Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

In the event you do not want to be spoiled, just know this.  I loved it.  Now, stop reading this review and go read the book!

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS!!!


I finished Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) a few days ago but needed to take some time to think about it before blogging. I think I am ready now!

I loved Mockingjay.  I know a lot of bloggers and readers were unhappy with the direction that Collins took the book in, I thought it was sheer perfection.  When we last left Katniss, she was the face of the revolution.  But what many readers seemed to forget was that she was chosen as the face of the revolution.  It wasn’t a choice she made independently.  I have always loved Katniss but I never saw her as a perfect hero.  She is flawed.  She is human.  She breaks and tries to heal.  She makes mistakes.  (I’m pretty sure Peeta and Gale can tell you all about those mistakes).

In Mockingjay, we meet Katniss in District 13.  For the first two books we have imagined District 13 as this utopia, a community that fled the Capital and and has been able to live secret, joyful lives.  You know, the kind full of butterflies and rainbows.  Guess what?  Turns out District 13 is no utopia!  While they aren’t the Capital, they are terrible in their own way.  And they have plans for Katniss- she will be their spokeswoman and the inspiration to the rebels.  They have plans to film promotional footage of her and air it in all the districts.  But it turns out that this is just more reality television.  She is scripted, she isn’t in real combat, and she hates it.  But when she does get pulled into the war, things aren’t as clear as they once seemed.

I’m not going to bother summarizing the rest of the book.  Just know that Mockingjay is different from the rest of the series.  There is not clear-cut good vs. bad here.  The lines are blurred and there is a lot grey area.  It’s difficult to figure out what side anyone is on; it’s difficult to figure out what side YOU, the reader are on!  While the first two books felt very character-driven, Mockingjay is driven solely by something else.  Character, setting, plot all rolled into one.  It’s war that drives everything.  And Mockingjay is real war.  People die. Good people die, for senseless reasons.  Because we view the events through Katniss’s eyes, the book is rushed at some points.  At other times, we miss things because she is injured or drugged (in the hospital).  It is confusing and overwhelming.  But I felt like I was right there with Katniss.

For those of you who want a happy ending you aren’t getting that here.  But what war ends with happiness?  Like real life, the war just ends.  And Katniss is broken.  Her family is broken.  We know she begins to heal, because there is an epilogue.  Unlike many other people, I enjoyed the epilogue.  I think it gives us just enough information.  We see that Katniss has grown up, that she is living her life and moving on.  But she still bears the scars of what happened to her.  She will never be the same person she was when she stepped up and took Prim’s place in the games.

Like I said, I LOVED the book.  I though Collins did a fantastic job and took Mockingjay in a direction that many people did not expect.  Because of this, she has some unhappy readers.  But I am a fan for life.

Thoughts?  Questions?  Comments?  I want to talk about this one!  Comment!

My favorite quote?  p. 379

“Are you preparing for another war, Plutarch?” I ask.

“Oh, not now.  Now we’re in that sweet period where everyone agrees that our recent horrors should never be repeated,” he says. “But collective thinking is usually short-lived.  We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self destruction.  Although who knows?  Maybe this will be it, Katniss.”

What a scathing look at humanity.  Yet sadly true when you look at world history.

*purchased by me

Wanna read “The Hunger Games”?

One of the best books I have read this year is Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games. Want to win a free ARC? Teenreads.com is giving away 100 ARCs on their website!  Enter here!!

Summary, courtesy of Teenreads.com:  Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives.

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by 12 outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by The Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in The Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death — televised for all of Panem to see. Survival is second nature for 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

My review!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In a future world, North America as we know it has been destroyed and the continent is now divided into 12 regions. The capital of this new nation, Panem, is in the Rocky Mountains and the remaining districts (1-12) are spread in descending order throughout the continent. Katniss lives in District 12, the last district, in what we call as the Appalachian Mountains. The closer you are to the Capital, the better off your district is. District 12 is in charge of mining coal and as the last district they are exceedingly poor. Starvation is a way of life and ever since Katniss’ father died in a mining accident, she has been in charge of caring for her mother and 12 year old sister, Prim.

The capital is bent on reminding the districts who is boss and does this by withholding food, supplies, and other necessities. Their trump card is the annual Hunger Games, which are held to ensure that no district makes an attempt at a rebellion or uprising. The Hunger Games are a like a combination of American Idol and Survivor, with Roman gladiator games tossed into the mix. Each district is required to supply one male and one female child between the ages of 12 and 18 for the annual event. The competitors are chosen via a lottery system. Families can buy more food and supplies for the year if they purchase additional entries into the games. Thus, the poorer you are the more likely it is that you have dozens of entries in the mix. The entries compound each year, so there are children with dozens of entries in the mix. Those who are well-to-do have fewer entries, with some only responsible for one entry. (In other districts, wealthier ones, children are raised for the opportunity to participate in the Games. These “Careers” see the games as an honor).

Ever since her father’s death, Katniss has been forced to purchase extra entries to ensure the survival of her mother and Prim. This, coupled with her talent for illegal poaching/hunting, has allowed them to live as comfortably as possible. Each year she hopes and prays that she is not picked, as the entire nation watches the drawing live, either in person or on their television. This year is different, however, as Prim is old enough to be entered. Katniss has not allowed her to gain extra entries, so she has only her required entry into the games. When Prim’s name is drawn, Katniss immediately volunteers to take her place, an old custom that has not been called into action in District 12 in many years.

Katniss and Peeta, the two competitors chosen from District 12, are immediately swept into a whirlwind of events that eerily resemble our culture’s obsession with reality TV. They are whisked to the Capital, where they receive stylists, makeovers, interview coaching, and gourmet food and living accomodations. While Peeta and Katniss slowly become friends and come to terms with their fate, they also realize that in order for one of them to survive, they must kill the other. You see, the Hunger Games leave the 24 competitors in a secret location (desert, tundra, etc) and the competitors must fight to the death. While the entire nation watches live on TV. The sole survivor wins food and supplies for their district for the next year, and set themselves up for life.

I read this novel in less than a day. The action is non-stop and heartpounding at many points in the story. Katniss is a likable character: she isn’t perfect, she isn’t a moral compass, and sometimes you even want to hate her. However, the situation she is thrust into is eerily similar to the modern-day obsession with reality TV and you can’t help but wonder if this the frightening direction into which we are headed. Collins never mentions a year in the novel, so it could be tomorrow or a thousand years from today. That in itself will keep you engrossed in the novel. The story is violent and writhe with betrayals, but there is also kindness, love, and drama. This is one novel you will not be able to put down. This is the perfect start to what should amount to a fantastic trilogy.

*For anyone who enjoyed Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It and the dead and the gone, Collin’s Hunger Games should be a natural choice.

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