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The Hunger Games Box Set: Foil Edition Paperback – September 30, 2014
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Praise for THE HUNGER GAMES
“I couldn't stop reading." --Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly
“The Hunger Games is amazing.” --Stephenie Meyer
“Brilliantly plotted and perfectly paced.” --John Green, The New York Times Book Review
Praise for CATCHING FIRE
“Whereas Katniss kills with finesse, Collins writes with raw power." --Time Magazine
“Collins expertly blends fantasy, romance and political intrigue." --People Magazine
Praise for MOCKINGJAY
“Fans will be happy to hear that Mockingjay is every bit as complex and imaginative as Hunger Games and Catching Fire." --Entertainment Weekly
“Suspenseful... Collins' fans, grown-ups included, will race to the end." --USA Today
“At its best the trilogy channels the political passion of 1984, the memorable violence of A Clockwork Orange, the imaginative ambience of The Chronicles of Narnia and the detailed inventiveness of Harry Potter." --New York Times Book Review
“Unfolding in Collins' engaging, intelligent prose and assembled into chapters that end with didn't-see-that-coming cliffhangers, this finale is every bit the pressure cooker of its forebears. [Mockingjay] is nearly as shocking, and certainly every bit as original and thought provoking, as The Hunger Games. Wow." --Los Angeles Times
* “This concluding volume in Collins's Hunger Games trilogy accomplishes a rare feat, the last installment being the best yet, a beautifully orchestrated and intelligent novel that succeeds on every level." --Publishers Weekly, starred review
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Still, the book deserves five stars, and the whole series is amazing. Not only is it entertaining, but this last book manages to keep the same pattern as its predecessors – an initial section, followed by the messiest of the Hunger Games (an actual war) – while taking us to whole new levels and posing deeper questions. What is the point of revolution and war if nothing changes? And is Coin good? Collins makes that character extremely ambiguous, at least at first. Katniss is represented by the color black: her hair is black, and she comes from the coal district. President Snow is represented by the color white: white hair, white snow, and white roses. But Coin is gray: gray eyes, gray hair, and gray clothing. Is she good or evil?
Many gems and motifs in this book show its extraordinary depth.
Mockingjay divided into three different parts: The Ashes, The Assault and The Assassin. The titles of all three parts contain a word beginning with “As” which is a lovely approach.
The word “the” is a little misleading, as it implies that each part is about just one of those items, whereas in each case it could apply to several different events, persons or conditions. Now I will get into some serious spoiling, so only read ahead if you don’t mind such things.
The Ashes. Obviously, this continues the motif of all things related to fire. There are several literal instances of actual ashes, beginning with Katniss’s return to the bombed-out remains of District 12. She returns near the end with Gale, and they tour the ashes of their home. There are more literal ashes to be found in the bombing of District 8, and figurative ashes to be found in Katniss’s emotional life and her relationship with Gale.
The Assault. This is the second part, and there are many examples of assaults within the part. At the end of Part 1, Peeta Mellark warns everyone in District 13 that they are about to be bombed. At the beginning of Part 2, Peeta himself is being assaulted for the defiance he showed by warning them. Katniss does not see the assault, but she hears his cries and sees drops of blood on the white tiles.
Assaults continue. District 13 is subject to several days of bombing, in which Katniss and the others are forced to stay in their bunkers. (An interesting question is why the Capitol stops the bombing after only a few days, but that is not answered.) Peeta is then rescued – which could be considered an assault on the Capitol – and as soon as he sees Katniss, he tries to strangle her. This is because he has been brainwashed (“hijacked”) by people in the Capitol – an assault on his mind (which started in Part 1, but certainly continued during Part 2).
In order to get away from the unexpectedly murderous Peeta, Katniss joins the rebels in District 2, where the rebels themselves perform a horrendous assault on the Nut, a mountain containing most of the weapons being used against them. Katniss, acting as a peacemaker, is assaulted again, this time with a bullet, but although she is injured she survives. The remaining chapters in this part are devoted to planning for the assault on the Capitol.
Part 3 is called The Assassin. Again, the title can be applied to many people in these chapters. It begins with the still-unstable Peeta, programmed to kill Katniss, joining Katniss’s squad. He can be seen as an assassin sent by Coin – a view confirmed by Boggs, her commander. Katniss spends much of the time with the plan to assassinate President Snow. (She feels a little too guilty about blaming herself for the deaths of her comrades – after the initial incident, they had very little opportunity to go back – they were stuck behind enemy lines.) Of course, she does not carry out this particular deed of killing Snow but kills Coin instead. But we must remember that Coin herself is an assassin, and what is worse, a killer of kids. She tried to kill Katniss through Peeta (and at one point Katniss reminds readers that she is only 17, technically still a child). She is responsible for Prim’s death and the deaths of a whole bunch of Capitol kids. What is worse – what Katniss cannot bear – is that Coin is planning to continue with another set of Hunger Games (Nothing has changed!).
I could go on and on but I am sure I have wearied most people. Enjoy and appreciate!
I also heard a few people express disappointment in the conclusion of the Katniss/Peeta storyline. I've read people's reviews taking issue with how Katniss and Peeta are represented at the end of Mockingjay, asking "Where's the passion?" Passion? Are they insane? First of all, the story is told in first person by a character who is admittedly not at all comfortable being demonstrative and doesn't respond well to those who are. There was never going to be a hearts/candy/flowers declaration happening here. Peeta has a borderline obssessive love for Katniss throughout most of the trilogy. The way I read the story, by the end of the first Hunger Games, she returns the feeling. Though hesitant to think why she does the things she does, or to state it aloud, she expresses it in so many different ways throughout the remainder of the trilogy, there really is no doubt. Despite the fact that she is suffering major PTSD, she agrees to take on the stress of being the symbol of revolution and take a front line role to bring him back. Regardless of the amount of trauma they both endure, they still eventually turn back to each other. Gale was a strong character, but he had not gone through what Katniss did in the arena and would never have been able to understand that part of her. The time she spends clinging to him and avoiding Peeta is essentially an attempt to return to the person she was before the games (which was never going to happen). Peeta was the walking, living, breathing reminder of the trauma endured. I thought it telling that Peeta returned to Region 12. Like Gale, he could have gone anywhere when it was all over, yet he went where Katniss was. Really, Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch needed each other to become human again (or as human as they were ever going to be). Katniss reminded me of uncles I had who, when they returned from war, sat in a darkened room, staring at a wall day after day for over a year before they could handle being amongst the living again.
I'll admit part of me would have liked President Snow's demise to be more than it was. Considering the amount of suffering he caused, part of me is bloodthirsty enough to have wanted him to suffer a great deal more. There are also characters I would have liked to survive (Finnick, Cinna, and Prim to name a few), but their deaths helped to illustrate the randomness and unfairness of death in wartime.
There are parts of this story we'll never get to see because it is told from Katniss' point of view. We see only what she sees and know only what she thinks is going on. I, for one, would be interested in knowing more about events of the story from Peeta and/or Haymitch's point of view. Peeta's fight back from his memory hijacking would be an intriguing read.
Ultimately, I found this book engaging, infuriating, exhausting, and funny all at the same time. To have had Katniss serene and sweetly declaring life to be sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows would have been absurd. She is with a husband (partner?) whom she loves and is utterly devoted to. She has two children she loves, but is worried what they will think when they know the role their parents played in the past. She and Peeta are happy, but remain somewhat haunted which is perfectly realistic for what the characters have gone through.
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