Total Hours to Read: Just under 5
--Average pages per minute: 1.36
Sex/Romance: Some "romance," and mention of people being coerced/forced into prostitution.
Violence: Yes, there is still plenty of violence.
Thoughts: And all the pieces finally come together to form a grim and riveting finish to the story.
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Effie was nowhere to be seen until the very end of the book, and then she is seen only briefly. It is commented on that she's lucky to be alive and is only so because she was technically a prisoner of the Capitol, indicating that if she hadn't been 13 would have executed her for no good reason. Which, by the way, they did do to Peeta's entire prep team and pretty much all the other stylists and prep teams except for Katniss', which I think really goes to show how deep the hatred and dehumanization runs on both sides of the conflict. They only let Katniss' team live because they were useful and necessary for them to have their Mockingjay. However, they did torture her prep team basically for living the lifestyle they were used to without anyone trying to teach them or help them adjust. Katniss does show some concern for them when she discovers how they've been treated, but her concern feels more like that of someone seeing a kicked puppy or really just any abused animal. When accidentally defending them to Gale, she describes them as children, "They're not evil or cruel. They're not even smart." And by the way, Katniss never really showed any concern or care for Effie. When she shows back up Katniss is enveloped in her own world of depression, trauma, and PTSD and pays no mind to having Effie back again.
The scene where Haymitch asks for moments where Katniss made people feel something? So much less awkward in the book. Once people finally start talking they actually bring up a lot of different actions and moments.
I was very wrong in how I remembered the book, including Johanna and Katniss' relationship. I really thought there had been more development there, but I was wrong. However, we do get to see way more of Johanna's PTSD and trauma not only from the games but also from her torture in the Capitol. From the blood rain in the arena and the flooding/shock therapy torture of the Capitol, she despises rain and refuses to take showers. In fact, this is what leads to her relapse and disqualification from going to the frontlines in the Capitol.
One of the biggest differences was the amount of reality depicted. Trauma, PTSD, physical scarring, depression, descriptions of torture, and levels of brokenness. Katniss' PTSD and trauma hits way harder and has a much bigger presence in the book. Finnick has a vulnerability and brokenness that are never depicted in the movies and I think that was a major crime. Don't be afraid to show vulnerable men! Katniss describes him as always crying, he breaks up when saying how it would be better if the woman he loved (and everyone else that was a captive of the Capitol) were dead and begins to spiral quickly saying he wishes they were dead and that he was dead, that everybody was dead. He obsessively knots rope until his fingers bleed in an attempt to distract himself from his anxious thoughts and traumatic memories. Katniss is described as having a huge, ugly scar on her arm from where Johanna cut out her tracker, being sunburned from the arena, and her hair a patchy wreck from the acid. Later she (and Peeta) have patchwork skin from their burns (and subsequent skin grafts) from the bombs that ended the war. Katniss at one point describes herself, saying, "...my...fire-mutt body. The skin grafts still retain a newborn-baby pinkness. The skin deemed damaged but salvageable looks red, hot, and melted in places. Patches of my former self gleam white and pale. I'm like a bizarre patchwork quilt of skin. Parts of my hair were singed off completely; the rest has been chopped off at odd lengths." And then, after Katniss kills Coin, she tries to kill herself in several different ways, including overdosing and starving herself to death before resigning herself to a slow death of addiction. And even the painstaking process of recovery for Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch. None of this is depicted in the movie, and I despise people that continue to ignore reality/the source in favor of having their leads continue to be attractive.
I can't quite put my finger on why, but Coin heading down a bad road felt much more obvious in the movies than the book. I feel like in the book there is some doubt as to whether or not Katniss made the right/a sane decision in killing Coin.
In the same vein, Katniss' vote on the Capitol Hunger Games was intimated to be more of a ploy in the book. Katniss' inner dialogue leading up to her vote indicates that she is horrified at the thought of another games. But, when the vote comes to her, she weighs her options carefully, thinking everything through. And then, as Haymitch has the final vote, he is watching Katniss. Katniss then says, "This is the moment, then. When we find out exactly just how alike we are, and how much he truly understands me." (Emphasis added.) To me at least, this intimates that Katniss believes (and Haymitch agrees) that if Katniss sways the vote against the games she would disappear quickly due to Coin.
And one of my favorite things in the book that got left out of the movie is the book. Katniss and Peeta and Haymitch create a book in tribute to those they've lost. With sketches of the people, memories, and "...all the details it would be a crime to forget." It includes Prim and Rue and Katniss' father among others. And when Haymitch finally joins in it includes 23 years of tributes he was forced to mentor. A beautiful and tragic glimpse of the grief these people are left to live with.
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A grim and gripping ending to the Hunger Games saga.
In the end: 5 out of 5 stars. A fantastic conclusion to a wonderful trilogy.