Now that the last book of this trilogy is finished, what do I have to look forward to? I feel bereft, a bit like I did at the end of HARRY POTTER. Alas, alas, alas.
(Actually, I have plenty to look forward to. MONSTERS OF MEN, for one. Also, THE CLOCKWORK ANGEL is on my list of books to read next.)
That being said, I feel the need to write a slightly longer, more emotional reaction-based review of MOCKINGJAY because ZOMG. I got this book at midnight and finished reading in the wee hours of the morning because I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. Oh Suzanne Collins. You are good at writing teh crack.
Warning: SPOILERS BENEATH THE CUT.
First, despite my claimed abhorrence for FEEEEEEEELINGS, here is what I have to say about my FEEEEEEEEEEEELINGS when it comes to the FEEEEEEEEEEELINGS in this trilogy. You know. That infernal Team Peeta vs. Team Gale debate.
So, here it is:
BOOYAH. TEAM PEETA FOR THE WIN.
But. But. I feel that the romantic conclusion of this trilogy is moot. This young girl at the midnight release party sums it up best.
Books of Wonder Owner: Who do you think Katniss should end up with: Peeta or Gale?
11-Year-Old Girl: I don’t know. I don’t really care. It’s her decision!
DAMN RIGHT. YOU GO, GIRL.
Romance? Irrelevant. It’s not about whether or not Katniss chooses someone, and while I love Peeta, I did not walk away from this book cheering that my team (whatever that means) “won”.
It’s a horrible way to talk about relationships anyway, winning or losing.
So let’s talk about this book as a whole. Which…destroyed me. It was one of those novels that made me mull, unable to say unequivocally I loved it! or I hated it!
Of course I didn’t hate it. It was simply too good for me to do anything but be in awe of it. But awe doesn’t exactly inspire the same emotional reactions as “love” or “hate”, and it certainly isn’t one of those books that takes you for an emotional thrill ride. (Even though it does rip my heart out several times.) Unlike the end of say, KUSHIEL’S AVATAR–which is emotionally satisfying–MOCKINGJAY is in many ways a chronicle of the atrocities of war. To steal from another YA series, “war makes monsters of men”. You don’t necessarily walk away from Chinua Achebe’s THINGS FALL APART saying “I loved it!”
In this regard, I find MOCKINGJAY rather close to the conclusion of THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Some things you can’t go back from. Some wounds will never truly heal. Some things, once experienced, can never be unlived. What I did not realize I wanted from this book was a resounding emotional climax and conclusion: President Snow defeated! A new order is established! Things are good! Katniss and Peeta live happily ever after!
No. The world does not work that way. Those who have witnessed the horrors of war know that the world does not work this way. Tolkien was a soldier in the Great War and saw many of his boyhood friends die. Collins’ father was a veteran of Vietnam. Things do not return to status quo, nor do they get “better”. You live with your scars.
I think it’s a fitting end for the girl on fire, who wasn’t even the girl on fire by choice. Manipulated and used as a pawn from beginning to end–by both the Capitol and the rebels, her only real desire from start to finish was to survive. And that’s what she does. She survives. And continues to live on. The ending of the novel is so bittersweet in this way:
Peeta and I grow back together. [...] I wake screaming from nightmares of mutts and lost children. But his arms are there to comfort me. And eventually his lips. On the night I feel that thing again, the hunger that overtook me on the beach, I know this would have happened anyway. That what I need to survive* is not Gale’s fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion of spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.
Did I want her to “choose” Peeta like this? No. I wanted her to realize that he was good for her. I wanted them to play out their gender reversals in a happy version of District 12: her bringing home the bacon (literally) with her phallic weapons as he kept home and hearth alight. I loved that about Katniss and Peeta together: she’s stoic and he’s emotional, she’s pragmatic and he’s sensitive, she’s the hunter and he’s the nurturer. Roles traditionally ascribed to men and women have been switched in these two.
And while I think that still exists, that’s not the point. These two who have been through so much and suffered so much finally settle down for a bit of peace and quiet. It doesn’t have that resounding climax I wanted, but it feels right, even if it lacks drama.
I have issues with the book, but overall, I think it’s pretty fantastic. There are some pacing issues towards the end, not to mention the epilogue makes me angry (but I choose to ignore the epilogue’s existence). Also, Gale Hawthorne, I can’t stand you. You are a motherfucking tool. (More on that later. Maybe. If I feel up to it. And no, it has nothing to do with “the Nut” episode. Those who have read MOCKINGJAY will know what I’m talking about.)
But aside from that, I thought MOCKINGJAY was smart, a sharp critique on reality television and propaganda, as well as a powerful novel about war. Recommended. (Obviously.)
So, what did you all think?