I am going to make the assumption that anyone reading this post has already read Mockingjay or doesn't mind spoilers. This is not a review but a compilation of my thoughts about the last in a much-loved trilogy by Suzanne Collins.
Let me start this post off by saying that that I loved much in the first, say, 85 percent of the novel. I had some issues (outlined below), but I was going with the story and Collins's choices. Until we started closing in on the end. Then, well, I had problems. So many problems that I ended feeling disappointed in the book.
Let me also say that my own anticipation and personal expectations for the novel were high. Perhaps too high. Maybe I would have had an easier time with the book if I hadn't eagerly awaited my copy and then zipped through it in one day. Maybe I'm a bit outside the demographic for this novel.
Finally, any book and trilogy that creates so much discussion among bloggers and readers is a hit with me. And almost everyone else loved Mockingjay and loved the ending. I absolutely enjoyed the series and still recommend the books.
But enough of the disclaimers. Let me tell you what I really thought.
Katniss: I know that Katniss had been through a lot. She was plucked out of the arena and whisked off to District 13 and was mentally and physically battered. On the other hand, I felt that she spent most of the book either drugged up / sedated or acting like a spoiled brat. She certainly didn't act like much of leader and was often missing the solid strength we saw in her in the earlier books.
Peeta: First, what could have been a great story line--Peeta's mental highjacking--just seemed to fizzle out. Second, his relationship with Katniss was not strengthened in the novel, making the ending (more on that later) weaker. Third, one baffling question is why he was allowed to go to the Capitol at the end. Surely there was at least one other person who knew the ins and outs of the place. It was unclear how Peeta suddenly became trustworthy or cured.
Gale: I was confused about Gale's transformation from a rebel hero into a government-loving, weapons-producing soldier. It bothered me so much when he was mean to Katniss that I was pulled right out of the story. After all, he was the guy who taught her how to hunt, who was her and her family's salvation for almost a decade, who saved her family from the destruction of District 12, who was the one person Katniss could trust, and the one who always had her back. I didn't think Katniss had to end up with Gale, but I can't understand why his personality had to be changed.
Prim: Yes, of course, there is collateral damage in any war. But there was no reason to kill Prim. With her death came the end of hope for the future, but this was not carried through in the novel because Katniss finds a fairy tale way out of that hopelessness (more on that later). I think Prim should have been allowed to live and become a doctor. I wonder if she was killed to try to make us hate Gale.
Gaps: Because the story is told through Katniss's eyes and because she is sedated and in the hospital most of the time, we are left with many gaps in the story line. I was disappointed and felt there were too many solutions that happened off the pages.
Ending: There were several things I didn't like about the ending, but I'll mention only a few issues here. First, I should comment that my dissatisfaction does not have anything to do with Katniss not ending up with Gale.
- Gale getting captured: An awesomely dramatic and fully believable and stunning scene would have been for Katniss to have shot Gale with an arrow when he got caught. They promised each other to do that, and she should have done it. Oh wow, would that have been heartbreaking and so emotional.
- Gale ending up in District 2 working for the government and appearing on television. This was hard for me to understand. He was absolutely not a city person. The Gale we used to know, the one who defied the government since he was quite young, the one who wanted to take his chances in the wilderness or in District 13, the great hunter--he was unlikely to end up in a city. If Collins didn't want to kill him or let him be with Katniss, she should have had him disappear into the woods. Then Katniss could visit their rock every once in a while to look for signs of her oldest and closest and most trusted friend.
- Gale and his (non)part in Prim's death: I find it hard to believe that Katniss would turn her back on everything that Gale ever did for her and her family because one of his ideas was used in a battle and Prim died. Did the wives and girlfriends (husbands and boyfriends) of every physicist whose work helped create the atom bomb reject their spouses? Or did they help their mates and friends get over their distress and guilt that they may have caused innocent deaths? Is Katniss that incapable of seeing the situation from Gale's point of view?
- Peeta: When Peeta was brought back from the Capitol and tried to murder Katniss (making it so she had to be drugged up yet again), all the medical and psychological experts expressed the belief that he would never truly be cured. After he bakes a cake, however, everyone suddenly thinks he is safe. I must have missed something.
- Katniss: It is totally unrealistic that Katniss didn't leave her kitchen for months on end. I find it hard to accept that no one would have coaxed her outside or to her bedroom. I don't think she would have slept in the kitchen. If she was that bad off, someone should have given her drugs or counseling.
- Katniss in solitude: I totally understand that Katniss went home and did not want to be in the limelight to be used as the mockingjay anymore. But it is hard to believe that not one single person, not one television reporter sought her out. I doubt she would have been immediately forgotten and the whole mockingjay icon would have just vanished. It is difficult for me to accept that the public, the other winners, and even her own mother would reject her and forget about her.
A guy can almost kill you, say he's sorry, claim he's cured (despite the doubts of the experts), and declare his love for you, and you should welcome him into your house and into your bed. Because he's acted romantic and loving in the past, what's a little strangulation if he says he's sorry and won't do it again? You can be adamant about not wanting to have children, but if that same guy wants kids, you naturally do what he wants, never mind what you think is right for you. And you obey because there are only two futures: (1) spending your life hidden in your house, alone and in despair, or (2) getting married and having kids. Yes, it's only by sleeping next to a person who tried to kill you and who talked you into having children that you will find true and lasting peace.Not the message I would want my daughter to have. I will be having serious discussions with my fifteen-year-old niece when she finishes the book. I do not want her to think that is okay to be manipulated and cowed by a man who claims to love you.
If any of you are still talking to me, let me know what you think.