Mockingjay preliminary thoughts … SPOILERS

I devoured Mockingjay in a day-and-a-half. So any other thoughts should be seen in that light. This book was compelling enough that it was a success for this reader. Enough so that I want to … talk about it.

Any comments beyond this point will mostly be spoilers. Scroll over to read.

Spoilers welcome in comments, as well. (Please come over to livejournal to post them, though–too easy for others to see them in facebook!)

Things I liked: The compulsive readability of the book, as I said. Katniss’ uneasiness with being a tool of either side and how she pulled away from being that tool in the end. Gale’s increasing ruthlessness, which I at once found uneasy-making and yet understood. The way the story didn’t flinch from the horribleness of the war. The way both sides were willing to sacrifice the loved ones of their games’ victors to keep those victors under control. The constant presence of the media, as a sort of running commentary on our own world. The fact that those media included photojournalism of a sort as well as reality television. The fact that the cat lives–I am so Team Buttercup now. Just saying.

Things that will give me nightmares, because they were done quite well: The parachutes–omg, the parachutes–which I utterly believe in all their manipulativeness. Also what was done to Peeta, which was effective because it not only wrecked Katniss but also took away much of her and possibly the revolution’s moral center.

A thing that surprised me: Gale lived. I thought he was so marked for dying, because the characters I love always die, and because his increasingly gray morality made him the sort of fictional character who would die. Instead he got a reasonably decent life in the end, pretty doing what he’d want to be doing.

A thing I admired: That the author was willing to sacrifice (name redacted, just in case someone got past the spoiler warnings before finishing after all, but feel free to name said character in comments)–because I assumed that was a character who was untouchable, and because it was used to good effect, and so didn’t feel cheap to me. (Okay, you can probably guess just from that.) I think it took a lot of not-flinching to write that scene, and I admired the author’s willingness to do so.

The thing I disliked the most: The fact that, in the end, there actually was a right answer to the romance and the question of whom Katniss belonged with. The book did such an excellent job of showing how there were things about both Gale and Peeta that Katniss needed, and then … a decision was made, and it was clean and without regrets, and … I don’t know. I think I was kind of hoping the answer would be neither, because in the end maybe Katniss was too broken to fall in love at all once the war was over. Then again, I can see the need–and desire–to have some bit of joy and happiness at the end for her. But I still would have preferred some ambiguity, because I think there would have been quite a bit no matter what Katniss chose, or didn’t choose.

And the thing I wanted most and didn’t get but maybe that was just me: I wanted, when the war was through, to see Katniss using her voice and her power to shape the direction the country would go–to move the people toward the sort of mending and true mercy and reconciliation and basic humanity she so clearly craved throughout the book, and that I loved her for craving. To see her playing some ongoing role in trying to help us get it right this time, even though, as Plutarch says, we haven’t pulled it off before and may not this time.

Instead Katniss gets to reclaim her personal humanity and see to her own mending and being merciful with herself, and maybe that’s enough … but I wanted more. Broken as she is, I still wanted to see her reaching out into the larger arena she was unwillingly cast into, maybe not right away, but eventually.

I’m still thinking about that last one, and whether it was something the story was structured to want, or simply something I wanted.

Spoilery comments and thoughts welcome!

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