29 August 2010

Why I Loved Mockingjay

There have been mixed responses among a few of my friends to Mockingjay, so I thought I would write about why I loved the final book, and whole series. I'm going to make the text white, so you don't see a spoiler unless you really want to. Highlight it with your mouse to read the rest of the post. And I reserve the right for commenters to post spoilers as well!

* Update, my friend Zina posted her thoughts here, if you can't get enough discussion!

1. The Hunger Games series was set in a post apocalyptic world that needed a serious change. We can't effect serious change without the sacrifices of a successful revolution.  The story was specifically about Katniss and her family, but not just them. It was so compelling because as you pulled for the protagonist, you pulled for a whole society to change from a group of people who could condone the institutionalized violence and inhumanity of the games to a people who would not tolerate it. While I was very upset that Prim died in the end, I thought it was appropriate. For me Prim represented innocence. Katniss tried to protect that innocence, but the prices she paid over and over to protect Prim still didn't protect Prim. Prim became wise to the society's situation. Prim even advised Katniss at a crucial point early in the book. Prim became the Yoda/Obi-wan/Dumbledore, who of course Must Die. In Prim's wisdom, her innocence was lost. For me that was the point at which Katniss's fight became a fight against the wrongs of society rather than a fight to protect Prim.

2. While I don't wish to understate the importance of Gale to the story, I thought Peeta was the right one for Katniss. I didn't think so at first, because the kissing was better with Gale. But kissing is not the thing that Katniss "couldn't survive without," as Gale so presciently points out in the third book. Katniss could not live without the boy with the bread, who saved her life and gave her hope to live when her family was starving. She could not survive without the man who experienced the Hunger Games as only she had experienced them. Peeta, as her savior, was a big part of her life even before Gale's friendship made her life tolerable and her freedom valuable to her. 

I think Collins hinted at their destiny with the pearl, a symbol of Peeta's love, which Katniss accepted and treasured. In the third book especially, Katniss is always preoccupied with Peeta, how he is doing, if he is being tortured, etc. Gale is there for her, but he is right. She only kisses him when he is injured, or in other words, when she is motivated by pity.  When she wakes up from dreams in earlier books, it is Peeta she wants to hold her—another hint from Collins that Peeta is the really right one for her. Peeta tells her she would make a great mother, and she goes on in her mind about how she knows he is the one who would be a great father. She refuses to consciously think about him as a potential mate because she denies to herself that she will ever survive to that point or even consider being a mother.

The events of the third book also clinched that through the games Gale and Katniss had grown apart. Gale's violent and unsympathetic streak make him harder on the inside than Katniss. In spite of the fact that she has faced the Hunger Games twice, she remained compassionate and soft-hearted even toward enemies. She will never be able to forgive Gale for inventing the technology that killed Prim.

3. I thought Collins did a great job of making the third book into the third set of Hunger Games, with Coin as the Game master. I would like to hear everyone's thoughts on why Katniss approved the Hunger Games for the Capitol children. Was it because she knew she needed to approve in order to get in front of Coin with a weapon? I think so. I think she wanted to end the Hunger Games in all forms, and voted yes only so that she could kill Coin. I think she decided in that moment that Coin would continue the games in some form or another, and all of Katniss' work breaking the psychological hold of the games in the first book and the physical hold of the games in the second and third books would have been in vain. Does anyone think Katniss really approved? I think she thought those games wouldn't be held or would be forgotten if she killed Coin. Or maybe she was just in survival mode and knew she needed to get on that stage with a weapon, and that Snow would die anyway because of his health problems.

She does say "For Prim," so I could see it going both ways. It could be irony, meaning "I will kill Coin in revenge for Prim's life," or she could mean "The Capitol must experience the pain, grief, and loss of innocence that the rest of us have experienced at their expense." 

So what does everyone else think? I think I wish I had read the first two books again right before I read this one. I loved it.


Linz said...

I agree with every point you said. I loved the book too. And I totally thought that she voted yes as a strategy. At that point, she knew who was really responsible for Prim, so I knew right then that something was going down.

Great book - great review.

Annette Lyon said...

Her vote was total strategy--that's what Katniss excels at throughout the trilogy.

I loved reading your view as well as Zina's (how I find yours!).

Jessi said...

You're smart. Reading this helps me feel a little better about the ending.

Anonymous said...

Most of my comments are over on My Imaginary Blog, but what you said about Katniss saying "for Prim." I think that is what confused me the most... I remember thinking that that sounded more like something Gale would say than Katniss. It sounded to me like she was motivated by vengeance... and I was confused because I was sure that she would never ever wish what she had to endure on another human being, not even the children of her enemies. This is exactly what she was fighting _against_ the whole time. (And I did see through Coin when she presented killing everyone from the Capitol or a final hunger games using the children of the Capitol leaders as the only two options. There _was_ another option, which was to just be done with the war).

But now I think I get it. And yes, I think saying "for Prim" was a seal on Katniss' ploy to convince Coin of her vindictiveness. I think that Katniss by now saw clearly how a mind full of revenge and vengeance works (Coin, and even, sadly, Gale) and knew that appealing to Prim would convince Coin that Katniss wasn't just saying what she though Coin wanted her to say.

I also think Katniss was SO tired that fighting Coin at this point would have been perhaps more than she could bear... I also think that Katniss saw that she could end the war (to use Zina's analogy, kill the queen of the Chess game) by herself, without needing to put anyone else she loved in the fighting zone. Just Katniss and Coin at the very end.

AND, I also do think it's ironic, like you say, because Coin does not know that Katniss knows that it's Coin who sent Prim to her death, and Gale's invention that killed her. So yes, saying "for Prim" was rife with all kinds of subtlete ironies.

Saddie said...

I fully agree with all your points, but I cannot say I love this book. For me it lacked that certain je ne sais quoi that completely engaged me in the first two books. It was just so HEAVY throughout the whole book with little to lighten the mood and to propel me to keep reading. If it weren't for my deep love of the first two books, I probably wouldn't have finished. Luckily, I liked the ending and thought it an appropriate closing to an amazing series.

Marie Says Yes said...

yay, someone to talk to about this! first off, I totally agree about the whole gale/peeta thing. especially as she treasures the pearl, to me she could ONLY end up with him to find what she really needed but didn't know she needed. i think so much we don't know how to love what is best for us, or don't realize how much we really love it.
i have been thinking about why she voted yes to the third hunger games. i think that is the defining moment of the whole book -- throughout she (and we) are warned to look for who our real enemy is. I think in that moment it all comes slamming down -- power in that extreme is the enemy -- lies are the enemy. I think she said what it took to get up on that stage with her one arrow. Interesting how President Snow is almost her ally in that -- he plays the part of good guy for that one moment, even if with selfish motives, so she can see what is in front of her.
i love peeta. isn't he the person we all want to be?

The Rookie said...

I'm STILL reading thanks to school starting. I am so happy you didn't let me cheat myself with a spoiler. And for what it is worth, I've thoroughly enjoyed the escapism of the series.

angela michelle said...

I didn't love this book so much. But I agree that Katniss agreed to the final Hunger Games so that Coin wouldn't suspect any antagonist motives and Katniss could carry out her assassination plan. That's why she said she was hoping Haymitch would be able to perceive what she was doing and go along w her.

I think she said "For Prim" knowing that it would sound like a vow of revenge, but really it was her vow to end violence and oppression--which is what Prim really would have wanted.

Mary said...

I loved Mockingjay, too and everyone here that has read it didn't like it! People -- really!

Emily Mecham said...

So I'm a little slow, and only finished Mockingjay last night. I struggled more with this one than I did the first two. There was a fight in me that couldn't decide if I wanted her to be with Gale or Peeta. But in the end, when she says she couldn't live without Peeta's gentleness, it was like it all made sense (like I said, I'm a little slow).

Interesting thought on why Katniss agreed to another Hunger Games - I hadn't seen in in that light before. But I do think there was a part of her that wanted vengence, too.

Maddie Miner said...

I finally avoided homework long enough to finish Mockingjay and came back to read your spoiler...I think you're right on! I knew Katniss recognized that Coin was her real target over Snow, and I think that's why she agreed to hold the final Hunger Games. The theory that her vote really was for Prim, and Katniss really did agree with it, doesn't sit well with me because Prim would never want that. The series was definitely interesting, but left me needing a pick-me-up book real fast.