WARNING: THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW
WARNING: THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW
Since I wanted to avoid online spoilers, I read the book faster than I might have normally — I’m not a really fast reader, but I got through MOCKINGJAY in two days, finishing last night about 1:30 a.m. Let’s just say, I didn’t sleep much last night and when I did sleep, I dreamed about Katniss and her world.
Immediately after finishing, I went online because I needed to see what other people had said about the book. I already knew — just like BREAKING DAWN — that some readers weren’t happy with it. I’ve seen reaction (both good and bad) referred to as PTMS — Post Traumatic Mockingjay Syndrome. I couldn’t agree more. I feel shell shocked and somewhat damaged by this book.
It all comes down to reader expectation, I think. A whole year between releases for a very successful series will give readers a lot of time to speculate about what they WANT to have happen.
I went to a local Midnight release party here in the Toronto area and the excitement from the teens present was evident. There were competing cheers to find out who was Team Peeta and who was Team Gale. There were cupcake decorating stations. There were puzzles and games and a bit of a scavenger hunt through the store. Fun, right? Totally.
This book wasn’t fun.
I should say, right up front that this is a solid five out of five star read for me. I cite THE HUNGER GAMES as my favorite book OF ALL TIME. I felt CATCHING FIRE was on par with it. And MOCKINGJAY was a brilliant end to the trilogy that is still affecting me emotionally twelve hours after I finished reading it.
But it wasn’t a fun, cupcake read.
My personal expectations for this book — after how CATCHING FIRE ended, I assumed that MOCKINGJAY would involve Katniss’s involvement in the rescue of Peeta and her helping to take down the Capitol so the world can have a bright and wonderful future. And she would have romantic love triangle angst — just like Bella and Edward and Jacob — but she would choose properly and everyone would be happy.
I was Team Peeta.
And… Team Peeta was the winning team.
Funny how this victory feels particularly empty for me, and for other readers. The characters are so broken, so damaged, have endured so much pain and torture and grief that the reader realizes once and for all that this has never has been a romance, a fun and angsty triangle, a book which we should celebrate with cupcakes. This is a horrific story about war and pain and despair and evil.
But it was powerful and may be the book that has affected me more than any other book I’ve ever read in my life. I battled with this book. At one point I stared at the page and cursed Ms. Collins because she wasn’t being kind or nice or helpful — to her readers or to her characters. But her agenda with these books has remained consistent — war is hell. Killing each other to gain more power is not the answer. Ever.
Collins’s black moment truly is black. BLACK. Children die horribly. Needlessly. Including one child who is so important to the launching point of the entire series that you have to ask yourself — why? Why couldn’t the author have let this child live — this symbol of hope and love? But it made sense. War is not kind to anyone involved. And exceptions are rarely made.
I was certain the series would end with Katniss, Peeta and Gale’s death. The red herring of the poison capsules (not to mention Katniss’s father’s Hanging Tree song) had me convinced there was no other way it could.
There is hope, though. At the end. Love does survive. Memories survive. At the end, it’s really all we have left.
And the cat made me cry at the end. Just like Vincent the dog made me cry during the last episode of Lost. Damn it.
So there you go… my thoughts on this brilliant and difficult book that should be a classic in years to come. But you know what? Sometimes I just want the sheer entertainment and HEAs of books like Twilight or other romance novels. It’s a good thing to be reminded of the atrocities of this world (because, of course, The Hunger Games trilogy is one big metaphor isn’t it?) but sometimes an escape from the dark into the light is what helps to keep us going.
So would I recommend THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy? Without question. But don’t read it expecting romance and a great, warm feeling at the end. Victory is often empty when it comes at the cost of so many lives. Something that should be remembered. I know I’ll never forget.