Mark Reads ‘Mockingjay’: Epilogue

In the epilogue of Mockingjay, sadness until THE ABSOLUTE END OF TIME. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to finish Mockingjay.

It’s very weird to be at the end of this all. I started The Hunger Games trilogy for a new project and a new experience when I created Mark Reads. I was unsure whether I could continue to keep an audience for a new series (I did! Hello!), or that I’d be able to write in-depth reviews about something I knew nothing about. I think I started off with this series with a much more cynical view than I intended to. When I came into the Harry Potter series, I was afraid of instantly liking it because of that atrocity of a series I came. So I was overly harsh in my first set of reviews. With The Hunger Games, I feared liking something instantly, so I was, again, a lot more negative than I probably wanted to be. In hindsight, though, I’m okay with it. I didn’t trust this series when I started it. Hell, I even feared that I wouldn’t like it. It made the joy all that much more real to me when I realized I really was enjoying myself while reading these books.

I suppose it’s odd to say you experience “joy” while reading The Hunger Games trilogy because there’s actually little joy to be found in these books. They’re deeply serious, painful, kind of traumatizing, and endlessly tragic. Maybe it’s because I gravitate to such dark and depressing themes, but the fact that this series told a story that wasn’t so easy to digest makes me appreciate them that much more.

I actually enjoy the epilogue to Mockingjay quite a bit because it seems natural. I feel that this very brief look into the future fits the tone and themes of the rest of the novel. It’s not often that epilogues actually work, for that matter, so much applause to Collins for that.

Set fifteen years in the future, the epilogue serves the purpose of not only updating us about what sort of life Peeta and Katniss have lived, but to remind us of what we’ve just read.

They play in the Meadow. The dancing girl with the dark hair and blue eyes. The boy with the blond curls and gray eyes, struggling to keep up with her on his chubby toddler legs.

I love that their children have physical features opposite of their parents. Nice touch.

It took five, ten, fifteen years for me to agree. But Peeta wanted them so badly. When I first felt her stirring inside of me, I was consumed with a terror that felt as old as life itself. Only the joy of holding her in my arms could tame it. Carrying him was a little easier, but not much.

Collins has to be praised for what she’s done here: she has not given these characters a fairy-tale ending. She has not erased their experiences to wrap the story up in an easily-digestible package. She has not said that people cannot survive or love or raise a family if they suffer from a mental illness or trauma.

They live, just like any one of us, though the details are different.

The questions are just beginning. The arenas have been completely destroyed, the memorials built, there are no more Hunger Games. But they teach about them at school, and the girl knows we played a role in them. The boy will know in a few years. How can I tell them about that world without frightening them to death?

I have no answer to this and I wouldn’t even pretend that I do. But it is the reality of what Katniss has to deal with. How do you explain these horrors? How can you describe lived experience to people who will never experience it for itself? Katniss even points out that her children take the concept of waking up for granted, a fear she’ll always live with.

My children, who don’t know they play on a graveyard.

Yeah, how do you explain that to them?

Peeta says it will be okay. We have each other. And the book. We can make them understand in a way that will make them braver. But one day I’ll have to explain about my nightmares. Why they came. Why they won’t ever really go away.

I can’t even imagine this, having to explain those sort of horrors to your children.

I’ll tell them how I survive it. I’ll tell them that on bad mornings, it feels impossible to take pleasure in anything because I’m afraid it could be taken away. That’s when I make a list in my head of every act of goodness I’ve seen someone do. It’s like a game. Repetitive. Even a little tedious after more than twenty years.

But there are much worse games to play.

And so Mockingjay comes to an end. For most of us, we will probably never live in a world or experience things so traumatic that we are haunted by them for the rest of our lives. It’s interesting, though, that people could take so much away from this ending. As someone who was abused and still feels the effects of that every day, it’s very uplifting (strangely so) that this ending feels so real to me, despite that I have no experience with war.

Looking back on the series, I’d definitely say that Mockingjay was my favorite of the three novels. I don’t know if I could necessarily pick a favorite character, as I don’t naturally gravitate towards one over the others. Well, obviously Buttercup is the best, but besides that, I kind of like all of them, faults and all, fairly equally. I’m quite satisfied with the ending as well, and I don’t really have any desire for the loose ends to be tied up. I imagine there are people who are mad that they don’t find out full stories for people like Haymitch, Gale, or Katniss’s mom, but I don’t think it’s that important in the end.

For me, though, this series will have a few things I latch on to. It was my first book series on my new site. It was immensely entertaining, and it surprised me time and time again. But I’ll always love that I got to discuss so many of the intricacies of that this book inspired us to talk about: from war to revolution, from ableism to heroism, and from love triangles to every SHIT JUST GOT REAL moment that Suzanne Collins sent our way.

Sure, there are flaws. All the summary portions still grate me the wrong way. Sometimes the first-person present narrative is irritating. I still think that, even in hindsight, the first book is a tad reminiscent of Battle Royale, despite that it has nothing to do with it. But in the end, I would recommend The Hunger Games trilogy in a heartbeat. But I’d add one qualifier to it before sending someone on their way:

You are not prepared.

We will begin The Book Thief by Markus Zusak on Friday. Expect a couple Infinite Jest reviews before then since I now have the time!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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268 Responses to Mark Reads ‘Mockingjay’: Epilogue

  1. arnenieberding says:

    I have just ordered Infinite Jest and Book Thief.

    I'll have to wait 'till next week to get Infinite Jest though D:


  2. NathanielEssex says:

    As part of my university course i am doing classes on examining childrens literature. I have to give a talk, and have chosen the topic of using childrens literature to deal with death, grief, and loss. I plan on using examples of how charecters were affected in differnt parts of this trilogy, katniss' reaction to Rues death in the first book, her mothers depression at the start of the series, and how she cant return to district twelve. Im also considering mentioning this blog and reading Marks reactions to different characters deaths during harry potter and this series.

  3. cdnstar says:

    See, I'm not sure it is that much worse than other things he has read or seen on television, or above his level of understanding if we talk about what it means. He's very aware of the world, and will automatically ask for an explanation. I think that if I do let him read it (which I'm still on the fence about), it will be reading along with him, so that we can discuss it.

  4. GirlWithThePearl says:

    Can we revisit the series again in the form of "Mark Watches The Hunger Games" in March of next year?! Y/Y?

  5. Ladygem says:

    Mark, your reviews are great, I discovered you shortly after I got into the Hunger Games myself, but I didn’t have the will power to only read one chapter a day. The Book Theif is amazingly good, and I think you will like it, but it is set in Nazi Germany so I don’t think it’s spoiling anything to say it’s pretty heavy. are you sure you don’t want to read something happier right after Mockingjay? Well to each his own I guess. Can’t wait for your review on Friday!

  6. Jane Slayre says:

    I loved Mockingjay. But my favourite books/movies/music,etc is always stuff that makes me want to tear out the hearts of all humanity and snuggle up with my infinite sadness. So you know, typical.

    One of the main reasons I loved this series so much was that beyond just being a great story, it had all these social, cultural, political undertones to analyze and think about and flail over. I get shit from my friends for constantly critiquing and (over)analyzing the content in entertainment. They ask why I can't just enjoy it without having to make everything so ~srs bsns~. But this is how I get enjoyment from things! And when I have a book series like this that basically invites me to frolic in and freak out about oppression and revolutions and shit while simultaneously giving me a few thousand buckets of WTFOMGBBQ moments, well that's seriously just about my favourite thing ever.

    (I seldom comment because I can't trust myself not to spoil but I look forward to seeing how unprepared you are for The Book Thief.)

  7. @marykaat says:

    ohhh just downloaded The Book Thief… *not* gonna read it until you start! *excited* to read one *with* you… although I absolutely love the reviews you write… thank you!

  8. Liana Moreli says:

    OMG, The Book Thief is a book to cry…is really sad…a borrowed it to a friend that never gave it back to me…

  9. Grete says:

    Actually difficult to find practiced individuals with this issue, you sound like you understand exactly what you are posting about! Thanks

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘27213026 which is not a hashcash value.

  10. Quizzical says:

    i forgot to come read this! sorry mark!

    i read book 3 in a day, and i think my reading of the epilogue suffered for that. i really hated it and felt let down and flat. but now coming back to it i really love the touches you mention and the way it shows katniss struggling on years later – putting one foot in front of the other, struggling to get out of bed etc – and yet still living, and peeta having hope for the future. it's actually kind of lovely.

    i change my vote now. i like the epilogue.

    (and i'm so glad you enjoyed it, mark. um. enjoyed is not the right word. i'll have to hope you know what i mean!)

  11. cjazzle says:

    wow that end was utterly depressing. although seriously, what was i expecting from a book series that has been consistently depressing for some 900-1000 pages? it has like, gotten into my soul. i consider myself a very positive and happy person but this incredibly depressing story of people who are enduringly scarred and not the perfect by any stretch of the imagination just eats away at that happiness!! don't get me wrong, i'm going to dive into a depression after reading this, but for me it really puts some perspective on sad and depressing things. im not saying i understand any of that stuff, i wouldnt dream of it, but this story and these characters are seriously HAUNTING ME!! get out of my head! even reading a chapter of harry potter last night before going to bed wasn't enough to bring up my spirits. i guess i'll just to wait until later today when i coach softball to 9th graders. theyre usually a pretty good upper.

    heres a sequence of sorts of how i would describe the story as i read it:

    Hunger Games:
    cautiously optimistic? using the word "optimistic" is being optimistic

    Catching Fire:
    horrific and awful and all things bad
    mags trying to swim – HAUNTS ME
    at least katniss is likely to survive

    sad and depressing (as usual)
    horrifying again
    utterly the most depressing ending i have ever read in any book ever

    so my adjectives for mockingjay are markedly different from the other two for probably obvious reasons (there's no hunger games) but OH BROTHER. prim died, i cried for like 3 pages before collecting myself, gale just leaving and knowing he could never be the companion katniss needed (aside from what katniss articulates in the book herself), then her having kids because peeta wanted her to, not so much because she cared about them, but she cared about peeta.

    am i the only one who doesnt really like peeta that much? and think gale's "relationship" with katniss isn't probably as deep as it should be considering they grew up together? like maybe it just wasnt written as well or something. but peeta is like a totall dumby most of the the entire first two books. its not until he gets tortured that he gains some perspective on katniss's actions, granted he's been influenced by the trackerjacker venom, but seriously dude, you're so in love with this girl for no apparent reason since you were a kid and it blinds you to her seeming indifference for like most of the first book. i don't know. i like him better once he's a little more scarred, cause before then i feel like he was just katniss's lackey, he was like an annoying person she had to keep alive. and sure, she loved him and didnt know she loved him, or would never admit it to herself and let that kind of thought in, but come on. peeta is pretty much a dummy until he gets hijacked. and poor gale, he can't even begin to provide what katniss needs cause he's never been in the arena, he doesn't understand the mind games, not that he hasn't experienced his own trauma, but he just can't understand katniss's like peeta can.

    EFFFFF this series is so depressing!! BAH

  12. Nicola says:

    Wanna know what else causes sadness until THE ABSOLUTE END OF TIME?

    The casting for the Hunger Games movie. *sob*

  13. cjazzle says:

    thank you for reviewing this series, otherwise it wouldnt even have been on my radar. i'm just over-the-top glad i read it (does that seem really messed up considering how utterly depressing it is? i'm GLAD i read such a horribly sad book? WHATTTT?!!).

  14. GaleHawthorne says:

    This was a really good review!!

  15. The Writer says:

    Love the concept of this blog. Also, I agree that the book (the whole series, really) is very dark, but it's that darkness that sets it apart from many other books in the genre. I mean, sure, there's still a love triangle, but most teen literature doesn't include so many depressing themes, or an ending that's not quite happy, but not sad either. Just real. Very real.

  16. ADB27 says:

    I haven't read these books. I merely wanted to look at what else you had done while waiting for more Amber Spyglass reviews. But I read each and every one of these Hunger Games chapter reviews.

    I'm not sure I want to read the books. Reading your reviews has left me emotionally drained enough. But I do want to eventually pick them up for my personal library.

    I am ambivilent towards the movie that's coming out. The content of the book is a very hard R and chopping any of it down would do a disservice. On the other hand: Donald Sutherland as Snow? WOODY HARRELSON AS HAYMITCH?! SO PERFECT I COULD NOT DREAM IT!

    I'm still staying away from the Twilight reviews because I plan on reviewing it myself for my own project (just the first book), but I will no longer hesitate to join you on these journeys simply because I am not familiar with the source.

  17. Daniel456 says:

    Hi, Mark I loved rerading your reviews. Your reactions and predictions are hilarious. Just finished Mockingjay about 5 minutes ago and I'm SOOO sad its over. First the Harry Potter books and movies end and now this?!?!? I wish there was more offical material to read but there isn't 🙁 I'm not sure if you think this but I think Mockingjay was the worst of the series. I'm not saying Mockingjay is a bad book in any way, but I enjoyed the first 2 much more. 1 & 2 weren't as sad or depressing as Mockingjay. Even during the book it made me sad just thinking "Ok this is it, the final book. The last of Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Haymitch, Finnick…" Although for the end of Deathly Hallows I was sad during it, and it is a very dark book, but I think it was the best of the series, unlike my opinion of Mockingjay. BUT IS THIS THE END OF OFFICAL HUNGER GAMES MATTERIAL??? I don't think it is. "The World of the Hunger Games" is coming out in Febuary, just before the movie and I CANT WAIT!!!

  18. Daniel456 says:

    O and there also going to be an "Offical Illustrated Movie Companion"!!!!!!!! Also coming out in Febuary!!!

  19. Janelle says:

    First of all. I love you. Legit, when I am having a bad day or just plain exhausted I come home and read one of your reviews and feel instantly better. It's people like you that justify the internet, you inspire. I would like to thank you for being critical of the books you review while not completely bashing them. (Twilight doesn't even count as a book. Ugn.)

    AAAANNNNYYYYHHHOOO. So I was wondering (and this may be mentioned somewhere else and I am just blind); are you planning on doing a Mark Reads live blog with The Hunger Games film? Let us know, because I love you and this series too much to allow them to die off.

    Thank you for the fabulousness that is Mark Reads.

  20. MKD says:


  21. Howlynn says:

    Well there are some fantastic parts in the series. Most of them were not in mockingjay. ( Katniss Van Winkle and The Reaper) would have been a better title for the last book.
    Enjoyed the reviews and the funny –funny reactions.
    Ok moveing on to THE book –DFW's Jest —yummy

  22. Kimberly T. says:

    WHY DOES IT SEEM LIKE I'M THE ONLY ONE WHO DOESN'T REALLY CARE FOR 2 AND 3! I feel alone, I truly feel like 2 and 3 weren't nearly as good as number one, although I still enjoyed them. I felt like they took everything i liked about number 1 and discarded it. Am I really the only one? 🙁

  23. ALynnJ42 says:

    I remember after reading The Hunger Games I needed to take a week off to absorb what just happened… I don't think I can read another sentence of any book after finishing Mockingjay. Idk how long I'll need to absorb this so I leave this, which is pretty much my reaction to the whole series:
    [youtube acYDNlMYAaI&feature=related youtube]
    You know, right after everything blows up and the smoke clears, you realize how awesome it was.

    • ALynnJ42 says:

      PS: Now that it's 4 am and I have to wake up in 3 hours (OMG, it's like the same amount of sleep they got in the tunnels… ok, done fangirling) I'm going to try to have a preferably dreamless sleep.

  24. RickJM says:

    Would like to have known something about Gale and Katmiss's mother (I'm sure Haymitch was dead by then). They were both so integral in Katniss's life. But that's what happens when you tell a story the way Mrs. Collins did. You can't jump around from place to place. But it still would have been nice to have a sentence or two. I'd like to think that they're both okay – her mother a doctor now and him a politician working to make Panem better for everyone (because that's what Katniss and Prim would have wanted).

    I wish Ms Collins would have done a fan Q&A to explain some of her decisions.

  25. Lauren says:

    I read all the hunger games books and watched the movie my fave is catching fire the 2nd and third movie rnt cOming out in a lOooong time btw the last one will b in 2 parts since their is sooo much

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