by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Mockingjay / 978-0-545-31780-1
It's my opinion that "The Hunger Games" series is the best novel series I have ever read - I enjoyed them so much that I rushed out and bought the audio books immediately after I finished reading the series - and "Mockingjay" wraps up the series superbly.
In some ways, "Mockingjay" is the darkest novel of the series - Katniss continues to grapple realistically with survivor guilt, post traumatic stress disorder, and the physical scaring and internal damage that has been inflicted on her in her relatively short life thus far. Whereas most protagonists seem to embody the "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger" concept, "Mockingjay" provides us with a realistic portrayal of the scars and wounds of war as Katniss starts to doubt her motives more and more.
Throughout the series, Collins has really shown her skill at character development, but "Mockingjay" stands out beautifully as an rare example of showing how wars and conflict can so thoroughly change people. As Katniss and Peeta struggle with understanding their own identities and separating reality from their war-induced hallucinations, Prim starts to develop from a victim in need of saving to a strong young woman supporting her older sister, and Gale starts to really explore the depths and bounds of his anger and warlike nature. It's amazing to watch the characters grow through the war that threatens to consume them.
More than the previous two books, "Mockingjay" contains some seriously painful and scary material, not the least of which because the two main characters who have been such bright lights in the darkness thus far are seriously straining at the edges of sanity at this point. And yet I hesitate before saying that this novel "isn't for children" - underneath everything there's still so much hope for the future, and trust in the triumph of the human spirit. If you haven't read the first two books in the series, go back and read them first, and then pick up "Mockingjay" and - like me - you may sob your way to the satisfying conclusion of this excellent series.
~ Ana Mardoll
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