather then have the white picket fence HEA?

  19. tehawsomersace
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 12:01:07

    @katiebabs: @Jia:

    I thought the same thing, about Katniss ending up by herself. The ending just felt too tacked on. In fact, everything after Katniss gets back to District 12 feels that way, especially compared to the pacing of the last couple of chapters in the first two books.

    This is great, by the way. It’s like group thereapy :)

  20. Jia
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 12:09:16

    @tehawsomersace: Ha! Jane was hoping this review would offer a safe place for that. There’s been such a pushback against spoilers elsewhere in the blogosphere — which I completely understand since the book did just come out and not everyone has had a chance to read! — but I think a clearly marked forum should always be available. Plus, as a dedicated spoiler hunter myself, I always appreciate spoiler reviews and I know I’m not a unique and delicate snowflake in that respect.

    @katiebabs: I do agree that a lot of the Team Peeta versus Team Gale back and forth was manufactured by the readers, possibly further spurred on when Stephenie Meyer recommended the book to her fans on her forums.

  21. Mary
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 12:15:35

    It is like group therapy. :) Thanks.

    I need to say that I loved the first two parts of this book. Even though things weren’t going well, I still expected that Katniss would pull it together in the end. So to me, Part III is where it felt like the story fell apart. Part of that is because it felt like the regime they were fighting with (Coin) was going to be no better (and maybe even worse) than the Capitol. I’m still confused by her decision to vote for the Hunger Games at the end. I’m not really sure I buy the argument I’ve read that she did it to throw off Coin. It felt more like a desire for vengeance.

    Also, I think it was who she chose to kill off that ruined it for me. I would rather have had Peeta or Gale die than Prim. Her death made the whole story/fight seem futile – which I gather was the point Collins was trying to get across.

    I totally agree with @Courtney Milan re:

    “that moment of humanity in a book that was about absolute barbarism. Those perfect little gracenotes elevated the story above the violence, and made it not about inhumanity, but about humanity.”

    This book had a few of them, but in the end they were overshadowed by the grimness.

  22. Elyssa Papa
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 12:17:23

    Katiebabs, I think if Katniss had ended up by herself that would have been too bleak for me. It’s not about a man that establishes a HEA but the symbolism of an union, which is supposed to be hope for a better future and love. Katniss is always on her own in the books, even if she is paired with Peeta and makes a connection with Rue, it always was just her. And by marrying Peeta, it’s not just her anymore. It’s her with Peeta, and in that, there’s a bond where I think only Peeta (or the other Tributes) can fully understand what Katniss has survived. That’s what I got from reading the end anyway. Maybe my viewpoint will change once I read the book all the way through.

    Courtney, maybe it’s just me but I can’t really separate the two in this book since I feel the war brings the deaths/the killings into the next level.

  23. Jia
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 12:24:03

    @Mary: I do think Katniss voting in favor of a final Hunger Games was meant to throw off Coin but I also think that part of the story got muddled.

    I don’t think Mockingjay’s ending was as clumsily handled as Catching Fire’s (in which Katniss is knocked out and everything is recounted to her in one of the most egregious As you know, Bob‘s I’ve read in recent memory), but it was rushed in certain aspects. On the other hand, that’s a structural trait I’ve been noticing in recent YA novels so Catching Fire and Mockingjay are certainly not alone.

  24. Janet P.
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 12:25:04

    I’m not sure how I would grade the book. I finished it. I was depressed. I cried. I also will never read it again, but I’m not sorry I read it.

    Where is the line that war does become necessary? I think that most people would agree that line does exist.

    I think that in the year 2010 we tend to view war in terms of our current conflicts and of course we question not only necessity but also note the extreme individual sacrifice and destruction.

    What if the book was written in 1945 and the subject was not the atrocities committed against 24 children annually, but the atrocities committed upon millions? An entire race? Come to think of it my emotions after reading Mockingjay were not entirely dissimilar to my emotions after visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. It was painful. I will never do it again. But I’m glad I did it because it made me think through things that I frequently avoid thinking about.

    Thank you for the review. Extremely well written and clear.

  25. Jane
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 13:02:56

    I felt like the epilogue was the result of someone at Scholastic saying it needed a more hopeful ending and the epilogue was Collins grudging acquiescence.

  26. Amy
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 13:10:30

    Besides being depressed after reading Mockingjay, I also felt preached at. War is horrible, agreed.

    But, and this might sound shallow, if I pick up fiction I expect glimpses of hope and love even at the worst of times. I expect the story to make sense. I don’t need a happy end, but I want a heroine who takes action, someone I can root for.

    All that was missing for me from Mockingjay. Katniss was broken and pushed around, things just happened around her. Many deaths were random and without impact. Hunger Games had me crying, Mockingjay left me cold. Prim’s death in the end was cruel–just as cruel and pointless as war. If a book has a worthy message, great, I'm all for it. But the message should come second to the actions/emotions of the characters. The book just never came together for me, regardless how stellar the writing itself is.

    Yeah, I might just need a support group after reading Mockingjay.

  27. Aoife
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 13:23:37

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this review. I’ve been about to explode not having anyone to talk to about Mockingjay. My daughter and husband, who had been waiting for it too asked me for a mini review after I finished it and were both horrified enough to decide that they weren’t going to read it at all.

    My grade for it is hovering between a C- and a D, because while I get what Suzanne Collins was trying to do, I think Mockingjay failed for me on just about every level:

    There was not a single plot development that truly surprised or shocked me. I think I mentioned during a previous discussion on DA that by the end of Catching Fire I had a very, very bad feeling about where Collins was going with everything, and unfortunately, I was right on the mark. Gale was heading into the role of secret revolutionary who will do anything to win, Peeta was going to become a tool to break Katniss, Katniss would learn how futile her efforts to preserve Prim were, people she thought were her friends would betray her for their own ends, and District 13 was going to turn out to be as repressive and manipulative as the Capitol. Because human beings are bad and inherently flawed, and power corrupts, etc.,and we're all little helpless cogs, etc., etc., etc.

    I've read this kind of fiction and seen these kind of movies before, and I completely reject the underlying premise, which is that we should all do the universe a favor, off ourselves, and let another species take over–someone (Peeta?) even says as much during one of the Hunger Games books. I think Collins intended message came through loud and clear.

    Frankly, I've been a little surprised at some of the positive reviews I've read, because with some of them I really feel as though the reviewers didn't read what was there on the pages, the reviewer read what she wanted/expected/needed to see.

  28. Jia
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 13:25:53

    @Amy: I agree that Mockingjay lacked the narrative highs and lows that characterized the previous books (for me anyway). That was part of what contributed to making it a grinding read. I expect a book to give me a narrative roller coaster ride. I don’t expect it to shove my face into the dirt and hold it there for 400 pages.

    Again, probably Collins’s intention but it doesn’t exactly make for the most pleasant reading experience.

  29. Aoife
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 13:26:43

    Jane said : ” I felt like the epilogue was the result of someone at Scholastic saying it needed a more hopeful ending and the epilogue was Collins grudging acquiescence.”

    Cynic that I am, I figured that this was something that Collins tacked on when she sold the rights for the movie, which might have specified an upbeat or hopeful ending. Although I don’t see much that’s especially upbeat about the epilogue.

  30. Jia
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 13:29:52

    @Aoife: Are the rights for one movie total or one movie for each book? I don’t keep up with options news, so I’m out of the loop.

    At any rate, I’m really, really curious to see how they will adapt this installment into a movie while retaining a PG-13 rating.

  31. Aoife
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 13:37:49

    Jia, I have no idea whether she sold the rights for all three books or not, but you can bet that Lionsgate had their eyes on acquiring a cash cow a la Harry Potter, so I can’t imagine that how the series ended wasn’t part of the discussion.

    And I had exactly the same thought about the PG-13 rating. Gonna be a tough one to pull off, unless they settle for lots of screaming offscreen accompanied by repulsive grunting and hissing.

  32. Sarah
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 13:55:28

    @Jane: The epilogue was terrible. I truly felt like Katniss did not want kids and had been forced into that decision by Peeta. There did not seem to be any love for them there, at least in my reading of it. It was all very bleak. And even at that point, she was more worried about how she could explain to them the horrors of the Hunger Games than have true hope for the future of Panem, in whatever state it was in at the time the epilogue takes place. It was awful and just contributed to my overall dislike for the book and Katniss as a pawn, never a true person in her own right.

  33. Jane
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 13:58:33

    @Sarah Yeah. 10, 15 years later, after being haunted by Peeta, I eventually give in and true they are happy now, who knows how they will end up being killed is the sentiment I derived from the epilogue.

  34. Aoife
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 14:04:38

    @Sarah: That bothered me, too. What, Katniss never makes another decision again, she just kind of floats along waiting for the next bad thing to happen? What I needed from the epilogue was just a few lines, a few words in addition to what was already there to make me feel that the real Katniss hadn’t died (probably during one of the many points in the story where she was hiding in a closet) and was just going through the motions. Some affectionate reference to Peeta, or her children, heck, an affectionate reference to Haymitch would have been enough.

    Yeah, I know she was traumatized. I get it. But IRL, even people who survived Auschwitz sometimes managed to experience moments of joy in their later lives, and the epilogue is 20 years later.

  35. Estara
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 14:08:39

    Sherwood Smith who has an LJ as sartorias had a discussion about what sort of fiction she wants to read recently, and most of the commenters agreed that they read fiction to have some sort of uplifting feeling at the end of a book – there can be any sort of harrowing as long as there also is what J.R.R. Tolkien called Eucatastrophe in his essay on fairy stories. I think this can be expanded to literature I enjoy reading in general.

    Synopsis: http://www.tolkien-online.com/on-fairy-stories.html

    The final element of successful fairy-stories that Tolkien discusses concerns what he termed “eucatastrophe”, which he called the fairy-story's “highest function” (TR pg 86). Eucatastrophe is the fairy-story's “happily ever after”, the consolation, the “sudden joyous turn” (TR pg 87).

    But it is also more than that. Many commentators have described “eucatastrophe” as the story's “happy ending”, but that is both overly simplistic and incomplete.

    I would argue that “eucatastrophe” pertains not just to the happy ending, but to the redemption of morality in the tale. Evil falls, but because of its own greed, its hatred, its fatal character flaw.

    Good triumphs, and triumphs in some way because of its inherent good.

    The Lord of the Rings contains a great example of eucatastrophe. The ending is not entirely “happy”. Frodo is forever scarred and broken by his quest and struggle with the power of the Ring. The elves are leaving Middle-earth…so are Bilbo, Frodo, and Gandalf.

    The whole essay: http://brainstorm-services.com/wcu-2004/fairystories-tolkien.pdf

  36. EGS
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 14:11:28

    @Jane: The further I get into the book, the more I think I might need therapy afterward. Talk about running Katniss through the wringer. Poor girl can hardly breathe without being almost blown up or shot or having a nervous breakdown because she’s constantly being injured or psychologically tortured.

  37. Jennifer
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 14:22:38

    I am so glad there is a place on the web with spoilers! No one I know has finished it yet so I have no one to talk to . . .

    When I finished Mockingjay, I felt unsatisfied. I had all of these hopes for Katniss and none of them came through. I wanted her to end the series as a triumphant young woman. And she’s not. She’s a beaten down, broken person. And that made me sad.

    BUT, as I laid in bed thinking about my reaction, I thought that I would really be unsatisfied with a triumphant ending. It would have felt false and not consistent with the rest of the series. It wouldn’t have been true to Collins or Katniss.

    Not sure if I would read it again, but I give Collins credit for sticking to her vision and not giving in to what I’m sure was pressure to lighten it up (excepting the epilogue which was still pretty bleak honestly).

  38. CathyKJ
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 14:26:05

    I liked Mockingjay. It reminded me a lot of Ender’s Game. Like Ender, I think it’s unreasonable to expect a true “happy” ending for Katniss.

    There was an episode of Deep Space Nine about a Bajoran war hero who had killed a Cardassian and become a symbol of the rebellion. He eventually confessed to someone that the real story was that he had slipped going down a hill, surprised an enemy soldier who was unarmed, and got a lucky shot – not so heroic. That’s pretty much Katniss to me – her one moment of action (volunteering in Prim’s place) led to success through luck and other people’s skills. She was, ultimately, a pawn of the war/rebellion machine. There wasn’t anything especially deserving or heroic about her – she wasn’t a super soldier or an amazing tactician or a political mastermind. She continued on her only path in life (protecting her sister) and thanks to the efforts of the army of people around her, became in inadvertant symbol for an overdue rebellion.

    As for Peeta and the epilogue, it was fine for me. I never expected Katniss to actively choose someone – it would be foreign to her character. She didn’t grow up with a lot of choice available. Her biggest decision in the series (volunteering for Prim) wasn’t really a choice but a natural extension of her hyper protectiveness. At the end of the book Peeta needed her, and Katniss’s loyalty to him meant that she would take care of him. In many ways, Peeta replaced Prim – Katniss didn’t need to choose him, there was never any question of her abandoning someone who needed a protector. As for the 2.3 kids in the meadow, I took it as a sign that Katniss finally felt safe in the world. Saccharine, yes, but certainly symbolic.

  39. Claudia
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 14:49:15

    As much as I loved Hunger Games, Catching Fire started slow and seemed so much a retread that I stopped reading shortly after Katniss had her 1st makeover.

    I’m now confident I won’t miss anything by skipping Mocking Jay as it would be a wall banger for me.

  40. cories
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 14:57:13

    Great review! I haven’t read “Mockingjay” yet but I’ve been waffling about reading it. Given Collins’ previous series, Gregor the Overlander, I figured that Katniss is going to be in for a really rough time. I did think that she will end up with Peeta because of their shared experience of the Games and that Prim will die (sort of like Hedwig’s death in Harry Potter). On the upside, I also didn’t think Collins could fit genocide in this time.

    Still, part of my reluctance is the lack of a spark of hope in the ending (I peeked at the back of the book). I’m not referring to a HEA; just a “thank god that’s over” will do. Even “The Dead-Tossed Waves”, “Split”, and “Tender Morsels” have that slight bit of hope, that the characters learn enough to be looking forward to tomorrow. Well, I guess “Mockingjay” will be lower on my TBR list.

  41. Sara
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 15:22:02

    Thank you for putting that so well. If I could put my thoughts into words as well as you that is exactly what I would have said. Agree completely.

  42. lil
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 15:35:01

    I really enjoyed this series. What I wanted to happen in the story didn’t always occur but the events that did happen were always believable to me.
    After reading The Hunger Games, I wanted to know who Katniss was going to end up with but that’s not really what the series is about. It is about war and what it does to people – especially children. As a reader, there is the part of me that wants the action hero ending – y’know stop the asteroid from hitting earth, landing the plane on the streets of Vegas, the H/H in a clinch- that kind of thing, but I think what Collins gave me was much more realistic and, ultimately, more satisfying.

    My only quibble was the ending. After everything Katniss and Peeta have been through, I would have liked to seen a little more of their coming together – I wanted to be shown, not told.

    As for hope, well, everything Katniss did was driven by her love and need to protect her family. She didn’t want to have children because she doubted her ability to be able to protect them from the Hunger games. It took 15 years but she must have felt her world was a safer place. There is hope at the end. Katniss is no longer anyone’s political pawn but free to make her choices on how to live her life.

  43. jmc
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 15:40:38

    I…actually was pleased with Mockingjay until the ending, which bothered me a bit. First, because of how the “choice” was handled; second, because the last quarter of the book seemed clunky and awkward in pacing and narration; and third, because the nagging for kids really squicked.

    I didn’t expect an HEA, which may be one factor in my response to the book. Also, I’ve been slowly (so slowly) reading Fisk’s The Great War for Civilization, which probably colors my reaction.

  44. Aoife
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 15:42:49

    @CathKJ and Jennifer

    I don’t disagree at all that a triumphant or traditional HEA would have been out of place. Most people who had issues with the ending, including myself, don’t seem to me to be asking for that. But there is a middle ground, and Mockingjay not only missed it, Collins appeared to have rejected it as an option completely. Instead, I was left feeling that if Katniss was that flat and hopeless emotionally 20 YEARS after those events, IRL she probably would have committed suicide. That’s why the ending felt unbalanced, manipulative and unrealistic to me. People can’t live at that level of despair for that long without something giving way. They either find something to live for, or they. just. don’t.

  45. Jennifer
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 16:19:50

    @Aoife

    Maybe that is what the kids are for at the end–they are Katniss expression of hope for the future. She does think about how she will describe her life to her children who’ve never known such a thing.

    To me, suicide would be out of character for Katniss, despair or not. She is a survivor. The only time she’s willing to kill herself is when she thinks the alternative to death will be worse (being tortured for killing Coin). She huddles herself in a tight hole, but she never thinks of suicide.

    I’m also not certain Katniss was that flat and emotionally hopeless for 20 years. The ending was really bleak. She’s a broken person, but she’s not lost to herself. That’s Katniss’s greatest strength–she is determined to survive no matter what. I think her sense part of what makes her so protective of her family and everyone she fights with. If you remember that when you reach the end, you can sense she will repair herself, given time and patience.

  46. Jia
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 16:52:41

    @jmc: Ha, I don’t how many times I mentioned to Jane via email that the nagging for children aspect of the epilogue really squicked me.

    @Aoife: Exactly. I certainly wasn’t expecting sunshine and roses. I don’t think anyone was expecting that, realistically.

  47. Sarah
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 17:10:12

    @Aoife: You should read this post: http://www.foreveryoungadult.com/2010/08/25/god-damn-it-i-hate-peeta-mockingjay-endgame/

    I think you’ll find yourself in agreement with a lot of things. Brings up several of the issues you’ve touched on.

  48. MaryK
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 17:27:20

    Oh gee, an ambush message book, yippee. The whole series experience sounds very manipulative. This kind of thing is why I wait for series to end before I start them.

    Jia, thanks for bringing up the objective vs. subjective reader issue. Yesterday’s post about “serious books” started me thinking about objective/subjective reading. I’m absolutely a subjective reader. I can’t read depressing, hopeless, or sad without feeling them. I kind of become the emotion/mood of the book and don’t shake it off easily.

  49. MaryK
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 18:15:02

    @Estara: @cories:

    Still, part of my reluctance is the lack of a spark of hope in the ending (I peeked at the back of the book). I'm not referring to a HEA; just a “thank god that's over” will do. … that slight bit of hope, that the characters learn enough to be looking forward to tomorrow.

    Yes. Has anyone seen the BBC miniseries based on John Wyndham’s The Triffids? At the end, the H, Hr, and family are driven out of their compound that’s been a refuge for many years. They’re heading out into a bleak, dangerous landscape with no real destination. They stop to look back at their home being overrun, and the H says “Someday we’ll be back.”

    It seems like the “good triumphing over evil” and “triumph of the human spirit” themes are falling out of favor, and instead we’re getting “there is no good or evil, only death.” Bleck.

  50. Aoife
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 18:34:01

    @Sarah

    That was awesome, thanks for the link. That was the funniest take I’ve read on the whole Mockingjay debacle. Well, except for the hot-sexxing-with-Gale thing, because it’s pretty clear from the beginning of the books that Collins has big plans for Gale, and they involve him being very, very angry.

    @Jennifer

    If the children were supposed to symbolize hope on Katniss’s part, I think Collins missed the boat. At no point did Katniss express pleasure in them, love for them (or anyone else, actually). Maybe I’m supposed to infer that, but the thing about Collins’ writing is that she chooses her words very carefully. All of my speculation about where the story was going at the end of Catching Fire, which later turned out to be correct, came from careful reading of what Collins had said. Word choice, situations, the reactions and statements of the characters. Much as I wish I could claim prescience or brilliance, it was all wight there in the first two books. What wasn’t in the epilogue were any words about emotion that didn’t relate directly to fear or grief. I looked for them. Therefore, I have to conclude Collins didn’t intend for them to be there. I would love to be shown that I misread it, believe me.

  51. tehawesomersace
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 20:25:39

    @Aoife:

    I completely agree with your estimation of Collins and her deliberate word choices. I reread Hunger Games and Catching Fire before reading Mockingjay, and the events in Catching Fire are starkly foreshadowed in Hunger Games, and same with what happens in Mockingjay. As much as I want to chalk up the third book to Collins’ agenda, and especially the rushed feeling towards the end, I don’t think she ever meant for it to end well.

    It’s hard to believe this is the same woman who wrote for Wow Wow Wubbzy. :)

  52. Natalie
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 22:03:53

    I guess I’m too tired of sugary happy endings of the romance genre (or even some YA, yes, you, J.K. Rowling) that I was glad to see the bittersweet one for a change. And it’s definitely not the most depressing finish I’ve come across. Ender’s Game was far worse in that respect. Or Le Guin’s trilogy (original).

    And as for revolution not changing things much, that’s exactly what typically happens in real life, as Madame Guillotine would testify. At least the new regime seems less controlling. It reminded me of Heinlein’s Moon is a Harsh Mistress where revolution only led to another nanny state like the one they were fighting on Earth.

    I also don’t think it’s fair to give a book a lower grade just because it didn’t meet the reviewer’s expectations but the reviewer still thinks it has other merits. I mean, I don’t think that classical tragedies are mediocre just because they depress me or don’t show me any hope.

  53. Janice
    Aug 28, 2010 @ 01:33:31

    For me, the book was really a borderline fail, elevated only by Collins competent writing. On a storytelling level, it absolutely failed.

    It isn’t so much about being able to meet the reader’s expectations, as it is about weaving a fantasy and not bogging down the fiction with subliminal messages. Most books are written to convey a message, a viewpoint (even if it isn’t deliberate, or if it is). The better books are able to convey this viewpoint and encapsulate it entirely within the narrative, leaving the reader to ponder about everything. Hunger Games was such a book.

    The less artfully written books are self aware and heavy handed. Mockingjay is one, and sadly, many successful series jump into the same wagon. When the actual story of the characters pales in significance to the message being delivered by the author, and when the readers become acutely aware of this farce, that’s when a fiction book ceases to serve its purpose.

  54. Shaheen
    Aug 28, 2010 @ 12:29:01

    @Natalie:

    “I also don't think it's fair to give a book a lower grade just because it didn't meet the reviewer's expectations but the reviewer still thinks it has other merits. I mean, I don't think that classical tragedies are mediocre just because they depress me or don't show me any hope.”

    A book is usually the sum of its parts – the writing, the story, the plotline and the overall emotional impact are all part of the book. A book that is well-written and well-paced is not necessarily good if the story does not satisfy.

    I recently went to a musical tragedy – a production of the Scottsboro Boys – which although superbly well performed, ultimately failed for me, because I could not reconcile the farcical nature of the musical (which was done in the style of a Black and White Minstrel Show) and the deeply disturbing story of racism (the persecution and prosecution of a group of young black men in Mississippi of crimes they did not commit). Although the musical was done in highly ironic style, for me the irony did not overcome the offensiveness of treating so lightly the seriousness of the story. Therefore despite the quality of the production (A+), I would give it a C- for my experience of it.

    I think Jia did a very good job of explaining what elements of Mockingjay would get a higher grade and exactly why she ultimately gives this book a C.

    [Disclaimer: Haven't read any of the Collins books, and wasn't planning to even before I read this review, but I was curious to know what the hype was about. Still not going to read them - too creepy!]

  55. kendralou
    Aug 28, 2010 @ 13:47:54

    I just finished Mockingjay and I’m still at the stunned/numb stage. I still don’t know what to think.

    One thing that really stood out to me was that Katniss volunteered for the Hunger Games in order to save Prim. Ultimately, all her sacrifices didn’t mean a thing, because Prim was killed anyway. Granted, it was two years later, but Katniss still had to witness it.

    I started Mockingjay with the expectation that Katniss would sacrifice herself to save those she cared about. Isn’t that what happened, although she didn’t end up dead? Unfortunately, it didn’t save those loved ones. Prim dies anyway, Gale ends up filled with hate, Peeta looses his idealistic view of the world.

    I didn’t hate Mockingjay, but I didn’t love it either. Yes, it’s one that I’ll think about for a long time, but I don’t think I’ll ever reread. I’ll probably give it a B rating, because for me a C book is average. Mockingjay is anything but an average book to me,

  56. Has
    Aug 28, 2010 @ 13:53:56

    I read the spoilers just before the book came out – I wanted to prepare myself for the ending because I sensed it may not be the one I wanted i.e with the love the triangle. But reading the spoilers about what happened to Katniss and even Peeta and Gale the love triangle didn’t become an issue. I am not liking the fact that it feels like she’s settled down for second best (that is what the spoilers tell me) and yeah the kids thing especially with Peeta pressuring her to have kids made me pause :P

    I plan to read it but I wont be in a rush to even though I was really looking forward to. I am glad I was prewarned via spoilers – this would have affected my enjoyment of the book – now that I know I will be prepared for it.

  57. Liz L
    Aug 28, 2010 @ 15:23:06

    The discussion has made me think of a very different but related book with a similar reader response: Denial: A Memoir of Terror by Jessica Stern.

    The memoir argues (among other things) that trauma is passed down from generation to generation and expresses itself in different forms. A Holocaust survivor recreates a life for himself and his children but in the process repeatedly exposes them to danger and is emotionally cold in order to prepare them for a world he knows contains war and brutality. They in turn internalize this upbringing which impacts their own responses to trauma and abuse.

  58. Aoife
    Aug 28, 2010 @ 17:43:42

    @Estara: Thanks for posting the link to the Eucatastrophe essay. That’s exactly what was missing from Mockingjay, and why a significant number of people who read it felt the ending was flat.

  59. Jia
    Aug 28, 2010 @ 18:44:45

    Lord of the Rings is an excellent comparison/contrast. At the end, Frodo is completely broken by the experience of being the Ring-bearer. And while his ending was sad and tragic, we aren’t left dissatisfied because it wasn’t in vain.

    It’s not fair to say the people who disliked Mockingjay didn’t like it because they don’t like tragedies or because sad books make them depressed. It’s not as simple as that and I’m thinking for a good number of them, that’s not even true. Some of my favorite books have bittersweet endings. Some of them are even tragic.

    Where Mockingjay fails for many of us is that it’s tragic for the sole purpose of being tragic. The author manipulation is too obvious and apparent. When the message drowns out the story, that’s when a book will failing apart for a reader. Now, I believe that threshold varies from reader to reader but it is there, and I think Mockingjay might possibly have exceeded that threshold for many readers, including myself.

    @Has: Sometimes I think the pushback against spoilers is over the top. I understand that some people don’t want to know and more power to them, but some of us need to know these things. We use spoilers to decide if we want to spend the time to read a book — and sure, it may only take a few hours if you’re a fast reader but that’s still a few hours you devote to a book when you could have been doing something else.

    But the other thing we use spoilers for is to brace us for what’s coming in a book. We’ll still read it but it allows us to get used to an idea or brace ourselves for certain events that may be upsetting to us (violence, rape, character death, etc). That’s why for a book like Mockingjay, someone needs to share the spoilers somewhere. Not necessarily for commiseration — although that can definitely be helpful! — but for the people who waver.

  60. An
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 00:58:07

    I just finished Mockingjay, and I loved it. Love Love Love Love Love! I’m sorry you all didn’t love it as much as I did. (No really, that stinks) I loved the honesty of how messed up Katniss (and everyone else) is, and the ending. I think the Epilogue does feel a little tacked on, but I liked what it added.

    I thought it was much more real and truthful that everyone would be having nervous breakdowns by the end of the story. I hate it when books have the hero or heroine do horrible things or have horrible things done to them and end up mentally unscarred. I think that that presumption is just too naive.

    I loved the commentary about the artificiality of creating the rebellion. I thought it made the book just a little smarter than an average coming-of-age-hero-saves-the-day.

    This is a book that makes me think about culture, humanity, and all those big things.

    As for Gale, I do love him soo girlysquee much, but you can see in the book that Gale & Katniss’ relationship is splintering and he’s not coming from the same place she is anymore. They’re both being changed by their experiences, and it is helping to split them up. Plus, as someone else noted, Katniss’ life has not had a lot of choices, and she and Peeta need each other. Not the most romantic, but this series was never about romance, it was about how to survive.

  61. rlynn
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 01:36:29

    Ok, I totally get the criticism for the unrelenting grimness of the book. I agree with the hate for Katniss’ emotionally detached tone in the epilogue. But I do have to put a small defense for Peeta. I definitely didn’t read the ending as him pressuring her for 15+ years to have kids. I read it as the author explaining why Katniss of all people would ever have children – because she knew how much he wanted them.

    I also have to put a defense for Gale. Driven by hate, bloodthirstiness, vengeance, etc. That’s how readers have described him and I can’t deny Collins propels him in that direction, but for me none of those words are quite right. He’s actually the character that gave me more nuance to the story because I didn’t think Gale’s position or attitude was necessarily wrong.

    And writing that, I guess I have to put a defense for the author. I actually can’t say that the trilogy is pushing an anti-war message. It’s definitely pushing a war is evil message but for me that’s a big distinction.

    Thank you so much for a spoiler filled forum and lastly, can we all take a moment to weep for Finnick? :(

  62. MarieC
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 14:45:45

    Thanks for the great review, Jia!

    When I read the book last week, I’ll admit that I had moments of ‘Really? Seriously?’. But at the end, it made sense.

    With regards to epilogue, Katniss’s feelings about kids made sense as well. Having lost almost everyone she’d loved (and seen children as casualities of war), her reticence and fear of the future would be understandable.

  63. EGS
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 19:16:16

    Well, I finally slogged my way through the rest of Mockingjay and have come to the conclusion that the moral was that life sucks and you ultimately have no choices in life. The end. How depressing and bleak. I didn’t need an ending/epilogue a la HP 7, but something a little bit less sad wouldn’t have been bad either. And I hated that Katniss never gained her autonomy, not with Peeta/Gale, not with having children, not with the revolution, nothing. What was the point in rebelling in the first place?

    Ugh, I get what Collins was going for but at the same time it felt like a let down. Too much “war sucks” and no growth of any of the characters and no message that maybe things will get better after hardship.

  64. Peggy Cole
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 23:09:42

    I give Mockingkay a B+ after reading it 3 times since Tuesday. I would go higher if the Peeta/Katniss/Gale triangle was more fully developed.I kept looking for clues to backup the ending, things I missed or didn’t really understand till hindsight came into play. I find myself thinking about the characters and the why’s behind the things that happened. (Spoiler ahead)

    I don’t think Katniss had the time to fully think through Gale vs Peeta, even though she had already unconsciously chosen Peeta. Think of how she touched Peeta on the screen during his first broadcast, and her joy that he was back alive. When she kisses Gale, it is for the past and out of loneliness. She has already accepted that Peeta hates her and she will die,so she keeps telling herself 10 times a day it doesn’t matter if she doesn’t pin down her exact feelings for Peeta. That in itself tells us that she loves him, since we know how hard it is for her to think of love.

    As for Gale, I don’t see him as bloodthirsty. When people you love or those that are innocent are hurt, you want revenge. Katniss and others are able to more accurately pick who is responsible, because they know what is like to kill the innocent and have to live with it. I thought the separation between Gale and Katniss was logical given the circumstances.

    When did Peeta decide he still loved Katniss? While they were in the control room under ground, and he remembers how much they have done for the other? When he warns Katniss about the Mutts and tells her to run? With the exchange between Peeta and Gale at night, Peeta is verbalizing that he still loves Katniss and hopes she chooses him, even though he is unsure if she will.

    When Katniss kisses Peeta and tells him to not let Snow take him away from her, I thought that was very selfish at first reading. Then I decided she was as close as she could come, in front of others, to letting Peeta know how much she needs him, and that they belong together. Peeta then responds saying he will always be with her. It took Peeta coming back to District 12 to make Katniss want to come back to life.

    Either I am reading too much into the exchanges, or I understood what the author alluded to, but did not make clear. I do wish Ms. Collins had written more about Peeta’s and Katniss’s post war relationship. Given us a mentally healthier, happier couple at the end. Also, names for the children to show maternal love and the healing that would indicate.

    Do y’all think Coin really did authorize the bombing, or was Katniss used again by Snow to kill? I would like that explained more fully in the book. Did others question the bombing in the trial? Was Katniss defended by others? I hate to think the Mockingjay was dismissed as mentally disturbed and that her actions were not understood.

    Even though the Epilogue was not all I wished for, at least it provided some closure that we did not get in the Gregor series! I still hope for a follow up one day about Luxa and Gregor.

  65. Estara
    Aug 30, 2010 @ 03:27:54

    @Aoife: You are so welcome ^^. I’m paying forward the professor at university who introduced me to this – and some of the other Inklings essays on their own works. Always happy to introduce other people to something interesting they might not have seen before.

  66. KAT
    Aug 31, 2010 @ 14:16:29

    There is an interesting discussion going on Slate about the whole series and Mockingjay in particular.

  67. September Freebies from Samhain and Updated Digital Backlist from Harlequin | Dear Author
    Sep 03, 2010 @ 11:22:59

    [...] Mockingjay sells over 450,000 copies in the first week of sale and goes back to print for another 400,000 copies.  That’s a lot of copies.  You can read our spoiler filled review here. [...]

  68. Ariel/Sycorax Pine
    Sep 04, 2010 @ 01:34:17

    I JUST finished the novel and am still working my way through my tumultuous feelings about it on my blog. (Stage 1 was utter desolation, which is never an enjoyable state for exiting a book, but usually a sign that it has been an extraordinary experience.) As soon as I was done with it I hurried over here and have been delighting in the discussion ever since, although my opinion of the novel leans a lot more heavily towards admiration (despite its faults) than the prevailing sentiment here, I think.

    The ending was rushed, I think, which was narratively problematic given that we had so much time with Gale in Bk 3 that poor Peeta had fallen by the wayside a bit – and this despite the fact that he had endured some traumas which should have motivated extensive reflection and conflict. I definitely felt shortchanged in the matter of how Katniss and Peeta forged a new relationship as changed people, outside of the public eye. There was a lot of great stuff to be drawn out of that situation, and without it, Peeta seems a bit anticlimactic, despite my affection for him in previous books.

    And yet – the bleakness of the ending was one of the things I most admire about the series, because it seemed like such a bold take on heroism.

    At any rate, I go into this in great depth (and I hope with greater eloquence) in a couple of blog posts:

    http://sycoraxpine.blogspot.com/2010/09/mockingjay-first-reactions-to-trilogy.html

    and

    http://sycoraxpine.blogspot.com/2010/09/on-gale-peeta-and-ending-of-mockingjay.html

    I am hoping to write about some other issues in the days to come, as I process the book more fully. (And as I am holed up at home, hiding from the hurricane.) But I can’t think of a better compliment to the urgency and complexity of a novel than that I want to write SEVERAL posts about it, and enjoy reading discussions like this so much.

    P.S. I love the way Courtney Milan describes the importance of that final moment with the cat in the comments above – especially since Katniss’s near-drowning of the cat was one of the early moments of unsentimentality that I most admired in Collins’s characterization of her heroine. I’m a rampant cat-adorer, so to make me love a heroine after telling two stories in which she casually deals out death to an animal (or tries to) is truly a feat. It sets the stage for the Katniss to come, who feels too much and fears that she feels too little.

  69. Jennie
    Sep 05, 2010 @ 01:12:20

    I just finished it today. I’m going in the “loved it” column, at least based on grade (I’d give it an A-). I found it compelling throughout. I did find it grim and sad and I can’t believe Collins killed Prim! (To think, I couldn’t believe it when she killed Finnick, but then Prim was so much worse.) Prim’s death really is hard to swallow because it was to save Prim that Katniss even entered the Hunger Games to start with. So it ends up feeling like a failure, somehow, to have her die. But you have to look at the bigger picture and the lives saved, improved, etc. by the success of the rebellion.

    Since I was always Team Peeta, I did not have a problem with Katniss ending up with him; for me, Gale always felt like second choice, the safe choice, in some ways, for all that Gale was more of an alpha male. I would’ve liked more of Katniss and Peeta’s relationship depicted in the book, especially at the end, but the epilogue did not strike me as it did others. I felt like Katniss was saying that she was cautiously optomistic about the future with her children. She was undoubtedly damaged by what she had lived through, but I’m okay with that.

    Ultimately, though I understand why Mockingjay isn’t the book some readers wanted it to be, I also understand why it’s the one Collins wanted to write. It’s a grim book but I do choose to see it as ending on a hopeful note.

  70. Librarified » Miscellany: library news and trends, crafts, book art, and librarians playing croquet
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 13:31:58

    [...] posts on blogs I follow! I think Leila’s overall analysis at Bookshelves of Doom and Jia’s take on its portrayal of the horrors of war at Dear Author are spot [...]

  71. K
    Sep 11, 2010 @ 09:50:44

    ITA about the cat.

    The thing about the ending, even with the deaths, is that the women of her family have developed agency.

    Before, Prim got picked for the Hunger Games. This time, she chose to help, though it put her in harm’s way. It reminds me of how Katniss volunteered to save her sister, and could have died.

    Likewise, their mother (though I don’t like to think of how hard it must be for her after Prim’s death) has accomplished a great deal at the hospital.

    As for Katniss herself, she shows us that someone who has gone through so much and been so badly hurt, someone who still can’t quite say her children’s name in her head, can choose the dandelion every day. It seems as though the people who have found themselves grievously affected by the harm people can do to each other (and to themselves, in order to follow orders or simply survive) may be able to read this, feel themselves represented and their suffering recognized, and perhaps gain some encouragement to keep choosing the dandelion themselves.

  72. KayAnna Kirby
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 12:02:23

    I finished Mockingjay about 2 days ago and I have been working out my feeling. I became sad after I finished it and was truly angry. I invested time and so much emotion to leave feeling depressed.

    I felt Katniss was selfish and self centered during Mockingjay. She could never see beyond her feelings, and no one was there to guide her. She is still an uneducated 17 year old girl who is angry (which she never truly determines who she’s angry at) and I saw her as weak. Weak for breaking down all the time. I felt half the book she was in a state of despair and pain and self loathing and just grimness. She could never see the bigger picture. She could never think straight.

    She complains about being a pawn for everyone, but that’s what happens when you have nothing to give. she gave no one nothing except strife. Why did she feel she should get such choice when she never demanded it never really contributed her take, never joined in the revolution. She was dragged kicking and screaming. How about all the people who have died and suffered for the last 75 years under the rule of the Capital. To not take that into consideration and say District 13 is just as bad is ridiculous. She wants to be free to do what she wants to do when she wants to do it in District 13 and hates the control of the society. Fine. But to say they are not as strict in the Capital to me is a non issue.
    They are not strict in the Capital at all really, they live great in the capital. They are the slave masters. At least in District 13 everyone including Coin is subject to the rules that are set.

    I think I understand what Collins was saying which was war is bad regardless of the side you are on. I felt she could have expressed this without delving into absolute depressing fashion. I hear people say it’s realistic. That’s only one part of realism. It could have been realistic and hopeful at the same time. This wasn’t hopeful at all. Should they have just went on for decades/centuries under the thumb of the capital?

    Even until the end Katniss did nothing for herself. Peeta was the one to plat the bushes for Prim, not Katniss. She remained helpless and even got worse.

  73. Sherry Thomas
    Oct 08, 2010 @ 01:28:26

    Just read MOCKINGJAY a few days ago.

    Am still traumatized about Finnick. I kind of expected that he would die–not that I want that to happen to my favorite character in the series–but I can accept it in the same way I accept Fred Weasley dying in HP7.

    But the WAY he died. And completely in vain–Katniss never came anywhere near assassinating Snow on that mission that saw Finnick’s death. That whole mission seemed just a setup to have some Arena-like action sequence. For Finnick to die so gruesomely for that–as I said, I’m still traumatized.

    In the last chapter, a mention was made of Finnick and Annie’s child, born posthumously. Katniss refers to it as a strange bit of happiness. I can’t. I just can’t. Annie is barely functional with Finnick. Without him, she probably shouldn’t even be considered mentally competent to look after herself, let alone a child.

    I wish Finnick had lived, if only because Annie needs him so badly.

  74. Darlynne
    Oct 16, 2010 @ 21:07:44

    Although I’m late to this party, I didn’t want to read the review and comments until I had finished.

    I listened to the audiobook of Mockingjay as I did the other two books and perhaps doing so colored my experience of it. The outstanding narration once again injected a deeply emotional quality the printed page seems to have lacked for some readers.

    Put me in the group that loved it for all the reasons I loved the first two. The bleakness and sorrow were heartrendingly believable at the same time they were unrelenting. This was not an easy read or listen, but my sense of it was that Collins didn’t shy from the truth about the world she created. I would have been jarred by a bright, less anguished ending because I don’t believe anyone comes back from something like this, not the same and certainly not better. That Katniss, Peeta and others came back at all in any manner of functioning is extraordinary.

    I agree with others who mentioned Les Miserables and am also mindful of a book I read that took place ten years after the American Revolution. Ten years later, people were still wondering whether the fight for independence had been a good idea. Ten years later, citizens were still dealing with physical and emotional scars, with deprivation, with vengeful acts for having been on the “wrong” side. I find accounts such as this much more realistic than the rosy and harmonious views we were given as children of the birth of our nation.

    Katniss is not an ideal heroine or champion, but she is exactly how I imagine real leaders, willing and unwilling, of revolutions would be: much more human and flawed than history books usually show. This book worked for me on every level at the same time it broke my heart.

  75. Nikki Reynolds
    Nov 07, 2010 @ 22:37:54

    I loved The Hunger Games with all of my heart, and I loved the second book even more.

    I loved how it was so personal, and everyone got their own little piece in the books..

    But, as for the third book. I wish I never laid eyes on its awful pages.

    I hated how so many lovable characters died, without even a second thought…

    What was Ms.Collins thinking…

    How could you?

  76. Janine
    Nov 12, 2010 @ 05:44:12

    My husband and I read Mockingjay together. I want to start by relating his reaction, because it was so different from mine and because I haven’t seen anything like it posted here. Then I’ll write a separate comment about my own response to the book.

    My husband liked the book somewhat, but he was frustrated by two things. One was Katniss’s sometimes-irrational thought process, which bothered him throughout the trilogy. He felt that she misinterpreted too many things and reacted impulsively based on her misinterpretations, to such a degree that someone like her should not have made it as far as she did.

    The other thing that bothered him were plot holes. For example, why did Katniss blow up the Holo when she could have used one of her explosive arrows instead? And why not blow up the cavern with the mutt lizards and seal them inside it, instead of allowing them to kills her fellow soldiers?

    Why would the Capitol hold out as long as it did even after its supplies were cut off and District 2′s Peacekeepers taken care of? Wouldn’t it have made much more sense for them to surrender?

    Why were the streets of the Capitol booby trapped? How impractical is that? Wouldn’t the Capitol’s residents have triggered those booby traps while going about their daily lives? And for the cost of all those elaborate booby traps and mutts, couldn’t the Capitol could have hired more soldiers and built far more effective defenses?

    Finally, and most importantly, he had a beef with the whole concept of the hunger games. Why would the hunger games be thought to be a good way to control the population and quell rebellion? Wouldn’t they have the opposite effect of making the adults rise up against the Capitol rather than allow the Capitol to reap their children? Wouldn’t it be far more logical to reap adults, who would volunteer to die to protect their kids? Doesn’t everybody know that nothing makes people more angry than threatening to harm their children? How does this make any kind of sense?

  77. Janine
    Nov 12, 2010 @ 06:17:20

    Okay, onto my own reaction. Having only finished a few hours ago, I’m still processing Mockingjay. I was liking it very much (better than Catching Fire) until Prim’s death. Prim’s death hit me very, very hard and I wonder if it was necessary. The purpose it serves seems to be to render Katniss helpless to stop the death of the person she loves most and thereby devastate her. I wonder if it isn’t (bad pun) overkill.

    Still, even so, I like the book a lot and disagree with some of the opinions posted above.

    First, unlike Jane and Jia, I don’t think its message is that all war is morally wrong. Rather, I think its message is that all war is harrowing, devastating and open to questioning. That is not the same as saying it is always morally wrong. The book says that war always carries a heavy price, but that is true, isn’t it?

    Second, I disagree with Jia that this book is more depressing than Lord of the Rings. To me the ending of Lord of the Rings, where all the characters in the story sailed away because they knew the world was going to lose all its innocence and magic, was far more depressing. (I admit I didn’t read the LOTR books in their entirety though).

    But then, I also never saw the Hunger Games as being about Katniss’s journey to gain agency. I didn’t expect her to be as much of a pawn as she was at many points in the Mockingjay, but neither did I pin the expectations of agency-gaining on it. I think an attempt to overthrow the Capitol and a resolution to the love triangle was all that I expected.

    Third, I disagree with those who say there was no hint of joy in the ending of the book. I think there was more than a hint:

    What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that.

    In those words I see Katniss reaching for the possibility of happiness, as well as recognizing that Peeta was always the one for her. It was pretty clear to me that she has loved him since Catching Fire.

    To me that paragraph, like the cat’s return and the “Real or not real” game, was another of the “grace notes” that kept this book from being as depressing to me as it was to others. I do love Peeta and Katniss’s relationship, so that may be a factor in why I enjoyed the book so much more than many others.

    I also agree with whoever said that they saw no indication that Peeta pressured Katniss to have children. The fact that he “wanted them so badly” doesn’t mean he nagged her to have them. Indeed, I can’t imagine him doing so. But I can imagine Katniss wanting to give him children, since he had no blood family left.

    I disagree with those who say Katniss took no joy in her children. It says it right in the book:

    When I first felt her stirring inside me, I was consumed with a terror that felt as old as life itself. Only the joy of holding her in my arms could tame it.

    (Bolding mine).

    The epilogue moved me deeply. I was reminded of my grandmother who lost her parents and sisters in the Holocaust. One brother was her only family member to survive, and he died shortly afterward, so she had no blood relations except her kids and grandkids.

    My grandmother, like Katniss, was a survivor, but she also could not bear to be questioned about the events that took her loved ones by us kids. She had moments of bleakness, but she taught us songs as Katniss does her kids. All that she suffered didn’t keep her from knowing happiness, and for that reason I believe Katniss will have happiness too.

    Maybe it’s because I spent my early childhood roughly thirty years after the Holocaust, in a country full of people who survived by the skin of their teeth, that I appreciate that ending so much. When Katniss says, “My children, who don’t know they play on a graveyard,” it’s a very dark image, but also at the same time an imaged filled with hope, too. Because the human race does go on, because it has to go on, even in the face of tragedy. And that the children aren’t aware of that tragedy, as horrible as that is on the one hand, is miraculous on the other hand.

  78. Zoe
    Jan 01, 2011 @ 15:48:25

    @May:

    I dont think you should decide not to read the trilogy just because the ending is bad! The first two books were amazing!

  79. Sam
    Feb 25, 2011 @ 10:27:19

    I was greatly dissapointed in this book. I read the “Hunger Games” becasue one of my friends said she had read it and it was brilliant. So, I read it and agreed; the ideas were fresh, plot left you on edge, it was soome thing I have’nt seen in a very long time. I go out to buy “Catching Fire” and it was a little slower, but still had excitment, and talk about twists!
    haha, I am a writer myself, so of course when I finished, I had a presupposition of what would happen, in fact i didnt sleep that night. Going out to buy the book, I already had my version of the ending-
    Ya, Mrs. Collins took that and crushed it under her foot. It was one of the most depressing books I’ve ever read. I was fusrtated with her.
    EVERYONE WORTH LIVING DIES.
    Katniss is in a state of depression/hystaria the whole book,
    Peeta can’t tell the difference between reality and non-reality casuing him to hate Katniss with a raw passion. Gale becomes a robot, and all the people that you think “HEY!! THESE GUYS ARE AWESOME, THEY NEED TO CHEER KATNISS UP :D

    Collins kills them.

    I need thearpy or something, haha
    its one of thoes books with

    -No Moral
    -No Happy Ending

    I mean what I get, is

    - District 13 is same as Capitol
    - Katniss has lost the spark she once had

    Im going to stop, but if you just read 1 sencence of this read this-

    Don’t read this book.

    -S

  80. Dusan
    May 27, 2011 @ 01:37:42

    Did anyone else find the taping of the propos through out the book a grind when reading about it again and again.

  81. Isaac
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 22:20:47

    SPOILER RESPONSE: This last book rather annoyed me. Why I loved the first book was because of a story I couldn’t predict, with characters that moved the plot – not vice versa. It angered me that Collins had Katniss kill that one woman in her home during her escape from the mutants without a single word about it afterwards, or that she killed off half of the cast after leading me to believe they were important with a single sentence. The part that annoys me most however, is when she randomly kills off Katniss’ sister for no other point except so that Katniss would have a reason to kill District 13′s President at the end. (If she hadn’t, after all the talk on the Capital being the same as district 13, it wouldn’t have made any sense.) It still made no sense plot wise, acting as some sort of terribly placed Deus Ex Machina, and to me is a big indicator that she couldn’t come up with and/or decide upon a proper ending. There never really was a debate on her love interest to me – Peeta lost his personality during the second book and Gale never really seemed to have one in the first place, let alone becoming the stereotypical hate-monger in the third book. She didn’t even really give a reason why she got Peeta either. He was crazy and wanted to murder her for a bit, then hated her guts, and then in two pages married her and gave her kids. It’s just …. it seemed WAY too compressed and raw for me.

  82. Sfb
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 12:24:34

    Just finished Mokingjay, and it has left me feeling depressed and a little cheated. While I loved the first two books, I almost regret investing so much emotion in them. I don’t mind that sad and terrible things happen in Mokingjay. It would be unrealistic otherwise. But when something terribly tragic happens, like Finnick’s death, I expect to have a chance to mourn…to feel the loss and watch others feel it as well, but that opportunity never arises.

    I also did not care for Katniss in this book. I understand that she was a young girl thrust into war, but to run and hide EVERY time things weren’t going her way was unbearable to watch. I kept thinking…this is just her low…the “real” Katniss will be back…but she never returned. Sure, I expected her to be different – hardened, emotionally scarred – but at her core, when the dust settles, she would be herself again. I also thought she would outgrow her selfishness and stop misinterpreting everything around her. In Catching Fire, she let Peeta hold her on the train…knowing he loved her and that she could not or would not return his affections (at least not yet). Still, she essentially tortured him selfishly so SHE could sleep. At least, that is what SHE thought. I hoped that by the end of the trilogy, she would come to realize that many of her “selfish” actions actually had deeper meanings – the snuggling with Peeta on the train was as much about calming HIM as soothing herself. Instead, she remains selfish, defensive and even a bit cruel. It made no sense to me the way she acted when they rescued Peeta. After almost going nuts over fear for him, when he doesn’t come back all shiny and perfect, she completely turns her back on him. Why? Because he is saying things (truths mostly about how she played with Peeta and Gale’s emotions) she doesn’t like, she pretends he is dead to her? Talk about self centered!! Again, that all would have been fine if she’d come out the other end somehow changed for the better. If she had GROWN some to realize the world doesn’t revolve around her and realized that some of her actions had deeper meanings (i.e. she is upset with Peeta because she does realize she treated him badly and it kills her because she also realizes his importance to her).

    I also despised when Katniss killed the unarmed civilian woman in her own home. Yes, war is terrible, but there are lines…

    To me, Peeta died in this book along with Prim and Finnick. I don’t understand the point of building up a great character in two books, only to rip him to shreds in the conclusion but never begin to rebuild him. Why weren’t we allowed to ever see a real glimmer of the real Peeta?

    Maybe my real problem is that I feel we are just supposed to accept that Katniss really loves Peeta and has a tolerable future ahead of her. We are to accept that Peeta has mostly returned to his true self. We are to accept that Gale has chosen the path that best fits him….a warrior. But we are shown NONE of this. It felt as if Collins was tired of writing and just wanted to throw in a final couple of paragraphs to put the thing to rest. So, she tells us Peeta and Katniss are getting closer, they kiss, they have sex, she says it is Real. That is all we get????? Nothing to show us the person Katniss is now after coming through the trauma of watching Prim die. Nothing to show us the true relationship between Katniss and Peeta??? Is it merely a union of convenience or something more?

    Perhaps Collins decided to leave the decisions up to the reader. For me, though, it felt like she just gave up. :(

  83. RS
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 10:53:00

    The book was good but at the same time disappointing. The amount of details leading up to the ending of the trilogy does not compare to the all of a sudden actual ending. It seems as though Katniss survived physically not much of her spirit is left. It’s sad that her sister, her main focal point from the beginning and her purpose to enter the games is killed. I was prepared to see Gale go because of his anger and warior like character but not Prim and not Finick. Also, there should have been more on Peeta. He goes from unstable to being with her and a baker. Lastly, although the book is far from a love story, I wanted a bit more details on how they end up together. Was it out of emotion or purely because they survived the same journey. Sad and disappointing ending….

  84. Mackenzie
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 19:42:04

    I believe this series was one of the best I have ever read. And I would choose to encourage others to read it also. While it is unlike many of the other books I read it means something. Whether it is sad or hopeless doesn’t matter. I like meaningful books, books that make you question the world as it stands whole and so very real. It makes you think about what it would be like if you were in that kind of situation, and that in turn teaches us an extremely imprortant lesson. I myself didn’t agree with the ending, but that doesn’t mean I will judge the entire book because I didn’t like the last pages. Truthfully I was haunted with a lot of unanswered questions. For instance did she and Gale keep in touch? Did her mother visit her? Most of my questions are related to what happened in her head, how she got past all the horrible, tragic deaths that touched her life forever. To me the saddest part of life, and this book is the time that passes so quickly. What happened when she moved back to District 12 and Peeta followed? Were her and Gale’s last words in the Capitol, and not a word spoken between them ever again? Did her mother ever visit her? These questions are the saddest of all. And not knowing the answers only make them worse. The Hunger Games Series have truly changed my life. I will always wonder about how bad things can truly become. And I will never be able to think that someone is all good. I will always know that there is bad in every heart and soul that has ever walked this earth. How we knew that the Capitol was evil and retched, but we also knew that President Coin was, also. Will I ever be able to feel safe with knowing someone is only into helping others? No. Everyone wants power and the few that put that as a minority in their hearts usually die young. So let me ask you a question. As you comment on and on about how Jia is right about it being a C, ask yourselves why would you think that? Why would you think that the books weren’t good? Maybe it is that you yourself are one like President Snow or Coin, that you didn’t like this book because you were one of the pinpointed. And as you think about this go back and think about your analization of The Hunger Games series.

  85. Brian
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 01:56:24

    Completly agree with your assessment of the book. The trilogy is obviously a spectacular achievement but i cant help a feeling of disappointment in the ending. The goal of the book achieved, as someone who also reads to escape; the ending was depressing. parts of the third book hard to read let alone enjoy. seriously wish there was an alternate ending.

  86. Hunger Game reader
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 13:58:36

    I personally think that the second book was a huge stretch. Just didn’t work for me.

  87. Lee
    Jan 07, 2012 @ 01:22:06

    While I may be part of a select few, I actually was not disappointed with Mockingjay. I am not much older than Katniss, and throughout the series, I definitely envisioned myself as Katniss rather than as a third person observing her story. And, while the third book was undoubtedly grim at times, I still enjoyed its journey.

    Throughout the novel, my main thinking was that Katniss had clearly had a difficult life. After years of non-stop turmoil at such a young age, it is only reasonable that she would breakdown at points. All things considered, I think she performs extremely well throughout Mockingjay. In the face of death, loss, separation, and post-traumatic stress, how much stronger can you really expect a 17 year old to be? I would not label the Katniss of Mockingjay self-centered or weak; rather, she is simply realistic.

    As for the war messages, I have to admit that politics is not my strong suit. And, possibly accordingly, the message that all war is bad never occurred to me. What I took from the story was that it is not simply enough to fight against something; you must fight for something. It was not enough for Katniss to fight solely against Snow and the Capital, as, if that was her only goal, there would have been no change. As soon as Coin dared to mention another Hunger Games, I knew that Katniss’s arrow would be going for her rather than Snow. When it comes time to make a real difference, to change Panem, Katniss is no longer acting as pawn-just as herself.

    Finally, I believe there IS some hope in this story; and, while the epilogue could be brighter, it is not completely bleak. Katniss’s own progress, the uniting of the districts, Peeta’s recovery, the fact that the Hunger Games will only be known through history books- these are all hopeful, or at least inspiring aspects of the novel. While Katniss is not completely cheery at the end of the novel, she is alive with someone who loves her who she willingly chose and two children who will never have to go through what she or her husband went through. Now that’s what I call hopeful.

  88. Marianne
    Mar 22, 2012 @ 15:13:54

    I’ve cried over several books in the past although i am not one to cry easily. i used to cry myself at night with red puffy eyes but no book and i mean no other book could ever shook me up as mockingjay did.
    to make things clear i am not one to go team peeta or team gale (although i have a slight preference to peeta, but not from katniss’s point of you, but my own one), i am not one to seek romances or love triangles or happy endings with couples and happily ever after notes.
    i like dramatic endings that make you rethink of things that happened in the books/movies, that make you burst into tears but even i couldn’t take it. even i can’t re-read this book ever again cause the end that’s supposed to be bittersweet makes me devastated, breaks me into million pieces and gluing those back together its really hard thing to do.
    i need a touch of hope, of happyness to hold myself from and the book offers me non.
    i understand that this book is more centered into the whole war and loosing people you love and post traumatic experiences. i totally understand that. i can even understand the fact that there was a possibility for Prim to die. maybe yes just maybe Katniss needed to loose everyone she ever cared about. her father, her sister, Rue. of course the way Prim died didn’t do a thing to me, it left me unimpressed, it didn’t shook me up, Rue’s death hurt me more. the only moment i cried about Prim was when Buttercup found Katniss. that moment made me burst into tears.
    however as i’ve said i understand that certain persons had to Die(i only wish she gave Finnick’s and Prim’s deaths more pages to have us connect to them more, i mean Rue isn’t as important as Prim and she gets more exposure). This was war after all. i understand that Katniss wasn’t shaken up, cut into million pieces but at the end it seems like she never ever get any kind of happiness. i wish the book ended with her description of Peeta holding her at nights when she had nightmares, kissing away her fears and pain but NOOOOOO she had to end it with the children which supposed to be bittersweet but Kat seems so broken, so lost, so fragile, so dead inside that its not bittersweet anymore, rather absolutely devastating. we see that it took her 15 years to have childrens!!! and even when she did, even then she was scared to have them, scared that somehow every good thing would be taken from her. i don’t see her describing her children or Peeta with love, in a way that makes us understand that she found peace and happiness.no she seems even more fragile. she even says it, before she hold her daughter in her hands she was filled with fear, terror, and even when she was pregnant with her second child she couldn’t enjoy it.
    where’s the happiness into that???? the author could at least shows us that she had still nightmares and wasn’t over what happened but that she at least had her family to lean to. or end it with peeta and her helping each other, holding each other…
    as for haymitch what happened to hiM??? Did he continue to drink to not remember the pain in his life? and Gale??? transfered into a great job but what else??? what happened to him? did he move on with his life? or not?
    as for some fans saying that Kat would be happier if she ended up with Gale, maybe Kat of the hunger games or catching fire would. or even during the mockingjay if she somehow got back to bits of her old self. but she never did. she was never the katniss she was before the hunger games, the friend and hunter Gale knew and i don’t see how could Gale break through the layer of pain around her? I don’t think that he could break through the haze of pain nor that he could make her go back to her past self. she was too fragile too lost to be saved. even peeta had to wait 15 years for her to ever consider having kids with him, starting a new life.
    i don’t see how Gale would wait for her for 15 years. Katniss was too broken for him to fix, so many things happened in her life that he could never ever understand, Peeta however was as lost and as broken as she was.
    in hunger games yes Gale had a chance with Kat they were so alike, they could become a perfect couple but after a while Peeta cripped inside her. and he changed, as she changed, he wasn’t anymore the somehow naive boy he used to be,the kind one, he ended up being as broken as she was.
    maybe after all, a tribute/victor/survivor of all this pain could only end up with another tribute.
    maybe i am wrong.
    let me know what you think?

  89. Nick
    Apr 01, 2012 @ 17:28:30

    @Janine: I totally agree (as someone who’s done a lot of work with survivors. I would have found a “and we’re all living happily ever after” ending totally unrealistic. She and Peeta are supporting each other and do love each other and are trying to do their best to make the world one they’d like to live in.

    I think a cut and dried ending would have really undercut what they went through, but I see it as incredibly romantic that 15 years later, they still love each other and are trying to build the world into a better place for their children. At the end of the day, the world can be a nasty place, but they’re living. So the ending for me fit the moral of the book (as well as real life!).

  90. Julie
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 15:21:50

    I agree with everything you said Jia! And I actually appreciate your thoughts as they helped me sort through the bundle of emotions I have been feeling since finishing Mockingjay. There was too much violence for me. Prim’s death in particular had no rhyme or reason to it. Katniss doesn’t break free and beat the odds like the other books. The cover showing the Mockingjay breaking free is misleading. It should be damaged beyond repair – but instead it flying free. Its a book about the horrors of war and that is definitely not what I was expecting or hoping for. Like you said, its a good read, but I was misled in what it would turn out to be like and thus really disliked it. I can put it away now without wanting to revisit it. I would happily receive a new ending to this story.

  91. Julie
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 15:30:53

    @rlynn: Yes – weeping.

  92. Julie
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 15:36:21

    @Janine: “Second, I disagree with Jia that this book is more depressing than Lord of the Rings.”

    She was actually referencing Lord of the Flies “And finally, while I realize these are odd comments to make about a trilogy whose premise is essentially a post-apocalyptic Lord of the Flies, there is violence in the book that readers may not be able to stomach.” . . a very different story I assure you.

  93. Janine
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 16:59:11

    @Julie: Sorry for the error! But actually Lord of the Flies (the William Golding book) was one of the most depressing books I’ve ever read in my life. Mockingjay, although grim in places, wasn’t nearly as bleak for me.

  94. jkd
    Apr 08, 2012 @ 17:24:59

    In mockingjay there was a definate different feel to the story. But everything was really obvious. We knew that Katniss would’ve brought down the capitol someway or another through Catching Fire. Though, I expected it to have less details of pointlessness. In this book, Katniss is a different character. Only caring about herself, and running away when things don’t go as planned. When I read this i didnt feel like i read the hunger games trilogy because all the characters were basically missing. Katniss was not herself at all and even when Peeta returned in a mental state, i expected he wouldactually return to his normal self. But this did not occur and i was very dissapointed in the aftermath of mockingjay. There were so many details that weren’t important and there should have been more information that was ‘missing.’ In the first book, we saw how much of a compassionate person Katniss was even though she didn’t trust people much. In mockingjay, the characters were all well messed up. Also, I thought there was no need in killing characters like Finnick and prim. It wouldnt have made a big impact if they survived in to storyplot so why should they have been killed in the first place? they were important throughout the books. The ending was the worst part. We all concluded that Katniss would end up with Peeta, but we anticipated something else. It should have stated Peeta returned to his normal self and in my opinion they shouldn’t have had returned to district 12. There was nothing there for them, nothing to return to. I know gale wouldnt have been her choice but collins cut him off in such little amount of time. The katniss from the first book would not have accepted it with/without peeta. Mockingjay was really dissapointing for me because it felt like her world was much worse after she destroyed the capitol than before she had entered the hunger games.The ending was too abrupt, and I rather she didn’t include the epilogue. It just lays out their whole future which makes everything so much sadder.

  95. jkd
    Apr 08, 2012 @ 17:33:05

    so true, i agree with you. I thought getting through the book would somehow make it an easier read and better; there would be more suspense but the ending was the most devastating of all.

  96. jcel
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 07:27:26

    i agree with you, this book was definitely very grim and depressing, i keep waiting and waiting for something good to come but nothing ever came, even the epilogue did not provide any answers for the many questions raised all through out the book, i mean sure i understand Collins wanted to leave somethings for the readers interpretation but there is just too much holes in the story, i mean who really bombed the children in the square? was Coin really one of the bad guys? what did Boggs mean? I felt cheated because i wanted some kind of resolve, Collins could have atleast given the readers something to work with.
    I think its very clever and ironic that the whole story was set off by Katniss wanting to save prim then having the book end with Prim dead, after everything that Katniss and everyone went through. Every character was lost in the last book, like someone else wrote it, the book did not even address the important things like how did Peeta and Katniss grow back together, how did Katniss decide? Collins didnt have to write a whole chapter about it but she shouldnt have just left it alone.
    Thinking about it more just makes it more depressing.
    I cant very well hate the book but I cant love it either.

  97. sidney
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 17:17:37

    I loved the books especially The Hunger Games – I got the trilogy.I can’t help it …, but I keep putting down Mockingjay…it’s really kind of sad and bleak,It breaks my heart to see what Katniss is going through.It made me think for a little while …………..why did I really read this book>? >_<*Thnx RP 4 making me interested in this book* sigh

  98. Danny
    Apr 28, 2012 @ 01:46:24

    Thank you for this review. I finished reading Mocking Jay last night and I’ve been trying to assess how I feel about it. Your review has helped me process it a bit, and I’d have to say I definitely agree with you. I felt jarred by the shift in style and focus, from such a character driven story in the first two books to the larger focus in the third. I also felt hopeless throughout most of this book. There truly was no moment of victory, no expression that there is something better on the other side of the struggle. I understand the point of how awful war is, and the depravity in man, but like you I read to escape. I also read for hope. And I think that’s what I missed most in MJ. I could go on and on, but instead I’ll just end here. I suppose my hat must still go off to the author as I’m still giving the book so much thought, even though I disliked the final direction it took.

  99. Catnip
    May 04, 2012 @ 11:49:49

    Can someone please answer me this question about Katniss and Gale. In the end, she goes to the meadow where they used to sit many times before. She says its too wide there without him. She also wonders if he will appear now out of nowhere, like so many times before. Her going to the meadow that day, i took as her finally trying to piece her life back together and actually getting out of the house. So by doing that, her first thought was of gale and not peeta. I’m not saying this is an indication of love, but why would she think that if not out of love. What do you all think would have happenned if Gale actually was there that day, or sometime soon after. I personally think she would have chose him. In my ending, he would have said hi catnip one more time, and she would be happy to see him. I could see them going into the woods like they talked about in the beginning and just trying to live on their own, no more crappy society. What do you all think??

  100. Rachel
    Jun 07, 2012 @ 17:16:01

    Thanks for the review :)
    I really loved all three books and couldn’t put them down, right up until the last few pages of Mockingjay. Almost as soon as we met Peeta I wanted him to be the one Katniss ended up with, but when this ending came it just didn’t feel right at all. I think it was because both Katniss and Peeta changed so much over the course of this book that at the end it was hard to imagine what they would be like around each other, what they would say to each other, especially since Collins only provides us with a few very short converstaions between them. I am sure that they would indeed both heal with time and become close again, but the recent tragic events made it hard to picture Katniss as anything but a broken girl and Peeta as anything but what the Capitol turned him into- I ended up crying at the end, both because of the sheer loss of life and because of the fact that I simply couldn’t convince myself that they could ever go back to beeing how they were together e.g. when he kept her nightmares away on the train or when they kissed on the beach. I’m sure just a few more pages of detail and conversation would have convinced me of this and made the ending perfect :)

  101. Matt
    Jul 03, 2012 @ 11:57:58

    For me, it was the perfect ending to a real story.
    Pretending Katniss is all well-adjusted and just-ok with Prim’s death and 2 times in the Hunger Games. It’s just…not real.
    Ok, she’s awesome, she’s a survivor, she’s a hero, or heroin (sorry, not an english speaker)
    But in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, she’s barely a human. She is just too strong, she can overcome anything. The only way I knew she was human it was the way she was confused about Peeta and Gale (Of course, the only minute I though it would be Gale the chosen one it was on the first 50 pages of Mockingjay, and never ever before. And never after).
    But it made it human. The mockingjay set free. Katniss finally confronting everything she’s been through. And in the end, with Peeta on her side, they can heal together. That’s just perfect. To be broken is to be human. She can’t just clean herself up and pretend she’s happy now. After 20 years, sometimes she wakes up unhappy, and has to remind herself that she still is happy, forgetting what she’s been through.
    So it’s alright. she’s happy. but not always, ’cause she’s not Harry Potter marrying unbelieveable boring Ginny (which I loved until she and Harry hooked-up). She’s Katniss, she’s dark and not the happiest person on earth. She had and has PTSD.
    So live with that. IT WAS AN AMAZING BOOK.
    I cried all the way from Finnick to Prim’s death (i didn’t see that coming).
    The ending is brutal. Just as life.
    No, i don’t care about Beetee, about Annie (she’s got Finnick’s son. Heartbreaking, but i don’t need 1 chapter just for her. that’s enough) or abour Panem. So Paylor is the president. She’s good, better than Coin and Snow. So be it. Plutarch said it: “maybe this is when we get it right”. Hopefully. But there is no answer to that, so we get none.
    What kind of goverment it is?
    Who cares! Prim died! Finnick died! Haymitch never made it out of the dark! Peeta and Buttercup returned! Katniss grew closer to him, after all of the damages to both of them. Star-crossed lovers. No. Real love. Real damage. Real need. Real!
    Although Haymitch is just sad and depressing, loved the ending of the couple. And the cat. oh that damn cat that saved everything…

  102. April
    Jul 05, 2012 @ 10:12:59

    Awesome review! I totally agree. Mockingjay was a let down after the first two books. I did not see it as a good closure to an epic trilogy. There were so many blanks for me. Everyone was too messed up. I felt really depressed after reading the last book, to the point that I kind of let things slip for a couple of days. I usually love rereading books, but Mockingjay is proving to be one book I’m avoiding to reread. I’m kind of afraid to relive the emotional stress. I was expecting to feel relieved at the end, that Katniss and everyone else is living without fear of the Capitol, but it was just empty. I guess that’s what really happens in wars. People die, everyone gets messed up, no one is the same again, you’d feel somewhat empty. In that aspect Collins delivered. But still not happy with it. Oh well.. Take it or leave it, and with two awesome books leading up to it, I’d take it.

  103. Caiti
    Aug 12, 2012 @ 22:56:29

    I agree with this review – especially about the unexpectedness. The first two novels compared to the last are of a different genre. The first novel sets Katniss up as this strong survivalist heroine, and by the end of the novels she is broken. The readers get less than a page that explains her reconciliation with Peeta and future with him. We never learn what happened to Panem – is it run by Paylor, by a republic, and is it a better state than before? What happened to Gale and the other characters we came to love? The book was great (very grim, but great) but beyond rushed at the end.

    I love that this novel vividly shows the effects of war on soldiers — just would have liked for the ending to be more flushed out. There is no closure, and I think that was a missed opportunity to provide some hope and satisfaction.

    Also — I have no idea how the movie will adapt the Katniss Everdeen that Mockingjay leaves us with. She spends majority of the book being drugged and depressed, and even becomes suicidal — and I am not sure how that will translate in a movie that has initially presented her as the ultimate survivalist and heroine. I hope they stay true to Katniss’s struggle with PTSD and depression; but that they flush out the ending more and give a more satisfying ending.

  104. Hayden Panettiere
    Aug 29, 2012 @ 10:17:08

    Overall I loved the book series with all my heart.It was so amazing!But in the last book the only thing my entire family was disappointed about was the ending and how you only get a little tiny paragraph about how she chose Peeta.I Was like “WHAT?!?”!You wait through the first book ,second book,and almost the entire third book to find out who she is going to pick and it gives you a super duper small paragraph!Because they explain the paragraph about 20 years of her and Peetas life like it all went back to normal.It will never go back to normal! Peeta is a tottally different person because of what snow did to him.Katniss will never get Gale back ever again!,and Gale is gone for life now! But just to say i cried when Prim died!:( But overall i really did not like the ending but i did not love it yet i did not hate it either.I absolutley loved the trilogy though!Thank you Mrs./Ms./Miss. Collins!

  105. genedebs
    Aug 08, 2013 @ 19:01:33

    The book has some strong points, and many of the comments in defense of it are well taken. But like most here, I think the book fails. Katniss’ lack of growth – traumatized by what she has been through, sure, but I know a lot of veterans of war through my work and while many are traumatized, many retain their humanity, seek to keep growing and find hope in life. In part this has to do with the degree to which they feel used or not, whether the cause for which they fought made it mean something. Emotions are narrative-driven in this sense.

    This of course supports the book’s treatment of Katniss as such, but leave a problem – as some have pointed out here, this is not JUST a war but a revolution – Collins seems confused as to which part she wants to make most prominent. The turning point, a disastrous one in my view, is in Catching Fire when despite having been the one to finally outwit the Game Makers and Capitol, Katniss is not even brought in on the conspiracy to destroy the games and the arena during the Quarter Quell. This made no sense. She should have been the leader there, and the whole issue of her having to keep Peeta alive was a distraction from that fact. Indeed, what about the idea that Peeta’s ability to convince people was what made him valuable as a leader of the revolution?

    So the whole thing is hijacked (wrong word maybe given what happens to Peeta) by Coin and District 13? Ok, then the dramatic tension should have been Katniss who wants to attack the Capital in some way and the leaders of 13 who want to do as they have done for 75 years and keep the convenient and sell-out separate peace that prevents them from feeling the worst that the Capitol can do.

    That fails to happen for a reason: many readers in Victorian times, which were as individualistic as our own (another time when people focused not on politics but on personal life, getting rich, the world market and so on) Shakespeare’s “King Lear” was often staged with the ending changed – Cordelia, who does not even appear in the last half of the play returns to marry Edgar. Why? because people could not understand the point of the ending of Lear – who is going to govern? Who can? Who is qualified? This issue is resolved in “Julius Caesar” (Augustus, who is a taciturn type able to command, not the talkers like Brutus or Antony), in Hamlet the whole point is that it is not resolved and neither is anything else (“To be …um, or not to be”, how to decide, so difficult as if even asking the question – real or not real – is not an indication that you are not really up for anything) – with the result that the kingdom is overrun and destroyed.

    So who is going to govern, what sort of person has the kind of life experiences to govern is central in a book like this. That is why Aragorn is so important in LOTR AND why it is the hobbits that went with the Fellowship who run the Shire afterward, AND why Aragorn has to be Ranger first, otherwise he can’t learn what he needs to know.

    Katniss does learn in the first two books, but is then excluded by people like…Haymitch? How the hell does he get to have a seat at the table when he is clearly a drunken mess? But Katniss no? Peeta no? Exclude them from the plot against the Quarter Quell and there is no way to save the third book. It either has to be a love story (Cordelia etc.) or a war/massacre heavyhanded book with a message instead of a story.

    At the very least some character whom Katniss has come to respect should be President. District 12 being destroyed PLUS Prim being killed (absurd that at 13 she is there, Coin or no Coin) means that there is no reason for Katniss to fight – her community, which was NOT in rebellion – is destroyed, apparently its coal no longer being needed (?).

    I get that a 17-year old can’t be President, but that means having the third book or even the second occur so soon after the Hunger Games was a problem. Make her 25, give us some character that she has come to admire to run things with her as “Defender of the Realm” or “Protector of the Republic” or whatever. And to have her on that last mission that is not even the mission and have it fail – all disastrous. And really? she kills the President so they put her in a comfy chair as punishment, give her a little therapy and send her home?

    I don’t care which guy she ended up with, just as who cares who Cordelia marries in Lear or for that matter what if they had Frodo marry ….but readers seem to be more worried about that than that a) the only person she ever really trusted made the bomb that killed Prim, the reason she volunteered in the first place (example: Sam took the ring and killed Bilbo with it) and that her own community has been completely annihilated AND she and Peeta move back there? (The ring has killed every person in the Shire. Frodo goes back to Bag End and lives happily ever after).

    A failure, and after one real gem and a second book that was very good, but which had that note that did not ring true of her not having any idea what was going on, when it was everyone else who did not except for her (Rue, and the berries at the end) who did not in the Hunger Games. Ugh.

  106. Danny
    Aug 09, 2013 @ 11:16:01

    @genedebs:

    I just wanted to say that’s an outstanding assessment and review of Mockingjay. Thanks for your thoughts, I really enjoyed reading them, and I certainly couldn’t have agreed more!

  107. Evelyn
    Dec 05, 2013 @ 19:29:36

    I know I’m really late in reading the books but I’m one of those people who only showed up after watching the movie (Don’t hate me haha). That being said, Jia I loved your assessment of Mockingjay, I agree with the majority of the things you said. When I finished reading the book I thought, ‘Wow that was a good book but I’m super bummed out!’ It did not leave me satisfied. I keep expecting to pick up the book and keep reading but there is no more. Even though Suzanne Collins speaks of dandelions and rebirth I didn’t buy it. Reading the comments here was like the therapy I needed because that book really messed me up. So many things that happened were so…unnecessary. My only hope now is that the adaption for screenplay leaves viewers with a more satisfied feeling than the book did. I don’t know about you but I need closure.

    P.S. I didn’t think Finnick or Prim needed to die either.

  108. Bran
    Feb 04, 2014 @ 21:38:47

    I feel the same as the commentator above. I literally finished reading the book an hour ago and am looking for reviews and other people’s opinions just to make sense out if it all.
    A very nice review indeed, but it’s such an amazing book too.
    I read above ‘So many things that happened were so…unnecessary’ and I think that’s exactly what the author wanted us to realize – that there are no real winners in war. I don’t get Finnick’s death but I think Prim’s death speaks volumes because after everything Katniss tried to do to protect her, she ultimately failed (again, no winners in a war :)) and in a way everything started with Prim so it all ended with her. The so called happy ending was perfect, and the question that remains is ‘How truly happy could any of them really be after everything they’ve been through?’ All in all, I will re-read this book at least a dozen times :)

  109. trace
    Feb 12, 2014 @ 23:57:06

    You speaks my mind! Can’t agree more…I have never expected Mockingjay would go to that direction. I expected Katniss to be ‘free’ and choose Peeta on her own will. I really cannot accept that she ‘ends up with’ Peeta. It broke my heart…

  110. Marco
    Mar 04, 2014 @ 22:06:08

    It´s interesting to see how most people, specially Americans miss the point almost completely on this book. This is not about a love triangle, nor Katniss inner dramas, not even specifically about the horrors of the war or of what the human being is capable of.
    This is a criticizism for our own society, specially the American.
    Few people come to thing that there are real people out there living like slaves so you can have a very confortable and empty life.
    As for Mokingjay it is clear to me that it states that no matter what the side, all that really matters is the powerplay.

    On another comment, I think Colins had a hard time keeping the plot to the same format of the two previous books. Having the camera crew and the propos was mabye a little to much of an effort to keep the same line as the previous books.

    But the book grew on me, slower than the previous ones but stronger also.

    I can realate to the cruelty that life can be and the resignation Katniss eventally embraces.

  111. Kirstin
    Mar 31, 2014 @ 12:17:24

    @Janine: Thank you for your comments, Jannine. Mockingjay is my favorite book of the series, and one of my favorite books overall (admittedly, I am a war skeptic and would describe myself as anti-war).

    This book amazes me because it describes truths in a way that I think would be difficult in a non-fictional account. For example, Coin’s Machiavellian maneuverings (I believe that she purposefully put Katniss-friendly Boggs and the Victors in harm’s way – after all, we find out that hovercrafts were deployed not long after the group left. What other purpose is there for these soldiers to be on foot in the booby-trapped Capitol, except that Coin wanted them dead?), the struggle of all the Victors to hold onto themselves (Finnick and the rope, Johanna and the pine straw), Gale’s submission to hatred, and yes, Katniss’s slow realization that the violence in which she is participating is not for the benefit of ordinary people – that she is being used. It was all so beautifully shown, not told. I think we readers are used to seeing triumphant heroes in adventure stories, and it was long past time for us to see a battered hero, someone who actually lives with consequences. Also Mockingjay reminded me that we individuals *don’t* necessarily have the agency that we believe we do. It isn’t only our choices that matter, but also the choices and motives of the people around us (that is, our choices are limited and directed). So yes, I do think the book is a morality tale, with at least these messages: Be skeptical. Don’t ignore the possible agendas of your leaders. Do trust your friends and loved ones. Do everyone you can to be someone who is trustworthy.

    Saying that those messages are not ones of “hope” is like being angry at someone for revealing the nonexistence of Santa Claus. Now that you know, you can move forward, and that is always the most hopeful course.

  112. Kirstin
    Mar 31, 2014 @ 12:28:52

    @Matt: :) I completely agree, Matt. I think Haymitch became marginally less depressing, though. 1) He sided with Katniss during Coin’s vote on whether to reinstate the Hunger Games (since Haymitch would never genuinely vote for the Games, I believe that he understood that Katniss had decided to assassinate Coin and was giving her his support), 2) he helped Plutarch to save Katniss’ life during her subsequent trial, and 3) he participated in the memory book that Peeta made. I like to think that he and Peeta and Katniss had a long and happy life as friends. It was good for him to live next door to the only two people in the world who could possibly understand what he had gone through.

    P.S. This has nothing to do with your comment but regarding Plutarch: do we believe that he helped to orchestrate the bombing of the Capitol children and the rescue workers, as Snow alleged that he did? I’ve always wondered how Katniss could have borne to sit with him on the hovercraft on that final ride home, much less have spoken to him civilly.

  113. Cosme Dias
    May 15, 2014 @ 08:23:14

    Let me start by saying that Mockingjay gave my reading habit a rebirth! (It is the first novel I read after more than 10 years with the same hunger that I had for reading in my bachelor days. I am all praise for Suzanne Collins for writing such a brilliant triology but I feel that she should rewrite the ending of the novel if it is possible.
    I once again assert that Suzanne Collins, has written an amazing story and the Mockingjay made for some absorbing reading. However I feel that she let her philosophies or certain ideas about war that she wanted to convey stop the growth of her character Katniss towards the end (after the death of Prim). Katniss stood for hope for an entire nation and the reader too but then at the end she sounds so hopeless. Her romance with Peeta – the strength of her love for him brought out in the second book – is completely faded out. Even the epilogue seems to be added as a faint afterthought.
    As a reader I felt sort of cheated at the end of a what I call a brilliant story.

  114. Alex Hamato
    May 16, 2014 @ 15:51:24

    @Matt:

    I’m with you on all accounts, dude. I was skimming the other reviews and I may be one of the few who actually prefers the third one over the other two. I mean, sure, the other two could be fun and epic and adventurous and all that, but I almost found Katniss boring. Not her character, of course, her character was very engaging – but she had no limits to what she could do.

    It kind of reminded me of the comics or manga that I read where the main protagonist is totally immune to real psychological effects of trauma that happens to them. No matter what happened with her, I knew she would pull through because she’s the main character. Makes it so I really didn’t bother to worry about her.

    I’ll just say right off the bat that I HATE romance. It isn’t an enjoyable read. It always comes off as cheesy and too optimistic, I just don’t believe in it. The Gale/Katniss could’ve easily been portrayed with them just being friends. You don’t have to make out with people to be close to them. I thought that the Peeta and Katniss dynamic worked a bit more, because a boyhood puppy crush of Peeva’s turned more into an extremely strong bond/loyalty/affection for Katniss due to the trauma they experienced together in the games. Going through that sort of hell just binds people together. Those bonds don’t really get broken. It turned from boyhood crush to a lifetime bond. Peeta, I really believe, never needed to have her as his lover for him to love her. He just loved her because he loved her. That’s it, really.

    But, like I said, romance tends to bug/bore/annoy me so when he just failed again and again as a hopeless romantic, I felt for him a lot. And from Katniss’ point of view, she didn’t just fall in love with him either, which I respected from the author. She doesn’t necessarily love Peeta in the end because he loves her, but because of his undying loyalty and commitment to her. That and the fact that Peeta never asks for anything in return. He’s just there for her. Which obviously kicks her in the ass later, which makes the story beautiful in the flaws in which the characters make huge mistakes that they suffer for later.

    This could be because I love tragic stories, since I did actually read this story in around ten hours, and never put the book down once. Collins did not hold back in the gore, another point I really respect her for, and she killed off some of the characters I really ended up loving – another kudos for her in doing that. So many people want a happy ending when there rarely is one after a great war like that. It just doesn’t happen. You just live on and take happiness where you can get it. But not too much, because you could lose it so easily. It makes people take for granted what they have, I think. I don’t know. The third book had way more of the gritty realism and underlying tones of not just the American society, but the nature of humanity in general.

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