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.