Mockingjay

It seems like it’s the month for highly anticipated next books, in more than one series. Mockingjay, the third and final book in Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” series was released last week, and like the first two books, it did not disappoint.

SPOILERS!

Mockingjay picks up shortly where Catching Fire left off. Katniss has been rescued from the arena of the Hunger Games by the rebels in District 13, but Peeta has been taken prisoner by the Capitol. Katniss has been the face of the revolution so far. President Coin, of District 13 wants her to continue this, although in a somewhat more structured and controlled way. Katniss agrees to be their Mockingjay in exchange for a few favors. She wants permission for Gale and herself to be allowed above ground to hunt. She asks that Peeta and the other tributes from the Games being held will be granted immunity by the rebels should they win the war. And her final request is that she be the one to kill President Snow.

Many propaganda films, primarily featuring Katniss, are aired to the people of the districts in rebellion, further fueling the flames of dissent. Even the Capitol’s broadcasting network is hacked, allowing these films to be seen there as well. But in response, President Snow sends his own messages. Televised interviews with Peeta reveal that he is not well and is most likely being tortured. He is able to warn District 13 of an attack, then the camera is splattered with his blood as he is beaten. Katniss realizes that the Capitol and Snow will continue to torture Peeta until she breaks.

President Coin, quite a strategist herself, realizes that Katniss is unable to continue to act as she wishes with this new understanding of what the Capitol intends to do with Peeta. A rescue mission is carried out, bringing Peeta and other tributes back. But Peeta is not the same. The Capitol has reconstructed his memories, leaving him very confused and dangerous. Katniss wonders if he will ever be the person he was again.

The story continues as the other districts join together, finally leaving the Capitol as the only spot of resistance, and the new arena of an even more deadly version of the Games. Snow’s power is coming to an end. However, an event occurs that makes Katniss question everything she’s been told and everything she has come to believe. She is unsure of who can be trusted anymore. She makes her own decisions, doing something unexpected that she feels sure will condemn her to death.

At the end of the book, we do find out what happens to Katniss, Peeta, and Gale, and the love triangle is resolved. Katniss is not without scars, both inside and out. But she has survived and even triumphed in the face of so much that would have ruined her.

Mockingjay is definitely more brutal and relentless than the first two installments in the series. Parts are also very emotional. There is still an element of romance, although definitely not present in the same way it was in the previous books. I guess the best way to describe it is bittersweet, (although I definitely have to say more bitter than sweet). Even so, I enjoyed this book and thought it a magnificent finale to the series.

Catching Fire

Well, UPS promptly delivered, and I excitedly dove in to the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins. I definitely loved the first book, and I can say the same about this one. However, I do believe that I enjoyed The Hunger Games a bit more.

Katniss and Peeta are back home in District 12, but the game is not yet over. Because they both emerged as victors in the arena, they forced the Capitol to change the rules and essentially made the government look stupid. For this, they have not been forgiven. Six months after the Hunger Games conclude, the victor must make a victory tour covering the 12 districts. Shortly before Katniss and Peeta are scheduled to leave on the tour, President Snow pays Katniss a visit.

Because of Katniss’ defiance of the Capitol, the government considers her, (and Peeta, too), an enemy. Because of what she did, some districts have had the courage to openly rebel and riot. During his visit, President Snow makes his expectations clear. Katniss and Peeta must convince Panem that they are deeply in love, making the public believe that what Katniss did in the arena was out of her desperate love for Peeta and not a defiance. If they fail, everyone they love will die.

During the victory tour and shortly after, Katniss learns a bit more about the state of Panem and the degree of rebellion that has erupted. She also learns because of the mockingjay pin she wore in the games as a symbol of her district, the mockingjay has now become a symbol for the rebellion.

After returning home from the victory tour, preparations are being made for the next Hunger Games. Because it is the 75th anniversary of the games, there is a twist. It is announced that the two tributes from each district will be drawn from the pool of victors. In District 12, there are only three victors, Katniss being the only female. So, once again, Katniss and Peeta are forced back into the arena. Nearly all the victors of the different districts have learned to hate the Capitol, and they do not hesitate to make biting remarks to demonstrate this. Nevertheless, the games continue.

At the end of the book, Katniss discovers that people have been keeping secrets from Peeta and herself. And there is a huge cliffhanger at the end. I’ll just say that the love triangle has re-emerged and the stakes are higher than ever.

I can’t wait to read the conclusion of this amazing series. Appropriately, it is entitled Mockingjay. It will be released at the end of August. Until then, I guess I’ll have to find some other books to keep me entertained.

The Hunger Games

I recently read The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. Wow. I absolutely loved this book. I’ve already ordered the second book in the series and am eagerly awaiting its delivery by UPS.

The book is set in a future North America, now called Panem. There are 12 districts under the dictatorship of a city called the Capitol. There were formerly 13 districts, but District 13 revolted against the Capitol and as a result, no longer exists. As a yearly reminder to the 12 remaining districts of what happened to District 13, the Capitol holds the Hunger Games, a reality TV show. A teenager (12 through 18 years old) male and female “tribute” are chosen from each district to participate in the “arena.” To win, a tribute must only remain alive. The losers are rewarded with death and the winner gets a life of ease. The only unspoken rule is that contestants may not eat the bodies of their dead peers.

In the beginning of the book we are introduced to the heroine, Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a section of District 12 called “the Seam.” This is a very poor coal mining community. Since her father died in a mine explosion, Katniss has been the primary bread winner in her family, gathering and hunting in order to feed her mother and her little sister Prim. Katniss and her friend and hunting parter Gale, go “under the fence” in order to feed their families. Going outside the boundaries is forbidden, but they are willing to risk punishment.

The day of the reaping, Katniss, Prim and their mother dress in their best clothes and appear with the rest of District 12 for the drawing of names of who will participate in the Hunger Games this year. Prim’s name is drawn, but Katniss quickly comes to her rescue and volunteers to go in her place. The boy chosen is Peeta Mellark, the baker’s son who had once given Katniss two loaves of bread to keep her family from starving. The two contestants immediately whisked away to the Capitol, where they are groomed to perfection and trained a bit before they enter the arena.

Peeta puts on a performance that convinces the television viewers that he is in love with Katniss, pulling on their heartstrings because it is common knowledge that only one tribute can win, which means that at least one of the star-crossed lovers will be killed. In the arena, Peeta and Katniss go their own way. Soon, it is announced that there may be two winners this year, but only if both winners are from the same district.

Suddenly, Katniss and Peeta are forced to work together to survive. Katniss finds Peeta hiding, recovering from a severe injury. She nurses him back to health, with the help of a few gifts from sponsors, essentially babysitting him for the last part of the Games. (Sponsors are people who aid a contestant by buying them gifts, such as food, supplies, or anything else they might need along the way. However, the contender’s mentor ultimately gets to decide what gifts they get and when they get them.) When they are together, Katniss catches on that they are rewarded (by gifts) when they do or say something that especially entertains the viewers or pleases their mentor, such as kissing or discussing their budding romance.

Katniss and Peeta finally triumph, being the last two living tributes. Then, once again, an announcement is made that changes the rules. There can only be one winner. Katniss and Peeta refuse to murder each other, and as a result of Katniss’ quick thinking, both make it out alive. However, the Capitol is not happy with Katniss.

Now, Katniss and Peeta must continue to act out the love affair that they started on screen. At least, Katniss believes it is an act. It might be their only chance of survival.

At the end of the book, Katniss and Peeta return home to District 12. They must get ready to tour the rest of the districts, as is required of the winners of the Hunger Games. Of course, returning home, Katniss wonders what Gale will think about her new “relationship” with Peeta. There is definite foreshadowing of a love triangle.

I absolutely loved this book. It is considered to be for young adults, but again, I believe readers of all ages will enjoy Katniss’ story and the heartache of the desolate world created by the author.