Nataliya's Reviews > Mockingjay

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
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Nov 20, 2015

really liked it
bookshelves: awesome-kickass-heroines, dystopia-postapocalyptic, for-my-future-hypothetical-daughter, i-also-saw-the-film
Read from December 18 to 19, 2010 — I own a copy , read count: 2

All Katniss really wants is to not be "a piece in their games". But nobody apparently got the memo. Once again, she is a pawn in somebody's power games. Same shit, different day. Only the Gamemakers have changed.

The above are synonymous in the eyes of the Capitol. Or District 13, for that matter.

Even free from the clutches of the Capitol, Katniss still has a role to play - whether she wants it or not. This time it's Mockingjay, the face of the rebellion she unwittingly helped to bring. But the puppeteers now are the supposedly good guys - District 13. They rescued her and now have plans for her. Unfortunately, nobody asked Katniss whether SHE wanted to be steered and manipulated without her knowledge into ending up exactly where they needed her for the benefit of their cause. The makeovers, speeches, and roles to play are all waiting for the girl who is supposed to be their Mockingjay. Sounds eerily Capitol-like, right?

If you expected a story where Katniss is the leader of the rebellion and kicks Capitol's ass, you will be gravely disappointed. This is NOT a story of war and revenge and justice. Instead, it is a story about suffering and pain of a young woman devastated and broken by horrendous things that have happened to her. It is quite PAINFUL and traumatic to read. Which is the entire point.

Katniss Everdeen is a badass, no argument here. She was "the girl on fire", after all. But she is not a fiery revolutionary destined to lead the rebellion. She never wanted to change the world. She did all her wonderful, brilliant, and brave acts of defiance out of the drive to help her loved ones survive and out of pure human compassion which is plentiful under her seemingly gruff and cynical exterior. She just wanted peace and safety. She is not a fighter - she is the ultimate survivor.
"I guess there isn't a rule book for what might be acceptable to do to another human being."
Badass or not, Katniss does not possess the conviction of every successful revolutionary - that the end justifies the means (the end being a better and brighter future.

"But that kind of thinking... you could turn it into an argument for killing anyone at any time. You could justify sending kids into the Hunger Games to prevent the districts from getting out of line."

Therefore you'd be better off leaving changing the world and leading the uprisings to the 'real' rebels and visionaries. Like Gale, who also designed a deadly trapped exploiting human compassion. Like Coin, who successfully led her District to overturn Snow-led Capitol. You see, in order to be a successful leader, you need to be ruthless, to be willing to overlook small casualties and sacrifices for the sake of a bigger picture, the greater good. Katniss can't. She is too human for that. And that's why I love her. And that's why she is always a threat to everyone's plans.
My favorite - because it's the most believable - thing about Katniss is that she is not invincible. Unlike many characters in other books, she does not bounce back quickly from extremely traumatic effects; she is terribly affected by them instead.

"It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart."
Katniss has been through more than most people can imagine. She experienced the worst nightmare of the world of Panem - the Hunger Games - twice. She was used and manipulated, sustaining mental and physical injuries. She blames herself for the deaths of thousands of her friends and neighbors. And she has almost nobody to rely on. Peeta was taken away from her. Even her best friend Gale is further than she can reach - in his dream world of the uprising, basking in the satisfaction of doing what he always wanted. And eventually whatever's left of Katniss' innocence gets completely shattered by (view spoiler) and realizing how she - and the rest of the country - been ultimately manipulated.

And from all that comes her ultimate act of defiance - after all, what did you expect from a girl whose defiance was what started the whole thing?


And as for what occupied the minds of many a teenager reading this book - who will Katniss ultimately end up with, Gale or Peeta? Well, was it even a choice, really? It's not about these two boys, but - as very explicitly stated - about what they represent. Some, I know, were disappointed that she 'settles' for (to Katniss' own dismay) "whoever she thinks she can't survive without".Well, DUH. She is the ultimate survivor. And support, peace, understanding and trust are the founding blocks of any partnership. It's not all about the spark that kindles the fire, you know. It's about what makes it possible for you to keep going. Peeta knows what it's like to be used and broken, while Gale never did.
She's had enough fire and hatred for a lifetime. That's all, folks.

"What I need to survive is not Gale's fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again."
Another sad - and realistic - thing that I love in this book is that there is no happy ending. Katniss survives, but it comes at a price. She remains haunted by the past, even twenty years later. She never completely recovers, and my heart breaks for her.
"I'll tell them how I survive it. I'll tell them that on bad mornings, it feels impossible to take pleasure in things because I'm afraid it could be taken away. That's when I make a list in my head of every act of goodness I've seen someone do. It's like a game. Repetitive. Even a little tedious after more than twenty years.
But there are much worse games to play."
This is a bleak and painful book about the consequences of war and manipulation, and about the mental devastation that comes with it. It is my favorite book of this series, and I love it. 4 stars. Despite a slight PTSD it gave me.
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Comments (showing 1-43 of 43) (43 new)

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message 1: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim I still haven't decided if I will continue on with this series. If you leave it at book 1 it's still a good story.

Catie Yes! I agree with everything you said here. I never viewed the ending as settling. She was surviving, just like always. This one is my favorite too. (And of course I love the more realistic/ambiguous ending.)

Great review!

[Name Redacted] Nataliya, do you think that those of us who didn't enjoy the first novel will enjoy the second and third? I know sometimes authors can improve.

Nataliya Ian wrote: "Nataliya, do you think that those of us who didn't enjoy the first novel will enjoy the second and third? I know sometimes authors can improve."

Ian, I don't think so. The style remains very similar, and so does the degree of suspension of disbelief that you need to have in order to enjoy it. I think she gets better in the third book, but not enough to make you enjoy it if the first novel did not grab you. The three books read like three connected parts of the whole, and you not liking the first is likely a good indicator that you will not enjoy the rest.

Nataliya Kat wrote: "I must confess that I cannot relate to Katniss' walking-wounded mindset. I was raised to believe that the right path is a combination of Clint Eastwood and Mahatma Gandhi: No matter what tragedy st..."

Kat, your definition of badass is awesome. But Katniss is a seventeen-year-old girl who has been through too much in too short of a time, and was thrust into all of that completely unprepared. Her reaction seems very appropriate. From what I have seen of teens who have been through rather traumatic experiences, she is acting just like one would expect. I do think that if she were older and more experienced, she could have lived up to your definition of badass.

On a very unrelated side note - every time I see Clint Eastwood's name, I automatically think of Roland Deschain from Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" series.

Jane After the movie, and your review, I may be read books 2 and 3, I may even become a fan, because I love stories where there is no perfect happy ending.

Sesana Excellent review, Nataliya. You nailed exactly what made Mockingjay so realistic to me. She's been through so much, and it just keeps coming, and getting worse, and there's no end in sight... Yes, I can totally understand her hiding, and shutting down.

Jessica I really like your Review. I agree with you 100%

Nataliya Kat wrote: "If Katniss were in ear reach of me, I would tell her so. But only after I had given her a momma bear hug."

You know, I think that's a huge part of Katniss' issues and her slow recovery from the huge mental trauma. She has NOBODY to give her a momma bear hug.

Her mother abandoned her completely after Prim's death, staying in District 4 because she could not bear coming back. Just like she checked out after Katniss' father died, leaving her twelve-year-old daughter to recover from this trauma on her own. The mother abandoned Katniss twice in the times of greatest need! And her best friend Gale - disappearing without a word, abandoning her as well. Only Peeta eventually came around, with severe mental injuries as well.

With love and support, Katniss may have done much better. Even though I do hope that despite what appears to be incomplete recovery, she still has more good days than bad days.

message 10: by VMom (new) - rated it 5 stars

VMom So great to read your review just after I reread the books 2 & 3. I hated the deaths the first time I read the series; it took a re-read years later after watching the movie for me to understand the story Collins is telling. Heartbreaking, painful, and yet ultimately a triumph of hope.

Brandon Excellent review!

Nataliya Thanks, Brandon!

message 13: by Zoe (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zoe Brilliant review!

Nataliya Zoe wrote: "Brilliant review!"

Thanks, Zoe!

Lauren I love this review. It's comforting to read another person took this book the same way I did. It was disheartening to read so many people didn't accept Katniss in the end.

Nataliya Lauren wrote: "I love this review. It's comforting to read another person took this book the same way I did. It was disheartening to read so many people didn't accept Katniss in the end."

Thanks, Lauren. I think it's easy to misjudge and misunderstand her actions and motivations, but in the end for me it was a very believable and sad way to end this story. I loved how Collins wrapped it up, and I loved Katniss to pieces.

Cristina Delgado Just amazing! I love this review!
That´s exacly what I felt when I read the book =)

Nataliya Cristina wrote: "Just amazing! I love this review!
That´s exacly what I felt when I read the book =)"

Thanks, Cristina!

Mauve7 Truly insightful and amazing review.

Nataliya Mauve7 wrote: "Truly insightful and amazing review."


Hannah *points* What Mauve7 said. I've been stewing over this book, and you've put into words what I never could.

Nataliya Hannah wrote: "*points* What Mauve7 said. I've been stewing over this book, and you've put into words what I never could."

Thanks, Hannah!

message 23: by Olga (new) - rated it 5 stars

Olga It is my favorite as well, for those exact reasons

Nataliya Olga wrote: "It is my favorite as well, for those exact reasons"

As they say, great minds think alike ;)

Nermin Amazing as ever, Nataliya :)

Nataliya Narmin wrote: "Amazing as ever, Nataliya :)"

Thanks, Narmin!

Nermin you're welcome :)

Ronyell Awesome review Nataliya!! This book was really intense!

Larisa I can appreciate this point of view, and I do need to reread this book seeing as the first (and only) time I read it I strongly disliked it. I was rushing to finish it just to get it over with, because the more I had to live inside of Katniss’s head with her trauma, the more uncomfortable I got. Not to mention love triangles are a cliche that put a bad taste in my mouth without fail, so the whole Gale v.s. Peeta crap was annoying to the bitter end. I don’t think my opinion of that will ever change, though, and the only reason I could stand to finish the entire trilogy was that the love triangle wasn’t even close to being the point of the story, so at least there’s that.

I’ve got this mindset where, in the best stories, the protagonist is the “hero,” and I want the hero to have some sort of hopeful ending, especially if they’ve been through a lot of crap. To me, Mockingjay just kind of ended with Katniss and Peeta in limbo. And it makes sense, given everything they’ve been through. It just wasn’t really what I was looking for in this series at the end of the day. Again, I’m gonna give this and the other two books (which I liked) a closer read, to see if I can’t get a better understanding and appreciation for it. As of now I really can’t stand this book. I was talking about it with a friend earlier, then decided to check out some GR reviews to see varying opinions, and to see if others touched on the things I didn’t care for, such as the deaths that I personally found superfluous.

At the end of the day I think that I read mainly to escape the real world, not to be reminded of it. Mockingjay was strikingly true to life. There wasn’t one moment where I blamed Katniss for any of her feelings. I did get tired of it, though, and even though it was painful I hung on. I want to read her story again to see if can’t work through my discomfort and try to appreciate it for what it is. As it stands I still strongly dislike Mockingjay, but maybe that will change if I can break myself out of my escapism bubble and try to appreciate what you call the “survivor,” rather than looking for my “hero” which I seem to default at. It might help to read this with different expectations, and knowing what I’m in for helps.

That being said, I enjoyed reading your review. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Nataliya @ Larisa: I can easily understand how the atmosphere of 'Mockingjay' can be off-putting to readers. I think you pinpointed it very well - Katniss is a survivor instead of a hero, which is somewhat of a change from the first two books. This switch in emphasis worked for me - and clearly disappointed many others.

Thanks for your excellent comment!

StoryTellerShannon One of my sister-in-laws had a HUGE problem with this novel but she was seeking a happy love story ending and even though I tried to tell her it wasn't that type of book she wasn't accepting it. She wanted her Cinderella tale. Heh.

Good distinction in your review. :)

Nataliya StoryTellerShannon wrote: "One of my sister-in-laws had a HUGE problem with this novel but she was seeking a happy love story ending and even though I tried to tell her it wasn't that type of book she wasn't accepting it. Sh..."

This book seems to have disappointed quite a few people precisely because it went against all the expectations. I can imagine how - had I been waiting for it to be released for some time, I may have been disappointed, too (that's probably exactly what happened with GRRM's 'A Dance with Dragons' - the expectations were built up and the book did not deliver what I expected). But I was lucky enough to read all three back-to-back and therefore had no time in which to build up predictions and expectations.

Nicki Oh it makes me feel better to know that I'm not the only one who seriously suffered some form of PTSD after this series ended. It affected me more than any book I've ever read. The bittersweet ending couldn't have been any different, and I agree 100% with your review (which puts into words what I wanted to say, only better!). And the part about Katniss and how strong she was, the ultimate survivor... I think every reader pretty much is both grateful they didn't have to endure what she did and also hopeful that they could be half as strong as she was in this book. Loved the review.

Addison I agree with you, Nat and my heart pains for Katniss. But what I love most about the book is that it's realistic. There are no magical recoveries and no easy letting go business. Hunger Games Trilogy, my prized possession.

Valter Natalyia, thank you for your fine review. It's the best about this book I read so far.
BTW, the book dind't give me PTSD; rather, it revealed me I HAVE PTSD and I AM (kind of) a survivor, similarly to Katniss.
Here lies the power of a story and of a character: to mirror who you are. And that's why we love reading good stories.

Nataliya Valter wrote: "Natalyia, thank you for your fine review. It's the best about this book I read so far.
BTW, the book dind't give me PTSD; rather, it revealed me I HAVE PTSD and I AM (kind of) a survivor, similarly..."

You are welcome. I hope you are finding ways to deal with your PTSD; it's a very difficult condition to live with and it affects all aspects of life. I hope you are getting the help and support you need to help you overcome it. Good luck!

message 37: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan I also appreciated the no "happily ever after" and therefore more realistic ending.

Nataliya Lisa wrote: "I also appreciated the no "happily ever after" and therefore more realistic ending."

Yes. Not ideal, but definitely more realistic (if we can actually use this word in the context of a YA dystopian story ;)

Randal Martin I was so angry with the author by the time she killed Prim, I stopped the audiobook and deleted it from my phone. The way she killed off Finnick and treated poor Peeta, it was like she was tired of the book, the series, and the characters and wanted to be shed of them any way possible. I wonder if maybe she was a writer for the tv series "Lost."

I can picture it now.

"I don't know how to end this series."

"I know. I'll just kill everybody off."

"What about the millions of people who have become so vested in the story lines and the characters? Won't they be upset?"

"Let them eat goat cheese apple tarts."

Nataliya @ Randall: You know, deciding to kill off characters does not mean the author is 'tired of book , the series'. George R.R. Martin was applauded for doing just that in his 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series. Not every character gets to live happily ever after, as much as people who love those characters would want them to.

Even though I'm still sad about poor Finnick...

Sesana Nataliya wrote: "Even though I'm still sad about poor Finnick... "

Oh, Finnick... But you know, I was over halfway through Mockingjay before I could even begin to accept losing Cinna.

Elizabeth Couldn't have said better myself.

message 43: by Brit (new) - added it

Brit Cheung Your review is really really arresting and perceptive that i read through it with a non-stop. Genuinely love it.

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