Considering it was only a two month wait for Mockingjay to be released (instead of the years for the last Harry Potter), it felt like an exceedingly long time before the brown box from Amazon containing my copy showed up on my porch.
And then, with my work schedule, it was longer before I could read it.
I started yesterday afternoon. I just finished.
And now I need to talk.
I'm not sure what to think. I'm not sure what my feelings are about Mockingjay. I feel similar to how I did when Lost was over. I had spent so much time and effort loving and enjoying the whole journey that to say I'm disappointed in the destination is painful. But as I closed the book, it was all I could do to choke back the tears. I felt empty, broken, and sad.
I adore Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I re-read them earlier this week. Once again, I got caught up in the horror, the tradegy, the heart break, the fight for survival. I felt Katniss's despair, her uncertainty, her fury so much more this time.
While Hunger Games and Catching Fire are a page-turning, adrenaline pumping, story about survival and humanity, Mockingjay feels more like a documentary of the brutality of war. Page after page of atrocities. So much that I feel like I may turn into Katniss and lock myself away from the world. While violence levels picks up, the emotions tone down.
I love Katniss in the first two books. Her lack of self-awareness, her love of her sister, her survival skills. However, as Mockingjay progresses, the Katniss that was the heroine of before slips away. On one hand, I can't blame her. She's seen so much terror. Just look at the other victors of the Hunger Games, each one fighting to maintain their sanity.
But, on the other hand, with all great heroes (and heroines) there comes a point when they realize what they need to do. When they become what is needed. When they rise above. This never happens for Katniss. I kept waiting for it. It never happened.
She recognizes that she is hurting people. She recognizes she puts people in danger. She never changes. She leads a mission that occupies much of the last chapter and succeeds in nothing except getting people she cares about killed. The goal of the mission is never accomplished. It feels all the death and destruction was pointless.
And in the end, the thing that matters most, the thing that had driven her and motivated her, is taken from her.
I do admire Suzanne Collins in stepping out from other authors with their natural inclination to protect their characters. Things may happen to them, bad things, but they usually come out whole and even better on the other side. Collins does not do this. She lets horrible things happen to Katniss, to Peeta, to Gale, to Prim. She lets them break, burn, and die. And, as a reader, it's painful. Almost too much so.
The thing that bothers me the most is that this was a book about what humanity means, what we are willing to do and not willing to do. And in the end, the characters seem they were willing to do anything. Even reinstate the horrors that were brought down on them. In the end, they didn't seem different from the enemy. There was no lesson learned. No victory won.
Maybe there's no other way for the book to end. If it has been real life, this is how it would have gone. Katniss, scarred and broken, no normal life to return to. No real hope, no end of of the nightmares.
But I don't read for real life. I want my happy ending.
And even if not a happy ending, an ending that made all the suffering and horror worth it. And ending that mattered.