Absolutely spoiler-free review of Mockingjay

I have had Carly Simon’s “Mockingbird” stuck in my head for the past week and a half. Except instead of “bird” I keep hearing “jay”. Mock–ye-ah; ing–ye-ah; jay–ye-ah. It’s gotten kind of old. All the time I was reading Mockingjay I’ve had this song in my head, and ever since then. To my joy, I read the end of Mockingjay at the bookshop ages before I started reading the library copy for real, so it didn’t fall under no-spoilers September. This worked out nicely for me because the rest of the book is pretty intense, and I am not positive I wouldn’t have cracked under pressure and read the end in spite of my no-spoilers rule.

(No, I wouldn’t have. I didn’t with Jellicoe Road and I didn’t with Half a Crown.)

Right now I just decided that no-spoilers September means NO SPOILERS WHATSOEVER. No spoilers in my reviews either. Yeah, I can totally do it. Here is my spoiler-free summary of Mockingjay, which also contains no spoilers for the first two books. Following the events of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, Katniss and Peeta are both in difficult situations. Gale too. (Y’all, the background of my laptop just turned Mockingjay blue. Is this a sign that I’m doing right by avoiding spoilers?) After some further difficult situations, each more fraught with moral implications than the last, the characters who survive carry on in the world created by the way they acted.

(Is no-spoilers September as unreservedly awesome for you so far as it is for me?)

Many have been the complaints and mighty the displeasure at the bleak turn the Hunger Games trilogy takes as it approaches its end. But I thought the bleakness made sense. You can’t have a difficult situation of the Mockingjay sort (I am consistent like a piston with this no-spoilers month) (yes, “consistent like a piston” doesn’t make sense. But neither does “chilling like a villain”, and people still carry on saying that) without it working out poorly for a certain number of the characters. Or, to steal the words of Mssrs. Croup and Vandemar, you can’t make an omelet without killing a few people. Mockingjay takes a direction that is consistent with the first two books and, artistically speaking, inevitable.

Yes. Artistically speaking, inevitable. When I’m forced to avoid spoilers, I start to sound like a slightly douchy creative writing undergrad. True story about me: I’m better with spoilers.

(This review is mostly a joke about how lame my life is without spoilers. If you want to read proper and spoilery reviews, hit up the Book Blogs Search Engine, because everyone has been reading this book in the last couple of weeks, and they have had a lot of feelings about it.)

  • I thought the book took turns that were completely predictable/understandable. Your spoiler-free review was quite entertaining. šŸ˜€

    • Yep, I agree. Collins did all the things I would have done, and killed all the characters I would have killed. I wasn’t in love with the epilogue, though. And actually, I wasn’t wild about Peeta’s story arc (it felt a smidge manipulative, like, hey, look at how much I can hurt Peeta!), but I really really liked the “real or not real” game that they invented to help him.

      • Me too! I thought it was a clever way to further illustrate the real/not real question that was sort of at the heart of the critique of media in the series. šŸ™‚

  • I’m not following this series (the romance irked me), but I enjoyed your review. The last line reminds me of that scene in Mean Girls; “Do you even go here?” “No, I just have a lot of feelings.”

    • I can understand not enjoying the romance. I thought it played out very interestingly in the first book, but less so in the second one, when it got all love-triangly.

  • Re naming kids Katniss and Primrose – ha! It will be interesting to see how many of them sprout up in the coming generation of babies! (And are those names really worse than Apple and Moon Unit?)

    • They are definitely not worse than Moon Unit. I just think it’s weird that those are the two names she picked for her kids. They don’t seem like they go together, or would come out of the same set of parents. :p

  • Bea

    Could this be a spoiler-free-comments month? ‘Cause I would totally dig that (not that I comment that much. Ha.)!

    I was Team Katniss, too. Not sure how to feel about it, though. Did we win something?

    • I am not sure anybody wins exactly, although I definitely know which team loses.

      It’s so weird for me to suddenly be worried about spoilers! Usually I’m all, Spoilers! BRING IT. :p It seems to me that comments tend to follow the lead of the post–if the post is spoilery, comments tend to be the same way, and the reverse also seems to be true.

  • My kids want me to read the second one and then this one. All the excitement over it from otherwise rational adults has kind of turned me off. Maybe I should reconsider.

    I like spoilers just fine, but liked the way you tip-toe around in this review, too!

    • If you don’t think you’ll enjoy them, I’d say don’t bother. They’re enjoyable, but I won’t ever need to own them. I don’t mind about the hype, just am not wild about the books.

  • Not sure I’ve mentioned lately how much I adore you, you make me laugh so much!

    But what I cant’ tell from this spoiler free review is if you liked the book!

    • *blush* You’re so sweet!

      Yes, I did like the book. I thought it was a satisfying conclusion to the series. That said, the Hunger Games trilogy isn’t my favorite series in all the land. Unfortunately for it, I read it around the same time as I read Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series, and any book would have a hard time living up to that standard. My brain never stops comparing the two books, and Chaos Walking always comes out ahead.

      • Is it wrong I sort of resent those books because people keep saying that? I’ll still read them, though.

      • I think *this* is why I might not have enjoyed The Hunger Games so much. (still have to read book 2 and 3 of the series, but hey, you said spoiler free, right? And it’s not as if I haven’t checked what the plot will be anyway), I read it after Chaos Walking. And once you’ve seen that sleverness, it just kind of.. falls short.

  • Amy

    Would I be spoiling it if I said I liked spoilers? Always have, always will.

    It’s rough writing reviews of books in a series. Most of the time you have to give something away to write it, but I think you did an admirable job. šŸ™‚

    • ME TOO. Spoiler-free September is not the most awesome project I have ever embarked on, and ten days into the month it is already frustrating. However, I am determined to get through it. Hopefully I am just having withdrawal symptoms right now and will soon be over them and able to enjoy unspoiled reading like the rest of the world. (I slightly doubt it though.)

  • I haven’t read the book but I started skimming the first page. Then I stopped because I wanted to finish Leviathan first. Then I finished Leviathan and I had to do the pool for RIP V. Then I finished that and now I’m more than forty chapters into The Passage by Justin Cronin. I haven’t finished that.

    So yes I haven’t read Mockingjay. And this post made me laugh.

    • I have to read Leviathan! Not The Passage though, because I’m still off vampires, and actually the longer my no-vampires diet goes on, the more unfond of vampires I feel. It is sort of depressing. I wish this glut on the vampire market would desist.

      But yeah, I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Leviathan. It’s been on my mental list for a while. I’m determined to like some steampunk book somewhere, and Leviathan’s going to be the one. (I hope.)

  • I couldn’t write a review of this book without spoilers, and I try so hard not to be spoilery when I review.

    • I often want to complain about aspects of the books I read, which is why I tend to end up with a bunch of spoilers in my posts. But I do try to mark them clearly so nobody will be spoiled who doesn’t want to be.

  • You are a brave, brave, non-spoiler-y soul – for now. I concur that it is almost impossible to write a spoiler-free review of this book. And also, that people have a lot of feelings about it.

    Despite the fact that most of the above is a joke, I’m glad to hear that you thought it was, artistically speaking, inevitable. As I mentioned in my review, I thought the book was great while I was reading it. When I finished it and closed the book, I thought it was a very fitting end. Then I started to second guess myself after all of the hating on the internet. There are definitely things that bugged me, but you’re right about the some people have to die thing.

    • Yeah, after reading so many unhappy responses to the book, I was expecting not to like it–which I guess probably contributed to my liking it. Low expectations can be helpful. šŸ™‚

  • I present you the Burns’ Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence for giving nothing away in three books, other than names, in your review.

    I am relieved for you that this was released in August and you were able to peek at the ending. This would have been a tremendous test of non-peeking reading. Even though I don’t peek.

    • I am honored to receive this award, and will put it on prominent display and dust it regularly. :p

      So far I have had several serious tests of non-peeking. Jellicoe Road was all tense, the third in Jo Walton’s Still Life with Fascists series appeared too miserable to end well, and Gwyna in Here Lies Arthur does not appear to be marrying him and I am very curious what’s going on with that. It’s a sore trial.

  • Tee hee, this made me laugh! It’s hard to talk about this book without spoiling it. I agree that the bleakness made sense, but somehow it was dissatisfying for me… maybe because I hoped it would go like a lot of YA series and try to be more happy in the end. I’m not sure. The deaths didn’t bother me so much as the, ummm, well, bleakness of the whole thing šŸ™‚

    • Well, I thought it ended as happily as a war book can really end. If it had been an easy, happy ending, I would have felt far more cheated.

  • Nice use of parentheses. (That’s my spoiler free comment.) šŸ˜€

    • Thank you! I love parentheses. šŸ˜€

  • “When Iā€™m forced to avoid spoilers, I start to sound like a slightly douchy creative writing undergrad.” *LOL!* I found your spoiler free review quite entertaining.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it! I may end up changing my no-spoilers-in-reviews policy, because I don’t know how many like this I can manage. :p

  • I don’t know what I love most about this post, the creative spoiler-freeness, the Croup and Vandemar reference or the awesome new Carly Simon “Mockingjay” song that is now stuck in my head.

    • Yeah, and enjoy that. It will never leave you. I keep trying to think of other catchy songs in the hopes that they will dislodge it, but so far no joy.

  • Your reviews are always entertaining. I don’t think I could manage to maintain a spoiler-free world. No matter how much I tell myself I will NOT look ahead, I can never resist a little peek. Good luck to you my friend, I will know the rubicon you have crossed if you make it blamelessly through the month! šŸ™‚

    • I’m determined to make it through the month, but so far it rather sucks. It’s exactly like my normal way of reading, except not as much fun. šŸ™

  • *snort* Come back to the spoiler fold, Jenny. Come hooooooome.

  • Jenny

    Croup and Vandemar ftw!

  • I applaud your spoiler-free-ness. People will die! Reeeeaaaally die? Not just strangers in the games? I’m there. Actually, I wasn’t in too much of a hurry for this, but the overenthusiastic library lady at my library (you can’t escape notice as a fantasy reader in such a small town) put me on the library queue when I innocently said I didn’t know there was a queue yet since (back then) it hadn’t been released, so it may not be too long before all is revealed to me. The person I least want to die is Cinna. I think he is one of the likeliest. But don’t tell me!

  • Need to read Mockingjay as it is sitting on my self staring at me. Have started to read Ch.1, though…

  • I just finished book one-I liked it quite a bit-question is as I have read he reviews and know the basic plot action-can I skip book 2 and go right to Mockingjay-what I like best about Hunger Games is the world building aspect of it-not so much the characters