Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)-Suzanne Collins
Publication Date: 8/24/10
I'm not including a synopsis here because I think we all know what this book is about and frankly-it's going to take up valuable space in what will be a long review.
Spoilers under the jump so if you haven't read it yet, you're safe until then.
I'm writing this review at 1:00 in the morning after finishing the book. Why? Well, because my head hurts a bit and I'm trying to process it all. Mockingjay was not what I expected. I don't say this in a bad way, I did enjoy the book and it made me cry at several parts, sometimes so much that I had to set the book aside and go blow my nose.
That said, I have to say that of the three books in this series, Mockingjay was probably my least favorite, but that's kind of like saying it was my least favorite flavor of ice cream, and ice cream is my favorite food on the planet.
This book felt the most distant to me. Like Katniss has been through so much and is detached from what she's experiencing. I also felt I couldn't really get behind President Coin and District 13, because she didn't seem that sympathetic either. Everyone had their own agendas, and Katniss was just part of the plan.
I admit that I always favored Peeta in the whole Team issue, but I thought I would grow to like Gale as well. I did, since this was the first book in the trilogy he appeared in for a significant amount (well, other than Katniss' thoughts of him) but it did become evident (to me at least) that he and Katniss just aren't right for each other. Gale is a revolutionary. Katniss? That role seems forced on her. Gale was never in The Hunger Games, he couldn't understand how Katniss could care for anyone that came from the Capitol. Gale and Katniss still have some things in common, but I felt that they started to drift apart a bit. This happens all throughout life, but especially during teenage years.
While I'm on the subject, I'll touch on the epilogue. It reminded me of the Harry Potter epilogue, something that when I read it, I put the book down and said, "Did she hand the computer over to her kid or something? This reads like fan fiction." I felt similarly with the Mockingjay epilogue. That said, I've already seen comments where people are saying "She settled for a boring life with Peeta! He forced her to have kids!"
While I did think the kids aspect was a bit odd and fan-fiction-y (just in the way it was written), relationships are full of compromise. Believe me, as a newly married woman, I know this. Katniss said she never wanted kids BECAUSE of the Games. I'm one of those people that was picking out baby names at ten, but I know a lot of women that didn't know they were ready to be mothers until later in life. There were no more Games by the time her children were born. I also kind of resent the fact that people are saying Katniss settled- because she didn't go on to become prominent in politics-when it was a life she never wanted in the first place. Settling down and spending your life with someone you love is not a compromise. Yes, I do believe Katniss loves Peeta. Maybe not in a romance novel sort of way, but most loves are not perfect.
To me, Katniss seemed like the main focus of Peeta's life, even after he was hijacked and was trying to kill her. She was still the most important thing in his life-so much so that the mention of her would send him into fits. Honestly, even though I preferred Peeta, I did hope Katniss would go her own way. How many people really meet the person they're going to stay with forever when they're teenagers? It does happen (my in-laws met when they were in high school and have been married 30 years) but as a rule, I just don't think it happens all that often, at least not as much as it tends to happen in novels.
Ultimately, this book isn't Team Peeta or Team Gale. It's about a girl that was on fire that went on to live her life. Most books are about people in a certain period of their lives that are exciting. They finish when that part of their lives are over. Katniss had a hard life, went on to be a tribute in The Hunger Games, and unintentionally lead an uprising. I'm glad she went on to lead her life, her way, not as the pawn of politics. I felt like it was what she wanted, even if it's not what some readers may want for her.
After I finished Mockingjay, I had a headache and was conflicted. Some parts of the book were better than others. Prim's death seemed like an excuse to hate Gale, and that seemed sort of a of a cheap thing to do. Katniss was injured so much that it seemed like every fifth chapter she was in the medical ward and was missing out on the action.
That said, I got the resolution I wanted. I only wish Gale and Katniss would have had a more in-depth final conversation. It felt sort of abrupt to me. Some people do leave our lives without a final goodbye, but I thought that was sort of a crappy thing to do to Gale, a character that I really cared for, despite my issues with him.
I thought about my review of this book and what I would give it. Ultimately, I did decide to give it five stars because I felt that while it was my least favorite of the three books, it was still one of the best books I've read this year. This is a series I know I will re-read and hope to one day pass on to my own (as yet imaginary) children.