If you haven’t read any of The Hunger Games trilogy yet, I envy you. This means you can go out to your local bookstore to purchase it and its sequels Catching Fire and Mockingjay, and read all three in one fell swoop. I don’t normally tell people what I think they should do, but I’m telling you this is what you should do. I know I should be telling you wait a couple of days and buy Freedom by Jonathan Franzen instead, but who are we kidding? I’ll read that sucker next year, when it’s in paperback and the waiting list at the library has dwindled. I’m sorry, Mr. Franzen, I think you have a lovely reading voice and your writing is incredibly clever, but The Hunger Games can’t wait.
Mockingjay picks up a month after Catching Fire‘s cliffhanger ending; protagonist Katniss is living in the believed-obliterated District Thirteen, is coerced into becoming the face of Panem’s revolution, and learns that, as in the Hunger Games, she’s trapped. Once again, she must figure out not only how she is going to survive, but also how she’s going to ensure the survival of the people she loves. Devastatingly — and realistically — she doesn’t fully succeed.
And that’s part of the reason why I like Suzanne Collins: the woman is a mercenary. She slices through her cast of characters, killing them off in what is not at all a flippant way. Every death serves a purpose, and each one is a surprise. Actually, the entire storyline is a surprise, and Ms. Collins’ ability to tell a captivating story is undeniably enviable. You try writing a trilogy that’s both sentimental and graphically gruesome, all the while subtly threading through commentary on warfare, reality television and the media, politics, fashion, family values and sex, and then throw in some of the twistiest plot shifts ever. When you’re done, get back to me.
In all honesty, I can’t write anything more about Mockingjay aside promising that it’s a ridiculously good read. It’s just not fair to those who haven’t read it. There are far too many reviews out there that, in my opinion, give away insane amounts of information. (Putting the words “spoiler alert” or similar in the text is useless and stupid, by the way.) So please, stop reading reviews right now — in fact, stop reading this post! Pick up a copy of the book and read that, and then we can talk.