Friday, December 30, 2011

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My daughter has been after me for months to finish reading the Hunger Games series. I read Hunger Games shortly after she did last year and I enjoyed it. But my interest waned when I started into the second one, Catching Fire. I just couldn't get into it. I kept putting off reading it and putting it off.
Until I was on the plane home from a quick trip to overnight trip Florida where I offered a workshop for educators. On those two flights home, I couldn't put it down. So when I finished it, I made Alysa go immediately and pull out Mockingjay: I just couldn't stop reading then.

This dark conclusion to the series is a dense read. There are not many light moments in this book, but that seems to be the way life is in the place where they live. There isn't much laughter that I recall during my readings. Death, torture, threats, revenge all play wicked and regular roles throughout the series, but mostly in Mockingjay. And if Collins wanted us readers to be swallowed up by the ongoing fighting back against evil, then she wins in each of these books. Especially the third one. In a sentence, Mockingjay is the story of Katniss finding her way to settle with the her own inner battles of living in such an ugly outer land of living. That doesn't make sense, I know, so I will try again. Katniss, the main character, hates herself for living through the first (and second) killing game called Hunger Games, a brutal winner-kills-all death "game" created by the communist-like government of this dystopian world. Good appears to lose out regularly throughout the books, although there are plenty of good characters. In the third book, Katniss is selected to be the savior for the underclass/underprivileged working folks who vehemently disagree with the political misuse of power and control by the "Capitol." Yep: the bad guys. As the "mockingjay," Katniss works her way to having a purpose in life. As for the ending, the jury is kinda out: while Alysa and I thought it ended like an adult book, not usually what I find in young adult books, I have heard of others who loved it. Doesn't matter: still a totally worthy read.

The movie Hunger Games is coming out soon. The trailer makes the hair on my arms stand up, especially the mockingjay sound. This will be a big-screen viewing for me, and I feel certain Alysa will want to go with me. I just wonder what life there must really be like. In books like this one, as dark as dark can be.

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