I'm going to attempt to put the bulk of my review under a cut here so that people don't accidentally come upon it and have their eyes burned out by the spoilers. But I think this is going to be less of a review and more of an analysis. So click on through for my thoughts.
I was bothered by much of Katniss through Mockingjay...though I feel like it was intentional. For most of the book she was either being propped up by the rebels as their symbol of being sedated in a hospital somewhere. It was a heartbreaking turn for Katniss, the girl on fire who spent two books kicking ass and taking names. Gone was the drive and the ferocity for survival. But the truth was that out in the real world, a person like her was virtually useless. After two hunger games, she was little more than a weapon herself. And without someone to point at, she found herself fairly useless. Her main drive through most of the book was to find and kill President Snow, but she was blinded to the evil she'd thrown herself in with...more on that later. The real development came at the end. After the death of Prim, Katniss really had nothing. Her mother had abandoned her after the death of her father, and Prim was the only family she had left. The hunger games, the war, had left her so badly scarred, so wrecked as a human being that she couldn't even deny that she'd throw the children of the Capitol into the arena...she was THAT damaged. But she knew it and her final act was to kill Coin. She knew that they'd only traded one ruthless ruler for another. Coin was no better than Snow and in order for Panem to survive, both had to die. Katniss knew that she would help create a world that she was unfit to live in.
That she survived and was sent back to 12 was almost more heartbreaking than if she'd lived. Still, this is the girl who swore up and down at the beginning of the series that she'd never fall in love, never get married, never have children, because she couldn't bear the thought of them growing up the way she had. That she does fall in love, that she does realize that Peeta gives her the things she lacks (compassion, comfort, sensitivity), and that she does finally have children, shows that, while she's never going to be okay...never going to be whole...she's created a world where she can love and can raise children, because their life will be better than hers.
Of all the characters, Peeta broke me the most. Why? Because Snow had taken the one pure character and twisted him. Had taken every good thing about Peeta and turned it into a weapon. And rightfully so. Snow knew that killing Peeta would only fuel Katniss' anger. Torturing him would only make him a target for rescue. The one thing they could do to him was make him hate Katniss, truly hate her. Because they knew what even Katniss didn't know: that Peeta was her anchor. Having to watch him struggle and come back from that was so difficult.
Yet the end is fitting. Katniss realizes she loves him, now that even he's flawed. Katniss realizes that the last two years of her life, she's been on fire. She's lived on a steady diet of rage and anger. The one thing she needs now, now that the war is over, is love. And Peeta offered her that unconditionally.
Poor Gale. I think through the book, though Gale doesn't appear much, his trajectory was always set. He was always going to be a true rebel, someone willing to do anything to win. Katniss killed when necessary, each life weighed her down, but Gale was willing to slaughter a whole mountain, and he was willing to die himself, for the cause. Katniss would never be able to love someone like that. The anger that burned in them both would have been combustible. The fact that he was indirectly responsible for the death of Prim sealed it. The saddest line was when Gale said that protecting her family was the one thing he had going for him, and then walked away.
It's fitting that this whole journey began with Katniss stepping in to save Prim. That was when Prim was a child, unable to protect herself. But the Prim we met in book two and then again in book three was a different girl. She was never going to be the warrior Katniss was, but she had become her own person. Despite the fact that she was placed in the front lines by Coin to be killed doesn't change the fact that she was where she wanted to be. She died as her own person, and while I hate that she had to die, I think Katniss would have never been able to move on if she hadn't.
I know that it was never explicitly stated that Coin sent the parachutes that killed the children and Prim, but I think it's pretty probable. Snow promised never to lie to her, and he kept that promise. Also, Coin knew that Katniss was going to be a problem and that killing Prim would incapacitate her to the point where she'd be useless. It was a neat trick...that backfired.
Coin and Snow
Trading one monster for another. That's what I thought from the first moment I met Coin. She was no better than Snow, and her action proved that. I really felt like Collins gave us a searing commentary on both capitalist and communist societies. The Capitol under Snow was a decadent capitalist society where the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. It was the have vs. the have-nots. Then in comes Coin from 13 to save the day. In her society, everyone has enough. But I saw it as a representation of a communist society. All the resources of the society (including the people) belong to the state who dictate their uses. Their means were no better than the Capitol's. Coin and 13 were just as vicious, just as cruel. For me, it was clenched when the idea of another hunger game was proposed. Violence should not beget violence. At some point, someone had to stop it. Obviously, Coin wasn't going to be that person. Snow knew that. That's why he laughed. He laughed because the tool (Katniss) that the rebels had fashioned to bring down Snow, had ultimately been all their undoing. It was a fitting end to both leaders.
Haymitch, Finnick, and the others
In Panem, life and death are both cheap. We learned the sad tales of both Finnick and Haymitch, and I was heartbroken for both. When Finnick died, I had to read it three times because it happened so quickly. Like I said, death is cheap. And there were no easy outs for Haymitch either. Just because the games are done and the war is over, doesn't mean he gets to escape his demons. He still spends his last days a drunkard. Surrounded by people he loves, yes, but still haunted.
Boggs and Cinna and the film crew...all great characters who were along for the ride.
In the End...
In the end I know that a lot of people felt that this last book was full of hopelessness. They wanted there to be an all out battle with clear winners and clear losers. But the saddest part of war is that even when their are victors, there are no winners. Everyone loses in war. As far as we can see, little has changed. The districts are still the districts. The people in power are different, but are they? Will one become the next Snow? The next Coin? Plutarch has the right of it when he tells Katniss that humans have short memories. Soon, all the bloodshed and pain will be forgotten and the next conflict will threaten to undo them all. It's a sad fact of life and sadly mirrored by our own society.
None of our characters gets a happy ending. Katniss is haunted, Peeta will forever be hijacked, Gale will never escape what he did, Haymitch, Katniss' mother, the prep team, no one gets their happily ever after. And that's okay, because that how the world works. To allow the characters to slide into normal happy lives would be to invalidate all that came before. No one goes through what they went through and comes out unscathed. Sure, it might have been cathartic for the readers to get that happy ending, but it wouldn't have been real. I know that disappointed many but I felt it was perfect.
And yet, the seeds of hope were planted. Plutarch HOPES that humans will learn this time, will get it right. Twelve doesn't revert back to the poor mining town it was, but to a place that makes medicine. The arenas are demolished. Annie had Finnick's child. And Katniss, who swore never to bring children into such a horrible world, has had not one, but two children. Yes, she waited 15 years, but maybe by then she saw that the world WAS changing. Every parent fears the world they bring their child into, but they do it in the hopes that they can make the world better than the one that came before. That's the best anyone can hope for.
Maybe it wasn't tied up with bows and flowers, but it was fitting.
There were cosmetic things I had problems with...more exposition than in previous book...less development of the plot...meaning I could have seen this broken into two books easily, though I'm glad it wasn't. But in the end, I think that Collins had the bravery to end the series just right. This was a grim, gritty, bleak series. To undo all of that with happy endings would have been an insult. I was sad for the losses, happy that Katniss embraced her feelings for Peeta, and satisfied with the end.
This was one awesome book. Real or not real?