Mockingjay: A Book Review
The Hunger Games: A Teenage Trilogy
Let's start right off by saying if you haven't read "Hunger Games" and "Catching Fire" this could be a spoiler for you so you may want to stop reading. Okay, let's go on from there. Katniss Everdeen is the hero of every teenage girl in America. No female, fictional character has captured young girl's hearts like Katniss. Her prowess,her vulnerability, even her confusion over whether she's really in love with Gale Hawthorne or Peeta Mellark....the girls have been choosing sides since they met these characters in the first book, "Hunger Games".
The "Hunger Games" Trilogy is being called the 'best teenage trilogy' ever...yet some condemn it for it's violence. In book one (The Hunger Games) we are introduced to the characters AND the Hunger Games. Violence and death played out by children, forced on them by a corrupt government and it's even more corrupt President, President Snow. Survival in the arena leads to glory, money, and food for your family (during a time when food is a scarce commodity). Underlying themes include the romance between Kastniss, Gale and to complicate matters, Peeta; the other underlying theme is President Snow's hatred and fear of Katniss.
In Book Two (Catching Fire) the violence continues when President Snow calls for an unprecedented hunger game (the Quarter Quell) which calls all the previous victors back into the arena. Book Two also allows us to see more of the characters and learn more about their backgrounds and personalities. In addition it shows us there is a true rumbling and surfacing rebellion. We already knew Gale was ready for a rebellion (and probably more like him) but now we actually see it, especially in District 11, Rue's home district. (Remember Rue was the little 12 year old tribute killed in Book one...leaving Katniss emotionally scarred by her death. Rue reminded Katniss of her own little sister Prim.) At the end of Catching Fire Katniss manages to shoot her arrow through the force field, breaking the Capitol's hold on this hunger games. However, Peeta and two others have been captured by the Capitol. In retaliation for their success the Capitol has bombed District 12 and totally wiped it out. But wait, now we find out District 13 does exist!
A cliffhanger that leaves you wanting to head right out and buy Mockingjay or at least borrow it from a family member (which is what I did). You WANT to know what happens to Peeta, where Prim and Katniss' mother are, and who lives in District 13 and how!
"My name is Katniss Everdeen. I am seventeen years old. My home is District 12. I was in the Hunger Games. I escaped. The Capitol hates me. Peeta was taken prisoner. He is thought to be dead. Most likely he is dead. It is probably best if he is dead. . . ."
The Girl Who Was on Fire
Of course you are not disappointed and all of your questions are answered. The books starts with Katniss in District 12, looking at the ash and desolation that was once her home. Everything has been destroyed except the Victor's Village. We learn that the blow Katniss suffered from Johanna has left her injured and sometimes confused. The doctors in District 13 have told her to calm herself by repeating:
Not very encouraging, but believed to be grounding. Katniss, "the girl who was on fire" appears to still be burning, at least inside. Her beloved Gale is with her and seems to be an integral part of the beginning rebellion and is responsible for the escape of the District 12 survivors including Katniss' mother and Prim. Is Peeta being tortured? Most likely. Everyone else has moved to District 13, but is it a better life? In District 13 rules and regulations are strictly enforced, food is still rationed, and behavior is monitored.
District 13 still wants Katniss to become the Mockingjay, the face of the rebellion but....Living underground in District 13 is difficult for Katniss. Peeta is interviewed by Caesar Flickerman on TV and asks Katniss to give up the fight. And so the scene is set. Throughout Mockinjay you wonder is Peeta being tortured or has he gone over to the other side? It is doubtful he is totally with the Capitol as he warns District 13 of an impending bombing. Everyone in District 13 makes it safely to the underground bunkers (further underground than their living quarters). And so the action begins.
“You love me. Real or not real?" I tell him, "Real.”
“Well, don't expect us to be too impressed. We just saw Finnick Odair in his underwear.”
“Fire is catching! And if we burn, you burn with us!”
“Are you, are you coming to the tree?
Wear a necklace of rope, side by side with me.
Strange things did happen here.
No stranger would let it be if we met up
At midnight in the hanging tree.”
“Is that why you hate me?" I ask.
"Partly," She admits. "Jealousy is certainly involved. I also think you're a little hard to swallow. With your tacky romantic drama and your defender-of-the-helpless act. Only it isn't an act, which makes you more unbearable. Please feel free to take this personally.”
“Delly lost her temper at Peeta over how he treated you. She got very squeaky. It was like someone stabbing a mouse with a fork repeatedly.”
“Fine. I'll train. But I'm going to the stinking capitol if I have to kill a crew and fly there myself." Says Johanna.
"Probably best not to bring that up in training," I say. "But it's nice to know I'll have a ride.”
“Oh, he's on top of it. It was volunteer only, but he pretended not to notice me waving my hand in the air," says Haymitch. "See? He's already demonstrated good judgment.”
The Rebellion Continues
Peeta is rescued from the Capitol but tries to kill Katniss when they meet. He has been tortured and what we would call brainwashed but Katniss will not give up on him. The rebels decide to assault the Capitol. In the meantime, in an attempt to bring Peeta's memories back the team Katniss now belongs to, creates a game called "Real or Not Real". When Peeta asks a question or talks about something they reply by telling him whether it is "real" or "not real" to help him sort through his memories.
The President of District 13 becomes suspect in many ways. It is hard to determine if she is with the rebellion or has her own agenda. The rebellion continues as Katniss and her team find their way to the Capitol to kill President Snow and end the rebellion. There are many end of the chair moments and many that will make you cry (at least they did me).
"But being the Mockingjay comes with a price as Katniss must come to terms with how much of her own humanity and sanity she can willingly sacrifice for the cause, her friends, and her family. Collins is absolutely ruthless in her depictions of war in all its cruelty, violence, and loss, leaving readers, in turn, repulsed, shocked, grieving and, finally, hopeful for the characters they've grown to empathize with and love. Mockingjay is a fitting end to the series that began with The Hunger Games (2008) and Catching Fire (2009) and will have the same lasting resonance as William Golding's Lord of the Flies and Stephen King's The Stand."--School Library Journal
"At its best the trilogy channels the political passion of “1984,” the memorable violence of “A Clockwork Orange,” the imaginative ambience of “The Chronicles of Narnia” and the detailed inventiveness of “Harry Potter.” The specifics of the dystopian universe, and the fabulous pacing of the complicated plot, give the books their strange, dark charisma."--The New York Times, Katie Roiphe
"Mockingjay” is without question the most brutal of the trilogy. Nobody emerges unscathed – very bad things happen to everyone from fan favorites down to characters so minor a reader has to pause and think, “Now, who was that again?” before recoiling in horror at their fate. Collins doesn’t take war lightly – her characters debate the morality involved in tactics used to try to overthrow the rotting, immoral government, and they pay a high cost for those tactics. It is also an entirely gripping read. In Katniss, Collins has crafted a heroine so fierce and tenacious that this reader will follow her anywhere."--Christian Science Monitor
No spoiler here for the Mockingjay! You'll need to read the book to find out what happens.
Lionsgate has announced, following other final chapter releases in two parts (Harry Potter, Twilight, Lord of the Rings), The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay; Part 2; Part 1 in November, 2014 and Part 2 in November, 2015. (Remember Catching Fire will be released in November 2013.)
Hmm, who's giving thanks for these releases?
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