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Monday, September 6, 2010

Book Review: Mockingjay

I just finished Mockingjay within the last hour and the way I have reacted to this book is surprising to me. I spent the next 15 minutes after closing the book dabbing my eyes and trying to keep from crying, but throughout the series, I never felt that I would ever be invested enough to react that way. It was a pleasant, yet heart wrenching surprise. As for my spoiler-free review, all that needs to be said is that this is an amazing ending to this series.


For the longest time I couldn't figure out exactly where this book was going. I knew for the most part that Katniss was going to lead a rebellion... I wasn't sure how... and that eventually she was going to kill Snow... again, I didn't know how. So while reading this book I didn't know what to expect. Is Collins going to do the whole Team Gale, Team Peeta thing? Is that even going to really matter in the end? There are no games, and so therefore no skeletal structure for the story to follow... I just didn't know what to think or where we were going.

In fact, for a while, I wondered how Collins was going to pull this whole CONCLUSION thing together in the amount of pages that were left. The more that happened, the more confused I was about how this could end. And how she could do it well. After reading thousand-page series for the past 7 years, I couldn't imagine how an entire rebellion and governmental overthrow could happen in just under 400 pages. And the real battle didn't even begin until the last 120.

What I never expected EVER was what happened within the last 60 pages. I kept wanting a real showdown between Katniss and Snow. I kept picturing her creeping into his Mansion and shooting him in his own bedroom after having an intense conversation with revelations and some kind of delicious vengeful last statement. But instead, 8 members of the team die, including one of my favorites, Finnick, before they even get close. TOTALLY shocked. And just as Katniss gets so close to arriving at the scene I had imagined and looked forward to the entire series, Snow's house and his impending death, she realizes her sister, Prim is there on the front lines... and then... she and Prim get bombed. And Prim DIES. WHAT THE BLOODY HELL IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

How about this: 
-The entire reason Katniss entered the games in the first place was to SAVE Prim.
-The opportunity for Katniss to grab those berries and spark the fire that starts the revolution was created because she took her sister's place in the games ... however, the thing she created when trying to save her sister, the revolution, is the very same thing that KILLED her sister!

I know it all sounds redundant and circular and obvious but that irony is SO AWFUL to me!That REALLY got me.

That moment was SO unexpected and heart breaking. I didn't believe it until pages later when Snow actually said it to Katniss. But then on top of this... it was Gale's bombs (his brainchild) that did it. Ruined relationship, right there. There is not going back after that. And even then, when we find out all of those things (that Prim has died, and Gale was distantly responsible because the rebels were killing children), Coin proposes to start up a new series of Hunger Games in the new world order. It was sickening and horrifying! I felt the same terror that Katniss felt that NOTHING has changed and nothing ever could.

With 20 pages left, I could not understand HOW Collins was going to wrap this thing up. Just within the last few page turns things had gotten astronomically more complicated than any other part of the story. But everything seemed to get much simpler when Katniss assassinated the new president instead of executing Snow. She never kills him! He just chokes on his own laughter and dies from his disgusting disease! But I was glad because Coin was just as corrupt and calculating (and heartless apparently) as Snow.

At this point, I didn't even care about the whole 'Oh will they, won't they, who's she gonna choose?' thing because so much trauma and confusion had happened. It didn't seem that that issue even mattered anymore. How could this poor tortured girl ever live a normal life again? And HOW is Collins EVER going to be able to end this story and make me NOT feel as though I want to jump off my balcony?!

Arguably the most beautiful writing is within the last 10 pages, when Katniss is secluding herself in her old house at District 12 and doesn't see anyone but Greasy Sae for weeks upon weeks. Then one night, Buttercup, Prim's old cat, find his way back and their mutual hatred for each other melts away. In that moment, Katniss finally admits out loud that her sister is dead and that she isn't coming back. And because of this, Katniss finally begins the process of healing ad calls her mother and starts moving throughout the house and on in life. The sweetest part is that night her and Buttercup sleep in the same bed and snuggle up and comfort each other. SO SWEET but definitely made me cry my eyes out. That was the boiling point. It was sad, but then that cat came back and started crying and Katniss lost it I was DONE.

Could anything be sweeter than this scene? Somehow Collins achieves an image even more touching on the last page where she describes why Katniss ended up with Peeta. It wasn't dramatic confusion or an eventful struggle of a choice. It was just the natural way of things. He balances her out and it only took the logic of one nicely written paragraph to explain. Then, in the epilogue they have babies because Peeta wanted them so badly, something Katniss never thought she would be able to do without the fear of the Games looming over her family. In this image, we see that everything she set out to achieve in the rebellion has been reached! So beautiful!

A good book leaves you feeling affected and I have a sufficient heart ache that will probably last me a good week. I think it's safe to say that this book is good. REALLY good. Way to go Collins! You did so many things I never imagined could be done!


  1. I was glad she ended up with Peeta. I didn't mind Gale, and I did feel bad for him in the end because he just up and left, however, she and Peeta know and understand each other in a way that no one else possibly can. To go through something like that with someone is a unifying experience. I always figured they would end up together. And as much as Gale loved her (and she did love him in a way) he would never fully understand that part of her, which is the biggest part now.

  2. TOTALLY agree, Kristy. And he came out of that experience still so sweet and kindhearted. Peeta was always my favorite, too.

    I reminds me of LotR in so many ways, and I know that's a weird comparison, but after I finished, I felt a little like I did when I finished Return of the King.

  3. Brainwashed Peeta was so awful. That broke my heart a lot. I was really afraid he was going to stay that way. Not that I've read Return of the King, but I have seen the movie and understand where you're coming from. I loved the series, but it's weird to say that because so many awful things happen and it's so dark, but that's what I love about it. The best books evoke emotion from the reader. And aside from evoking a feeling of hated/disgust, scary books, sad books, funny books are all great because they make you feel. This series made me feel a huge array of emotions, but I never felt like it wasn't real. It never jumped the shark or changed a character to please the audience.

  4. I agree 100%. With all the books we've read, I think we have the patterns memorized! Its so easy to guess the outcome of book within the first 100 pages. Bravo to Collins for making her own pattern! I could never have guessed this ending! It was a hard, emotional, and bittersweet conclusion. I hurt so much for Gail for not only having to lose Katniss but exactly how he lost Katniss. I was so happy for her and Peeta yet really mourning the loss of her's and Gale's relationship. A great book is one that sticks with you because you are hurting and rejoicing for the characters not asking why "whatever" didn't happen. There were no questions of why for me, just I wish it wasn't over! I love this series!!! Thank you Suzanne Collins for making a series that doesn't shy away from the implications of war, communism, poverty, greed, and even reality television!

  5. Ha! That line will always make me think about Jane and Bingley in P&P with Keira!

  6. hey, found you through twitter (#mockingjay). i agree with everything you said. i COMPLETELY lost it when katniss and buttercup cried for prim. and then cried pretty much straight through to the end. and among my first thoughts upon finishing the series was that it made me feel like lord of the rings! so nice to see someone else say that - you're the first that i've seen so far. i finished it sunday; it's tuesday and i still can't stop thinking about it all. as another mockingjay reader tweeted: it's "one of those books where you're never quite the same for having read it..."

  7. Thanks Jenny! I'm so glad you found this post! And I am glad that we feel the same about the book. That quote is very true of this book!

  8. Eliza-I totally agree. What a roller coaster ride! And I absolutely love the epilogue and the last line clinched it for me.
    Come over to my site and read my review of it.

  9. I loved the book! It always kept you guessing! I'm a sucker for hopeless romantic stuff so when Peeta was hijacked I was so despaired, that I didn't even want to finish the book and just wanted to consider the series to be a 2 book series. I hate to say it, but if Gale had died I wouldn't of been sad as long as Katniss and Peeta had ended up together. All in all I loved the book in the end.

  10. I am sufficiently heartbroken as well. I started this series when it first debuted a few years ago, and have been awaiting each new book with SO MUCH anticipation. I pre-ordered Mockingjay in August, and when it was delivered, I let it sit on my book shelf for months. The wedding, and moving, and re-reading DH got in the way... but there was something else, something I couldn't quite put my finger on. I realized last week, when I finally picked it up again, that I wasn't ready for the end. You see, I hate when things are over - especially my beloved stories. I guess I just couldn't stand knowing the end of this captivating story would be over in just 400 pages. I pushed through though, and I read, hungrily (I think that's what Collins intended), and when I finished the epilogue today, there was so much sadness, and loss, and grief left in my heart. I never knew how invested in this story I would become. Never thought I could have feelings for the seemingly unfeeling Katniss. Never thought I would wage a personal war between Peeta and Gale, because I knew Collins never intended a "team" situation, the way Meyer did.

    I too, was confused as to how the story would end, could end, in a satisfactory way. Finnick! Prim! President Coin! All these deaths, so much war, and only a few pages left. The creation of a new Hunger Games. Gale's bomb. I was over-the-edge anxious about how Collins would wrap up the story, and yet - she did it so beautifully. Greasy Sae's persistence; Gale's surrender; Buttercup's revelatory homecoming. And Peeta won, in the end, and it didn't even feel like winning.

    Real or not real. I wish there was more to read. Real. I wish the epilogue had managed itself into a whole other book, because I'm so sad and depressed at the thought of the story being over. But the way Collins did it - in just a few pages... so honorable, and so right, in the end. Feeling grateful that there are movies to be made, because right now, I'm SO NOT OVER this story.

  11. I feel the SAME WAY when things end. I absolutely hate that things have to inevitably go away and we have to move on. It's never been a very easy thing for me to grasp. So I certainly don't come to the end of my book series easily, and this one was no different. I am so glad there is a movie series to look forward to at least! And the fact that Collins keeps the series to pure, not continuing it just because she could, she ends it sweetly and perfectly, and simply. It's wonderful!

  12. I love that we pretty much felt the same way after it was over. My heart was just aching because it had been tormented through the entire book: Peeta being brainwashed/the thought of him being lost, Gale's unintentional betrayal, Coin's betrayal, Prim's death...and then that cat...that was the only moment I cried in the entire series (well, okay, I may have gotten misty eyed when Rue died...). You couldn't be more right. It just sticks with you long after it's over. When it was over and Peeta and Katniss were truly together, after she finally admits/realizes/gives in to her love for him, it was like a huge weight lifted off of me, personally...which is weird because it's not real and it's a book. So that's just some truly masterful writing right there. Bravo Suzanne Collins. You almost killed me.

  13. I felt so many of the same things you did while I was reading this. It took me a little longer than the first two because this one was more emotionally tiring for me, I guess. I was SO UPSET when Finnick died. I know it's just a book, but all I could think was "They JUST got married!" and, "POOR ANNIE!" And then Prim. Ummm...could not handle it. Especially the scene with Katniss and Buttercup. And somehow I kept expecting Cinna to show up, still alive, in the end. Of course that didn't happen. But I'm happy that she ended up with Peeta, even though I'm sad about how her friendship with Gale ended up.

    Also, I am exactly like you said in one of your comments; I have a really hard time when series I love end. I am definitely feeling that with this series. I'm very bummed it's over. And I can't wait for the movie(s). That'll help with my post-The Hunger Games trilogy depression.

    Loved reading the review!