Review of “Mockingjay”

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This week I am continuing to review Suzanne Collins’ futuristic novels, The Hunger Games trilogy.

*Please be warned: if you have not read Mockingjay, there are spoilers!*

“Almost nothing remains of District 12.”

Mockingjay begins with Katniss Everdeen  in the ruins of District 12, following her escape from the Quarter Quell.  Katniss now lives in District 13 with her mother and Prim, Gale, and the refugees who have made it to the safety of District 13’s underground lifestyle.

“What they want is for me to truly take on the role they designed for me. The symbol of the revolution. The Mockingjay.”

District 13’s President Coin and the other rebellion leaders desperately need Katniss to be their symbol, their Mockingjay.

A symbol of overcoming all odds. A symbol of something the Capitol never anticipated.

The Girl on Fire has sparked a revolution that threatens to destroy the Capitol and all it stands for.

“When the war is over, if we’ve won, Peeta will be pardoned.”

When Katniss’ comrade and fiancé, Peeta Mellark, appears on Capitol television with Ceaser Flickerman and calls for a cease-fire between the rebels and the Capitol forces, President Coin is outraged.

But Gale and Katniss know that Peeta is still doing everything in his limited power to protect Katniss, to keep her alive.

So when Katniss agrees to be the rebellion’s Mockingjay, she gives Coin stipulations: Prim keeps her beloved cat, Buttercup; she and Gale go hunting in the woods; full pardon and immunity for Enobaria, Johanna, and Peeta; and Katniss gets to kill President Snow.

“Because they took a slice of bread?”

Once she is the Mockingjay, Plutarch Heavensbee sets out to have her transformed into Cinna’s creation.

To do this, he needs Katniss’ prep team: Octavia, Flavius, and Venia. But when they set out to find them in District 13, they are found abused and shackled to the wall of their confinement cell, where they have suffered for weeks.

All because they took a slice of bread not granted by the strict government of District 13.

“I want everyone to think of one incident where Katniss Everdeen genuinely moved you. Not where Peeta was making you like her. I want to hear one moment where she made you feel something real.”

Katniss struggles to become the Mockingjay the rebellion desires. But she is floundering without Peeta by her side.

So Haymitch challenges everyone to evaluate why they need Katniss.

And what they realize is that they need her reality, her humanity, her fire.

“The impact of the blow that’s inseparable from Peeta’s cry of pain. And his blood as it splatters the tiles.”

Peeta once again risks his life to save Katniss, warning her and all the inhabitants of District 13 of the impending bombing.

Locked safely in an underground bunker, Katniss feels the strain of being the Mockingjay, as she is constantly watched by the refugees, and is forced to stay strong when she feels like she is falling apart.

“You know who else, Katniss. You know who stepped up first.”

In District 13, Katniss has continued to grow apart from Gale, as they have constant disagreements over the management of the rebellion.But when the decision is made to rescue Peeta from the Capitol, Gale volunteers, because he knows how much it means to Katniss.

And to the rebellion.

While the rescue mission is busy, so are Katniss and Finnick, as they divert the Capitol’s attention by airing videos that criticize President Snow and bolster support for the rebellion.

“My lips are just forming his name when his fingers lock around my throat.”

After the successful rescue mission, Katniss and Haymitch are excited to see Peeta, to have him with them, to have him safe. But when Peeta tries to strangle Katniss at their reunion, they know that something is wrong.

They soon discover that Peeta’s mind has been hijacked by the Capitol through torture and Tracker Jackers, causing him to be lost in a maze of terror, desperation, and confusion.

“Real or not real?”

Katniss and Gale are assigned to a squad to film promos for airing on Capitol television, and when President Coin sends Peeta along, hoping he will kill the Mockingjay, things take a turn for the worse.

As they begin to have real battles, Peeta begins to question which of his memories are real, and which are Capitol-induced propaganda.

The squad weaves their way underground, getting closer to the President’s mansion, and Katniss’ mind burns with one mission: killing Snow. 

When she reaches the City Circle, there is utter chaos as the rebels begin taking over. Huddled within a barricade outside of the mansion are children. Capitol children that are being used by Snow as a human shield.

As the rebels flood the Circle, a hovercraft releases silver parachutes, like those used in the Games, over the barricaded children. As they tear open the parachutes, they explode, littering the Circle with the bodies of children. Rebel medics rush to the wounded children, and Katniss recognizes Prim among them.

But it’s too late. The remaining parachutes begin to explode.

Will anyone make it out of the Rebellion alive?

Mockingjay

Some words of caution to parents: while I found Mockingjay to be just as wonderful and thought-provoking as The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, once again, I would not recommend the book be given to a young person under the age of thirteen, possibly older, depending on the maturity of the child.

There is a large amount of violence and death described in Mockingjay, though I certainly would not describe it as gratuitous.

Another aspect that parents should be aware of is that sex trafficking is discussed, however it is handled delicately and quickly.

“We learn to keep busy again.”

In Mockingjay, we see Katniss grow and develop in the midst of great suffering and sorrow. And while her decisions are not always wise, we see her strive to be a good leader, and a good friend. We even see her questioning her own motives, struggling to do what is right, to gain freedom, to protect those she loves.

While not a perfect book, I found Mockingjay to be a wonderful, thought-provoking book and believe that for a mature audience, it would be worth reading and discussing. I would give the book a “B+”.

Have you read  the book? If so, what are your thoughts?

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