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Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (SPOILER ALERT!)

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I'm wondering, has anyone heard Suzanne Collins speak about MOCKINGJAY yet? Or has she written any thoughts about the book anywhere? I'd be really curious to hear her perspective.


Here's the most recent interview I've come across, in the Library School Journal. It's from Aug. 1st, 2010, just before MOCKINGJAY was released.

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#61 - October 19, 2010, 06:04 PM
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Thank you for sharing that, Michael. It was really interesting to read. I had been wondering the same things as you as far as the violence and darkness of the third book. My 10-year-old nephew read HUNGER GAMES and I had mixed feelings about it and him continuing the series. But then I also have mixed feelings about why I have mixed feelings, haha. I thought the themes of war were so painfully realistic in their bleak portrayal, and I have the urge to protect my nephew from being exposed to these horrible aspects of our world. But I also see that protective urge is maybe silly; war, terrorism, genocide, so many awful things are a regular part of our world and maybe it's a good thing for my nephew to be exposed to them first by entering a fictional world that is non-threatening to him. But I still can't help but be a protective aunt.

It was especially interesting in that interview to learn about Suzanne Collin's father, and how much learning about history and war was a part of her childhood. And this quote seemed especially telling, "One of the reasons it’s important for me to write about war is I really think that the concept of war, the specifics of war, the nature of war, the ethical ambiguities of war are introduced too late to children. I think they can hear them, understand them, know about them, at a much younger age without being scared to death by the stories. It’s not comfortable for us to talk about, so we generally don’t talk about these issues with our kids. But I feel that if the whole concept of war were introduced to kids at an earlier age, we would have better dialogues going on about it, and we would have a fuller understanding."
#62 - October 19, 2010, 06:40 PM
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Yes, I also found it interesting that Collins' father spent his career in the Air Force.

I've always felt that it's vital that children's and YA literature explore dark themes, but whether this is helpful or potentially harmful to readers depends on how authors present their material. As Roald Dahl said: “Fairy tales have always got to have something a bit scary for children - as long as you make them laugh as well.”

The HG trilogy is a fairy tale for teens. In my opinion, the first two volumes worked well because Collins balanced the scary material with humor, romance, and a sense of hopefulness and triumph over dark forces. For me, she failed to achieve this balance in MOCKINGJAY, leaving the reader with only bleak despair.
#63 - October 19, 2010, 07:46 PM
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In my opinion, the first two volumes worked well because Collins balanced the scary material with humor, romance, and a sense of hopefulness and triumph over dark forces. For me, she failed to achieve this balance in MOCKINGJAY, leaving the reader with only bleak despair.

Yes, that's exactly it! And in those first two volumes, Peeta's character was the one that brought hope. Once he was reduced to a living shell of what he'd once been, the story sank into despair.
#64 - October 20, 2010, 08:12 AM

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“He loved Big Brother”
When I read the last words of MOCKINGJAY, Katniss became Winston Smith for me. The ending was just … tragic.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved all three books and I am in awe of S. C.

Some of the things I LOVED about the book:
1. That 13 wasn’t paradise – and Katniss wasn’t sure she wanted to fight for that type of future (even against Snow)
2. Peeta – finally grew a backbone. He had to lose his mind to do it, but I he actually had some oomph in this book. He was smart, determined to discover real from not-real and self sacrificing (when he saw the video of himself)
3. Plutarch – he was larger than life and consistent throughout the story…what a character!
4. The fake war scenes set-up by 13 to rally the rebels against the capitals --- bombing the hospital in 8 with planes wearing the capital’s seal (and the final blow at the end).
5. The tension of the love triangle was real, thought about (and talked about) by all parties and not just something Katniss tried not to think about.

If I could have MOKCINGJAY customized…the “Angela version” would include:
1. Gale and Katniss having a real talk about life in 13 and the future of Panem.
2. Katniss calling Gale out for being such a Coin-bot!
3. They would also have a conversation about battle after Gale’s first.
4. The pearl would come into play. See 5
5. Katniss would CHOOSE Peeta during the trek to the capital (she seemed to be choosing him anyway –refusing to kill him when ordered, not wanting to give him up, keeping him with the group despite the fact that he was a danger).  Something like this: When he asked about the last hunger games and the kiss ‘real or not real’, Katniss would kiss him in front of everyone (yes, even Gale) and say “Real” and hand him the pearl.
NOTE: I have always been Team Gale, but I could tell in MOCKINGJAY that Katniss was choosing Peeta.
6. I realize that Katniss was a loner before the reaping in HG 1, so I didn’t expect her to ever become a social butterfly. But (as this is the “Angela version”) I desperately wanted one simple action, a small gesture from Katniss to be part of the community. When others were clearing the wreckage that was district 12 away, Katniss lending a hand…pushing a wheelbarrow, clearing a house out, even tearing down that despised fence would have been perfect.
7. I know in Katniss really lost her mother when her father died, but I would have welcomed one line in the epilogue about her mother ---at least visiting the grandkids…or an invitation to her from Peeta and Katniss to visit if she ever wanted.

Yes, it was clear to me that Katniss wanted to kill Coin the moment she learned about 13s imposter planes that killed Prim—the idea of another version of the HG only sealed the deal. I liked the tie in to her earlier pleas for Annie’s safety and Coin’s reassurance “we never convict the mentally ill” and how this policy later played out to save K’s life after she caused the death of Coin.

Me and my girls love HGs, but I haven’t read MOCKINGJAY to my youngest yet –she’s 10 and not ready for Orwell either! HG1 & 2 will always be two of my favorite adventure stories. And Kaniss and Gale are true adventurers to me (like Lyra and Will). MOCKINGJAY is in a different category. My last thought with MOCKINGJAY will always be:  Snow won. (Yeah, I get that he’s dead…but where Katniss is concerned, Snow won.)
#65 - October 23, 2010, 03:31 AM
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Angela,

I vote for your version! You came up with a lot of small scenarios that would have tied up all  those loose ends and made it a more satisfying read. You should be an editor.

Like you, I was very much into the first two novels, but now don't want to loan out my copy of Mjay to others because I don't feel I can support the over-the-top violence. Despite our desensiivity, definitely not fare for a ten-year-old.
#66 - October 26, 2010, 08:07 AM

Ooo, really like your 5 and 6 suggestions Angela!  :yup
#67 - October 26, 2010, 08:58 AM
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I read Mockingjay through really fast the first time (skimming a lot of the violence because I don't generally like that much graphic violence) and I have been slowly rereading because I suspect I missed a few things. I had thought to respond after my second reading, but I can't help saying a few things.

1. The pearl - I felt the whole point of the pearl was that it was given to her by Peeta. In my opinion, Katniss carrying the pearl everywhere showed that subconsciously she had already chosen Peeta. I know a lot of people wanted to see Katniss actually choose between Gale and Peeta, but I didn't think that was in her personality. Given a choice, she would choose to be alone and keep her heart protected. That's why it's so huge in the end when she chooses to have children because Peeta wants them. That is her ultimate profession of love for Peeta.

2. Gale - At the end of CF I thought of the different ways the triangle could turn out. I was kind of expecting Katniss to lose both of them. One of the scenarios was that Gale would go too dark in his thirst for revenge. Katniss is cold at times, she is a capable killer, but she isn't dark inside. I think that in reality the end for Gale and Katniss was when he conceived the idea for the bomb--the fact that he was capable of coming up with that scenario--and that he shared the idea with the military. Prim's death was the final nail in the coffin. I think it is telling that Gale settles in District 2--the district that produces peacekeepers.

3. I didn't  really expect what happened to Peeta, but I thought it was an interesting twist. I think we do see him regain himself and remember his love for Katniss in the scene when he is losing himself and she begs him to stay with her and he says "always."

4. Prim's Death - That took me by surprise, but it had a full circle feel to it. With all that happened in between I had forgotten that everything began with Prim--and that's how it ended. After I got over my shcked outrage, I realized that it was really the only way the story could end. Of course, her death didn't really strike me until the scene with the cat, but that scene made me cry. I believe 100% that Coin was behind Prim's death. Coin's distrust/dislike of Katniss was threaded throught the book--as was Coin's need for Katniss's support. The few thing's we know about District 13 are that they value children, and that they are extremely contolled with a type-a attention to detail. This leads me to believe that Prim's presence on the front line was deliberately planned by someone able to manipulate the system, i.e. Coin in an attempt to manipulate Katniss.

5. I agree that it would have been great to know what Katniss was thinking when she voted for the final hunger games, but I honestly don't know how S.C. could have pulled that off and still preserved the surprise of Katniss shooting Coin. I think Katniss agreed to the game in order to convince Coin that her strategy worked. That's why Haymitch voted with her--because Haymitch was smart enough to work out what happened and he knew how Katniss thought. Looking back, I wonder if the whole meeting wasn't some sort of test of loyalty by Coin.

6. I think it is chilling that Putarch the gamemaster is one of the few people to come through this whole thing unscathed. It appeals to the cynical side of me.


Finally, I think Suzanne Collins is a brilliant writer. I don't usually read books this violent or this dark, but these books were extremely well-written, and I am in awe of her talents. I found all three books to be rather dark and bleak and I rather expected this one to be darker and bleaker because it was the end of the series. I was actually looking forward to there not being a hunger games in this book and I nearly cried when Finnick and Katniss recognized that the battle ground was actually an arena.
#68 - October 26, 2010, 11:46 AM
« Last Edit: October 26, 2010, 12:10 PM by Michelle DP »

kidlit59

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I really enjoyed Books 1 & 2 and had trouble putting them down, but Book 3 was a disappointment to me. I got lost in the characters and plot of the first two, but in the final book, I was jarred out of the story by the constant messaging. I felt like the first two books sucked me into the story so the third could teach me a lesson. I realize many others didn't have the same reaction and felt the third book was brilliant. I wanted it to be, but unfortunately, for me, it wasn't. I did finish it, but not out of burning desire, but more of a "I've come this far, might as well see it through to the end" attitude. All in all, I loved the first two books so much more than I disliked the third that I'm still recommending the trilogy to my friends and family.

I did feel that there were a lot of storylines started and then left dangling, like the pearl and the red-haired Avox. I would have liked to have seen those plot elements woven back into the story at the end.   
#69 - February 03, 2011, 10:44 PM

Kate Kae

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Good points, all.

Yes, the red haired Avox... I prefer all things wrapped up at the end.
#70 - February 04, 2011, 11:20 AM

Jenna

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I loved loved loved loved loved Mockingjay. Did I mention that I loved it?
I'm so glad that SC didn't Disney-fy the ending. I'm glad that Katniss didn't end up some sort of Greek goddess heroine. I'm glad that Peeta was hijacked, that Gale made those decisions, that Prim and Finnick died. It's all so realistic to me. I could pluck out so many things from it and say, "Yes, this applies to us." I always wondered what I would do in the situations presented in the book.
And I don't think Katniss was passive in Mockingjay either. In the beginning she was by not wanting to be the face of the rebellion, but after being used so much and being treated as a puppet, why wouldn't she not want to work for them? And then at the Capitol she took initiative and decided she was going to go and kill Snow. And then at the end, she decided to kill Coin. She was active, certainly not all the time, but I thought it consistent with the attitude of a seventeen-year-old girl who's been used like no other.

And for those curious about the pearl, someone went to a book signing for Mockingjay and asked SC about that and she said it probably got lost in the explosion. But she also said that whatever we want to happen to it, happened to it. She seriously gives her readers so much room for imagination. If it wasn't explained in the book, whatever you want to happen, happened.
And my goodness I could write an essay on that pearl. It was definitely a symbol between P/K though and their relationship.
#71 - April 15, 2011, 02:28 PM

m_stiefvater

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But she also said that whatever we want to happen to it, happened to it. She seriously gives her readers so much room for imagination. If it wasn't explained in the book, whatever you want to happen, happened.

Not to open a can of worms, but I don't think this is good enough. I never want to underestimate my readers' intelligence, but I think if it's important, you know what actually happened and you place the clues in there. And as to being completely realistic? I think a commercial writer imposes meaning on chaotic events -- a true snapshot of realistic life has no plot or character arcs, and that, I think, is the core of story-telling. 
#72 - April 16, 2011, 08:11 AM

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