Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (NY: Scholastic, 2010).
The somber tone that begins this novel, the conclusion to The Hunger Games trilogy, resonates throughout as the characters grapple with just what it means to rebel and reform society. While there are moments of exaltation, the times of fear, despair, and grim determination dominate. The fire that started in book two has to run its course.
Katniss is recovering from a severe concussion at District 13, wandering the compound with her bracelet declaring her mentally disoriented in a world where regimentation and schedules predominate. District 13 depends on strict rules to maintain itself, and Katniss chafes at following the daily schedule that's imprinted on her forearm every morning. So she ignores it, wanders, and worries about Peeta, who is still in enemy hands, undoubtedly suffering unimaginable torture. As far as Katniss is concerned, the strategy of the Quarter Quell game is still on--save Peeta. Her handlers have other ideas, of course, ones that involve Katniss stepping into her role as the Mockingjay, the symbol of rebellion for the people.
Collins masterfully orchestrates the suspense here, with plenty of twists and turns that keep readers guessing. Politics predominate and the reader, like Katniss, has to attempt to penetrate the intrigue. Gamers will enjoy the first-person shooter elements as the war progresses in various terrains and landscapes with booby traps (called pods) galore. The novel ends satisfyingly, yet realistically. Katniss's confusion about her future--including her relationships--slowly moves toward a natural conclusion.
Extraordinary YA read, highly recommended for grades 6 & up. Violence, mild sexual situations, no language.
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