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!