Collins, Suzanne (2010). Mockingjay. New York: Scholastic.
I was counting the days for Mockingjay's release. Katniss captured my attention in Hunger Games, and failed to relinquish her hold into Catching Fire. So naturally, I reread the first two books of the trilogy in the days prior to the final book's release. Katniss' naivete of her desirability, of her survival skills make her an engaging heroine. Katniss has unwittingly stood against the Capitol, not once, but twice and finds herself in the mythical District 13. I knew reentering Katniss' world that Panem was on the brink of revolution, and Katniss' involvement as the "mockingjay" and the face of the revolution would play into the trilogy's resolution. Katniss becomes a pawn in District 13's revolution against the Capitol, just as she was a pawn for the Capitol in the games. It is her headstrong and heartstrong instinct for survival that motivates her to take further action against both. Despite District 13's effort merely to use Katniss as a rallying point and symbol, Katniss pushes herself into the action of the rebels against Panem which leads her to the Capitol's defenses. Rigged like the games using the most advanced technology, Katniss and a group of rebels breach the defenses, but the outcome means more than just the lives of the players, but the lives of all in Panem.
Following two very successful--and in my opinion unpredictable--novels Mockingjay felt rushed, chaotic and somewhat lacking. Katniss' character remained consistent and the development of the other characters was authentic and realistic. Katniss' younger sister Prim, grew from a little girl to be protected into an independent young woman with a purpose. Peeta faced torture and mind-control, making his gallant-can-do-no-wrong characterization much more interesting and developed. On the other hand, Gale's character and his love for Katniss feel ambivalent and his decisions at the end of the novel feel contrived in order to create a sense of stability for Katniss.
The battle scenes and outwitting of the game-like elements surrounding the Capitol is an inventive way to bring the Games into all three novels; however, the descriptions of the ensuing battles were chaotic, disjointed and not easy to follow. I had to reread passages in order to follow the action descriptions. Yet the world that Suzanne Collins created is one that seems plausible in the future with a strong government's ability to develop and use advanced technology, while repressing citizens into poverty in order to keep them subordinate. This contrasts with the dystopia created by Scott Westerfeld in his "Uglies Trilogy" (which is really four books) where the citizens are able to obtain any luxury and access technology with a virtual system of popularity and community service currency. Plus, once sixteen, all citizens become "pretty" and can get anything they want. Both Collins' and Westerfeld's dystopias have strong female heroines who both falter due to a warped friend-boyfriend-heroine love triangle. Why can't a strong female protagonist exist without being motivated by a male?
Because of the themes and popularity of dystopian novels, hooking readers into this world is easy as showing the book trailer below. Or a read-aloud from pages 213 until 217, which ends with the words "Instead, i watch myself get shot on television."
A homemade book trailer for Mockingjay:
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