Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, Scholastic Press, New York, 2009, ISBN: 978-0439023511
Mockingjay takes up where Catching Fire ends, with Katniss being whisked away from the Capital by Plutarch, Haymich, and Gale. After recovering from her physical injuries, Katniss learns that Beetee and Finnick have also been saved, but Peeta has been left behind and District 12 destroyed. She grows crazy in anger, attacks Haymich for keeping his plan a secret, and then drops into a deep depression.
Katniss is reunited with her family in the fabled District 13 – a district buried deep underground and protected from the Capital’s aerial bombardment. Life in District 13 is hyper efficient thanks to President Coin, who rations out food, chores, and activities to the population. While there, the rebels plan their attack, hoping to slowly strangle the Capital by overthrowing its control in the districts.
One by one, Katniss and her crew of rebels gain control of the districts. Once they are close enough to the Capital, they stage a dramatic rescue of Peeta, only to find that he has been brainwashed to see Katniss as the enemy. Back in District 13, he attacks Katniss, calling her a Mutt, not even fully human.
When President Coin puts the unbalanced Peeta into Katniss’s team for its final attack on the Capital, Katniss begins to wonder if she’s as much a threat to this President as she is to President Snow. The final siege of the Capital is bloody and brutal and decides the fate of Katniss, Gale, and Peeta.
For the final installment of The Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins ratchets up the action to new levels. Despite there being no Hunger Games in this novel, the scenes of death and destruction are some of the most disturbing in the three books. In one particularly gruesome scene, Katniss and her crew of rebel leaders are attacked by a ferocious band of mutant lizards. In some scenes, Collins goes a little over the top to make this the hardest battle Katniss has fought yet.
Collins also explores some of the tough ethical choices rebel leaders have to make in their pursuit of victory. Is victory on the battlefield worth the lives of innocent people? How can you be sure that the government installed by the revolution won’t be as corrupt and murderous as the previous one? How should leaders of the old regime be punished for their crimes? These are questions with no easy answers and the decisions Katniss, Peeta, and Gale make are difficult and, in some cases, tragic.
As with any final installment in a trilogy, readers expect the lingering questions and plot points to be resolved and Collins does this, although the conclusion may not be what readers expect or even hoped for. I found the ending satisfying and a more fitting end than some of the alternatives I predicted.
It’s full out war in the districts as Katniss and her band of rebels fight President Snow for control of the Capital and the country. As Katniss leads the revolution, lingering doubts plague her over whether the commander she works for now is any better than President Snow. Could she be replacing one brutal regime with one just as bad?
Information about the author
From the author’s page on Amazon.com, we learn that “Suzanne Collins has had a successful and prolific career writing for children’s television. She has worked on the staffs of several Nickelodeon shows, including the Emmy-nominated hit Clarissa Explains It All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. Collins made her mark in children’s literature with the New York Times bestselling five-book series for middle-grade readers The Underland Chronicles, which has received numerous accolades in both the United States and abroad. In the award-winning The Hunger Games trilogy, Collins continues to explore the effects of war and violence on those coming of age. Collins lives with her family in Connecticut.”
Young Adult Fiction
How does Gale’s character change in this installment of the series?
In times of revolution, do the ends justify the means?
Reading Level / Interest Age
Grade 9 and up
Some violent scenes in the taking of the Capital, including the death of children. Collins does not describe the deaths in graphic detail. The book was released to positive reviews by critics from prestigious publications.
Why did I include this title?
After finishing Catching Fire, I couldn’t stop reading the series until I found out how it ended. This is a great continuation of the story and entertained me throughout reading. I also liked how unpredictable and satisfying the ending was