Mockingjay

Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)Mockingjay is the third and final book in the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. I can’t talk about this book without spoiling it for folks who aren’t finished with it yet, so please read on after the jump if you are finished. If not, come back later so we can talk about it.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

Oh. My. God! I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a series as much as I enjoyed this one. What a pleasure to find myself lost in a fully realized alternative reality—or dreary future, take your pick. In Mockingjay, Katniss becomes the face of the rebellion led by District 13. Life is complicated, however, and the world is not divided into white hats and black hats. Katniss has some problems with the president of District 13, but she agrees to help them provided they free Peeta, captured by the Capitol at the end of Catching Fire, and offer immunity to the other Quarter Quell participants. However, Peeta has been tortured by the Capitol and is no longer sure what is real and what is not real.

What I really liked:

  • The end is messy and not all that happy. I was particularly disappointed with Katniss’s decision to support a final Hunger Games using the Capitol’s children as tributes. Peeta, true to form, declines. However, I think it works as a possibility. The rebels in their way are as flawed as the Capitol.
  • Finnick. Great character and so funny at some points, but so strong. I hated the way he died, though. It was cheap, and he had been one of the youngest tributes to win the Hunger Games. He shouldn’t have died like that. He is like a younger version of Johnny Depp with light green eyes in my head.
  • The allusions. Coriolanus Snow, surely a reference to Coriolanus, the lesser known Shakespearean play based on the life of Gaius Marcus Coriolanus. In Shakespeare’s play, Coriolanus disdains the the plebeians in favor of the patricians and cries out against popular rule, which makes sense as President Snow puts down popular rule in favor of an autocratic Capitol run by a bunch of folks with Roman sounding names. Cinna is a name shared by two traitors: one to Julius Caesar, the other to Augustus Caesar, as well as a poet killed because he was confused with Cinna, the conspirator in the death of Julius Caesar. Castor and Pollux. Squad Number 451—excellent nod to Ray Bradbury. Plutarch. Many others, I’m sure.
  • I admit I did not get invested enough in Katniss’s love life to choose Team Peeta or Team Gale, but I am happy she ended up with Peeta because however horrible it was to see him brainwashed in this book, he truly loved her, and the image of him burning the bread on purpose to share with Katniss because she was starving when they were children is one of the most beautiful and compassionate in the books. I know a lot of readers wanted her to choose Gale, but I never did.
  • Beetee and Johanna. Awesome examples of flawed and brainy former tributes. Not as awesome as Finnick, but awesome nonetheless.
  • The disturbing dystopia Collins conjures is completely believable, sadly, because it is based on history and human behavior. I’m sure the Capitol liked to think of themselves as civilized. A lot of people today do, too.
  • I was excited to be right about the existence of District 13. I figured it out in the first book. Something too strange about repetition of the “fact” that it no longer existed. I just had a hunch they were still around and perhaps the center of some kind of rebellion. I didn’t realize they might be kind of horrible in their own way. To sit by and watch the Capitol for so long—hard to explain away, though the characters try. I’m like Katniss. I didn’t get their explanations for their behavior. But it made sense for District 13 to be flawed and perhaps corrupt in some ways because it, like the Capitol, was run by flawed, corrupt people.

What I didn’t like:

  • Katniss has no patience at all. I understand why she would be frustrated, but her recklessness, while at times admirable, grated on me in this book. I particularly hated how she reacted to Peeta’s torture. One would think she of all people would try to understand.
  • Prim’s death. I was not terribly interested in Prim as a character, but Katniss sacrificed herself for Prim, which is what started all the events rolling, and for her to die felt so completely nihilistic. Plus Katniss had lost so much. It seemed unfair. Of course, Rue’s death in The Hunger Games was much more awful because the reader got to know her better and have a chance to like her. Plus the way I pictured Rue, she looked like a girl version of my son Dylan when he has long floppy hair, so it was disturbing on a different level for me.
  • Katniss’s mother. What a waste she was for Katniss. Grief is a horrible thing, and it’s clear she just couldn’t bear what life had thrown at her (which is admittedly a lot), but I just wanted her to be a stronger person. It was almost like she cut Katniss out of her life at the end, too, which was horrible.

In the end, I loved the series and could forgive some of its flaws because I think it holds together as a really fascinating story.

Rating: ★★★★★

This is my first selection for the R.I.P Challenge.

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8 thoughts on “Mockingjay

  1. You know, a lot of people have commented on Katniss voting for the Hunger Games, but I definitely had the impression that she had said that only to keep Coin from getting any ideas that Katniss was fixing to kill her. Didn't she say later in the book that there had been no more Hunger Games? Or am I remembering that wrong?

    1. I don't think it definitively said. I assumed they didn't go through with it after all after Coin died. It's an appalling idea, though. I suppose she could have done it to stall with Coin, but I didn't pick up on that. Doesn't mean it isn't so, though.

  2. I am glad you really liked the series. I read it this summer, the first summer in three years that I didn't have to take classes, and I'm glad I did. Another teacher in a reading class had mentioned it about a year earlier, and I was intrigued. I was team Peeta all the way, and I was a little disappointed that we didn't get to see them find themselves again, that we were only told they had. Also, I can forgive Katniss a little for her impatience only because, though she has been through so much, she is still only a teen. But I agree that she definitely should have been more understanding about Peeta, but I felt her reaction was understandable. After all, aren't we typically harsher to those we love? (I know that sounds like a paradox!)

    After having to wait for Mockingjay to come out–and not being able to read them all three together–I think I may want to re-read them just to see if my impressions have changed.

    1. I had a student tell me she thought the ending "told" too much rather than "showed," and I can see what she means. And you have a point about Katniss. It could have been precisely because she loved Peeta that she was so unyielding. I think her vanity was wounded, too. I think she believed she could always count on him to care about her, and when he didn't, she had this shock. All of a sudden she was more invested in the relationship than he was, and it was the other way around before.

  3. I believe 100% that she only votes yes on the last games to keep Coin's trust. That suggestion is the reason she finally decides to kill her instead of Snow. She even thinks at the time about how they are just going to do the same things and nothing is really going to change.

  4. The first two book were un-put-down-able for me. In Mockingjay, however, the drama and tension were less personal and direct, and so not quite as satisfying, which sounds weird. Really, I don't want want personal, direct drama in my life, but in a series that has used it so powerfully, I want the third book to be just as powerful.

    I'm not sure if Katniss really wanted a final Hunger Games or not. She was really a wreck at that point, so it is easy to forgive her either way. Her vote in favor provides defining contrast between herself and Katniss, and it renders poignant the existence of their children at the end, growing up in a world where the Hunger Games seem unthinkable and only knowable through history books and family records.

    I just finished Mockingjay a half-hour or so ago. By tomorrow, I may be regretting my 4-start rating on Goodreads. This book will stick with me a long time.

    1. Hi Gary! Quite a few folks have brought up the final Hunger Games—some say Katniss does it to trick President Coin. That last book is different; I agree. And you can always change your ratings if you want.

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