The Morning After: Mockingjay

25 Jun

 

As I was mulling over my thoughts about what to write about the final book, I realized I hadn’t actually mentioned why I chose to write each review the morning after I finished each book. I’ll confess that sometimes it wasn’t the morning, but the major reason I wrote each review the next day was because it gave me a chance to sleep on it. When I finished The Hunger Games, it was about 1 o’clock in the morning and I felt absolutely disconcerted. I couldn’t sleep that night and what little I did was filled with dreams about the book. I was in no condition to give an accurate description or review; I had to let my feelings settle. The next day I felt much better and I was able to write. Its true that nothing was as fresh in my mind, but I also had the book at hand for any references I needed to make.

As my final installment of the trilogy, I would like to mention how I feel about it in its entirety, and how I feel about Suzanne Collins as a writer. That will all come after I talk about the book at hand, because that is my main focus.

Spoiler alert: I’ll be talking freely about the book toward the end of this post, so if you haven’t read it and don’t want me to ruin it, don’t read in between the lines! I also apologize that its a little lengthy.


When I cracked open the third and final book in The Hunger Games series, I found myself at a place that made the most sense. I wasn’t shocked by the amount of time that had or hadn’t passed, and I like that. After the last two books, I needed a little bit of comfort to hold on to. There also wasn’t a lot of back story information to sift through, and what little there was had been woven into the story very well.

That actually sums how I feel about most of the beginning of the book, and by beginning I mean the first few chapters. Other than a few incidents, I felt it was at a comfortable pace. Being already invested in the series at this point, I didn’t need some giant hook to keep me reading, but I also didn’t want to have to sit through chapters of mindless boring material. It was a nice medium.

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The beginning of the book takes us back to District 12, so that Katniss can assess the damage done to her home. She has been relocated to District 13, but some times you just need to see things to accept them; I think this was one of those times.

After finishing the task of seeing it, as well as taking a few choice objects from her intact home in Victors Village, she is wished goodbye by a single rose from President Snow. Knowing that the only meaning of it is a sinister one, her and a few of her peers – Gale included – head back to District 13. She meets up with her family, but is immediately called to watch programming from the Capitol. This is when Katniss and the reader both find out that Peeta is alive, and apparently doing well. This comes as a relief to Katniss, but only for a short period, as she realizes due to his call for a cease-fire, he immediately becomes an enemy to the rebellion. Its at this realization, that Katniss decides to be the face of the rebellion: the mockingjay.

It doesn’t take long before the reader comes to terms with what District 13 is actually like. By page 38, when Katniss finalizes her decisions of her terms for being the mockingjay, we already know how strict the rules of the district are. You have a predetermined schedule you have to uphold. You can only eat a certain amount of food. You don’t make your own decisions. Katniss’ terms include immunity of people such as Peeta, Gale must be there to help her, she must be allowed to hunt, her sister’s cat must be allowed to stay with them, and that she must kill Snow. Not all of her terms are met with approval, but in the end they are all recognized publicly.

Also in Part I, we find that Katniss’ prep team is still alive, and that she is to visit District 8 to record unscripted, televised, rebellion propaganda. True to who she is, Katniss ends up ignoring orders and joins in the action by helping shoot down various air attack hovercraft, with the help of Gale, of course.

After being taken to the hospital and treated for her various wounds, she watches the footage from her hospital room. After it airs, another interview with Peeta airs as well. He makes an attempt to warn Katniss that she might not know what she is getting herself into, which weighs on her for quite a while after the interview stops. After visiting District 12 a second time for more propaganda shots, the final interview with Peeta airs before the decision is made to rescue him from the Capitol. He warns that Katniss will be dead by morning, and is rewarded by being beaten to the ground. The closing image is of his blood splattering on the floor.

Part II picks up immediately after the news Peeta gives. This causes an immediate evacuation of the city, taking all of its members into its depths to avoid the imminent attacks. There is quite a bit of characterization of Finnick, and of Katniss, while they are down in the bunker. We get to figure out little by little who Finnick really is, and who Katniss was before the Games.

After the bombing ceases, Peeta is rescued from the Capitol, and everyone is hoping for happy a happy reunion between him and Katniss. The opposite is true, as Peeta has been brainwashed and his only new desire is to kill Katniss. The time spent trying to get him back is painful for everyone involved, and thus Katniss tries to find a way to take her mind off of it. She travels to District 2, where they finally penetrate their forces, and yet another attempt is made on Katniss’ life.

There is even more character development in part II. Finnick does a propaganda shot revealing all the things that President Snow has done. Prim takes on a whole new personality of her own as she helps Katniss deal with what has happened to Peeta. Gale takes on a new perspective as he helps invent new ways to kill the enemy.

Finally, after taking District 2, it becomes time to head to the Capitol. Soldiers are grouped and sent out for battle. Katniss gets cleared for duty, and joins forces with Gale and several others as sharp shooters. Peeta has also been placed into the same unit, with speculation that the goal is to kill Katniss so that the leader of 13, Coin, won’t have a problem taking new power once the Capitol falls.

In part III, the reader is finally introduced to the recovery process Peeta is still undergoing. They have no choice but to take him along as part of their party, but this quickly turns sour. Peeta makes another attempt at Katniss’ life while in the midst of battle, but this looks to be the final breaking point. Their game, Real or Not Real, has become increasingly more useful in helping get him back after this.

As the battle continues, they are all thought to be dead after the last fight, which gives them a certain amount of time to relocate. They do their best, but eventually end up with only 5 surviving members of their troop. A variety of mutts and pods designed to remotely kill them pick them off little by little. Finnick dies, as does Boggs and Jackson. Miraculously, however, Gale and Peeta are still alive. They make it to the Capitol, and with the help of a friend there are able to infiltrate all the way into President Snow’s yard. Here, we suffer the death of Gale and Prim, without knowing if Peeta is alive or dead.

Once the final battle ends, Katniss once again wakes up in a hospital room. She learns that Gale didn’t actually die, and that Peeta is alive. Time wears on, and it becomes time for her to kill Snow. This wouldn’t be a big problem, if they didn’t have a final conversation the day before. Snow through blame on Coin for killing Prim, and tells Katniss that this is the real threat, not him. Katniss must make a decision to believe him, or cast him away as trying to use her again.

On the day in which she must kill him, his words ring true to her. She kills Coin, and Snow just happens to die as well; his health has been decreasing. This causes pandemonium, and Katniss is taken prisoner to await her trial, but not until after Peeta stops her from taking her own life with the nightlock pill.

In the closing pages of the book, Katniss is pardoned and a new leader has been elected. She moves back to District 12 with Haymitch to live in Victors Village again. Greasy Sae also accompanies them as her cook and maid. Her mother doesn’t join her, and Gale ends up doing work in another district. We find that Peeta comes back to District 12 as well. Him and Katniss begin to get things back to normal, and work on mourning the loss of their loved ones. They begin to keep their memories in places other than their heads, as they write them down and illustrate them in a book.

On the final page of the book, we understand why Gale is not with her. Its because the two of them are too much alike, and they only fuel a fire. Peeta can balance Katniss out in ways that Gale could never do. The last line of the book confirms that Katniss loves Peeta, just as much as Peeta has always loved her.

The epilogue is filled with Katniss singing, and questioning how to explain the past to their children.

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First, I must say that Catching Fire was my favorite of the three. I’m not sure why, because The Hunger Games didn’t let me go to sleep, and there were many, many times in Mockingjay in which I had to stop, put the book down, and read. If I think back, I might say that I had to yell out loud at Catching Fire, just to let my emotions be released before they destroyed me.

My favorite part of Mockingjay, however, was the character development. We see it in so many characters because they all have this chance of being able to be around Katniss more than they had previously. I would venture to say that the most developed in this book was Gale, which makes sense considering he is just as important as Katniss and Peeta are. Second to that is Finnick, followed by Haymitch and Prim.

Originally, I was almost indifferent with Gale as a character. He has a quality about him that reminds me of a few of my friends, but nothing about him was striking in the first book. In Mockingjay, I began to dislike him. I think the reasons are the same that Katniss had. He was full of fire, and revenge, and I can see him doing whatever it took to get the job done, but none of those are things she needed more of in her life. He was an attractive man, and it is easy to see how Katniss was confused about where he should stand, but he also could’ve done something about his feelings. Don’t get me wrong, there are many redeeming points for him in the book, and I love the scenes in which they kissed, but I loved the scenes more in which they fought together. When they took down the hovercraft in 8, and again when they were in the Capitol, they just had a great ability to compliment each other.

It was also great to see development of Finnick. He seemed so ridiculous inCatching Fire, but only because Katniss didn’t understand who he was. Once they talked about him being forced to sell his body, and his beloved Annie, Katniss was able to better illustrate who he was on the inside. It gives me no doubt that had he always acted like who he truly was, that Gale and Peeta would’ve had more competition for Katniss’ heart.

Prim also finally gets her time to shine in the third book. We see that she is older now, if only a little, but that she has had to grow like Katniss had to. The difference between them is also clear, and the reader can see that Prim deals much better with pain than her sister does.

Finally, Haymitch sees more characterization as well. Most of the moments that Haymitch is of importance I have to say that I don’t like him. It doesn’t matter if he is drunk or if he is sober, I just think that he has been worn too thin to have many redeeming qualities. The only moments I enjoyed him as a character were when he consoled Katniss. This goes for the other two books as well. I enjoy how clever he is when he works with Katniss in the first Games, but other than that I can’t say I really like him.

After all is said and done, I’m still much in love with Peeta, and I’ve decided that Katniss is okay. I like her ability to freely think about everything, even though many of those thoughts are misguided. Her inattention to orders also gives her points in my book. Her inability to let her emotions flow freely is also a selling point, because I feel much the same way about myself.

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I give praise to Collins for finishing out the revolution to its end. I’m also glad that the rebels won, and that Katniss killed Coin. I can’t say that I believe what Snow was saying was true, but I don’t think Coin would’ve helped the cause in the end. Her strictness, and the belief among her peers that she wanted Katniss dead, would both work in favor of more “dark days”. Snow was also in failing health, and wouldn’t be difficult to kill at all. If you have the ability to take out the strongest right away, then anything else will be extremely easy.

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I also think that Katniss’ decision to initially run, and then her change of heart and decision to stay and fight were very true to the cause. I think people’s initial reaction to most difficult things are to restart, rather than to rebuild. Had it been fewer people who needed saved – Gale and his family, Katniss and her family, and Peeta and his family – running might have been an option. If Katniss was able to take just one other person, running might have been a valid option, but even from the beginning I knew that running would never work with such a large group of people. It also rings true to Gale’s nature that he wanted to rebel, and probably had long before Katniss and Peeta threatened to kill themselves in defiance in the arena.

I do speculate that District 13 was almost a little too convenient, but then again, it would take a lot longer than 3 books to tell a story about 12 districts who planned to rebel, but needed to prepare well in advance. It took 75 years before District 13 was ready, and it might have taken even longer if Katniss hadn’t helped fuel the fire. The fact that District 13 was such a well-kept secret was a nice addition to the books, though. I think it was very necessary to keep order, and in such a well-oiled machine that the Capitol had under its power, it doesn’t seem very far-fetched to think they fed the thoughts into everyone’s mind.

The one thing that always leaves me puzzled about post-apocalyptic books such as these are the lack of information about what actually happened. Each book gives a few details, but nothing is every precise. We also are rarely told the scope of disaster that set everything into motion. Did it involve all of earth, and thus the only known survivors are those involved in the story? Was it only the nation of interest (e.g. United States) that was destroyed? Under what premise should we believe that no one else on the planet has never cared about or visited Panem? Sure, I can’t name every town on the planet and say what they are or are not doing, but I feel as though the lack of information is beyond my realm of understanding.

War. Defiance. Love. Family. Decisions. Growth. Death. I think all of those things are important themes through the three books. In order to change anything, the characters must go to war to overthrow the current goverment. In order to overthrow the government, you must defy it. Katniss, Peeta, Prim, and Gale are all involved in some way in love in this book. Katniss’ fathers death is one of the biggest problems with who she is at any one time. Half the book is about Katniss and Peeta and Gale and their weird love-triangle. Those closing line is even about love. Prim is the entire reason this book can exist like it does. Had Katniss not had such a sense of family when it came to her sister, it would’ve been Prim who was forced to play in the Games. We also see every single character in this book grow. Katniss, Peeta, Prim, and Gale are all in the midst of growing into their own. Just when you think that people who have been forced to mature so quickly couldn’t grow any more, you find a 17 year old girl having to support a revolution on her shoulders. And death is in every word, in every line, and on every page of each of these books. Her fathers death has caused Katniss to be who she is, the potential death of her sister sets it all in motion, her own death drives her to survive through the Games, thoughts of Peeta dying keep them both alive. The deaths of her peers, however damaging, keep her going throughout all of the books. Prim’s death causes her to kill the biggest threat since the rebels won. They are all important to what these books are.

Unfortunately, the most controversial theme in the book is love. It isn’t war. It isn’t that government is corrupt. It is love. The reason behind this isn’t even someone’s conscious decision, either. The reason love is controversial is because we aren’t allowed to consider it a valid theme. Well, my dearest readers, I’m here to tell you that none of these books is a love story, but that within all three there is the story of love. Without love, Katniss wouldn’t be the hunter she is. Without love, Prim would be a player in the Games. Without love, Peeta would be dead. Hell, without love, Katniss might even be dead and we wouldn’t have a story to read! Don’t tell me this story isn’t supposed to be about love. I’m fully aware what it is and is not about.

In the The Hunger Games, we learned that Katniss was grateful to Peeta, that Peeta loved her, and the she might love Gale. In Catching Fire, we learned that Gale loves Katniss, that Katniss loves Gale, and that Katniss loves Peeta. In Mockingjay, we learned that Peeta loves Katniss, Gale loved Katniss, and that Katniss loves Peeta.

The details are important, but most of it is speculation. Collins could’ve taken any route she wanted to at any point. One different move and Katniss ends up alone. I’ve already admitted that I’m not a huge fan of Gale, but from the beginning I felt bad for him. I knew he liked Katniss, and I also knew that I didn’t want them to end up together. I felt like a terrible person for wanting this, because I know how terrible unrequited love feels, but they just weren’t right for one another. I think that kissing Gale was a very important development point for Katniss to allow her to take control of her feelings. It was even more important that Gale acknowledged that she wouldn’t have kissed him had he not been hurt. It speaks to her inner healer that she refuses to accept.

I also fell in love with Peeta right away. Its this love that makes me not want to watch The Hunger Games the movie. I don’t want to lose the image of him I have in my head. From the moment that Katniss set off to find Peeta after she realized he [might have] saved her life, I knew that she loved him. It wasn’t a question for me. Katniss was using herself as a puppet, and wasn’t letting herself actually think about what Peeta was saying when he admitted he loved her. She wasn’t letting herself think about how she felt about him either. It upset me that it took her so long to acknowledge it, and that also says something about who I am, and how I make my decisions.

I was genuinely upset when Peeta came back from the Capitol in the state he was in. I was also upset when Katniss didn’t reason with him. I was the most upset at how the book ended. I know that with tensions dying down, and things beginning to resume to normal, it was a very normal way to end things. I was hoping that it would be at least a little exciting, though. It isn’t a stretch to hope that Katniss has a nightmare one night, and wakes to find Peeta comforting her. I would’ve even enjoyed a scene in which Peeta does something that is reminiscent of him trying to kill Katniss, and she responds, but then realizes he is back to normal, and would never kill her.

Overall, I think this book is rated at about a 3.5 to 4 out of 5. The books as a whole I would say rank at a 4 or 4.5. They brought out emotions in me I forgot books to find, and they are definitely not lacking in exciting. I can’t ever rank anything as perfect, because I’m not perfect, and thus cannot judge anything as perfect, because there are definitely flaws I have missed. And with that, I leave you with a single thought, and final question. I think its strange how long it takes Katniss to deal with anything.

The Question: What do you think?

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