Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mockingjay Book Review

by The Wanderer

Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: Dystopian Science Fiction, Young Adult
Series: The Hunger Games Book Three
Pages: 390

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The final installment in The Hunger Games Trilogy is named after the symbolic Mockingjay birds that have sporadically made appearances throughout the books.  The Mockingjay which has the ability to learn any song and repeat it back note for note, has become the symbol of resistance by the districts who are rebelling against the Capitol.

Mockingjay takes a different direction than Catching Fire and The Hunger Games.  Thankfully there are no Hunger Games in this final book, rather the conflict between the Capitol and the districts finally comes to fruition in an all out war.

After a disappointing sequel in Catching Fire, The Hunger Games Trilogy is redeemed with Mockingjay which brings this series to a much better than expected conclusion.

Katniss has survived a second round of the Hunger Games along with a few of her new friends.  She learns that Peeta has been captured by Snow and the Capitol, and is likely being tortured for information.  In addition to this, her home, District 12, has been completely destroyed, but her family and friends there escape to District 13.

The mysterious District 13 that was claimed to have been destroyed by the Capitol, was in fact never destroyed, but has been moved underground.   District 13 has been plotting to overthrow the Capitol ever since they initially rebelled many years ago.  With all of the unrest caused by the previous two Hunger Games, District 13 begins to rally the other districts into rebellion.
In order to motivate the other districts to join their side, District 13 transforms Katniss into the Mockingjay, the symbolic leader of their rebellion.

Abandoning the plot structures of the previous two books, which built towards battles to the death via the Hunger Games, Mockingjay focuses on removing a government from power.  What makes this the strongest book in the series is the fact that the government of District 13 appears to be just as dysfunctional as the government in power at the Capitol.

For Katniss, and the supporting characters in the series, a lose-lose scenario is put in place.  The two fighting sides are each fighting for two governments that don’t have the common person’s interest at heart.  Mockingjay acknowledges a fact that is commonplace in our world, sometimes there isn’t a right choice.

Rather than center the book around whether or not the Capitol can be overthrown, Mockingjay focuses on the motivations and actions of District 13 and the Capitol.  It also focuses on the horrors of war, dealing with the losses that can occur because of war, and the use of propaganda and media manipulation during war-time and how they can manipulate the masses.

Perhaps the most commendable thing about the book, is the fact that it is unwilling to sugarcoat the effects violence has on shaping a society, and the effect it has on shaping a person’s identity.  The traumatizing wartime experiences being shared by all of the characters effects them in different and tragic ways.  Even when it’s all said and done, the characters cannot undo the permanent damage and scarring effects violence has had on their lives.

The only major problem with Mockingjay, is the continuing Katniss, Peeta, and Gale love triangle.  Fortunately this occupies less of the book than it did in Catching Fire, and it doesn’t take too much away from the primary conflict of the series: people resisting oppression.

Mockingjay is an excellent conclusion to The Hunger Games Trilogy.  The depiction of how violence scars people (and a society) are important real-life lessons that are honestly explored throughout the book.  The exploration of how governments can manipulate and oppress people unfortunately resemble a lot of the governments in power today.  Mockingjay and The Hunger Games Trilogy, if anything, will hopefully open people’s minds, and continue the discussion about oppression, poverty, and media manipulation for years to come.

Score: 8.9

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