This review was originally published on Goodreads on May 6, 2012.
This review contains spoilers.
I finally have the time to post a proper review of this book, and I’ve just sat here, thinking, for quite some time. The only clear thought rolling around in my mind is to wonder what in the world I should say?
The first thing I had to do was change my rating for the book. I had a terrible tendency to give an automatic 5 star rating to most books that I enjoyed reading, overall. I’m trying very hard to bear in mind that 5 stars = amazing. So as I wondered what to write, a small part of myself was asking: Was it truly “amazing”? And you know what? It wasn’t. It might have been, but there were so many little disappointments scattered throughout the novel that it doesn’t quite qualify for such high praise. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy reading it; I did. Just not as much as I thought would when I cracked open the cover and started reading.
So what was disappointing about this book? I guess the most crucial disappointments concerned Katniss and Haymitch.
Katniss – She spent an awful lot of time feeling sorry for herself and being angry at others for using her, than anything else. Oh, and let’s not forget all the time she spent being prepped for the cameras. Instead of indulging herself in feeling defeated, she could have spent her time devising ways to bring down the Capitol, or insisting more strenuously that she be allowed to take part in the fighting.
Haymitch – It was hard to accept that someone who had been a barely functioning alcoholic 98% of the time in the previous two books would have been able to secretly plot to bring about a revolution, without Peeta and Katniss catching on to something being amiss. And the Haymitch we see in Mockingjay seems so much more calculated and deceptive than he’s ever been previously. There were times I was seriously expecting him to stab Katniss in the back… I kept feeling as though he might be plotting against her, somehow, for most of their exchanges in this book. I don’t know why I distrusted him so much, but I did.
Gale – The loss of the closeness he and Katniss shared. I had always felt that one day Katniss would figure out that she truly loved him, and expected it to happen now that they were both in 13. But once Prim died, and Katniss put together why the method was so familiar, I knew the possibility of them pairing off was as dead as her sister.
I could add more if I thought on it a bit, but that’s enough time spent on the “disappointments list”. On to the rest of the review…
The after-effects of Peeta’s torture was disturbing, to say the least. It was difficult to see him so willing to kill Katniss after all the time he spent doing whatever he could to protect her from harm. It wasn’t quite as unexpected as it could have been, however. The more I read of Katniss’ expectations of what he would say or do the moment they were reunited, the easier it was to figure out that it was going to be the complete opposite of a happy reunion. This is one place where the reader would have been much better off not being privy to every single thought Katniss had about it. Instead, we got to read through 4 or 5 happy scenarios that played through her mind, which was an instant tip-off that things were definitely NOT going to go well at all.
The deaths of Prim and Finnick really bothered me. I know when you’re reading a book concerning a war of some kind that there are bound to be casualties among important secondary characters, but still, these deaths were unexpected. Prim’s, especially. I suppose since Katniss had done so much throughout the trilogy to protect her and keep her safe, I just assumed she would be safe from any kind of serious harm. (I guess I should have known better, since it did make for a good shock.) Finnick’s death was just as sad… I’d really been rooting for him to make it through and return home to Annie, after having suffered so much at the hands of the Capitol already since he became a victor in the games. He certainly deserved more time to be happy with Annie than what he actually got, and because of this his death was more heartbreaking to me than Prim’s. Hers was just as shocking, but Prim didn’t go through nearly as much suffering as poor Finnick.
So now Finnick, Prim, and countless others are dead. The war is over, and Katniss has been seriously burned and slipped back into a drug-hazed depression, wandering aimlessly around the mansion. She finds President Snow, and he informs her that President Coin of District 13 is the one who dropped the bombs that killed her sister and so many of the Capitol children. Then comes the meeting with Coin, where she asks the six remaining victors to decide whether or not there will be a final Hunger Games, using the children of the people who held power in the Capitol. 4 votes either way decides. Johanna and Enobaria vote yes. Makes sense… neither has a love of the Capitol and figures it would serve them right. Peeta, Beetee, and Annie vote no. Then Katniss and Haymitch both vote yes, so it is decided; there will be another Hunger Games. Seems out of character for Katniss and Haymitch to vote yes, doesn’t it?
Well, maybe not.
Here’s my take on it: I think Katniss was already devising a plan against Coin. That she feels certain Coin’s rule will be just like Snow’s… and the Hunger Games will go on, only the Capitol children being reaped instead of District children. As I read it, I felt certain this is what her thoughts were pointing to, and I became even more certain when I read the line:
This is the moment, then. When we find out exactly just how much alike we are, and how much he truly understands me.
(Mockingjay, page 370.)
So when Katniss shot Coin, rather than Snow, I was not the least bit surprised. (Which is kind of a shame… it would have been a truly shocking plot twist, had I not already guessed it was coming.)
The final chapter of the book, and the epilogue, alternately interested me and bored me to tears. Maybe I just felt that way because the action was over, and I just wanted those few loose ends to get tied up neatly and quickly. Those last few pages dragged a bit here and there for me.
I was pretty sure that it was going to be Peeta who returned to District 12, and not Gale, so no shocker there. I was surprised that Buttercup made a reappearance, though… never expected that old cat to show up back there. It was good that he did, though… I think he helped Katniss finally release the grief she felt over losing her little sister. It was nice to see Katniss open her heart to Peeta, and finally love him as he loved her for so long… to finally admit to herself that she would have ended up with Peeta no matter what. It made me smile to read about the two of them, loving one another and raising a family. Peeta and Katniss didn’t get the ‘happily ever after’ that comes at the end of fairy tales, but they did get happiness… and they deserved that.
About the Book
My name is Katniss Everdeen.
Why am I not dead?
I should be dead.
Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.
It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans–except Katniss.
The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay–no matter what the personal cost.