book: mockingjay

"mockingjay" by suzanne collinsi didn’t want to post about MOCKINGJAY at least until after the weekend; it’s hard to post about a book without at least touching on what happens in the book. and we all know that many people don’t like spoilers, especially on things as much-awaited as this book.

but it’s already monday, so i think it’s safe to write about MOCKINGJAY. but first, a little look back on the first two books from the HUNGER GAMES trilogy.

in THE HUNGER GAMES, a katniss everdeen volunteers herself to the hunger games to protect her younger sister. the hunger games is an annual televised event where twenty-four children are pitted against each other, in an arena where only one child can emerge alive and be declared winner. and so we follow katniss as she navigates the arena to protect herself, and to be able to go back to her family.

and then in CATCHING FIRE, we once again follow katniss after she wins the hunger games against all odds. in the second book, our protagonist finds herself the unwitting symbol of the rebellion against the capitol, the government behind the barbaric hunger games. in this second story, katniss begins to become the mockingjay.

now, with MOCKINGJAY, the story works its way to a conclusion. katniss must decide if she does want to become the rebel’s symbol, if she really does want to go against the capitol, if she will choose the safety of her family or her own happiness. and it’s a very satisfying ending to this amazing series that suzanne collins started in 2008, but which was recommended to me in early 2010.

oh, well. still no spoilers. good on me. now, here’s the tricky part: discussing why i liked the book without giving spoilers.

what i liked most about MOCKINGJAY was that it didn’t service the fans. it serviced the story, and that is always more important. by the time she finished the novel, i’m sure suzanne collins have heard what the fans had to say about the first two books, what they liked, what they didn’t, and instead of giving in, she plowed right through what fans wanted, and gave them what the story needed.

and so we have events in the book that will definitely not sit well with fans of the book, or will challenge their perception of the world of panem, or both — and it’s absolutely brilliant.

my biggest fear for MOCKINGJAY was that how suzanne collins would write the structure of the story without the help of the hunger games. because the first two book was very structured in the way that the first six books of HARRY POTTER was structured. you had one year where your protagonist prepares, learns, and ultimately “wins.” and like in the last book of HARRY POTTER, all sense of familiarity was thrown out the window by the time MOCKINGJAY starts.

you have the same character, and by all intents and purposes, they are the characters left to us by the end of CATCHING FIRE. but at the same time, something has changed within them. a spark was ignited, and we see it flame up and flame out in this last book. we see new characters take up important roles in the story, and former background characters moving up into supporting characters; we see old characters show new facets of their personalities, and we see our main characters grow more.

the katniss everdeen of THE HUNGER GAMES is the same katniss everdeen of MOCKINGJAY, except she’s also not. in the three books, we see her grow into a real person, with a deeper understanding of responsibility, of friendship, and of love. and it is this development that makes me say MOCKINGJAY is an amazing book.

and had i been a literature teacher, i would include this trilogy into my curriculum as must reads.

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