***Major SPOILER Alert. Do not read any further until you've read the book. You've been warned. :)
I finished Mockingjay about 1am this morning. It messed with my dreams. I've been thinking about it all day trying to figure out how to articulate my thoughts on this final book of The Hunger Games series.
As in most cases of a series finale there is a wave of disappointment. I can understand some of the frustrations people are sharing about the book--Katniss seems like a week pawn. We don't experience the Capitol's downfall through Katniss. It's retold during her recovery. And she didn't choose Gale. However, I was very satisfied with this book. Collins strikes me as a fearless writer. She isn't afraid to make you wince or question or even hate or disagree with what she's done with the story. I love how she uses symbolism. I appreciate her style immensely.
I'm a list person. I think the best way for me to write about this book is to make a list of what I liked and didn't like.
What I liked:
The line where he tells Katniss about how he knew she only kissed him because he was in pain stuck with me.
"Gale, who I have never seen cry, has tears in his eyes. To keep them from spilling over, I reach forward and press my lips against his. We taste of heat, ashes, and misery. It's surprising flavor for such a gentle kiss. He pulls away first and give me a wry smile. "I knew you'd kiss me."
"How?" I say. Because I didn't know myself.
"Because I'm in pain," he says. "That's the only way I get your attention." He picks up the box. "Don't worry, Katniss. It'll pass." He leaves before I can answer. (p.130)
Also, the heartbreaking irony of him going back to save Prim after the Capital's attack on 13 only to later become the likely cause of her demise. He doesn't even try to make peace with Katniss about it. He walks away. Some say that was weakness on his part. But he knows Katniss better than she knows herself sometimes and he knew it would always be an issue. Walking away meant he loved her more. He didn't want anything to do with causing her more pain.
Katniss shoots Coin.
Great twist. When Coin announced they wanted to do another Hunger Games with children from the Capitol, I was completely shocked Katniss agreed. Then I quickly realized she was playing Coin. Katniss is back, I thought. Don't mess.
His death stung. I wasn't expecting it. I liked learning his back story. His tenderness with Annie reminded me of how Peeta felt about and treated Katniss.
Collin's style is to the point, well-crafted, and symbolic. One of my favorite passages:
"I look at the bushes, the clods of dirt hanging from their roots, and catch my breath as the word rose registers. I'm about to yell vicious things at Peeta when the full name comes to me. Not the plain rose but the evening primrose. The flower my sister was named for. I give Peeta a nod of assent and hurry back into the house, locking the door behind me. But the evil thing is inside, not out. Trembling with weakness and anxiety, I run up the stairs. My foot catches on the last step and I crash onto the floor. I force myself to rise and enter my room. The smell's very faint but still laces the air. It's there. The white rose among the dried flowers int he vase. Shriveled and fragile, but holding on to that unnatural perfected cultivated in Snow's greenhouse. I grab the vase, stumble down to the kitchen, and throw its contents into the embers. As the flowers flare up, a burst of blue flame envelops the rose and devours it. Fire beats roses again. I smash the vase on the floor for good measure." (p. 383)
Katniss is with Peeta. Things are hopeful, yet not unrealistic. The nightmares are still there. Their children play on an unmarked graveyard. But there is hope and goodness.
What I didn't like:
Too much time in District 13.
I felt like this section of the book dragged a bit. I thought there would be more action at the beginning.
Again, a little too much time spent filming propos. I understand the significance, but after awhile I thought, really? more? okaaay...
What about Gale?
Here's all we know: He got a fancy job in district 2 and he's occasionally seen on TV.
Really? That's it? That's all we get? Katniss didn't seem too interested in what really happened to him after he left. Didn't sit right with me.
Overall I loved this series. Unique. Gut-wrenching. Fascinating.
What's next Ms. Collins? What's next???
P.S. She's coming to a bookstore near me in November to read excerpts from Mockingjay! Can't wait!