Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mockingjay: A Reflection Back and Thoughts.

*I feel I should point out that the first portion of this is safe to read if you haven't finished it. I'll warn you when it isn't.*

That book cover on the left is probably popping up all over your feeds, just as Breaking Dawn and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows did in the past. It is a book that a lot of YA readers have been looking forward to for a year, and like the two titles above, it brings to a close a series that many of us are attached to.

Yep, you read that right: "us."

When The Hunger Games first appeared on shelves, I stayed far, far away. You see, I have this habit of avoiding any book that gets far too much publicity. When I was reading non-classics, I preferred to search through the shelves myself and find things that others glanced over. That is not to say you won't find "popular" titles on my shelves, since you will, but I have always made a point of reading them because I wanted to. That distinction has always been important to me, even if somewhat stupid.

Anyway, I didn't pick up The Hunger Games until last July. I had no idea it was a trilogy, otherwise I just would have waited until all 3 were out. But I read it, loved it, and was hooked. When Catching Fire came out, I read it, loved it, and continued to be hooked. Directly after reading Catching Fire, I launched my blog and my mission to read 250 classics. At the time, I had no intention of straying from my list, but as this day came forward, I realized I was going to cave in. So I decided, "what the hell" and determined to read it.

I knew that there was no way for me to avoid any kind of spoiler in this kind of environment, and to be truthful, I wanted to share in the excitement.I have gone to midnight release parties for books, and I love the amount of drama and excitement that comes with the release of a long-waited for book. It makes me happy to see that people still crave books and literature in this form.

It was with all that in mind that I re-read The Hunger Games on Sunday, and Catching Fire yesterday. I wanted it all fresh so that when I went this morning at 9 (when the bookstore opened) I could get my hands on a copy).

This is the point you should stop reading if you haven't finished Mockingjay and don't want anything ruined.

I was the first person in the store to buy a copy and I immediately came home to read. I had today off anyway, so it was a perfect opportunity to cuddle with the kitties and read. So I lay in bed for 3 and 1/2 hours and only put the book down once for a bathroom break.

I will say from the beginning that I don't the book was what people were expecting. There has been so much focus placed on the romance of the characters that many forgot that the book was about the dystopian element. Yes, Katniss was certainly struggling with her feelings for the boys, but that wasn't the main theme or focus. It came secondary.

Because of that, I think (I could be wrong), that Collins really tried to deliver more of that element to her readers. We were expecting a resolution to the triangle, and we got it. But I personally think the romance angle distracted from the power of the message she was conveying.

The last 100 pages or so are truly powerful. They deliver a deep message the permeated the other two novels-about the rights and power of individuals versus the government that rules them. Katniss, and some of the other characters, believe that they know everything, even being in "power" as they were, but in the end they were simply pawns in a much larger game. The political leaders never filled them in on details unless they were necessary and hid many dark and dangerous secrets. That is what makes the scene of Snow's execution so wonderfully strong. Katniss reminded all of those watching that while a government can control many many things, they can never take away free will and the way a human can choose. She chose to execute the greater of two evils and in doing so, made it possible for something less corrupt to take over.

It is inherent that most governments are corrupt, or at least that seems to be Collins' message.

The end is where I think Collins may lose supporters, but I loved it. Katniss cracks up, as we see her losing it throughout books 2 and 3. The things she has had to endure come out in full force. There is no way a young girl of 17 can handle the amount of death and destruction she sees, so it makes sense that she will lose it. Of course Peeta can understand, so in the end, Peeta and Katniss make sense. They can heal each other and move on-as they both know what haunts the other.

I knew all this from the moment Katniss and Gale are separated, when he apparently tells her to "shoot me" and she doesn't, and then where the roles are reversed. Gale and Katniss never bonded over a protection vow, and owe each other nothing like she does with Peeta. Had Peeta been in Gale's shoes, he would not have hesitated. He would do anything to protect Katniss from harm. That much is clear from everything we know about Peeta. We can't say the same for Gale, which is why is makes perfect sense that if there had to be a resolution to the triangle, that was it.

In all I can say that I really did love the book. It was different than the other two, and I think there are portions in there that Collins felt needed to be there for her readers. My only gripe was the continuous discussion about the cameras and fashion-something that irked me in the other books as well. As a whole, I felt that the epilogue was the best part of the trilogy. It encompassed the fear that will forever haunt Katniss and Peeta, and all of those who lived through it. You could compare that fear to the tragedies in our own history, and the worry that we too will repeat the mistakes of the leaders before us.

It is a book that I think holds far deeper meaning than what I pulled from it in one reading. And I am sure that in the coming days I will think of more to say about this closing volume and wish that I hadn't written this post right after closing the back cover. But I think that while it sinks in I will be glad to have these words to run back to.

"Deep in the meadow, under the willow
A bed of grass, a soft green pillow
Lay down your head, and close your sleepy eyes
And when they open, the sun will rise.

Here it's safe, here it's warm
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you," (389-390).


  1. I just finished my read-through this afternoon and was very immpressed, especially as I didn't like Catching Fire much at all. I'm still waiting for it all to sink in, though. I want to give it a week, read it again slower, and then write up my thoughts. I don't think I could do justice to them now.

  2. Ack! I didn't see the spoiler warning. I will re-read this once I've received/finished my book. It was suppose to arrive today but stupid Mr. UPSman failed me.

  3. FANTASTIC review! Fantastic.

    I finished it today and COMPLETELY agree with it. (And I got chills reading your review).

    I plan to re-write my review once it's been out a while because I don't want to spoil things for friends.. but I think I'm gonna refer people to this review if they want to read one with spoiler info - I don't think anyone could write it better.

  4. I went to the bookshop today and read the end of this book, because I haven't got enough money right now to buy it and I felt guilty trying to read the whole thing at the shop. Now I'm not sure I can face reading the whole book--one particular character death sounds like it might be too much for me. :/

  5. I agree with you almost completely on every point.
    I found myself making constant comparisons to 1984 towards the end, which was intriguing, and I liked the way the love triangle was resolved - for a while now I was wary of Gale and his mildly (somewhat innocent) bloodthirsty ways.
    Now my only problem is that you and my boyfriend are the only people I know who follow this series, and my boyfriend hasn't read it yet because he wants to listen to the audiobook, so I have no one to talk to about it :(

  6. I am sort of ashamed to admit that with all the "Mockingjay" hype, I did it. I gave in, like the big social sucker that I am, and bought "The Hunger Games" today. I'm about 100 pages in and it's pretty cool.

  7. I kind of felt disoriented by the end of the book--told from Katniss's point of view while she was in a fog was a little confusing. But I think it worked out well in the end. I agree with you on the Gale/Peeta thing. I'm still digesting the book, though--I stayed up late last night to finish. :)

  8. Yes I thought the book was powerful and brilliant and by the very mixed reactions not what everyone was expecting.