Mockingjay: Hunger Games, #3 -- Suzanne Collins
My name is Katniss Everdeen. I am seventeen years old. My home is District 12. I was in the Hunger Games. I escaped. The Capitol hates me. Peeta was taken prisoner. He is thought to be dead. Most likely he is dead. It is probably best if he is dead... (page five)
After being rescued from the Quarter Quell, Katniss Everdeen is living in District 13 -- which, yes, exists -- with her mother, sister, Gale, and the rest of the residents who made it out of District 12 before it was bombed into oblivion. She's still recovering from the concussion she received just before her rescue. There has been no news of Peeta. No news of Cinna. No news.
The Resistance wants her -- needs her -- to be its Mockingjay. To be the symbol for the people to stand behind.
Katniss, though, isn't so sure that that's something she can do, let alone wants to do. Although she hates President Snow and the Capitol as much as -- or more than -- anyone, she isn't sure that she trusts the motives of District 13 or of the Resistance.
And as far as she's concerned, all of the deaths that have occurred so far are on her head, at least in part.
Still, I hate them. But, of course, I hate almost everybody now. Myself more than anyone. (page 8)
Although she's carrying that load, that guilt, she's well aware that she isn't the only one who bears responsibility.
The other person responsible, of course, is President Snow. And as the Mockingjay, she'd would have the opportunity for revenge...
Brief, non-spoiler-y reaction: THIS BOOK IS GOING TO CAUSE A LOT OF ARGUMENT. So, once you've read it, figure out how you feel about it and prepare yourself for debate.
Jurassic-sized spoilers after the cut. DO NOT CLICK THROUGH IF YOU'RE PLANNING ON READING THIS BOOK! (If you don't want to know anything, I mean. If you don't care, then do whatever you want, obvs.) (ETA: I'm pretty sure that the cut only appears if you're on the front page of my blog.)
My reaction? I thought it was a really strong ending to the trilogy. Suzanne Collins did a brave thing in dealing so heavily with Katniss' guilt and depression -- because there are going to be a lot of people who are unhappy with a guilty, depressed, unhappy heroine. There are going to be a lot of people who want more rage from her, more desire for President Snow to receive an (totally deserved) ass-kicking.
But Katniss' guilt, her depression, her confusion and frustration and feeling of helplessness? ALL OF THOSE THINGS TOTALLY MAKE SENSE. THEY ARE WELL WITHIN CHARACTER, AND THEY ARE RIGHT FOR HER CHARACTER. Katniss has been used BY EVERYONE from the moment she took Prim's place in The Hunger Games, and her feeling of helplessness is completely understandable, as is her anger at -- and distrust of -- almost everyone involved. The first three-quarters of this book are pretty tortured, but IT MAKES SENSE THAT THEY WOULD BE.
So while the book may have been more FUN if she'd just started slinging arrows all over Panem, Suzanne Collins stayed true to the character and the story by avoiding that. Katniss is a regular person. A regular person who the entire country has made into something bigger: a symbol. That's a heavy load for anyone to carry, especially for someone who didn't want it in the first place. That's my take on that aspect, anyway.
I think, in addition, that some people will be wanting more fight, more going into battle -- and then, when the battles happen, for the battles to be less... disastrous -- but that's also not really in character. Katniss is a hunter, yes, but she's a hunter to feed her family. She's not a trained soldier. Although she's certainly proved that she can rise to the occasion, she's not a trained warrior. From the beginning, she's been a seat-of-the-pants girl -- it's always her unscripted, improvised, passionate moments that are the most inspired and inspiring. So it made sense to me that her command technique would reflect that.
The resolution of the love triangle is going to bother some people as well. I KNOW I ALREADY WARNED YOU ABOUT SPOILERS, BUT HERE I AM, WARNING YOU AGAIN. Now, granted, I was always on Team Peeta. I'm an adherant to the Small, Good Thing school of thought, and so it isn't surprising that I'd go for a baker. So. Team Gale people are going to be upset. I suspect, though, that some people -- regardless of team -- will be upset because there was no Big, Dramatic I Choose You scene.
But. Again, within character and within situation, that was right. Once the Bad Thing that I haven't talked yet about happened -- even though it wasn't really him who caused it -- it was over. She knew it and he knew it. They knew each other well enough to know that, and they knew each other well enough to NOT need a Big Dramatic scene. Just because the audience wants it doesn't make it right, so again, good on Suzanne Collins for staying true and for not pandering.
STILL MORE SPOILERS ABOUT THE ROMANCE. So, I'm sorry. I love Gale, but he wasn't what she needed. His anger, his willingness to allow the ends to dictate the means, to become what he hated to destroy what he hated? No. If she'd chosen him, I don't know if she'd ever been able to -- and I'm about to use an icky New Age-y term, but it's applicable -- heal. She needed warm, she needed gentle, she needed calm, she needed patient. And she needed someone who not only knew what she'd been through, but who had been what she'd been through.
Now. On to the Badness That Made Me Sob. BIG HUGE SPOILERS COMING FOR THE ENTIRE REST OF THE POST. The deaths. There will be complaints about Finnick's death, about some of the other deaths. That they weren't dramatic enough, that they didn't die saving someone or even for a reason. Guess what, kids: Sometimes, that's the way it happens. Death can be fast (or horrifically slow) and stupid and non-epic, no matter how much you care about the person doing the dying.
Just think back to Serenity. It's a punch in the gut, but it's hella more realistic than, I dunno, Matthew McConaughey sacrificing himself in slow motion while jumping off of a thingie waving a battleaxe at a dragon. As for Prim: there will be people who are upset because they feel like there was no point. That Katniss' first sacrifice was worthless, that it all happened for nothing. And that Prim's death was too sudden and fast.
In reverse order: the mode and speed of Prim's death lines up with what I was just saying about death being fast and stupid. As for the no point argument... of course there was a point. In terms of plotting, it -- with Katniss' last-minute decision at the President's execution -- completed the circle. It made Katniss' story a tragedy, yes. But, considering the premise and considering its place in the dystopian genre, it was right for Mockingjay to be a tragedy.
It was brutal, yes. But what about this series wasn't?
Book source: Borrowed from my lovely cousin and my cousin's daughter (My second cousin? First cousin once removed?), who is also lovely. They had two copies because my cousin's husband (Yep -- he's lovely, too.) was smart and brought two home so they wouldn't fight. Anyway, I read one of their copies. Which we drove AN HOUR out of our way on the way home from a wedding on Sunday (which was also JOSH'S BIRTHDAY) to pick up.
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