Mockingjay - A Teens' Top Ten 2011 Nominee
June 03, 2011
What they want is for me to truly take on the role they designed for me. The symbol of the revolution. The Mockingjay. It isn't enough, what I've done in the past, defying the Capitol in the Games, providing a rallying point. I must now become the actual leader, the face, the voice, the embodiment of the revolution.
Ah, Mockingjay. This conclusion to one of the most explosive trilogies of the millennium (so far, at least) was released to great anticipation last August. Author Suzanne Collins had previously made a name for herself writing the Gregor the Overlander series for younger readers, but her fame rose to the ranks of J.K. Rowling following her creation of Katniss Everdeen and the post-apocalyptic set-up of The Hunger Games trilogy.
It seems like the whole world has been talking about these books over the past year. The series was a bit slow to catch on (the first book, The Hunger Games, was published in September 2008!), but word spread quickly, and now, as many of you know, readers can barely get their hands on the books at the library! Still, I’m certain there are a few of you out there who have not yet read The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay, so I’ll try to keep this review as spoiler free as possible.
In a burned-out, nearly hopeless vision of a future United States, the Capitol brutally reigns over the twelve Districts that supply whatever is needed to those in charge. Katniss, at age 16, lives with her mom and younger sister, Prim, in District 12, the coal district, where they struggle to make it through each day. When Prim’s name is called out in the annual selection of contestants for the Capitol’s Hunger Games (a reality television contest in which one boy and one girl from each District are pitted against one another in a deadly arena—the only way to win is to be the last person standing), Katniss immediately volunteers to take Prim’s place, knowing the odds of survival are stacked against her.
After the vicious trial of the Games, Katniss shocks everyone, especially herself, by defying the Capitol—an act that will not go unpunished by the malicious President Snow. Catching Fire picks up right where Hunger Games left off, following the first sparks of revolution and the Capitol’s plot to squash it and all those who may support it. Two shocking turns of events leave readers breathless and dangling at the end of this sequel.
In Mockingjay, we see the epic battle begin to finally pan out. Katniss, at last, realizes that her part to play is so much bigger than she ever would have believed—she must be the leader they all need in the war against tyranny. It’s not about her or her District or her family or her friends or even the two boys she’s stuck between; it’s about freedom and the right of all people to live. Katniss has become the symbol of that freedom, that right, whether she likes it or not, and she has a responsibility to fulfill.
Although this book did not have the same action, romance, and spectacle of the first two, the overwhelming message and power of it absolutely bowled me over. Rarely do I read a teen book that flies in the face of expectations and emphasizes the importance of human rights, selflessness, and outrageous acts of courage. I know plenty of people got caught up in the romantic triangle, but I don’t think that was ever the point of these books, which I really respect. No matter what you look for in a book, I think you will find it in this trilogy.
The movie version of The Hunger Games is due out in March of next year. Check out the cast and other info here, and check out Mockingjay this summer!
This blog is part of a series on YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten 2011 nominees. Voting for TTT starts in August; more information can be found here.
Erin D.Tags: book review, teen books, teens