Darker and much more mature, Mockingjay manages to convey the horror of war and the manipulation of the media during wartime while breaking our hearts for a teenage girl torn apart and broken by both.
Mockingjay is the third book in The Hunger Games trilogy by author Suzanne Collins. This is a Young Adult series that has not only the ability to cross over between boys and girls, but it is a series that parents, teachers, and students of all ages should read and discuss. There are themes of government, love, loss, family, friendship, war, rebellion, strategy, and survival. If you haven't read The Hunger Games...go to your library, your local bookstore, or your neighbor and get yourself a copy.
This is where I would write a synopsis, but I am afraid to write one, because I don't want to spoil the book for any readers, especially those who are new to the series. To read the synopsis, click on the link below to take you to Scholastic's The Hunger Games page.
Now, I will try my best to break it down...while keeping my review spoiler free.
Suzanne Collins has outdone herself with our heroine, Katniss Everdeen. There are times when I rallied for her, and drinking in her every moment; but there were other times when I cringed at the awful things she would say or do. Don't get me wrong, I didn't cringe at the writing. Quite the opposite. I tip my hat to Collins for making Katniss so utterly honest and tragically flawed, while allowing her to change and grow with each book. The first book in the trilogy showed Katniss to be somewhat innocent, naive even, while Mockingjay presented a scarred, tougher Katniss. Even though Katniss may have been conflicted in past books, she was never as unlikeable as she was, at times, in Mockingjay. There were times her behavior completely confused me, but who am I to judge the words and actions of a girl who had been so tortured, bruised and used? I think this was the point of Collins making her so ugly in Mockingjay. She was a part of someone else's game, and when her only confidants are essentially stripped from her, she has no one to trust. Her actions on the outside were representative of what was going on on the inside.
As much as readers hated to imagine the grotesque voyeuristic display of the hunger games in previous books, Mockingjay is much more violent, and the media spin is brought to an entirely new level. While children killing other children in an arena live on TV is horrible, there are too many different ways Collins has come up with for people to kill each other...most of which, once again, takes place in front of the cameras.
The line between what is real or not real was one of my favorites in the book, and was explored on so many levels throughout, but the most obvious and poignant of these is what comes across on the television screens. Propaganda from both sides, no one is sure what to believe.
Every single chapter left me breathless. Before I picked up Mockingjay, I promised myself that I would read this book as slowly as I possibly could, savour it. Suzanne Collins made it next to impossible not to tear through these pages! I felt like each chapter, she dropped a bomb that compelled me to turn the pages!
In one way, though, Mockingjay was not as easy to read as The Hunger Games and Catching Fire were. In the first two books, Collins found a way of taking a horrific bloody scene and delicately balancing it with a tender, even loving, scene. Mockingjay was harsh and dark and emotionally draining. There were not many victories, there was a lot of death, and there was not much hope. No, I didn't expect Mockingjay to be all hearts and flowers, as too many families can tell you there is nothing pretty about war, but even the end of the book left me wanting more "light".
I read the trilogy from start to finish consecutively, so I could get the full effect of the final book, and I am incredibly glad I did. Mockingjay was quite a ride. Twists. Turns. Excitement. Surprise. Love. Loss. Despair. Betrayal. I look forward to taking this trip again, as this safely remains one of my favorite books sitting on my shelf.
Parents' Note: There is much more blood and violence in Mockingjay than in previous books. There are also more references to drugs, addicts (morphine), suicide pills, and depression. I recommend that if you have a child under 15 reading this book, you read it along with them and discuss the personal, social, and political themes.
About the Book: Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, book 3) by Suzanne Collins
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press (August 24, 2010)
About the Author (from Scholastic):
Suzanne Collins is the author of the bestselling Underland Chronicles, which started with Gregor the Overlander. In The Hunger Games, she continues to explore the effects of war and violence on those coming of age. Suzanne lives with her family in Connecticut.