Saturday, January 8, 2011

Mockingjay

Mockingjay
Author: Suzanne Collins
Scholastic, 2010
400 pages

When I finished Catching Fire last week, the cliffhanger was so strong, I needed to read the final book in The Hunger Games series right away. Mockingjay was just published last August, and like the other books in the trilogy has been on the general bestseller lists for some time now. So even though these books are categorized as Young Adult, they appeal to a wide audience.

Seventeen-year-old heroine Katniss Everdeen survived not just one but two of her country's Hunger Games (a sort of reality TV show where contestants fight to the death) only to find that her home district has been destroyed. As she recovers in the mysterious District 13 (which didn't exist, according to President Snow and the hardcore federal government), her friend Peeta has been captured and taken to the Capitol. As the symbol of the rebellion (the Mockingjay), Katniss must rally the other districts to come together to defeat the government. But she's also thinking about Peeta, and feeling very guilty knowing that he's most likely being tortured behind enemy lines.

When Peeta is rescued and brought back to District 13, Katniss anticipates a joyful reunion and a return to camaraderie. Instead, Peeta tries to kill her. Katniss, Haymitch, and the others continue to fight a war of independence, but now they also have to deal with Peeta, who's been brainwashed and turned into an assassin. This is really just one example of how dark Mockingjay is. Mockingjay describes in great detail the tragedies of war, the effects of war on ordinary people as well as the combat soldiers, and things you don't normally read about in Young Adult fiction, like post-traumatic stress disorder. So if you're looking for a clean, happy ending like you get with most books, well . . . I won't say any more.

I'll have to find out if my niece has read the third book. I know she read the first two. I'd love to get her perspective on this one. This entire series is built for good intellectual discussion!