Monday, January 31, 2011

YAL Blog - "Mockingjay" by Suzanne Collins

Apologies for the lateness of this post - I had it done last week and life simply got in the way.

(I've wanted to review these books for so long.  And I'll probably add more here since it's a less-formal venue than the blog for my class).  Seeing as this is for the final book in "The Hunger Games" series, SPOILERS are a given.

Title - Mockingjay

Author -
Suzanne Collins


Publisher -

Date of Publication -
August 2010

Reading Level -
13 and up

Genre -
Science Fiction

Keywords -
Science-Fiction, Action/Adventure, Dystopian Future, War, Government, Entertainment, Family, Interpersonal Relationships, Mental Health

Plot Summary - In the third and final installment of Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss Everdeen has been scooped up by the rebellion against the Capitol of Panem, headed by the mysterious District 13.  As a former participant and victor of Panem's annual Hunger Games, she becomes the symbol of the rebellion - the Mockingjay.

Comments - A sign of a truly well-written story is one that puts you in the shoes of the main character and doesn't give you time to take a breath, even when those shoes come untied. As I read Mockingjay (for the third time, now), I felt as though I was Katniss, seeing the rebellion through her eyes - watching people she cares about make sacrifices for her success, debating whether to become the symbol of the rebellion, realizing that so many sides were manipulating her and others in order to get the outcomes they wanted. The most intriguing part - Katniss isn't even sure what she wants because everything she wants has been taken from her.

This is a fitting end to the trilogy, which started out intense and fast-paced and that trend continues in Mockingjay. Tracking Katniss' journey from the moment she takes her sister's place in the Hunger Games, through Catching Fire and now Mockingjay is a sobering experience - showing how much the characters depend on her when she's only sixteen-seventeen throughout the series. There are light-hearted moments interspersed throughout (from the flirtations of Finnick Odair to the "Crazy Cat" game Katniss plays with her sister's cat during a bombing raid on District 13), but they serve as a contrast to what Katniss is fighting for. I see why these books are so popular, in spite of many criticisms being raised against them (too mature for young adult audiences, too violent, etc.) but I think that teenagers can handle more than adults give them credit for. It's not just the first-person narration Collins employs and it's not just the action that sucks the reader in - it's the reality and empathy Collins creates in this world. The reader believes that they would act the way Katniss would - or maybe how Peeta or Haymitch or even Coin would act. The reader comes into the story and becomes one of the characters - and I think that, above all, inspires kids in no other way.

Extra Commentary I Didn't Give on the Class Blog - I love these books so, so much. It took me until this third reading of Mockingjay to figure out why - and it's not just the action or the shipping or any of that stuff. What kills me the most is that Katniss and Peeta and all these kids are just kids. No older than my sisters or the kids I teach at school. I know it's just a book, but reading all the things they're put through - not to mention how very real the action is - it breaks my heart.  I've said it before - I love stories that make me part of the action and evoke emotion from me.  "Harry Potter" does that.  "Doctor Who" does that.  And now, "The Hunger Games" does it.  I can't imagine that Katniss and Peeta live any sort of "Happily Ever After" and certainly the epilogue of Mockingjay does not pretend to the contrary - but they do try.  And I think that honesty is the best thing you can give to kids.  Life is not always happy and it kicks you in the head so many times - but that's no reason to not try.

Next Up: "Powder Monkey" by Paul Dowswell

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