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Mockingjay

Book #5 (of 2012): Mockingjay
by Suzanne Collins (young adult fiction)

I’ve said it in two posts and I’m say it again. If you haven’t read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins then you should have. Go and read them, I promise, you won’t regret it! Also please note that Mockingjay is the third book in this series and this review will be littered with The Hunger Games and Catching Fire spoilers. Please don’t read this unless you’ve read the first two books. Again, you won’t regret it!

This book was very good. It was sad though. Like it had a good ending that I know should have been happy and is, but I’m still left feeling a bit sad… It was a good conclusion though. It tied everything up and it left you knowing it was totally complete and that it was just a story that would always feel a little sad. I definitely teared up a few times and, if I’d let myself, could have bawled, but I didn’t. I like this one, in fact ordering the books from my favourite to least favourite, I’d say The Hunger Games, Mockingjay, and then Catching Fire. They all fit together very well though. The first book, I feel, could have stood on it’s own and will more or less make sense to those who don’t want to read the whole series because it’s cliff-hanger at the end wasn’t too extreme. I would never have wanted to leave the story at that point, but I suppose if a reader wanted to, they could. Catching Fire however, you could not stop reading at. It’s cliff-hanger is too extreme. Once you’ve started the second book, sorry, I’d say you’re hooked!

Be warned, from now on I don’t apologize for spoilers, because I know there’ll be some. Read at your own risk!

The fact that district 13 was still in existence was a part of the cliff-hanger in Catching Fire. Also the fact that Katniss was rescued and taken to 13 but Peeta wasn’t was and that they don’t know what’s happening to him was some thing I as not expecting. I kind of had taken it for granted that if Katniss was there Peeta would be too, but I guess that was part of the cliff-hanger. They’ve destroyed the arena, escaped, Peeta’s gone, and district 12 is demolished.

Hearing about district 12’s destruction and seeing Katniss’ pain as she goes back is so sad. Her description of everything, the dead bodies, the ash covered town, still completely dry from a lack of rain, the bricks of her old house’s chimney all collapsed in a pile, everything destroyed, it’s terrible. When she goes home and finds Buttercup and resolves to bring him back for Prim, things seem to be looking up, until she smells the rose and finds the message President Snow left for her. Then suddenly we’re filled with terror along with Katniss as she realizes he’s still out there, Snow might still be watching her, he’s still in control, he has Peeta.

As this is the last book I sort of wanted to look a little more in depth into a few of the characters from the trilogy.

Gale is an interesting character. In the beginning of book one he’s just Katniss’ best friend. The one who’s helped her hunt since she was 12. The one whose father was killed in the same accident her’s was which is one of the main things that brought them together, hunting in the woods to keep their families alive. Gale is the one Katniss talks to, that she trusts, but she’s not sure if she loves him romantically. She trusts him with her family when she leaves for the games and she feels guilty, like she’s betraying him, when she has to play up the practically non-existant romance with Peeta. When we get to the second book though we begin to see Gale is definitely more rebellious than Katniss, he wants to take down the capitol, he wants to start rebellions, and he wants Katniss to use her popularity as a winner to help start a rebellion. Then the Quarter Quell comes and once again, Katniss trusts Gale with keeping her family alive, which he does.  He exceeds her expectations. When the firebombs rain down on 12 after Katniss destroys the arena, Gale rescues his family, her family, and as many villagers a possible. He evacuates people he becomes a hero and is given a position of responsibility when he gets to 13 which he embraces. Gale is very loyal, her always protects Katniss and stands up for her, he loves her unconditionally. He gets frustrated and upset with her, yes, but he always cares for her and they know how to agree to disagree without harming their friendship. He also wants to help her get what she wants. When he realizes in Mockingjay, that she’s desperate for Peeta to be saved, (she’s practically pining away for him) he volunteers to be part of the the rescue team. Unfortunately Gale’s motives are screwed up most of the time, he is motivated by anger, revenge and hatred. He wants to avenge his father, Katniss, the tributes who’ve had to die, the people who live in the districts starving to give the Capitol wealth. He hates the Capitol for it’s wealth and it’s disregard for the districts and the people there. Gale’s motives are not the right ones and he is very violent in the way he carries them out. His traps for instance, show his disregard for life when he wants to achieve the goal of bringing down the Capitol. He wants to play on human feeling, compassion especially, in order to kill more and to heighten the effect of a trap. In the end Katniss realizes she can’t get over the fact that Gale’s trap may have been the one to kill Prim, he’s not the right match for her. Katniss herself says, “what I need to survive is not Gale’s fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself.” (Mockingjay, page 388)

Katniss in Mockingjay is very different from the Katniss we met in The Hunger Games. In the beginning of the series she’s a loner, she trusts very few people, and only knows for sure that she loves her little sister Prim. To be honest, Katniss isn’t that likeable from the start, although it’s nice to see her laughing and talking with Gale before the reaping. When she volunteers for Prim we see how deep her love for Prim goes and how far she’ll go to protect those she loves.  Katniss stays more or less the same through this book except that she’s getting to know Peeta better and beginning to like him and thinking she might love him and she’s beginning to get confused and torn within herself. Do her loyalties lie with Peeta or Gale? This theme runs, underlying, throughout the series as Katniss gets to know herself. When we get back to district 12 after the first Games, Katniss begins to feel the need to protect her family and those she loves again when President Snow threatens them however as we go through the second Games (Quarter Quell) starting with Cinna gets beaten unconscious in front of her right before she enters the games until her rescue to 12, we can see that she’s slowly breaking down. Katniss is much more panicky and paranoid than usual and once she’s “safe” in 13 and she finds out Peeta’s not there, she looses it, she has a mental breakdown. Once Peeta is rescued Katniss is thrilled, everything will be fine now! On her reunion with him though, everything breaks down again. Peeta tries to kill her and they figure out he’s been “hijacked” or brainwashed against her. This breaks Katniss all over again and it’s extremely hard for her to come to terms with it. Eventually Haymitch wakes her up a bit and gets her to start treating the recovering Peeta the way he would have treated her if she had been the one “hijacked”. Katniss’ last breakdown is when Prim gets killed and with this breakdown she refuses to talk for days. The one person she’s been focused on protecting this whole time is gone. Two years before she took away Prim’s certain death and now what has it done? All that’s changed is there’s a war. Prim is still dead. Katniss blames President Coin (the leader of district 13, who takes over Panem after the rebellion is successful) and at the planned execution of President Snow where Katniss is to kill him, she chooses instead to shoot Coin. In this way she feels she’s partially avenged Prim. Katniss is sent away, back home to district 12 with Haymitch, and eventually Peeta (who has mostly recovered). Here we see who Katniss finally settles into being, she’s more subdued and she fights Peeta as he tries to be friends again. She fights him and fights him but eventually the two get married and we see our last sight of Katniss, a married woman, a mother. Katniss realizes she can’t survive without Peeta. It’s like Gale to Peeta when they thought Katniss was asleep, Katniss didn’t focus on who she loved when she chose between Peeta and Gale, she picked who she thought she couldn’t survive without. (Mockingjay, page 329)

Peeta, oh Peeta, the trouble he causes… In the first book Peeta starts out as someone they’re trying to program us to not think well of but we can’t help but think well of him. When he’s drawn to be the male tribute Katniss reaction is basically, “Oh great, not him, how can I kill this guy, he saved my life once” Peeta is selfless, she loves Katniss and he will do anything in his power to keep her alive, he’s loved her since he was about five. Peeta will do anything to help Katniss but he’s alright with lying to her and keeping secrets. He doesn’t prep her on his interview confession, he joins the careers without explaining tho her and she thinks he’s betrayed her, he pulls the pregnancy card in Catching Fire. Peeta has the right motives, but he doesn’t always go about them the right way. He’s also humble, he doesn’t expect to win, but he’s gonna get his true love to win. Peeta cannot stop protecting Katniss, even as he’s being tortured by President Snow, we see on the television, he fights through it all to try and warn her about the bombing that’s coming to 13. As we go through the series, we grow to love Peeta more and more. That is way when he returns in Mockingjay, hijacked and hating Katniss, we’re almost as shocked and heatbroken as she is. We withdraw, suddenly hating Peeta, what has he done? Giving into this brainwashing… We then watch as he slowly becomes more and more like himself, he decorates the wedding cake, he begins to comfort people, be kind, say things like he used to say them. Eventually the real Peeta is back enough to start protecting Katniss again. There are times when he wants her to leave him behind in case he hurts her, or when he wants to go off and cause a distraction, likely getting himself recaptured or killed, so that she can get her “mission” done. Peeta begins to shine back through and we start to allow ourselves to like him again. Eventually the old Peeta is almost completely back and he waits again for Katniss, waits until she’s ready to marry him. Peeta is patient and humble, kind and strong, he’s a protector and an artist, he’s a dreamer and a schemer, and he wins.

Primrose, Katniss’ little sister is the last person I’m going to characterize. Prim starts out as Katniss’ darling; she’s the only person Katniss knows she truly loves and she’s a sweetheart. She has compassion on everyone and everything. She keeps a mangy cat because she loves him and dotes on her pet goat. We, along with Katniss, see Prim as someone to be protected, sheltered, looked after. When Katniss returns home from the first Hunger Games, Prim is starting to grow up. She’s excited about Katniss’ wedding that is coming up with a girlish glee, but then when Gale is almost whipped to death, she and her mother are the ones that take control and begin to fix everything. the two people who were portrayed as the weakest, the ones who most needed taking care of are suddenly taking care of everyone, and keeping Gale alive. Prim is strong and keeps her head. Apparently she frequently helps her mother with patients while Katniss, strong, tough Katniss, gets sick and lightheaded. When Katniss finds out she’s going to the games again, Prim is a little rock, helping her, encouraging her, pampering her until she goes. We next see Prim in district 13 where she’s working with her mother in the hospital areas and in school, eventually, to become a doctor. Prim takes care of people one on one, she’s more personable. Katniss protects people and goes off and fights for them, not really with them more than she can help. When Peeta is rescued and reutrns hijacked, it was Prim who thought of the reverse hijacking technique. It was she who thought of the plan that ended up saving Peeta, they boy who Katniss ends up marrying. When Prim is **SPOILER! MAJOR SPOILER** killed in the trap, it was because of her compassion and her need to help others; she couldn’t see others suffer and do nothing. We see Prim grow from being a quiet little girl who needs her big sister to protect her, to someone who will put herself into danger in order to help keep someone alive.

This book was fantastic, I felt it was a really good conclusion to the trilogy and although whenever I think of it my heart breaks a little, I don’t think it could have ended any other way. I do wish Prim could have lived though, I honestly wish that that hadn’t had to happen. If it hadn’t though, Katniss wouldn’t have killed Coin and Panem would have turned into a giant district 13 which would have been frightful! It had to happen, it was just super sad.

I don’t have time to make a personal summary of the book so here’s the one off of the bookflap.
Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’ family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.
It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans – except Katniss.
The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’ willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay – no matter what the personal cost.

All in all, 9 out of 10. A very good book. I liked The Hunger Games better, but this one was very, very good.

And now, just for fun! This is a Hunger Games parody version of I Wanna Go by Britany Spears. It well made and hilarious! (Warning to diehard Hunger Games fans, it’s meant to be a joke, not taken seriously!)

Talk to ya later! DFTBA
– Becky

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult

Paper Towns

Book #6: Paper Towns
by John Green (Young Adult)

I want to review this book, I really do, I just, words, where are they? I’m in tears. It was sad! I didn’t think it would be sad. But I cried, I love books that make me cry. My heart hurts. I have an ache inside. My eyelashes are still wet, but I must write this while I still remember the shining glory, the fantastic sad ache I feel and why I feel it. So here it goes. Paper Towns.

This is the first John Green book I have ever read. I am a subscriber to John’s youtube channel that he runs with his brother Hank, vlogbrothers. I’ve had the book out of the library since August 3 and I had made it to page 62 as of August 18. Now this is odd, because normally I am a very fast reader. On the 18th I decided to restart and try to get back into it. I couldn’t. But tonight…tonight was different. At 8:25 I sat down to read and at 11:49 I was finished and in tears but had also painted my nails blue. (Don’t worry I didn’t get any on the book!).

This book is written in three parts and the first part was what I was dragging my feet through. I don’t know why but I couldn’t get into it. Once I hit part two tonight though, any thought of procrastination was gone. I was gonna finish this book and I was gonna finish it in one sitting. And that wasn’t because I mentally said “I can do this” it was because mentally I was saying “You need another coat on your nails? Forget it, finish the chapter! Oh you just did? Well finish the next chapter then! Screw your nails…” (I did a four coat nail painting job with my brain screaming that at me, congratulate me now if you will)

The characters are, they’re just so real. You can imagine them as real people, living real lives. They’re not romantic characters, in the sense of being unrealistically good or bad, they’re not a perfect ideal, they’re people, flesh and blood people. Not paper people.

The ending (which I will spoil after warning you in caps later) is brilliant. So sad, so heart wrenchingly sad, but perfect. It is just what you would expect after getting to know the characters, but that doesn’t make it any easier to see in print. Print makes things so much more final. You knew it would happen, you hoped it wouldn’t, but you saw it written there and John Green just killed all hope of the ending you wanted but knew would never come. But you don’t mind. In fact now you’re remembering that you saved a book store gift card for eight months until you had the perfect book to buy and you’re pretty sure that this sad story is going to be on your shelf before long with your name written inside the cover. It will be yours. Your paper book about paper towns and paper people because you can feel the pain that is written in that last chapter, and you want to keep it, and savour it, and have it on your shelf when you need to remember that not everything ends the way you wanted, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good.

My eyelashes are dry now, so I will attempt to summarize this story. If you are going to read this book please don’t read my spoiler-ridden dry summary. I don’t want to destroy this beautiful piece of literature for you.

**SPOILERS** (It’s so much better than this summary can try to prove!)

The prologue starts with Quentin (Q) remembering when he was nine years old and when he and his neighbour playdate Margo Roth Spiegelman found a dead man in the park near their house. Kid-Margo does some investigating and finds that the man killed himself after a divorce. She pops up at Q’s window in the middle of the night to tell him about it and wonders aloud if maybe all the strings inside of him broke…
Back to real time, Q and  Margo are in senior year of high school and no longer friends. Margo is “cool” and Q hangs out with the “band nerds”. One night Q turns around from his computer to see Margo Roth Spiegelman opening in his window in black clothes and facepaint. She convinces him to come on a mission with her. She has eleven things to do during the night and needs Q to be her getaway man/driver. Reluctantly he allows himself to be convinced and agrees. Thus begins the most exciting night of his life as of yet. The eleven things are completed along with breaking and entering (though not together), and vandalizing. Q keeps needing to be reconvinced but he’s been in love with Margo since they were kids so he does it. They end up having a ton of fun and when they’re done and finally go home, Q wonders if maybe things will change and Margo will start hanging out with him now that she’s ditched all her old friends (those eleven things…ya). Things do change, but not the way Q imagined. Margo doesn’t come to school the next day, which isn’t that unusual, but it turns out she’s run away. Q learns from her parents that she usually leave clues behind for them to find and try to track her down with, so he starts hunting. He finds a poster, a record, does research, finds a poetry book, finds a note, hunts through numerous pseudovisions and eventually ends up pintpointing Margo’s location 23 days after her disappearance, on the day of his graduation. Some things are important, so he, and his buddies Radar and Ben, and Ben’s girlfriend Lacey (One of Margo’s ex-friends) take off in Q’s grad gift, a minivan, to find Margo Roth Spiegelman. They have 21 hours and 45 minutes until she moves on and they have to drive a distance that should take 23 hours and 9 minutes. So they start driving. By timing out 6 minute pit stops, urinating in beer bottles, and avoiding cow-blocks (as in like cows, that are road-blocks…) they manage to make it to the “paper town” that Margo has lead them to, Agloe. Once there they find the general store and spot Margo’s car parked nearby. They find her inside the building writing in a notebook. She’s quite surprised to see them all and not very pleased either. They’re all surprised, Margo is acting like she doesn’t know what the clues were. After the other three storm out Q starts talking to her and realizes that that she didn’t leave the clues on purpose. She starts getting really upset and so does he but he manages to explain how they tracked her down and Margo admits that honestly, they just really scared her. Lacey and Margo make up and are friends again but Q wants to know what Margo’s going do now. Turns out she’s headed for New York. She has planned and planned her whole trip, she planned to do it later but got some news that spurred the “eleven things night” with Q and then decided to leave town right away without warning anyone. Margo takes out the black notebook that she’s carried around since about fourth grade and begins to tell Q of the story she wrote in it and the plans she made in it writing over the story. Q convinces Margo to start caring about the people she’s left behind, especially her younger sister so she phones home and lets her family know where she is for the first time in 23 days. Q and Margo dig a grave for the Little Margo and Little Quentin of her story and bury the notebook. Q tries to convince Margo to come back home, Margo tries to convince him to come to New York. Both come to realize that now is when their paths separate (gosh I’m writing the driest summary ever and I’m still tearing up again…). They promise to stay in contact this time as Margo goes her way, and because I can’t do it justice I’ll just quote you the last paragraph (written from Q’s perspective) and be done with it:
“I feel her hands on my back. And it is dark as I kiss her, but I have my eyes open and so does Margo. She is close enough to me that I can see her, because even now there is the outward sign of invisible light, even at night in this parking lot on the outskirts of Algoe. After we kiss, our foreheads touch as we stare at each other. Yes, I can see her almost perfectly in this cracked darkness” (Page 305)

Overall: 10 out of 10 stars. I think this is my all time favourite book. Better than LOTR and that’s saying something…

My eyelashes are dry again. I’m going to go get my book store gift card ready for tomorrow’s venture.
– Becky

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Filed under Book Review, Fiction, Young Adult