Friday, August 27, 2010

Bigtime Mockingjay Spoiler--Don't read unless you are done and want to discuss

Here are my thoughts.

While I love the characters in the HG trilogy at face value (I am firmly Team Peeta, BTW--he is my dream man) I think the true reason for the trilogy's popularity goes beyond even the great plot, characters, writing, etc.

It is the underlying theme, the basic sensitive, gentle and thoughtful nature of the author (who I met in person yesterday-swooooooon) that informs her ferocious story-telling skills. Suzanne Collins has something she wants to tell us. And her characters are more than just people. They are symbols.

Katniss is all of us--unsure, wanting to do good, but often mislead and used as a pawn in other people's agendas.

Snow, of course is just plain old base evil.

Gale--and this is controversial but I think after you've read the entire MG book you'll see my point. Gale is an example of how outrage, deprivation and abuse can make you a killer. Gale has become everything Katniss has tried to avoid. Gale is in transition to the point where he can become as bad as Coin, someone who might have started off as well-intentioned but lost sight of her moral compass. And this is what Katniss has always feared. And this is why things end so bad with Gale--no kissy-kissy. No closure. Katniss fears what Gale has become. What she might have become--if not for one person.

Which brings me to Peeta. Peeta is hope, beauty in the midst of chaos, love, everything that is good, that can still prevail even in the worst of circumstances. This is why when Peeta briefly turns bad it kills us (and Katniss) so much. Prim represents the same thing, but she is not as strong as Peeta. He is strength and beauty combined. SO in the end--Katniss had to choose Peeta. How could she not? He represents the hopeful future for humanity (and for her). Oh--and Haymitch. He's what you get when you are like Peeta, but without the hope. And Haymitch is whom Katniss might have become if she'd not found Peeta to remind her of why life is still worth living, even after you've survived the Hunger Games .


  1. Nice post. Agreed on all points. Such a great series.

  2. This is an interesting premise, Lisa. I admit that I stopped liking Gale after the District 2 mountain incident and you are right the possibility of Katniss becoming like Haymitch if not for Peeta.

    And Peeta. When he and Katniss first met and he tries to kill her -- that was so unexpected. I think the plot twist of Peeta "hating" Katniss was quite well done.

    There was NO way to end this book fluffy and sweet. It was a good balance between hope and the possibility of still more War.

  3. Lovely analysis, Lisa, and I am in total agreement. I was so ready for the third book to follow what I've come to expect as the formula for settling a choice between two good options--I was expecting either Peeta or Gale to have to sacrifice himself in the name of the greater good, either (in Gale's case) redeeming his fury or (in Peeta's case) doing what we were set up to understand he was willing, if not eager, to do all along.

    I was so moved by what happened instead. It was so much more real, and so much more unpredictable. And I am really, REALLY good at predicting the endings of books, by the way--it is a rare and beautiful thing when I am not only proved utterly wrong, but proved wrong in such a...well, I can't say satisfying, because I think part of the point is that there are no satisfying closures in true wartime situations...but in such a moving, true-feeling way.

  4. Wow ... Okay. But can we DISCUSS MOCKINGJAY!! There were a couple of things I just didn't "get" ... One, when they're going to do ANOTHER hunger games, does Katniss say she's for it because she wants to throw Coin off?? AND ... honestly, I didn't see much of a difference between Coin and Snow ... which, I think, was the point. They both used Katniss and their power for their own personal advancement ... Coin may have been more "refined", but she was dispicable.

    Also, another thing, I NEVER thought Katniss would ever go with GAle, you know? I just figured it'd be Peeta all the way (except for book one). Which, I think, is a little bit of a bummer. I wish Gale would've been more present in novel two to keep us thinking and wondering about her true love.

    I also LOVED how she played on the importance of media in a war -- the propaganda, the smoke and mirrors and USING people (mostly innocent) to perpetrate the ideas of each side. Just a step away from being a reality show. Brilliant ...

    Hmmmm ...
    Last thought for the moment ... Was MOCKINGJAY just CRAMMED with information, activity etc??? Did I feel like we read three books in one???

  5. PS ... HATED THE EPILOGUE. I just, on general principle, hate epilogues. It should've ended with "real."
    That was beautiful!!

  6. I was a little weirded out by her voting yes for the last Hunger Games, too. I have a couple thoughts. She may have read it as a final test of her (Katniss) fulfilling her part of the bargain for the victors' lives--appearing to fully support the rebellion, since Coin threatened to try them all as traitors if she didn't. At that point, Coin also removed Katniss's last doubts about the rebellion being behind the parachute bombing of the children, so I think that's the moment Katniss decided to kill her.

    Also I wondered if, having decided that, Katniss gave into a little bit of grief. Nothing was going to make up for losing Prim, but knowing that she was going to kill Coin anyway (and therefore end the possibility of another Hunger Games), she just caved for a minute to everything that had come before? I don't know.

  7. Kate, Yes--it was the realness of it--the sadness. It was dark, but how, after such misery can there be a true catharsis. It wasn't at all what I expected and that makes me love it all the more.

    Heidi--yes--Christine and I both agreed that it could have been two books. There was such a sense of rushing--of missing so much.

    But in the end, I don't care. The point that Coin and Snow are in the end, one and the same is the total point of the book.

    SC is Deeeeeeeeep. I'm most likely going to read the whole thing again at some point to appreciate the thematic sweep of it.

    And having met this genius, it's even now impossible for me to hate her or be jealous at all. :)

  8. Yeah--I wasn't too keen on the epilogue, but I think that was Collins way of saying --this thing is OVAH. No more about Katniss, Peeta and Gale. Kaput. (just like with Harry Potter). But I don't think it means we won't see either a prequel or one set a generation ahead with Katniss and Peeta's kid or someone of the post-Hunger games generation. And damn--I meant to ask but I had total googly-eyed brain freeze.

  9. I sometimes have to stand back a little and remember SHE'S A LITTLE GIRL ... From the time she was sixteen, she was manipulated, tortured and used by the government -- as a symbol, as a warrior ... unbelievable.
    Also, I LOVED the whole ROMAN EMPIRE references -- THE HUNGER GAMES being the Coliseum. The Capitol totally dependent on every district because they're totally useless ... really cool historical tie-in.

    Gruesome, though, huh? Absolutely bloody and sometimes just "ewwwww"

  10. Yeah--I know I am going to have to read it again. The whole experience for me was like eating an elaborate meal when starving and tasting almost nothing. And I do think that is partly because it was written that way.

  11. I don't have the stomach to read them again. It's so so unbelievably violent ... just really hard to get through sometimes.

    But of the three, which book was everyone's favorite?? I have to go with THE HUNGER GAMES for me before they're so war-torn, used, and grown-up ...
    (Harry Potter's book four was my favorite in that series) ...

  12. Lisa, you just said the whole of what I was thinking in one great post. :)

  13. I think Catching Fire was my fave. S.Collins actually read the scene where Katniss's wedding gown burns to become the Mockingjay, and oh--I had tears in my eyes. She is a powerful reader.

    Thank you, Lindsay!

  14. I found it to be unbearably sad at some points. I had to put it down even. I really cannot believe how sad the entire thing was.

    hello, by the way, I just finished it and needed to discuss!
    agree with you up there. I was not a fan of that epilogue. I think it would have ended better with 'Real' as well

  15. and favourite? thats a tough one. but I think Catching Fire as well. though all 3 are just amazing

  16. Another thought: How Katniss is a pawn for even the newly elected president, I think.

    Interestingly enough, the newly elected president of Panem (after Katniss kills Coin) used Katniss as well, letting her in to talk to Snow. Because she knew Katniss would kill Coin afterward.
    It's a never-ending cycle of hate, political subterfuge, all using Katniss as a pawn ... everything dispicable about government which leaves us with a bit of a horrible feeling that, though things will be "better" (we hope), we don't know.
    Incredibly dark series ... and horrifying. Because, at the end of the day, who's up to the task to run a decent government FOR the people instead of FOR personal advancement?

    It's so sad. (I agree, unbearably so at times). I can't read it again.

  17. I am just going to keep posting. I hope its not too annoying but I have to get it out.
    I really feel for poor Katniss in this one. she is just so tortured throughout the entire story! she is struggling to keep up and I actually found myself struggling along with her.
    Finnick and Prim's deaths suprised me the most. and the way that Katniss just shut herself away from everyone. S.Collins definitely out did herself with this one.

  18. Hi Lisa! Thanks for commenting on my essay. I have a few more essays that I will be posting next week.

    I will definitely have to re-read the last book.

  19. I think I will struggle to pick it up again. I really was waiting for it to get happier and to get prettier. but it never did. infact it just got uglier. very very dark I think, and this one is the darkest of them all. and Katniss was very much the pawn of the book. it irritated me how she was pulled and pushed around by everyone.

    I am glad Coin was killed, the nastyness of 13 and the betrayels and lack of trust is almost brutal. I found myself thinking "just give the girl a break"

  20. Oh yeah! Finnick. That was so awful. And Prim ... for a few pages, I didn't know if it was Katniss's imagination or reality ...
    So heartbreaking. I agree. It just never lightened up. Ever. There wasn't a break in the horror which is pretty brave for an author ... courageous to go so dark and so deep.

    I guess in the end, we see the hopefulness of this rag-tag group: Haymitch, Peeta and Katniss ... all trying to survive and move forward. But I can't imagine the nightmares and the horror they'll live with for the rest of their lives.

    And I can't believe they had kids. Honestly. That's Peeta's inherent goodness and hopefulness you talk about Lisa, because I would never bring a child into such a horrifying world.

  21. AHHHHHHH ... I'VE GOT TO WORK!! I'll check in later. It's been great to have a forum to share random thoughts and angst! THanks, Lisa.

    Hugs to all. Hug your kids, cats, and neighbors today. Ufff

  22. Great post Lisa! I loved MOCKINGJAY, and I loved it partly BECAUSE it was so dark - I've never been in combat, so I can't say how authentic it genuinely was, but it sure felt authentic to me. I had plenty of little quibbles with the book, but its strengths were SO strong that I forgave the little things without hesitation. Devastatingly good.

  23. Hey guys-- and HEY Brooke! I loved your essay!! You are awesome.

    Love this convo--Heidi you need Mac Freedom (or the PC version) shuts you offline for whatever interval you want--I just wrote nonstop for 30 minutes.

    Anyway--Heidi--We lived through 9-11 and two wars and total loss of innocence. I live in NYC and if I tell you how this entire city wanted to lay down and die for six entire Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan to get the gist--anyway--somehow we moved on, closer, stronger, better. SC lives in the metro area and I cant help but think this book was her therapy. I started writing BECAUSE of 9-11. My mom hid my under the bed during the Cuban Missile crisis (yeah--I'm old) and yet--on it goes. If not for the Peeta in all of us we'd all be Haymitch--or worse--Coin. (who I think should be played in the movie by John McCain in drag)

  24. Hey Mike--Devastingly good pretty much nails it for me.

  25. It was powerful, you know? I don't want to say I liked it that SC killed off so many characters, because it was wrenching - I actually was affected pretty deeply by Prim's death, and I really didn't want Finnick to go - but those deaths really served the story. It's a WAR story, after all. People die during war. Important and beloved people die during war. One thing that would have pulled me out of the story for certain would have been every emotionally significant character making it out alive after heading into the heart of the enemy's territory. Another one of the things that SC did so, so well was infuse the story with ethical complexity and amibiguity - Coin's proposal for a new round of Hunger Games was the instance that stuck with me the most, but it was just one example, and the book was a thousand times better for being so richly layered.

  26. Totally, Mike. Well put. It's awesome that one book has so many people talking about it.

  27. Prim's death hit me the hardest, but it was the part with Buttercup coming back to District 12 that really made me bawl like a baby. It was so cyclical from the "Entrails. No hissing. This is the closest we will ever come to love."[I think the quote is mostly correct, sorry if it isn't] They needed each other, and I was glad Buttercup found Katniss when he did.

    Katniss's vote in favor of the Capitol Hunger games threw me at first, too, but I figured it was just a ploy to keep Coin on her good side until the execution, but... it did seem like Katniss was all set to shoot Snow until the very last minute, so I'm not sure.

    I appreciated the epilogue as a sign of finality, but it was heart-wrenching to imagine poor Peeta pleading with her to have children. I mean, was the whole situation in the new Panem that bad that Katniss didn't want to bring kids into it? Did she think the next war was just around the corner? Or was it the memory of little Prim that kept her from wanting them? I don't want to over-analyze, and if I'd been through everything she'd been through, I wouldn't feel very maternal, either, but it did bother me a little.

    Other than that, I loved the series. I still can't read book 1 without getting all teary-eyed during Rue's scenes.

  28. Thanks for your thoughts, Tere. And I'll say it again. The phenomenon of a book so powerful as to elicit these strong emotions in us and to spur so much dialogue is awe-inspiring. I'm so glad to have this thread on my blog as a testament to the power of the written word. Thanks for adding to it and feel free to come back for more. And bring your friends!

  29. Nice analysis. Although I don't entirely agree with the Gale part, I do think that his rash and blunt nature is too destructive. He and Katniss are so alike in many ways, it would be impossible for her to ever live peacefully.

  30. True. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts, Patty.

  31. Great post, Lis, and great comments.

    Everyone has made eloquent points that I found true to my take on it, so I won't repeat them, but overall Mockingjay left me hollow.

    Can't quite put my finger on why - it's excellent - but I guess I needed more at the end. I do believe the strength and power of humanity lies in our ability to hope. To fight to rebuild our lives and future after horrific events, and I wanted to see Katniss be a hero in that sense.

    I mean, would it have been weak of her to find comfort, to find a spark of love for Peeta after all they'd been through? Or maybe it's there and I missed it?

    As wounded and broken as Katniss was, her spirit was crushed by the end and that was my major disappointment. I'll agree it's realistic, but this is fiction after all.

    SC deserved more of an emotional response from me as a reader than the measly meh I'm left with. My bad.