Peeta has been captured. District 12 has been completely obliterated. And broken Katniss wants to see the ashes that remain. So with Gale at her side she ascends from the depths of District 13 to her former home. President Coin and the rebellion need her, and she’s not cooperating. But maybe this will help Katniss consent to being their symbol of freedom, of uprising, of defiance: the Mockingjay. Of many questions she has, why now after excluding her from the planning, and is this really in her best interest and that of Panem on the whole? Burying her fear and anger, Katniss realizes the success of the rebellion is on her shoulders regardless of the cost to her and the people that matter most.
Being honest, I’m still in disbelief. Disbelief that my first experience of Mockingjay is over and sadness that the series has come to an end. After a late night of happy and nervous anticipation waiting for my copy, I spent the next night and two days frantically reading in the biggest doses I could manage. I wanted to read fast and just as the previous two books, Suzanne Collins made it impossible not to. As a result I was left exhausted in all ways and a little numb. I knew the war to follow would be dark and heartbreaking, but I was still taken aback by how quickly and pervasively the violence, death, loss, and heartache accumulated. That’s not to say Mockingjay is without its moments of humor and tender exchanges, but this is heavy material.
As has been constant in the series, Collin’s signature plot twists and turns are here, and more than ever I was guessing wrong and finding the buildup and conclusion not as I had imagined or expected. While I thought a few minor decisions were uncharacteristic, the ending is real and the direction fits the story and characters. Epilogues can be hit or miss but this one was perfect. The last few pages in fact were understated and beautiful and beg for a re-read. Overall Mockingjay was a bombarding, emotional, mind-blowing read that can’t get much better.
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In Suzanne Collin’s sequel to The Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta are about to embark on the victory tour of the districts which ends in the Capitol. In the meantime they’re struggling to adjust to the new-found fame and wealth of Hunger Game victors. The games may be over, but the effects of the arena far from it. Katniss spends all her days and substantial increase in cash on her friends and family. Not only does she frequent the local black market called the Hob – buying healing herbs and bandages for her mother and liquor for Haymitch – she also falls back into her old hunting routine, except this time her kills are for Gale’s family rather than her own. To top it all off, there are rumors of revolt in some of the districts, and all eyes of Peacekeepers and Captiol headwigs alike are on Katniss. Never before has her romance with Peeta and the need to stay inconspicuous been more critical. But quickly Katniss realizes there’s only so much she can do, and the future of Panem isn’t entirely on her shoulders.
As much as I’ve enjoyed the Hunger Games series so far, I didn’t imagine crediting the second installment as restoring my faith in books. But it’s true. Catching Fire was so much better that I hoped, and at the end I felt equally a desire for more and contented with the ride. After a few disappointing reading experiences, I believe in reading again, and I am happy to read almost any book in its wake. That said, not knowing what to expect after the mind-boggling Hunger Games didn’t hurt either. Revolution, for sure. A fast-moving plot, most definitely. But how could Ms. Collins take it up a notch, when her starting point was already so high with just the premise of the first book, not to mention the excellent execution of the characters and plot? Yet she managed, and made it look effortless. Fans of The Hunger Games will be very pleased and satisfied by the exciting, unpredictable plot turns and the alternately action-packed and tension-building scenes. Especially THAT one, which is almost unbearable. And how it felt fresh and cleverly planned when it so easily might have been contrived and repetitive amazes me. That we get to know Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch, Gale, Cinna, and President Snow a little better is just without being diminishing very rich icing on the cake.
Sometime in the future, the ruins of North America have become Panem, a nation divided into 12 districts who literally starve to serve the elite of the Capitol. If that wasn’t enough, every year the Capitol keeps the districts in line by randomly selecting one boy and one girl from each district to play in the Hunger Games, a type of gladiatorial, wilderness survival, reality show contest where “tributes” fight to the death. Interesting enough premise, but the execution of the story is truly brilliant. Collins is an ingenious storyteller to say the least.
That said, you may not want to start this book unless you can drop everything to finish it. This is the most addictive book I’ve ever read. If it weren’t for my son, I’d have read this in one sitting rather than a day. It has near perfect pace, plotting, non-stop action and adventure as well as a unique, compelling premise. Literally un-put-downable. And the title couldn’t be more fitting. This book is about hunger – in the games and in the reality of life in the districts. Hunger, thirst, hunting, cooking, eating, cravings, food daydreaming, food supplies, food rationing, as well as the hunger for life – they all play integral parts in the story. Can’t wait for the sequel.