SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS BELOW THE CUT!!!
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I'm still recovering from reading this in one sitting yesterday. My thoughts haven't completely cooked, but I wanted to start trying to form them, if only so I can dig in and discuss with you lot!
- I'm forming this hypothesis that Buttercup actually represents Katniss in the story. Survivor, tough to win over, someone who people (apparently) enjoy playing games with. I teared up at the end when she breaks down and tells the cat that Prim is dead and not coming back.
- "The Hanging Tree" was SOO creepy and used so perfectly. I kept trying to figure out the melody of it, but I don't think that was, you know, the point. UGH. Suzanne Collins, you killed me.
- YOU ALSO KILLED PRIM AND FINNICK AND I AM STILL VERY DISTRESSED. I called my mom after finishing last night and tried to explain why I initially felt very disenchanted about things. It really has to do with Prim's death, and how she was the one that Katniss originally entered "the arena" of war for. Then again, I felt like I knew Finnick better (and, let's be honest, loved him even more after we leaned about how tragic his life as a victor was) and I actually had to put the book down and walk away for a moment when he died so horribly. Not that Prim's death wasn't horrible, but decapitation? I'm so glad he got to spend time with Annie, that they were able to get married in what was one of the few bright spots of the entire book (even if that, too, was only for show)
- PEETA. I'll be honest: I spoiled myself on Saturday. I knew how the book was going to end, which characters died, and so on and so forth. I realize this is crazy talk for those of you that went offline to avoid them, but I knew that this book was going to be dark, and I knew with work yesterday that I wasn't going to be able to sit and read it. (After I bought it at lunch, I was really distracted for the rest of the day. I should have hid it in my desk, but I kept sneaking peeks!) I overemphasize with characters, get bad secondhand embarrassment, and get overly worked up and stressed out in stories and situations like these. I needed to be able to come to terms with what happened before I read about it, otherwise I was never going to be able to enjoy the book.
That's all to say that I knew what was coming with Peeta. I knew he wasn't going to die, and that he and Katniss would end up together, but I totally underestimated how much it would wreck me to see him hijacked. In retrospect, this is an incredibly brave move on SC's part, because people loved Peeta for his sweetness. They loved him for his gentle nature and his interactions with Katniss and his hope for the future. What happened to him, for me, was worse than death, because she still lost the boy with the bread, only now she had to be reminded of it every time he looked her way. I was SO MAD AT HER for leaving him to go to District 2, because if the situations were reversed, Peeta would not have given up on her so easily.
It was smart, too, for another reason: SC was able to show without a doubt that Peeta wasn't a pushover. He wasn't weak. All along, people have been saying that Gale matches Katniss' strength and "kick ass" nature, but I think Katniss has always been somewhat of an unreliable narrator, especially in the beginning as she assesses how well she'll be able to handle things. She was never going into the Games to be a revolutionary or make a statement--like President Coin observes, it's Peeta who's the revolutionary, at least in his attitude and approach to the Games. While Katniss has reconciled herself to the dying, he's the one that tells her that he doesn't want to be a piece in their games, that he wants to die on his own terms. That idea fuelled many of her most important moments: the berries, her attitude about Gale's attack plan on District 2, etc. The truth is, even after he's hijacked, Peeta is still fighting to die on his own terms, to not become what the Capitol was trying to make him by pumping that venom into him.
What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that.
Yep. 'Nuff said. Gale always rubbed me the wrong way, and I thought (despite the kissing action) it was clear that things between him and Katniss were never going to work out because they wanted two very different things and, ultimately, had two very different viewpoints that couldn't be reconciled. I'm sad they lost their friendship, but, at that point, it didn't matter to me how loyal Gale was and how hard he fought to protect her and fight beside her--that wasn't what Katniss wanted or needed. People are going to complain there wasn't enough romance in this book, but I don't think this was the place for fluff. Besides, you can glean a lot about how much Katniss cares for a person by how tenderly she treats them. Take, for instance, when they're in the Capitol and how she has to grit her teeth to help clean Gale's wounds versus how carefully and sweetly she cleans Peeta's wounds. Peeta and Prim are the only ones (and Finnick and Haymitch on occasion, I suppose) that bring out this side of her.
- I was texting back and forth with Anna as we read and we were both doing bouncy claps over our prince, Peeta, making it through. My two favorite lines were definitely:
"You're still trying to protect me. Real or not real," he whispers. "Real," I answer. It seems to require more explanation. "Because that's what you and I do. Protect each other."
So after, when he whispers, 'You love me. Real or not real?' I tell him, 'Real.'
Ummm, I know I said there was no place for romance--but GUUUUUHHHH. Gorgeous.
- And a few funnies:
"Finnick?" I say. "Maybe some pants?" He looks down at his legs as if noticing his outfit for the first time. Then he whips off his hospital gown, leaving him in just his underwear. "Why? Do you find this" - he strikes a ridiculously provocative pose - "distracting?"
I created this by accident a few years ago, during a winter blackout. You simply wiggle a flashlight beam around on the floor, and Buttercup tries to catch it. I'm petty enough to enjoy it because i think it makes him look stupid.
- I still feel sad about the bittersweet ending between the two, even though they grew together again and it's clear that, though damaged, they did find some happiness. I find it weird that some people are claiming Katniss is a terrible mother based off of those two pages. Yes, Peeta was the one who wanted children, but she did relent and you know she wouldn't have if she felt (as she did in the first two books) that it was too dangerous and terrible of a world to bring children into. That's what gave me the most hope about the ending.
- I have a few complaints about the book. Like with HG and CF, I still have a hard time visualizing the set up of places and events. I think this might be because her writing style lends itself to reading as fast as possible, without stopping to process, but I was really confused about the Capitol's layout and the action there. SC has this thing, too, where she'll have Katniss get knocked out/injured/pass out, and then, in the next scene, another character will fill her in on everything she missed. That trick is a way to save the book from running on too long, but it always feels like cheating to me. She only did it once or twice in HG and CF, but here it must have happened a good four or five times.
- Also, I--like Katniss--was really disoriented by the end of the book, particularly in the way she was locked up/drugged/allowed to go crazy, the trial we never saw, and why her reasons for killing Coin NEVER come up during her trip back to 12. What the WHAT? Did everyone already know exactly why she did it? Did they also have reservations about her?
All in all, a heavy, heavy, heavy book. I know I shouldn't have been, but I was still surprised by the darkness. I'm glad SC didn't pull any punches in the end--that would have been a great disservice to both her characters and readers.
What did you guys think?