(The Hunger Games trilogy, Book 3)
Fiction, YA Sci-Fi
DESCRIPTION: Two years ago, Katniss Everdeen was just another girl, daughter of a healer and a coal miner in Panem's poorest district. Now, survivor of two Hunger Games and inadvertent inciter of rebellion, she is the Mockingjay... or, at least, that's how the rebels in District 13, and the anti-rebellion propaganda aired by President Snow of the Capitol, portray her. Inside, she's falling apart, plagued by memories of death and killing, the guilt of so many lives lost. Her former Games companion, Peeta Mellark, is being tortured by Snow, and her one-time love, Gale, has been consumed by the rebellion to the point where she hardly knows him anymore. But, then, she hardly knows herself after what she's had to do in the name of survival. In truth, the tactics of District 13's President Coin and the Capitol blur together into a seething sea of blood red and gunpowder black. The old Gamesmaster, Plutarch, has even converted to the rebel cause. It's as if the Games never ended - and the last thing any victor ever wants is to return to the arena, even if that arena comprises the whole of Panem. But she has no choice anymore. She must become the Mockingjay, the face of the rebellion, or once again the Capitol wins and countless people will have died for nothing. So long as President Snow dies by her arrow, Katniss tells herself any sacrifice is worthwhile... even her own life.
REVIEW: A fast-paced and violent conclusion to the hit trilogy, Mockingjay starts with Katniss a shattered shell of her former self... a state she often reverts to during the course of the tale. The atrocities she's witnessed and committed, the stress of being used as propaganda (knowingly and unknowningly), have crashed down upon her in the worst way. She manages to pull herself together when it counts - usually - but still spends an inordinate amount of time confined to a hospital bed, drugged up for her own good. It's probably a more realistic portrayal of post-traumatic stress and survivor guilt than often gets shown in books, especially young adult books, and dealing with her trauma becomes an ongoing subplot, a challenge Katniss never quite bests but can only wrestle into submission when it rears its head. She isn't the only one who has been changed for the worse by the rebellion and the Hunger Games. Her fellow victors all bear their own scars in their own ways, and even those who never set foot inside the arena have been hardened by the Capitol's cruelties and the harsh realities of rebellion. The story itself ticks along decently, with plenty of twists and turns and an exceptionally high body count (higher, if one counts offscreen deaths and torture.) The conclusion is somewhat unexpected, though the ultimate payoff feels a little drawn out and shaky. Overall, though, it lives up to the promise of the earlier books.
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