My thoughts on Mockingjay (with spoilers)

Along with the rest of the blogosphere, I gobbled up Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins as soon as I possibly could after its release last week.  I finished it on Sunday, and overall I was very, very happy with it.  I couldn’t possibly write a coherent “review”, though, so instead I’ll just post my general thoughts in a non-linear, not very organized fashion. 🙂  There are SERIOUS spoilers here, so if you haven’t read the book yet, you’ve been warned!

First of all, I found the first third to be way too slow for my tastes.  There was too much moping around and not enough things actually happening.  But once it picked up, boy did it pick up.

I really, REALLY liked some of the secondary characters that I didn’t really remember much of from the previous books (Finnick and Johanna in particular) and was very sad at many of their deaths.  Like many other opinions I’ve seen, I didn’t love how some of those deaths were sort of glossed over, I felt like Collins spent such a huge portion of the book helping the reader get to know and fall in love with these characters only to kill them off with little to no fanfare.  But I did sort of expect that most of these people would die eventually, it was after all a brutal war.  So yes, expected deaths, but sad ones.  And it would have been nice for them to be mourned just a bit more.

I wished that Cinna might have not been dead, but oh well.  Can’t really say that I expected him to show up.

On the Gale/Peeta/Katniss thing.  I have gone back and forth from the beginning, from Gale to Peeta to neither one, but if you had put a gun to my head and made me choose, I would have chosen Peeta from day one.  However, I have to admit that throughout Mockingjay, I was sort of enamored with Gale.  Yes, he became sort of heartless when it came to the war, but look at what the Capitol had done to him and his family for his entire life.  He was simply turning into a product of his environment, and I think rightfully so.  But even while he was being a bastard about the war, he was mostly sweet and protective of Katniss throughout the entire book.  He displayed affection for her like he never had before, he watched out for her and her family like she always needed him to, and he believed in her and encouraged her when nobody else did.  So, especially when Peeta was going crazy, I was pretty convinced that Katniss would actually end up with Gale (or neither of them, which would have been all kinds of awesome).  And based on the events in the first two-thirds of the book, I would have been okay with that.

BUT.  That is not what happened.  Peeta got better (although I didn’t follow exactly how that transformation happened, but whatever) and Gale got more and more cutthroat as the book went on.  And Katniss ended up with Peeta, and I can’t tell you how pleased I am with that.  Yes, I sort of think it would have been fantastic for her to end up with neither one of them, but let’s face it – she lost almost everyone else who mattered to her.  She needed ONE constant for the rest of her life.  And Peeta, in my opinion, is exactly what Katniss needed.  Someone stable and loving, someone who is the light to her darkness, who is the calm to her storm.  Someone who, no matter what, will always bring her down to earth and remind her that love is the most important thing, that she is loved, that she is worthy of being loved, and that life can be happy again, despite all the pain and suffering.  After finishing the book, I truly felt that there could have been NO other ending than the two of them ending up together.  I didn’t know that’s what I wanted, but once I got there I realized it was absolutely perfect.

I absolutely do not blame Gale for Prim’s death, and I found it to be incredibly sad that Katniss did.  Yes, he designed the weapon which ended up killing her, but it’s war.  People design weapons and sometimes they fall into the wrong hands, sometimes they hurt people they weren’t intended to hurt.  It’s WAR.  It’s horrible and painful and there aren’t words to explain the damage it does.  Gale certainly didn’t design the weapon with killing Prim in mind, it’s just what happened.  I wished that Katniss didn’t cut off ties with him like she did, but if you think about it, in real life we have these emotions, which we don’t choose, and unfortunately feel them towards undeserving people sometimes.  Katniss couldn’t get over what happened to Prim, and she couldn’t help connecting Gale with her death.  That’s all there was to it, so unfortunately their friendship had to be over because of it.

Prim.  Oh, Prim.  I so wish she didn’t have to die, but I also think it was sort of perfect.  This whole thing started because Katniss was trying to save Prim, but in the end, it wasn’t about Katniss and Prim anymore, it was so much bigger than them.  It was about what this horrific government had done to its citizens, and it was about ordinary people taking a stand against the Capital, which had wronged them again and again, and about how lives had to be lost in order for the people to win back the country which was rightfully theirs.  No, I did not like that Prim died, but yes, I think it was necessary and right.

And can I just say that I was taken over emotionally by most of the book, but I was keeping it together, and I was so proud of myself for not breaking down, until that darn cat came back at the end!  That’s exactly when I just lost it… no turning back at that point, I was a sobbing mess.

The epilogue.  I’m a sucker for a happy ending.  So I did enjoy it.  No, I don’t think that it’s sending a message that you MUST have children to be happy, I certainly don’t think Collins intended it to be that way and I don’t think it told that story either.  It simply showed that, despite everything that had happened to Katniss and Peeta, they could move on.  They could create love from pain, they could feel safe enough with this new world they helped create to bring new people into it.  I think it helped to show the reader that The Hunger Games was truly a thing of the past, that there was peace in Panem and that new life could emerge from the rubble.  And, no I don’t think that Peeta “convinced” Katniss to have kids – she simply changed her mind.  Most people make decisions when they are sixteen that they don’t stick with for the rest of their lives.  It’s perfectly normal.

So… what an experience.  This series is pretty amazing, and the final installment definitely worked for me.  While not 100% perfect, Mockingjay hit most of the right notes for me and I’m very happy with the way Collins wrapped everything up.  Now I’m ready to read it all again!

What did you think of Mockingjay?  Love it?  Hate it?  I know there’s been a lot of talk about this one, huge differences in opinion, so I’d love to know where your thoughts are.

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33 thoughts on “My thoughts on Mockingjay (with spoilers)

  1. I haven’t read Mockingjay yet but I have to admit that, like you, I hoped she would end up solo. I thought that even though Meyers couldn’t make Bella independent of the men in her life, Collins would be able to do it. Although, of her options, Peeta was a good choice. I don’t think Gale ever had a chance. His affections were all too-little-too-late in my book.

    Great review. I’m looking forward to reading it.

    1. Thanks! Ultimately, while it would have been nice to see Katniss on her own, I think that would have disappointed a LOT of readers. Especially since so many people who Katniss loved ended up dying – she had to have someone to love in the end. So I think it was for the best.

  2. ps. I agree with you that sometimes the decisions we make as teenagers don’t hold into our adulthood, but I wanted to add something about the “having children” debate. I think my only concern about an ending like this is also a reflection of the ending of Twilight, that a woman’s happiness is somehow always the byproduct of being the “domestic” and “maternal” figure. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to be a mother, if that’s what you want, but I’m a little miffed sometimes when YA fiction always seems to have a domestic ending for its lead female characters. Just some food for thought…

    1. The feminist in me is completely with you on this. I don’t think it’s okay to send a message to teen girls that a woman MUST get married and have children in order to feel complete. But honestly I don’t feel like Collins did that – based on what these characters had been through, based on their situation, it made sense for them to end up deciding to have kids. And I think it’s totally reasonable for Katniss to have changed her mind about this, especially considering the fact that her main reason for not having kids was no longer an issue.

      However, in theory I totally agree with you. I hate when books send the message that having kids is the only option for a woman that will truly fulfill her.

  3. I agree with you about Gale not being responsible for Prim’s death…and I don’t think I’ll ever forgive Collins for making him the baddie.

    I was fairly ambivalent about the first two books, although I did like the world Collins created. But Mockingjay was a huge disappointment in a number of ways. It’s making for great conversations, though!

    1. You’re right, it is making for some seriously interesting conversations! I love when people are so passionate about a book but also so respectful of others’ feelings. 🙂 This is what is so great about the book blogging community!

      I know you and I don’t agree on much about this book, but I DO agree with what you said in your review about Finnick dying. I would have loved for him to stick around.

  4. I totally agree with this review! I held it together til the very end. The epilogue made me cry for some reason. I was always Team Gale, but throughout Mockingjay I liked him less and less. Great reviews!

  5. I haven’t read the whole book yet, just the end at B&N and a bunch of spoilery reviews. So in fact my opinion is not that valid. But I did think the book could have ended without the epilogue–and I say this as a fan of happy endings.

    Ooo, just checked my library account, and Mockingjay has come in! Yayyy! My early reserving of it has paid off!

    1. I requested Mockingjay from my library too, and I was lucky enough to get it the day after it was released! I was shocked, since I was like number 65 on the list. My library district clearly got a TON of copies.

      I hope you enjoy it!

    1. No it’s not you, it’s gonna be me. I haven’t even read the first two books. *Sighs* poor me! 😦 I’ve read several reviews about this book, be it good or bad I still wanna read it. I’m looking forward to read this trilogy sooner.

  6. I agree largely with your review here and felt the same. I wasn’t disappointed in the last book and was pleased about Peeta. And I understand why Katniss changed her mind about children…..lots of us, whilst in our younger years, declare we don’t ever want kids. We’re allowed to change our minds (I’m glad I did!). And the reason Katniss never wanted kids was because of The Hunger Games…now that they are gone, her reasons are removed. I don’t think she caved in to Peeta…I think she compromised and frankly, that’s what marriage is all about.

    Lovely review!!

    1. Thanks Michele! Yes, I am all for a person’s right to change their mind, especially about something so serious as having children! If I stuck with the majority of the decisions I made when I was sixteen, well… my life would look a whole lot different right now.

  7. Yay! I’m so glad you loved it.

    Just one note. I don’t think Katniss really blames Gale for Prim’s death it’s more that the association will always be there. And while heartbreaking, I thought this was a pretty bold move on Collins part as it did end up really making a lot of people mad at her. We just don’t know what will happen with what we unleash into the world and when we bring cruelty into the world, we can’t guarantee it won’t hurt people we love.

    I adore Peeta and never went back and forth ever. Being the fantastic selfless guy he is, I thought he might die. And if Collins had decided to give Peeta a meaningless death, I would have been as ticked as all the Gale fans, I”m sure. As it was, his absence in the book made me really sad, but I do admit it worked brilliantly on a narrative level. And rereading through the ending, I do think she shows the progression of how he started to come back to himself.

    Regarding the epilogue, here’s what I think. Everyone wanted Katniss to be this kick ass heroine who brought down the Capitol. But Katniss never wanted that for herself. Katniss just wanted to be able to live her life. In fact I think that Katniss starts to feel strong feelings for Peeta in THG that she won’t let herself name because of the world she lives in. The idea that there could ever even be a different kind of world doesn’t occur to her. So we have Katniss, who actually has a “feeling of happiness” associated with Peeta in Catching Fire while they are in the middle of the arena, unable to let herself truly believe in hope and love. It’s not until the Capitol falls and the Hunger Games are gone and she and Peeta return to their normal lives that she’s able to say to Peeta she loves him and it’s real. And I think that love and hope and those children are Katniss’s true victory.

    I don’t see these books as being in opposition to feminism. And I don’t think there could have been any ending as satisfying and achingly real as the one we got.

    1. Amy, I love everything you’ve said here. I agree completely about the epilogue, although I’ve never analyzed it like that or thought about it this way. I definitely felt when I closed the book that Katniss, despite all the horrific things that had happened to her, got exactly what she wanted all along – a stable, loving family, and a peace that she couldn’t have imagined she’d ever truly experience.

      I don’t see the books as anti-feminism either, but I have to admit that I can see the point that others make, that it is not okay to teach teen girls that they NEED to have kids in order to be complete. But like I said above, Collins isn’t saying that – she’s simply saying that for Katniss and Peeta, this is what made sense and was the perfect ending for them.

  8. Okay, so i will say some spoilers here..

    First of all, I hated that Gale was just totally cast out of the picture, I obviously wanted Katniss to end up with Gale, and didn’t know who she would end up with but I though that whoever she chose, the other person would still be in her life, at least a little bit and this didn’t happen with Gale at all. They didn’t even have a final conversation or anything he just left and I didn’t like the way Katniss presumed he had totally forgotten about her and didn’t care as i don’t think Gale would be thinking like that at all .

    I was also hoping that Cinna, one of my favorite characters would somehow not be dead and would somehow escape from the people that took him away, but that’s just my “i want everything to turn our perfectly’ brain.

    I agree with you on the part about glossing over some important deaths. I also, felt that she just brushed them off, especially with Finnick, I hate that he didn’t survive because i so wanted him to be with Annie.

    The thing I hated most of the book was at the near end, when they took a vote to see if they wanted a final Hunger Games and the majority voted yes.
    I felt like screaming at everybody, was this not what they had suffered through for years and years and years ? That innocent children were being killed as part of a game ? And now all, except Peeta, voted yes to sending some Capitol children to be a part of the games. The children who didn’t even start it ? I understand that they wanted to give them a taste of their own medicine, but i thought this was dumb, that’s how the rebellion started, amongst other things and i didn’t like this part. It’s like you know what it felt like so why are you doing it to other people. They had their revenge, they won, so I hated they way everyone said yes, and that Peeta was the only one who understood, probably showing his good heart.

    Anyway so those are just my thoughts, but overall I LOVED the whole series!
    🙂

  9. I haven’t read the book yet but i am pretty sure that i’m going to ball! i loved how sweet prim was, how caring she was, and most of all how much love katniss had for her sister. its so sad i cant believe it i think that when she has kids to name one of them prim. but like wouldnt that work she had blond hair so does peeta and blue eyes tooo! awwww 😥

  10. I totally loved these books. I know they’re not perfect, but they are crazy addictive. I just finished Mockingjay today, and yes I cried. I was so for Gale in the beginning, but Peeta won me over in the end, and I think the ending was perfect. I don’t necessarily blame Gale either, for Prim, but understand why Katniss couldn’t let the association go. In the end I think she and Gale were too similar, that she did need Peeta to balance her out. Maybe somewhere down the line she and Gale can be friends again. (I can’t let go of the characters enough yet to accept they stop at the end of the book.) I was happy she had children. I would have been happy if she didn’t too, but I don’t think it was too out of character for her. Her fears about having children were that she would lose them in the Games. We can assume life is safe enough now that she felt ok about bringing kids into the world.

    I’m going to stop rattling on now, but I loved the books. A lot. 🙂

    (Oh, and about her saying yes to another Games at the end, I assumed she did that to show she was on Coin’s side, and that’s why Haymitch went along with it. I don’t think she would ever put other children in that situation.)

  11. I loved your review! I always wanted her with Peeta from the start but Gale loved her so much and it took him to long to realize and show it that it was to late. That’s what made me sad. I hated how in the end Gale didn’t come back! I was hoping maybe he would find someone else and they would move back to 12 and still be friends with Katniss and Peeta. But other than that I loved the way the book ended! This is sort of random but it made me smile, I think that Haymitch will be sort of a grandpa to Katniss and Peetas kids. I mean you can tell he loves them both so I’m sure he will love their kids too! 🙂

  12. I love this book! just finished it today…after getting it yesterday(: but this book is so perfectly paced, the love isn’t as present in this book which i like. Mainly because in the first book it ruined her, and in the second book she was torn. But I loove this blog sight, and your awesome.

  13. I personally dont like how she killed off Finnick because he was just married and the way he died wasn’t very important aswell he could have just escaped and killed off the mutts and Prims death was very sad I didn’t want her dead but I do not blame her death on Gale I was disapointed that she gave up on Gale and she never really saw him again.

  14. I actually really enjoyed mockingjay (apologies on the punctuation, writing from my phone). I think peeta was the obvious choice from the start, but i enjoyed the edge collins gave him in the last book, it sort of put their relationship on an even playing field (because katniss totally did soften up in the last book).

    When gale talks about katniss ending up with who she can’t survive without i think it’s more of a metaphor for the person she is and who she wants to be. Gale would have been the guy she ended up with if she was never thrown into thw games… but she was and only peeta can relate to her on that level. Sadly the ending is almost bitter sweet, yes katniss ended up with peeta, but they were so damaged. They became products of war and sadly i dont think gale could have ever really understood her nightmares or panic attacks or her mistrusting everyone she knew, only peeta could because he was right there with her experiencing the same things. They grounded each other.. katniss being physically strong, peeta was emotionally stronger through out the series.

    Once last thing to ponder.. peeta was the most dangerous of all the characters because he had the ability to lie poker face.

  15. I actually am in a love/hate relationship with Mockingjay because it was too depressing i felt that Katniss was constantly getting hurt, coping with depression, and becoming normal only to get hurt again. I felt some moments too dragged out. I liked the ending except how she ended Gale…I wish he wouldve stayed best friends with Katniss and how she killed off Prim and Finnick so emotionless. Otherwise, the rest fit and i guessed perfectly she would kill Coin. I also really liked Gale and Peeta’s different attitudes and how they both fit perfect. I also felt she couldve gone either way with Gale or Peeta being with Katniss. Although, I liked Peeta better and felt happy he ended up with her. I do feel very sad the story ended.

  16. I honestly thought that Mockingjay was OK, it made me feel really depressed once I finished. I felt that everything was so rushed. I have so many unanswered questions like, wasn’t anyone (the characters from the book) interested in knowing what was Katniss’ motive on killing Coin?
    Why was Katniss just suddenly released from confinement? Why did Gale just leave? How did Peeta somehow overcome from being brainwashed? I know he isn’t fully recovered but he loved Katniss at the end all of the sudden… Also, the characters totally changed. I did not expect Peeta, Katniss, or Gale to act the way they did at the end of the book. Peeta’s feelings for Katniss seemed different. There was no romance or anything special that brought them back together. Gale, on the other hand, simply just vanished from the story at the end. I feel that if Gale truly “loved” Katniss, he would have tried to save their relationship. He would have at least visit her in the hospital or in District 12. Katniss exploded all her feelings in the last part of the book and she seemed like she had given up life. I totally understand that, she had just lost all the people around her and fought in many wars but I didn’t want to just watch her give up- just like Haymitch. Because of Peeta, she was able to progress in life. I love that Peeta and Katniss ended up together, I supported from the moment they first connected. I loved their romance in the Hunger Games and felt that in the Mockingjay, Katniss did not love Peeta and much as he loved her. It was always like this from the beginning but there wasn’t really any proof that she loved him at the end.
    I simply didn’t seem as excited when I was reading this book. The Hunger Games was the best. I never would have expect Peeta to announce that “the girl he loved came with him to the games”. I was flabbergasted and I loved that feeling. I was so shocked. However, there was only one part in the Mockingjay series when I felt that same shock. It was when Katniss killed Coin. I really loved that part because if she didn’t kill her, the whole games would start again. Also, when Coin asks the tributes to vote on one last game… I really hated the fact that Katniss agreed to it and and loved that Peeta certainly did not. It was for revenge on her sister but the games started because she wanted to live for Prim, for herself. How was watching the others going to reenact the games one last time make it better?
    I am saddened at the fact that the series are over.
    I just had one more question.. Why do really good/ popular books end up with the main characters having children? (EX: Twilight and Harry Potter?) I didn’t really like the fact that they had children… but it was kind of expected since Katniss kept saying that she never would want kids in the future. It was to show that our perspectives change from our teenage years and that she was improving on her life with Peeta.
    I really can’t wait for the movies to come out. Hopefully, they make it extremely exciting!
    Thanks for reading!

  17. Thanks for the review! I read all three books a couple of months ago, but with the movie coming out, it had me wishing I could remember all the details. Anyways, I definitely find myself agreeing with a lot of your points. When we consider the underlying characteristics of her personality, Peeta is the best “fit”.

    Actually, since I don’t have the books on me, I was trying to dig up the particulars of how Gale and Katniss parted, because something on the internet seemed to suggest a more pleasant parting than what I recalled interpreting. I just stumbled across a lot of justification of Gale’s involvement and anger towards Katniss (ah, fandom, what can you do?).

    I -do- sympathize with Gale in as much as it’s not at all difficult to understand how and why he’s ended up a little ruthless. But I almost find people’s reaction to Katniss’ reaction to Gale’s involvement in Prim’s death telling in terms of how differently people view the necessities of war. We can all agree that war is terrible, has terrible consequences, but one personality difference between Gale, Katniss, and Peeta, are the way they seem to measure whether the ends justify the means.

    I don’t think Gale would have supported the more inhumane strategies if the Capitol had been less brutal itself, but I still feel he went too far. So, I can sympathize with Katniss feeling he’s partly responsible.

  18. “I just stumbled across a lot of justification of Gale’s involvement and anger towards Katniss (ah, fandom, what can you do?).”

    Wow, that’s some ambiguous syntax. What I meant was “I just stumbled across a lot of anger towards Katniss and justification of Gale’s involvement with Prim’s death”.

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