Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Book 25: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

*Mild SPOILERS for those who've not read the series*

Mockingjay is the third and final book in the Hunger Games series. The series tells the story of Katniss Everdeen of District 12 who is chosen to fight for her life in the annual Hunger Games in book 1, and again in the Quarter Quell in Book 2. At the end of the second book, Katniss is whisked away by the rebels who quickly tell her that a) District 13 exists and is fighting the Capitol and b) the Capitol has Peeta, her fellow tribute from District 12 and one of two men she cares deeply about... maybe even loves.

Book 3 begins with Katniss recovering from the Quell and trying to absorb all the info being thrown at her by the rebels. She and her family, and her friend Gale, the other important man in her life, are residing in the underground District 13. Katniss is asked by the rebels to become their Mockingjay: the face of the resistance, meant to rally support for the fight against the Capitol. But Katniss is unsure that she wants such an important role. One thing she is certain of is that Peeta is being kept and tortured by President Snow, the leader of Panem, and that she herself wants to kill Snow for what he's done to Peeta and to her through the Games. So she makes a deal with President Coin, leader of District 13 and the rebels: she'll be their Mockingjay in exchange for being the one to assassinate Snow. But before she can get to the President's Mansion in the Capitol, she'll have to help to bring all the Districts under rebel control and then bring the Capitol down.

Short summary, I know, but I don't want to spoil too much. I will say that, just as in the final book of the Potter series, the death count piles up right from the beginning. And the torture used on Peeta is pretty horrifying. Those expecting a big final showdown between Gale and Peeta over Katniss's affections will be disappointed, but I thought that things ended as they should. (But I could be called a fangirl, so I'm biased.)

One of the ways the rebels try to rally support is through their use of propaganda films they call "propos." They have a camera crew, complete with makeup artists and a director, who follow Katniss around the districts as she interacts with the wounded or fight the Capitol's helicopters. It reminded me a lot of that movie Wag the Dog, where a US president commissions a director to stage a war in order to divert attention from some wrongdoing he did. In Mockingjay, the war is very real, but the staging sometimes isn't, and it's interesting to see Katniss just accept that instead of protesting. She understands that the people of Panem are always "tuned in," as it is; the Hunger Games are mandatory broadcasts, after all. And what is the war against the Capitol but one big Game itself?

Out of the three books, I'd say this one was the weakest, but the first two set the bar pretty high. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I devoured it in two days, only stopping because I had to for work and socializing (damn social life!), and now I want to go back and reread the series to see how it all falls together. I definitely recommend it to anyone who might be turned off because it's a YA novel.

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