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I loved Mockingjay. Here’s why, copied directly (with a little editing) from my facebook conversation with my sister Lili and my mom:
Although the book was full of surprises for me, I was also happy that my vision of where I thought the story should go actually meshed very well with Collins’. For example, I’ve always been completely, unwaveringly sure that Peeta was the right one for Katniss. His hijacking was a fabulous plot twist, though, to force Katniss to realize that and to choose him and make an effort to win him, and for him to break out of the pathetic puppy role. It IS horrible how much he and Katniss are broken by all they do and go through, but that’s very much the point of the book and it would be unrealistic/unsatisfying if they just hopped up unscathed and became the next presidents of the Republic. (I did wonder if the plot would go that way, but I like the actual ending better.)I was very afraid that the hanging song was foreshadowing a Romeo-and-Juliet tragic ending for Katniss and Peeta. But I always thought either they would both die or both survive. I wasn’t sure about Gale surviving, but thought it would be a better plot if he did, so again, that satisfied me.
I also thought that the ending would be much better/stronger if Katniss did not kill Snow, and I predicted/hoped it would go that way.
Also, you’ve missed a little nuance in the scene where they vote about a new Hunger Games. All through the book there have been hints that Coin is evil–perhaps as evil as Snow–and when Coin suggests a new Hunger Games, that’s when Katniss realizes her suspicions are dead on, and Coin is destined to become just as terrible a tyrant. I believe it’s right then that Katniss makes the decision to kill Coin. She votes in favor of the new Hunger Games to keep Coin from being suspicious. That’s what it meant when she said that she hoped Haymitch knew her as well as she thinks he does. And I think he does know her that well, guesses her plan, and that’s why he votes with her.
I was also pretty sure Katniss would do something other than killing Snow and change the course of the event, but the swiftness and tidyness of it was very satisfying.
So she kills Coin to be sure there WON’T be any more Hunger Games.
[In the following part I’m responding to a review by Lili’s friend that Lili had linked to.]
I don’t think that readers or fans owe anything to the author or story, but I have to admit that I think that readers who were disappointed missed the point. So I guess it’s not so much that I think the reader should “give the author a chance to tell the story he meant to tell” as that, as a reader I want to figure out what story the author meant to tell, and, if it’s a story that resonates with me and interests me, I want to engage with it. I want both to be surprised by the details of how the story unfolds, and also make accurate predictions about the overall themes and story arc. Collins satisfies both of those desires for me. I guess that means she both imagines things I wouldn’t have (which keeps me interested in the story) but also has very similar morality and sense of story to mine–both attributes I look for in an author.I also disagree with your friend that the romance is only peripheral. I think the romance, or at least the expression and depiction of the romance, take a back seat to the action BECAUSE Katniss’ life, and the lives of all those she loves, are manipulated and abused, and all her genuine emotions are stolen from her to the point where she’s afraid to experience or express them. Also, Collins is very subtle/tasteful about depictions of romance–very modest, actually. But the romance is _absolutely_ core to the story. And in my view, it triumphs.
I think the romance is subtle and constantly being pushed aside and damaged by events, (like a dandelion that keeps getting mowed . . . yeesh, lookit me bein’ all cute) but it’s also THE connecting thread for everything, and Katniss’ being freed to experience it genuinely would be the only happy ending. That’s why I so feared a tragic Romeo/Juliet ending–because, as the hanging song suggests, that would be the simplest and most obvious way for Peeta and Katniss to be freed.
Another thing about the vote with Coin: Haymitch’s response is “I’m with Katniss.” Not that he’s in favor of a Hunger Games, but that he trusts there’s a reason for her vote (and possibly has even guessed what it is).
Another thought: This might not even be intentional in the book, but I was thinking how at every turn Katniss has been used as a pawn in the Games, and she only finally ends the Games by killing the Queen (Coin).
That’s everything I said on Facebook. Mom and Lili, I opted not to include your parts of the conversation, but feel free to include them in the comments.
I also really like what my blog-friend (and Lili’s real-life friend) Jenny said at her blog, which you can find here.
I could probably go on at much greater length about this book, but one final thought for now is that I think Katniss finally daring to have children is an absolutely perfect epilogue.