Tuesday, September 7, 2010

27 Mockingjay Poll

With Mockingjay released and heavily discussed, we're finding it interesting that the reviews are almost universally positive, but the discussions are frequently very negative. What does that mean? We thought we'd try to track down why, so we've compiled a poll to get some additional perspective. It's anonymous, so please be honest.

And be aware, there are SPOILERS, so if you haven't read Mockingjay, don't look. This is a book that you must read, whether or not you end up loving it.

Happy reading,

Martina & Marissa


  1. It'll be interesting to see the responses to this. Even with the things I checked I was disappointed with, I still loved the series. And I'm glad to see how excited the kids, including my daughter, are about it. She's re-read the books a ton.

  2. Interesting survey. Given the expectations people had for the last book, after reading the first two, I wonder if any ending would have been satisfying to readers.

  3. I think there could always be a satisfying ending no matter what the expectations. There would def. be some naysayers but there could be plenty of people saying, it was sad but good. My problem was not that it was too violent or not a happy ending. Now with a couple weeks since reading it, I was most unhappy with the fact that Katniss because so insane. I thought that was exagerrated to make a point. It pulled her out of the story all together. And wasn't fully believable to me.

    Great survey!

  4. *Spoiler alert*
    I've read Mockingjay twice. The first time I just wanted to read, the second time I wanted to ponder.

    I was satisfied with the ending even if it seemed a little rushed. I was happy that Katniss was given a life and a family. I wasn't happy with Prim's storyline which I thought was used for emotional impact, and I was equally unhappy with Finnick's.

    Katniss had been through a lot which, I suppose, counted for her withdrawal, depression (I thought she sounded depressed) and tiredness. The only real problem I had was her agreeing to another Hunger Games – there’s no way she would ever agree to this – again, this makes me think she was emotionally unstable.

    Overall it was a great, great book and in my
    mind Katniss’ story has been told.

  5. Natalie and Andrea, it's interesting to see that the results are coming in all over the map, but that there is (so far) a common denominator in lack of believability on some elements. I wonder how that contributes to the overall satisfaction. It's still a wonderful book, but I think that for a writer, it is going to prove invaluable. It seems to me, Collins took some risks you don't normally see in a commercial work.

    Laura, I have spent a LOT of time thinking about this. My stepfather was a concentration camp survivor and experienced many horrible things. I've known war refugees, soldiers, bombing survivors... And withdrawal isn't common. Yet clearly, Collins anticipated this in the first book with her mother's withdrawal. I find it ironic that Katniss abhored in her mother what she herself became. Does that make the book better or worse for me? I have to say, that made it more horrible to read. (Not a lesser book, not a less well-written book, but a harder book filled with more horror.) If that was what she was going for, she succeeded brilliantly.


  6. Janice,

    I agree that she was depressed. The trouble I had with this is that we knew from her mother's situatin that depression was treatable in that world. Katniss herself knew this. Her mother certainly knew this. Wouldn't someone have helped her?


  7. @Janice The only real problem I had was her agreeing to another Hunger Games – there’s no way she would ever agree to this – again, this makes me think she was emotionally unstable.

    Ah, see, I see Katmiss' agreeing to another Games as a calculating move. We don't see her thought process, which I believe was deliberate, and she and Haymitch lock eyes for a moment. My take on it is that Katniss and Haymitch have both realised that Coin is as bad as Snow and that Katniss needs to go along with her plans to be in the right position--within shooting distance of both Snow and Coin.

    Katniss taking Prim's place in the Games was what started everything off, and with prim's death I don't think Katniss would have agreed to another one unless she needed to avoid Coin's suspicions.

  8. I haven't read yet. MUST NOT LOOK!

  9. Martina - I agree, she became what she most loathed in her mother. No one seemed to care about or notice Katniss' depression.

    Helen - let me take a quick peek at that bit again...ok read it...you might be right ;) I'll have to ponder a little more.

  10. Prim had to die. I was disappointed in the ending, but I'm still wrapping my head around the reasons why. I felt really let down at the end of Mockingjay. Perhaps because I felt that Katniss was damaged instead of victorious.

  11. Interesting thoughts and questions. I felt ending was too rushed. And I was sad for days after reading this. No way Katniss would have agreed to another hunger game. Where was her fire, her spirit? It was sad to see that go. It was like she was kicked one too many times and was just blah. Anyway....

  12. I need to read it a second time to be sure of my reaction, but I don't think Katniss had any choice but to agree to another Games. I think it was calculated. Her spirit was still on fire when she turned her arrow on Coin. How many would be brave enough to do that? She was a victor, but it was the hollow kind of victory that comes with war.

  13. I tend to like happily ever after endings. I know, life is NOT all Cinderella, but...in part, the happy endings are why I read! To find out how people become victorious, solve their problems, overcome amazing obstacles, beat the bad guy, and thwart evil. Sometimes a sadder ending works, but not if it feels contrived or unfair.

  14. Great poll! Really interesting to see what others thought.

  15. Like Helen, I thought her agreeing to the games was deliberate mis-direction. Pretending to go along with it.

    I found the story a bit of a downer, but then war is a downer - it destroys people and Katniss was completely destroyed emotionally and physically. I thought the defense pods were a bit over the top, but what bothered me the most was Gale's switch to the dark side.

    Thanks for the poll, that was fun.

  16. Helen, Janice, SJG: If it was a calculated move, then doing what she did with Coin ran the risk of having the Hunger Games continue even after Coin's death. And she didn't seem to give it another thought. Nor was it discussed later in the book, was it? Did they occur? If it was a calculated move, I would have liked to see a follow-on to it. To me, the eye-contact between Katniss and Haymitch was a setup for a storyline that wasn't developed. I was looking for a follow-on, and it never happened. Not, I might add, that every storyline needs to be perfectly delineated, nor does Katniss have to be perfect in her thought processes. But it does seem like a hole in the plot--something that would be too important to Katniss for her to drop. I can't see her throwing kids away like that.

    And, might I add one more thing--the fact that we are discussing what Katniss would have done or thought this clearly shows the brilliance of the first two books. Her thought processes were clear in those and she was so well portrayed. Does the stepping-back in the third book strike you as a calculated move on Collins' part, another method of showing the mental break-down?

    Stephanie, why did you feel Prim had to die? Just curious?

    SSG, was it clear to you that Gale switched to the dark side? Because to me, it wasn't clear at all, and it didn't seem clear to him either. Even Katniss didn't seem sure, but then she never investigated. Gale let it go very easily, but maybe in order for Katniss to stay depressed, he had to be out of the picture.

    Buffy, I missed her fire, too. Still, I wonder if that might have been the point Collins was trying to make--that it was easy for Katniss to judge (for all of us to judge) someone else's reaction to the burden they bear, and what they will or won't do when faced with catastrophe and heartache. She decried her mother for her lack of spirit, and then ended up coasting through the rest of her life. A negative character arc is so rare in commercial YA that maybe I just wasn't prepared for it?

    Carol, I prefer happy endings too. But I wonder if they are overdone. I don't think there was a completely happy ending possible in this trilogy. But I would have liked to have Katniss--and Peeta, frankly--end up with a little more than they got. Still, life isn't always fair. Maybe that was another point she was trying to make?

  17. I assumed when Coin was killed the plan for a final Hunger Games was killed with her.

    With the eye contact between Haymitch and Katniss, if it was calculated, perhaps Collins could have had them discuss it on the journey back to district 12? I’m still not sure if her agreement was calculated or not, but I know in my heart that the whirlwind that was Katniss would never have agreed to, or allowed another Hunger Games.

    Did Gale go to the dark side? I don’t think he did – in fact where did the real Gale go? I know he got his fancy position in Sector 2, but is that what the Gale from The Hunger Games and Catching Fire would have wanted? Was it a convenient to wrap up his story?

    Maybe two broken people, Katniss and Peeta, can/could make each other whole? Does that sound too cheesy? I do like a bit of cheese. ;)

    I’m interested in the poll results. So far 58% of people wanted Katniss to keep fighting for something at the end – for what? As far as we know peace had been restored, the districts were being treated equally – what else could she fight for?

  18. Wow, it surprises me how many people thought the trilogy would have a happier ending. I had absolutely no expectations of that. I figured it would be grim and possibly depressing. I would have also thought a happy ending to be unrealistic. After war, things aren't automatically sunshine and roses, especially for heavily involved people like Katniss. Maybe that's why I wasn't as disappointed with Mockingjay as others have been?

  19. I have to say I didn't read any of the trilogy until this past weekend, when got all three books at once in the mail. The Hunger Games was unputdownable, Catching Fire was compelling but not as much, and Mockingjay even less so.

    As the pages to be turned diminished, I kept hoping against hope something would happen to inject the overall story with some good. I wanted to be inspired at the end, to be sure.

    I too had trouble with Katniss's motivation in the final book. When she said she'd agree to another HG, I was pulled out of the book like many others. If she was communicating with Haymitch, it did not come across, esp. since the whole book it is clear Katniss has no idea what's going on behind the curtain.

    Someone brought up the point that Katniss's withdrawal mirrors that of her mom - which I didn't connect until now. That does justify the downer ending a bit more for me, because you don't always realize how much you have grown into the person who raised you. While this is a realistic take for the ending, I feel a more inspirational one would've had a bigger emotional payoff for readers. A traditional HEA would have been inappropriate but by not having an ending something with a bit more hope seems like a missed opportunity. But I do not know Collins's intentions in writing this series...and I'm sure she had a reason for writing it the way she did, regardless with how I wished the outcome differently.

    Bottom line I thought Katniss was a strong female role model at the start. Although I questioned some of her actions/reactions in CatchingFire/Mockingjay, I held out hope for her kickassery to reemerge. To learn that she was only human with human limitations is disappointing. To me.

  20. Wow it's really interesting to read everyone's opinions! I've been chewing on Mockingjay for a few days now since I finished reading it.

    I love Suzanne Collins' writing, so that makes it easy for me to like the book even when I didn't like the book (although I did like Mickingjay on the whole). You know what I mean?

    I found Katniss' withdrawal and depression a bit tedious and with too much drug use, and I agree that she became everything that she loathed in her mother. I also thought that her withdrawal was a bit foggy. I mean, there were innuendos about post traumatic stress and whatnot but usually that has to do with specific incidences. For example, someone kept confined in a small space would maybe have an episode whenever forced into an elevator. In Katniss' case, she ran and hid in closets and other tiny areas, and then hated being underground where she was confined and got claustrophobic. Her symptoms and presentation seemed to be at cross purposes.

    I never expected a 'happily ever after' ending, and I'm happy to kill off characters in my own writing. But I did feel that the deaths of Finnick and Prim and even Boggs, were unnecessary and overboard. War is awful. People die. But the entire first 3/4 of the book was spent endearing us to Finnick and Prim (and alienating Katniss herself to some extent) only to slaughter our new character friends and leave Katniss alive, depressed, medicated - again - and drifting.

    My largest issue, though, with Mockingjay, was the love triangle. It's not that I wanted Katniss to pick either boy (although I'm a Gale fan myself), frankly I half expected that she wouldn't choose Gale OR Peeta. And that's where the rub comes in. I felt as though a very great deal of Mockingjay was spent focusing on how Katniss was being used as a pawn, about how Katniss felt about being used as a pawn and about how unfair it was that she was being used as a pawn. And yet, Katniss never stands up and puts an end to being used. She never once takes control of her own destiny. She lets Gale walk away, and yet she doesn't run TO Peeta. She just lets whatever happens happen. For such a strong character, I feel gypped that Katniss didn't own herself, her actions or even her heart. She just stood and let the world move passed her.

    I know the end/epilogue was supposed to 'wrap things up' but mostly what stuck with me was 'Peeta says they'll be fine' 'Greasy Sae says' 'Haymitch says' Everyone 'says' but Katniss never tells us 'This is what happened and why I feel like I do and where I think things are headed.' I wanted to know about KATNISS, annoyed as I was at her. I didn't want to know what 'so and so said' about what happened.

  21. I LOVED this series, but I was disappointed at how rushed the ending was. I wish she would have explained more and made Katniss a more active hero in the end. There was so much that was disappointing because it wasn't explained enough, but otherwise, I really loved it and other than a few small gripes, I wouldn't change a thing.

  22. I had a hard time answering the questions because some of them weren't the right questions, I thought. (Though I love the poll idea.)

    I think SC is a good enough writer to do whatever she wants with characters and bring us along for the ride. What I disliked with this book was not the sad ending but that Katniss was absent through much of the book. People died and there was no emotional impact for the reader because there was no emotional impact for the POV character--she was either too busy or she was drugged and doing some kind of stream of consciousness stuff. Then the climax came and the POV character wasn't there for it.

    What was Katniss' inner conflict and what was her outer conflict and what was the climax of the series? The climax for Katniss had to be her sitting in the chair for however long without ever changing her clothes (ugh) and then deciding to stand up and change her clothes, I guess. Or was the climax when she killed Coin? I don't remember any dark night of the soul, or conflict, or agonizing over a decision. I don't know, I'll have to go back and read it again, but at this point, if I can't remember any climax...it's pretty odd that the climax of a major trilogy like this was not apparent to me on the first read.

    I love SC's work. loved Gregor. And love this trilogy. It's not the sad ending that bothers me but the lack of an active pov character.

    I'll give SC this--any way she went she was bound to upset some. I appreciate that she didn't go the easy route and kill one boy so the other two could name their son after him and live happily ever after. She tried to do something very big and in my opinion she didn't quite pull it off, but it was not a horrid book and certainly not a one-star book. That's just silly to give it one-star.

  23. Janice, I agree. If the intention was to suggest a complicity between Katniss and Haymitch about some possible future resistance, then I would have liked to see at least one small additional breadcrumb to help lead me along that path. If it was there, I missed it. Everything that Katniss had done up to that point was well-motivated and explained. This seemed a departure to me. There is no disputing that both Peeta and Katniss were broken, but I didn't see much from her to help heal Peeta or make it up to him. Even something as small as going out to help him when he was planting the primroses would have given me some hope. What could she fight for? Happiness? Peeta's happiness? Her community? There was a reference about her having a gift for healing. She could have tried that, despite her initial reluctance, in Prim's honor. She had a talent for singing. She could have used that to some end. She could have fought to find out what really happened when Prim was killed. She could have tried to ensure that everyone responsible was out of power. She could have fought to help rebuild her district. It wouldn't have mattered to me what she fought for. But I would have liked to see some sign that she was going to go back to fighting for something.

    Claire, I agree that things aren't sunshine and roses after war, and I'm delighted that Collins didn't diminish the work by trying a HEA ending. But some hope would have been nice.

    Bluestocking, that's what's so fascinating about this arc. She started off as human with human weaknesses. She ended as less, for me, because she seemed to give up.

    A. Grey, I'm right there with you.

    jasouders, I agree. If she had been more active, and if her motivation had been explained, the same outcome might have felt more satifying to me. I would have liked her to be more present in her own life after the war, and throughout this book. It was like reading about a different character than the one in the previous two books.

    Sally, I agree. I still love the series, and I think Suzanne Collins could write about the adventures of toilet paper and make it fascinating, but I missed the amazing character that was Katniss in the previous novels. Collins took a huge risk, and I give her credit for that. For me, personally, it didn't quite pay off, but it doesn't diminish the fascination of the book. And the fact that we are discussing it in this kind of depth may mean it actually paid off far more than a more satisfying ending would have. Her sales figures certainly suggest that there's not much wrong. :D

  24. But while I think one-star reviews are weird (I mean, come on. Shadowmancer is a one-star book. There is no way this book was as painful to read as Shadowmancer.) I think the starred reviews in PW, Booklist, and Kirkus are strange, too.

  25. AiCP- re: Gale going to the dark side. I agree, it was all very vague.

    I guess what sealed it for me was his reaction to Prim's death. He didn't blame himself, even though it was one of his traps that did it. He merely said to Katniss, "you're going to blame me for this, aren't you?" And then he leaves. That was so un-Gale to me. And I had been rooting for him in the first two books.

  26. I've read Mockingjay three times now and I always wonder why I am so devastated at the end of it. One of the reasons I think, is the way the author broke Katniss and Peeta. I feel like Peeta was robbed of his potential when he was tortured by the Capitol. In the first two books, his future was so promising but Snow took that away from him and I think that was one of the cruelest things to do. I always saw that the Mockingjay symbol was really the combination of both their talents. Removing Peeta from the picture forced Katniss to move into that position of Mockingjay all on her own and the emotional withdrawal seemed inevitable as well as being a product of her age. She is only 17 after all, and so alone in her journey.
    It was excruciating watching Finnick and then Prim die and I know in YA, there's a 'rule' that says when there's a helpful character, the writer should either incapacitate or kill them off. Still it was hard to read and I think it's what got Katniss to rock bottom, so she was able to kill Coin without caring for her own future.
    As for Gale, I would have liked a bit more explanation. I think he was written off to easily. I could see even through all three books that the author was leaning towards Peeta and in the last book, it became more and more obvious that Gale and Katniss were working at cross purposes for the rebellion. But still, it would've been nice to have resolved in a little more detail.
    One question I had through the books was whether the life in common that Gale and Katniss shared would be stronger than the trauma of the Games that Peeta and Katniss shared, and I think the author answered that in the last book.
    Overall, I loved the series and it is always, to me, the author's perogative to write it the way she sees it and to be true to the heart of her vision. That's why it touches people and that's why I love it.

  27. Thanks so much for posting this poll! I finished Mockingjay last night, remembered seeing the poll the other day, and came right over so I could vent some of my feelings about the fate of these characters. I agree with everyone who felt disappointed with the fate of Gale's character. He was one of my favorites, and he disappeared out of Katniss's life so quickly after being by her side until the very end. I feel he and Katniss became darker, colder, violent versions of their former selves by the end of the war, but only he seemed to be portrayed as unforgiveable. I was troubled by Katniss's decision to approve a new Hunger Games after she had just expressed her horror at watching the Capitol children dying. I'm guessing the new games didn't happen after Coin died, but that subject seemed to fizzle out in the aftermath, and we never learned if Katniss was relieved or disappointed that they didn't take place.

    That being said, I highly commend Suzanne Collins for writing a trilogy that could be so hotly debated by young and old alike. There's no doubt she succeeded in showing readers the twisted nightmares of war and its devastating effect on the young.


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