Moving on, having read the first two books just a year ago, I've been spoiled with not having to wait for the finale. And still despite that, it felt like the release of Mockingjay would never come.
Thank goodness it did and thanks to seriouslywir, I was able to read without losing my mind waiting for my actual copy. yes, I have a very very low EQ like that. Still, staying up till 4am to read Suzanne Collin's last installment was totally worth it.
Neeldess to say, this was a whole different tone and story from her past books. Though it was progressively getting darker and heavier with her themes, it definitely brought us to different parts of Panem and to introduced us to more characters who unfortunately, we wouldn't see for very long.
This is what I love about this series. There's SO MUCH to lose. You don't know who's going to get killed and it's not like she's just killing them for the sake of it. She's already set it up in her past books, that in this world, people will die. And die they will.
I was emailing beeeeej while reading this last book and after every chapter, I'd do a casualty count. Because in this series, you'll probably end up dead if your name isn't Katniss Everdeen and who knows, maybe even if your name is. So I'll share my casualty count (and the chapters they died or were mentioned to have died in) and any thoughts I have about these folks before moving on.
- Peeta's Family (1) THIS SUCKS. I know we didn't really get to know them too well but I was hoping Peeta would still have his family. Especially since Katniss and Gale's seem to have gotten out. I get that they weren't really needed by Peeta, but it would just depress Peeta more and I don't like a sad Peeta
- Cinna (1) UGH. I know it was sort of implied that they tortured and killed him in Catching Fire, but really, does Katniss have to lose everyone dear to her? I really liked that she had Cinna as a confidante and now she has well, no one. Who knew this was only the beginning of more horrible deaths.
- Bonnie & Twil (2) I know they're minor characters but it makes me sad that they were so near District 13 and still didn't make it.
- Haymitch's Family & Girl (12) Though this is more a death in retrospect, it makes me sad to find out how cruel the Captiol can be to their victors. I know this has been established since the first book but reading more about it now breaks my heart even more.
- Katniss's Dad (15) I know this is also just a flashback but reading about that day they found out their father had died makes me real sad for Katniss and Prim. I know we only get bits and pieces about their father, so reading more about him here and how they were when he passed away makes me cry.
- Leeg 2 (18) I know Leeg 2 and her twin 1 also weren't mentioned much but it always pains me to see them go into war knowing none of them could return
- Boggs & Mitchell (20) Seeing yet another father-figure to Katniss pass away just sucks. It really does feel like everyone who sort of gets close to her, has to sacrifice himself to protect her or at least second hand protection, to keep her mission alive. I wish Boggs hadn't died. And though I couldn't tell who Mitchell was from anyone else, it sucks that Peeta was so out of control he didn't realize what he was doing.
- Messala, Leeg 1, Jackson & Castor (22) Again, just an example of how those around Katniss will have to perish if they plan on helping her achieve her goal. At least Leeg 1 is with her sister and mom now. Castor's death unfortunately leaves Pollux alone. The deaths just keep coming
- Finnick Odair (22) THIS FUCKING SUCKS. He just got married. To Annie. The love of his life. How could this happen to her?! This was probably the first death that really really really got to me. I sort of took Cinna for dead in Catching Fire but Finnick. I can't believe those ugly mutts got to him, all so Katniss could go aboveground and continue the mission. I feel bad mostly for Annie. I know Finnick kind of knew there was a possibility he wouldn't make it home, but Annie (who was apparently pregnant) just got her happy ending. I didn't think it would end so quickly.
- Random Capitol Citizen (22) I feel like this was just to show that Katniss meant business now. No more compassion from her. Nosiree. She's out to kill Snow and anyone who gets in her way. Unless your name is Peeta. Sorry woman, you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- Prim Everdeen (24) IS THIS REAL LIFE?! THIS CANNOT BE REAL LIFE. First Finnick and then Prim. Wow, they're really out to break Katniss (and this is all on top of different!Peeta coming back). I think this really sealed the deal with the 'I-have-nothing-else-to-live-for' stance Katniss develops by the end of the book. She's just really focused on her mission because Prim is now dead. THIS SUCKS. I know it's probably needed to rid Katniss of all her obligations but it doesn't make it any better. Now that she has nothing to live for, it totally transforms her outlook in life.
- President Coin (26) HELL YEAH. I know she was only doing her job and sort of abusing it too to rise to power, but what do you expect right? She's a politician in Panem. Of course she's corrupt. It gives me really sweet victory to see Katniss defy the new government by taking her out. Now that's unexpected of the Mockingjay. I love it.
- President Snow (27) IT'S ABOUT TIME. SERIOUSLY. This guy is the baddest grass of them all and I'm just glad he's dead. It sucks that Katniss wasn't able to do it but at least someone else did the dirty work for her. I hope he suffered a long time before finally dying.
- Madge & Her Family (27) I know this is only mentioned in retrospect as well but I hope Madge didn't suffer. I know her dad was the mayor and she led a pretty cushy life, but she was a good friend to Katniss.
I'll start off by saying I don't hate Gale Hawthorne. I don't. I just don't want him to end up with Katniss and my major fear for this book was that it would be a Gale/Katniss fest while Peeta was left with the Capitol. And well, though it didn't happen to a T, there sure was a lot of Gale. Still, it felt natural to have him around.
We don't get to see much of Gale in the first two books because Katniss is in the arena half the time and with Peeta but it is established that her life before the games revolved around her family and hunting partner. They have much more interaction in this one and though some romantic (especially when Katniss resigns herself to the fact that Peeta is gone), you have to give it to the guy: he isn't giving up.
And he's such a martyr too! Look at him throw himself at Katniss in any way he can if only to be close to her. It's sad and kind of pathetic but in a way, I can totally relate. This guy just wants to be close to her and when he and Peeta talked about how Katniss loved the other, it hurt a lot.
How much does it suck to be Gale? To think that the only thing going for him is that he kept her family alive while he was gone? How he had to watch Katniss kiss Peeta and pretend to be her cousin while feeling all of this? though I'm solidly Team Peeta, I really do feel for this guy. So when I read that he sort of got his happy ending (doing important work in District 2), I felt happy for him. Who knows, he could still be pining for her, but at least they're apart. I hope it helps him move on.
And then we have Peeta. I wished this guy would be present in book 3 and I got my wish. I wish I was just a bit more specific. Collins does give him back to us, and in Chapter 12 at that, but it's not Peeta anymore! It's Captiol!Peeta and it takes quite a bit to get him back.
It's just that all throughout, from their strangling-reunion to their stilted conversations until they finaly sort of become civil to one another, I'm thinking, I MISS PEETA! And guess what? Katniss does too. I hate that she has to regret not cherishing old Peeta back when he was normal. Now she has to contend with a Capitol-hijacked Peeta who's brainwashed to hate her. Way to go, Capitol. You sure know how to torture a girl.
For someone to make Peeta forget he loves me…
no one could do that.
I must have loved you a lot.
“You’re still trying to protect me. Real or not real,” he whispers.
Don’t let him take you from me.
No. I don’t want to…
Stay with me.
I wrap my arms around his neck,
feel his arms hesitate before they embrace me.
Not as steady as they once were, but still warm and strong.
A thousand moments surge through me.
All the times these arms were my only refuge from the world.
Perhaps not fully appreciated then, but so sweet in my memory,
and now gone forever. “All right, then.” I release him.
So it doesn't surprise me when her suicide mission is thwarted by Peeta. He was still protecting her. It's funny how they all vowed to decimate the other when the time was right but no one lets the others actually die. Katniss didn't kill Gale when he asked. Gale didn't take out Katniss when she wanted him too. Katniss wouldn't leave Peeta behind to die. Peeta wouldn't let Katniss take her life. This sordid love triangle will leave someone hurting but they would always keep the other alive.
And so we reach our ending. It wasn't the wedding I had idiotically wished for, or the cake and candy happiness we got, but it felt fitting to the book. This series was so sad. There were moments of happy but in general, it's a sad book. It speaks of war and hate and sadness. And still we get our ray of sunshine in the end.
Peeta and I grow back together. There are still moments when he clutches the back of a chair and hangs on until the flashbacks are over. I wake screaming from nightmares of mutts and lost children. But his arms are there to comfort me. And eventually his lips. On the night I feel that thing again, the hunger that overtook me on the beach, I know this would have happened anyway. That 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. And only Peeta can give me that.
So after, when he whispers, “You love me. Real or not real?”
I tell him, "Real."
We get some hope that hey, maybe things can change. Maybe people can change. Katniss does change her mind about the children. That she can be a good mother. Peeta gets de-hijacked. They begin to trust each other again and learn to to love each other again. And though it's a pretty good ending, the fangirl in me, was hoping for sunshine and rainbows ending. The ending where we actually get to read about them falling in love again and getting together. So I guess I'll just have to settle for fanfic about it.
But really, all in all, it was a great end to an awesome series. We get our happily ever after, with a hell of casualties and lots of angst and heart fail along the way. Definitely going to re-read this book.
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