Disclaimer: I am a reader, not a writer. I'm not an accomplished reviewer. Just a lover of books. ** SPOILER ALERT **Don't read unless you've read the book.
Well, one of my most anticipated books arrived this week and though I attempted a "snacking" approach, I finally gave in and gobbled. That was yesterday and the book is still calling to me to come and revisit certain parts. But that starts a crying jag so I've had to stop.
On both GoodReads and Amazon, this book is getting some negative reviews. I imagine Collins knew that would be the case as does any author who risks going against the trends. It would have been better according to many if she had made it more of a romance. I agree that Ms. Collins took Mockingjay in a direction I didn't see coming. But I love a book that is unpredictable. This story was never about the typical YA love triangle that has become so popular these days and so trite. This story is about the realities of war, the costs, the soldiers used up and discarded and left to recover from the ravages and damages of their wounds and choices. This was about the gray area of the agendas of power hungry leaders and who they are willing to sacrifice to achieve their goals.
This book wasn't about Katniss, the superhero either. She's ultimately broken as anyone would be after living through her hellish young life. I came to love some of the other minor characters...but unfortunately most don't live to see the destruction of the Capitol. We finally get to know Prim who Katniss has fought so hard to protect, only to lose her in the end by "unfriendly" fire. We don't even get a chance to grief or mourn their sacrifices. I feel cheated but then I imagine most of our memorials to the fallen are an attempt to say thank you...to say you are appreciated, you are missed and to say goodbye when those privileges were denied in the heat of battle.
I do have one minor complaint: I missed the old Peeta and I most definitely wanted more of him as he recovers. I want to know what happened to the pearl Katniss carefully carries with her and where Peeta was during the siege that resulted in his horrible burns. Although Collins was much too stingy with her words in the end, they were well-chosen and ultimately satisfying. I am so grateful for the Epilogue.
At the end of "Lord of the Rings", after the destruction of the Ring and restoration of the Shire, Frodo still suffers from the pains inflicted during his quest. At one point Frodo tells Sam, "I am wounded, wounded; it will never really heal". I thought alot about Frodo and Sam as well as Ender Wiggin while reading MJ. Neither Ender nor Frodo were ever able to return to a normal life. Katniss, though a victor, is still a casualty, but one who finds healing, love, and hope with another of the Games's victims.
Years ago, an older man, a transient, wandered into our neighborhood lost and disoriented. My daughter ran in from playing to tell me of her concern for him and I went out to investigate. He was hanging on the stop sign, his clothes ragged and dirty. His face had that permanent ruddy complexion of an alcoholic. Two of my neighbors came out and said not to bother...they would call the police. I ignored them and asked the man if he needed help. With slurred speech he explained he had taken the bus to our town to visit his sister and got off at the wrong stop. If he could just get back to the bus stop, he knew he could find her. I offered my arm and together we ambled back in the direction of the bus bench. I asked him where he was from and he started telling me about the war he fought in. His eyes teared up. I listened while he told me of his service and the buddies he lost. We almost made it to the bus stop when he simply collapsed. I couldn't lift him and about this time, the police pulled up and I told them what I knew and returned home to my concerned kids.
I followed up on him and what he told me was true. He did have a sister in town. I also realized something else. When I asked where he was from, he had also told me the truth. He was from the War. He had never left it. He tried to escape with alcohol but the battle always pulled him back to the frontlines. I wondered what he was like before the war entombed him.
After reading Mockingjay I've thought alot about this man, who's not unlike Haymitch. I know it's just a book but the story was more "real" than "not real".