Mockingjay - Collins Suzanne It was really hard for me to determine how many stars to give this book. I was torn in the 3-5 range, and I had to spend some time thinking, and reading other reviews of it first. It was hard to separate the very dark, drained, depressed feeling it gave me from the real quality of the story. The fact that it made me feel like crap did not mean it was a bad book. I reminded myself that this was a dystopia. But then, I thought, I LOVED The Handmaid's Tale and 1984. They didn't make me feel like crap, after I read them. I came away thinking they were just amazing books. So, what was the difference between those books and this one? I wasn't emotionally attached to any of the characters in those two books.

I spent the first portion of the book really stressed out, worrying about Peeta. Unlike the way I've seen a lot of fans describe this series, I never saw it as a true love triangle between Peeta and Gale. I thought by the end of Catching Fire it was clear that it was all Peeta. It was shown, not told. I never got attached to Gale. In Mockingjay, I finally had the chance to get to know him. And the more I learned of him, the more I disliked him. And I picked up on Katniss having some of the same discomfort I had with him.

And once Peeta became part of the story again, I was even more stressed out than I was before. What happened there, I've seen it done in other stories, and it always gets to me. No, the fact that it's been done before is not a criticism, because as they say, "There's nothing new under the sun." But I was heartbroken along with Katniss, just as I, as a reader, loved Peeta right along with her. I see so much criticism of her behavior, how she's too self-centered and whiny. What I see is someone handling things that most of us cannot possibly imagine truly having to experience. She does the best she can, and at the points where she breaks down and can't function anymore, I challenge anyone to really think they would do better. I don't understand the self-centered comments. I've seen them in reviews of all three books, and I don't know where it comes from. I see Katniss putting other people before herself all the time. When she volunteered to take her sister's place in the Hunger Games, for instance, in book one. When she vowed to save Peeta at the cost of her own life in book two. Her defense of enemy civilians in book three. She is a strong, principled person. Very believable and, I think, admirable.

One moment in the book resonated deeply with me. When she commented that Peeta would never be the same again, and Johanna pointed out that all of them were changed by their experiences. I found it extremely poignant and just a very deep truth about life.

I was horrified by all of the death I read, but I was supposed to be. To do otherwise with this book would have cheapened it.

In the end, she still had Haymitch as a father figure, and Peeta was there for her, if a bit more broken than before. Gale had to go away, because was there really any possible way she could ever get past associating him with her sister's death? She was able to have children knowing they would not be forced to participate in The Hunger Games. It was a good ending.