Date: August 24, 2010
Series or Standalone: Series, book 3
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12.
First line: "I stare down at my shoes, watching as a fine layer of ash settles on the worn leather."
My thoughts on this will be random. So, bare with me. I wanted to post a non-spoiler review and tell everyone that it was awesome and I loved it but I didn't know how much of that I could say before it was annoying.
I am sorry about the spoilers. Well, I'm half sorry. The other half of me is excited to jump in and talk about a few moments. These are only my thoughts & opinions. There is no proven validity to them at all. Again, there are spoilers. If you want my non-spoiler thoughts, you can go here. Anyway, spoilers. Many.
The girl who is on fire
That's probably one of the most genius lines of this series...and it's one that plays a role, a deep, meaningful role, in all three books. It's beautiful in ways that I can't explain beauty. It's a moving scene throughout this story and I never expected it. When I look back on the series as a whole, I can only think of the genius of this move.
The beginning and everything in between
I love the beginning. It's exactly where we were in book one, yet it's completely different. Then, it was home. Now, it is a graveyard. (which, I find symbolic, considering she is pretty dead on the inside, like District Twelve. Lost, like the bodies in the dust. A graveyard being built over but not fixed, like the ending.) Immediately, we see District Thirteen and know that is different than any of the others. They, perhaps, are more controlling than the Capital. I believe, they pulled all the strings--more than we saw.
I love so many things about the early chapters: Katniss hiding in closets. Katniss finding Buttercup--who ends up being an unexpected metaphor for Katniss. The lines that are drawn between Katniss and Plutarch and Coin. The fire of Gale. The role of Mockingjay that Katniss is thrown into. And, of course, Haymitch, who I've always loved.
I think from the first moment she sees Peeta on the screen, she realizes his love for him and the story, even though it's early on, takes on a new purpose. Yes, there's the war but more, there is Peeta and he is all she wants to save. He and Prim are the only ones she ever wanted to save. She's done everything for them.
Hi-jacking of Peeta and Katniss
I almost lost it. Peeta--soft, kind, loving, hopeful Peeta--is gone. The hi-jacking of Peeta made me want to quit but I didn't. I knew the ending, that she chose him and honestly, if I didn't, I probably wouldn't have been able to keep reading. The suspense of it would have killed me. (I have issues.) Those scenes were the hardest thing to process and read. It was a bold, genius move on SC's part. This could be the end of them, but we all know it's really the beginning.
"Finally he can see me for who I really am. Violent. Distrustful. Manipulative. Deadly. And I hate him for it." (page 232)I think when she flees to District Two, she is fleeing the fear of losing Peeta forever. It's such a possibility that it's unbearable and there, she comes to terms with it. She expects it so she's not disappointed. Katniss, if you look at it deeper, is always disappointed. In others, in her mother, in her father, in life, in her expectations, in herself. I'm not saying she's perfect--she's not--but she's got validity.
The traps in the Capital
Some of these scenes were disappointing. I wanted to see more, to know more than she passed out. I was explaining the book to a co-worker and I believe I said "she wakes up and..." three or four times. It's a major part of the story where there should be story. I digress. All the deaths were devastating...especially Finnick. I'm glad that we got to see him happy. That he got married, that we learned the truth about him before he died. His death, though disappointing, was understood. They all were. There had to be sacrifices. There had to be reasons for Katniss to go on, for everything to be made right. There are always sacrifices for love and happiness.
Sacrifices. This scene was the one the one that made me lose my grasp on anything. Prim. I don't have words still to express the emotions.
"Even in my deadened, drugged condition, this sends a stab of pain through me. Reminding me that there are no limits to his cruelty. And how he will go to his grave trying to destroy me." (page 356)However, the next chapter was the most beautiful thing I've ever read. It's my favorite part.
"I am Cinna's bird, ignited, flying frantically to escape something inescapable. The feathers of flame that grow from my body. Beating my wings only fans the blaze. I consume myself, but to no end." (page 348)Why she said "yes...for Prim"
There has been some debate on why she says yes when Coin tells the surviving tributes about the Hunger games for the Capital children. I have a thought. I thought it when I first read--and re-read--the section. It threw me too but I came to some kind of an answer and in that answer, I have found peace with the situation.
When she says "yes...for Prim." I think she already knows that she's going to kill Coin. She already knows that Coin is the enemy because as Snow says, they agreed never to lie to one another. At that moment, sitting there and listening to this ridiculous idea that she's been fighting against--this game that has changed her life FOREVER--she realizes it's true. Coin is the enemy, too, and all of her suspicions are confirmed.
If she said no, then she wouldn't have a "legit" reason to kill Coin--but Coin could kill them. They would become the traitors. All of them. Now, it looks like Katniss has a solid reason to kill Coin: to stop the Hunger Games. So, when she says "yes...for Prim." it affirms the reason she's done everything she's done.
She's done everything for Prim...the HG, the reaping, the returns, surviving, caring, loving. She's done it for her sister and now, she's gone. She's gone because of Coin. It is Katniss' reminder that revenge, the final death on her list (Snow and now Coin), the peace that she's been fighting for and losing, is for her sister too. Even if her sister is gone, she can still protect the rest of the children and I think this is her last and truest personal act of leadership. This is her being the revolutionary that others saw her as, a role that she doesn't really fulfill anywhere else by choice. It's always forced upon her until this moment.
I don't believe she ever intended them to go back into the arena. It was a game she was playing with Coin...and Haymitch saw it. That's why he agreed. After all, he knows Katniss. They are the same and I think he understood from the moment he looked at her and agreed. In light of the ending and everything else, it makes some sort of sense. To me anyway.
Katniss wasn't the revolution
Peeta was. We know this. He is the reason, the inspiration. He, with the words about being a pawn in book one, make him such. Sure, she's the one who gets blamed and gets the role of Mockingjay but he's the persuasive one; the face of the people; the victor. Katniss is along for the ride. When she says yes to Coin to be the Mockingjay, she's doing it to save him. To save them all. She does it because it is what he would've done. It's not for her or for leadership or about her. It's about Peeta and Annie and everyone else. It's about hope.
Why it could never have been Gale
I read HG and CF in May for the first time. When I finished HG, I heard some debate at work about Team Gale vs. Team Peeta. I hadn't read CF so I was confused. Where did Gale come from? I never saw him as a love interest until someone mentioned it. Even then, I didn't understand it. Gale didn't make sense. He was her friend, her provider really. There was never anything romantic about them. There was safety and provision. They were a team but they weren't lovers. I was always for Peeta because it made sense.
"Back in the old days...Gale said things like this and worse. But then they were just words. Here, put into practice, they become deeds that can never be reversed." (page 205)As Katniss said, Peeta was her calm, her dandelion. Gale was a fire all his own. Fire needs air to survive and Peeta is that. Fire and fire would only destroy. And, let's remember, she is the girl on fire.
It's disheartening that readers have been disappointed. There is no other way it could have ended. There is hope in the ending for the future. Their children are the future, the hope, the gift, the fear, the promise all at once. The simple idea that she did have children is the reveal of that hope. It took her "five, ten, fifteen years," but once the peace spread around Panem, she had them. The debates that Peeta forced her or hurt are beyond ridiculous. Read it again.
I've also heard a few times that the epilogue is like Harry Potter. My reply is: It's not. I wasn't a fan of the epilogue in HP (I wanted their not to be one because of his permanent death in the battle...) and I don't claim to know why JK wrote that. But did that epilogue make you hate the whole book--or the whole series? No. It didn't. And I don't see them (MJ/HP-DH) as parallel endings at all.
I think this one was purposeful. It's all about looking for the purpose--and wanting to find it. I was pleased with it. If I had been Team Gale, I would've still been pleased. They all followed the right course. Gale moved on, didn't look back. And sucky as it is, sometimes it happens. Peeta and Katniss rebuilt their lives, together and separately. Peeta loved her. They healed together. They loved each other.
I borrowed this from Alex Bracken, who defends the girl on fire bravely. I agree with it and I wanted to share it. I agree with ALL of the post. (You should go read it too.)
I think people who saw this trilogy as a big statement on war and politics and revolution must have been disappointed by MOCKINGJAY (especially that guy that came up with the whole Pearl Conspiracy Theory). For me, it’s always been a look at how violence and grief affects us on a personal level. This is why I valued the romance aspect of the series, even as everyone else was saying that the politics were the most important aspect. Romance was important, because it was important to Katniss and any future life she might have had.
At the end of this book, I was just glad to see Katniss out from under the thumbs of others. She was free from being forced to be a player in a game she never wanted to play.
The Hanging Tree song
If anyone has any ideas or thoughts on that, please share them with me. I get the relevance of it...somewhat. Sometimes, I'm not sure why it's there. Maybe I'm missing something but I didn't want to address it and be completely off-base. If you have ideas, I'd love to hear the explanation.
Final Thoughts on the book: I loved it. I love the whole trilogy. One bad scene does not outweigh hundreds of great ones.