Mockingjay: Katniss Still Kicks Ass

BlogHer Original Post

Like many readers I got up on August 24 with one goal in mind -- to get my hands on a copy on the final book of Suzanne Collins Hunger Games and do it is as quickly as possible. Yes, I was on a Mockingjay quest. Thanks to the miracle of modern technology I had it downloaded to my iPhone within minutes.

Please note: This is to be a spoiler-free Mockingjay post. Readers who have not finished Mockingjay would appreciate it if you kept the space spoiler-free. If you haven’t read the other books you might want to skip this post until you’ve caught up.

Mockingjay

I actually held off from reading it for several hours. I had work to do, and I couldn’t do that work with Mockingjay in my head. I knew that once I dove into that world, I wouldn’t want to leave. I was right. I read the book, start to finish, in a few hours. At the end of it my head hurt, my eyes were red and I really wasn’t sure what to think of it at all.

I had read a few early reviews before starting the book (with one hand over my eyes in case of spoilers), and one of them said that they thought it was the most violent and brutal of the series. I suppose it was, but it had to be. After the end of Catching Fire, when they blew up the arena and District 12 was flattened, you had to know it was war. In war people die. Many of them died in Mockingjay -- characters that I liked. Being a good character doesn’t protect you in war and if people I liked hadn’t died I would be really mad at Collins right now -- even if their deaths did make me cry.

Characters changed in Mockingjay, just as they should have. Their world was turned upside down. For the surviving residents of District 12, their world was utterly destroyed. No one can stay the same in circumstances like that, including Katniss.

Katniss still kicks ass, but she’s far more fragile than she’s ever been. She feels responsible for pretty much everything. She feels used by everyone. And unsurprisingly, she’s mad at everyone. Katniss can’t see her own power -- something I think that many of us can identify with. Katniss only sees the ruin and the deaths that she believes that she caused.

You can’t help but understand why she feels that way. Mockingjay is full of action, and event after event weighs on her shoulders. She doesn’t get time to breathe, let alone grieve for anything that has happened. Her life as she’s known it is over, and while she played a major role in that it wasn’t a decision she really consciously made. She often doesn’t like herself very much and at one point describes herself as violent, distrustful, manipulative and deadly. I can’t blame Katniss for any of her feelings and even defended her to some of the other characters. (What? Doesn’t everyone talk back to their books?) Katniss is often oblivious to the larger movements around her but she’s not an idiot, and I took offense when others treated her that way.

One of the things that I love the most about Katniss is that she’s flawed. She makes mistakes, sometimes big ones, and she misjudges situations. She has trouble figuring out who to trust. (Can you blame her?) Katniss tries so hard to do the right thing, which is rarely the easy option for her. Katniss is not a perfect hero and that makes me love her.

We must talk about the ending. Yes, we must and no, I’m not breaking my no-spoiler claim. You will either love the ending, or you will hate it. You won’t hate it the way that people hated Breaking Dawn, but some of you will think that the ending is wrong. Parts of the ending are horrible. Others are things that I don’t necessarily agree with and aren’t things that I really wanted to happen. The ending, in many ways, was something that I did not expect. Despite that, I can’t help but think that it was the right ending. I’ve been thinking about it since I finished it, and I can’t think of another way it could end and still feel right.

For more on Mockingjay check out these links. I’ve linked to spoiler-free posts but note that there are no guarantees when looking in comment sections.

Loved the Hunger Games and looking for something to read next? Check out this regularly updated list of dystopian YA novels from Amy H. Sturgis.

Contributing Editor Sassymonkey also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.

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