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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Mockingjay (The Hunger Games)
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on December 14, 2014
Before reading The Hunger Games trilogy, I had more than a few people tell me the first two books were good, but the last one was lacking. I couldn't disagree more. The story is harsh, gruesome, and bleak. It had to be. It's a first person account of an individual who has survived two Hunger Games and plays a major role in a revolution. Of course it's going to be brutal. Had the story drawn to a close with Katniss standing majestically with trumpets blaring and flags waving, it would have been completely unrealistic.

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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[Spoilers for the previous books. If you haven’t read “The Hunger Games” or “Catching Fire” you might want to before reading this review.]

This book concludes “The Hunger Games” trilogy. A rebellion has been stoked in Panem, and its architects need Katniss Everdeen to keep the fires burning. But there are two problems. Problem one is that she’s healing, disoriented, and—in a manner of speaking—mourning Peeta (who is alive but in the hands of the Capitol.) The second problem is that they want her as a celebrity spokesmodel, a position at which she stinks. Once she gets her feet under her, she has other ideas, ideas that will put the Mockingjay—beloved symbol of the rebellion—in mortal peril. The reluctant heroine who refuses to play on the terms of others is a recurring theme, but it unfolds on a much different field.

Where “Catching Fire” repeated and expanded upon the “gladiatorial combat and a love triangle” theme of the first book, here the games aren’t in the arena but in rebel strongholds in the Districts and in the Capitol, itself. While the love triangle angle seems moot at the book’s beginning, it does continue to play out in an intriguingly twisted fashion. The gladiatorial combat is replaced by actual war, but the Gamemakers are still around to put their diabolical stamp on the proceedings.

As an ending, “Mockingjay” is satisfying in that it ties up loose ends and leaves the story at a clear conclusion. Readers will have varying feelings about how these loose ends were resolved, the pacing of those resolutions, and the emotional tone with which one is left. (War story happy endings only get so happy.) When I read “Mockingjay” I found it a tad less enjoyable than the other books, but for reasons that I’ll admit are hard to explain. Collins presents a bitter-sweet, realist conclusion, but in the shell-shocked miasma in which the reader is left, it’s hard to tell if one is satisfied or just done. I suppose the fact that it triggers an emotional response at all makes it a good ending.

I’d recommend this book, and the rest of the trilogy as well.
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on November 25, 2015
I saw the first Hunger Games movie before I ever read the books, but I enjoyed the movie enough to buy the Kindle book version. This is a well written trilogy, and you experience this world from the first person perspective of the Katniss Everdeen character.

Both the Hunger Games and Catching Fire are very well written with a tight narrative, but the storytelling gets a bit too expansive and jumbled by The Mockingjay. I would say the 4 movies are the most faithful and accurate adaptations of novels I have ever watched. There were very few deviations from plot, theme, and character. The only notable of those would be the elimination of Madge Undersee and Delly Cartwright and the increased presence of Effie Trinkett in the Mockingjay. I found Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2 better than the book, actually.

Overall, I find the premise and setup of the story quite interesting, if not a little bit too plugged into the Climate Change hysteria. It becomes obvious from the books that the real issue creating slavery and hunger in this dystopian world is government control and overreach, not rising sea levels. There appears to be abundant food out beyond the walls of these districts, if only the people had the courage or opportunity to venture out there.

In summary, a fast read for readers of any age and an excellent addition to the debate and discussion of government power, oppression, and other relevant topics.
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on April 13, 2015
You know a book is good when it crawls inside your head and snuggles there. When you are thinking through it as you read it, and thinking about it long after you’ve read the last word on the last page.

I had little to no expectations when I first started reading the Hunger Games Trilogy. If a book is trending and seems interesting, I will add it to my “to read” list. This is how I first started reading Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. After finishing Mockingjay, I was blown away. All I could think was, how many of the YA readers will understand the nuances of Collins’ message?

She hooked you in with the “will she or won’t she” scenario. “Will she or won’t she” pick Peeta or Gale? “Will she or won’t she” survive a game that does not allow for love to shine through? Those questions get you through the first book, and possibly half way through the second book, but those same questions are a moot point with Mockingjay.

Mockingjay stripped you of your hopeless romantic naiveté. There is no room for romance when the world is collapsing around you. There is barely room to breathe. There are no good guys or bad guys, only survivors. Mockingjay asks difficult moral questions: can man ever hold seats of power without corruption? Can war ever actually solve a dispute? At what price is man willing to pay for absolute power?

I won’t even go into Collins’ varied symbolisms. Part of the pleasure of reading is finding them yourselves and asking yourself what the author is telling you, the reader. It becomes a communication between the author and the reader. It makes the novel Mockingjay even more important because it is written for younger readers, our future, those that will decide the world events of tomorrow. Collins does all this without a lecture, without loosing her characters or her plot, she has crafted an incredibly well written story that I would gladly recommend to anyone who asks.

After I finished reading Mockingjay I had the same feeling as I had when I finished reading The Lord of the Flies so many years ago. Yes, I am comparing Mockingjay to a classic. There is no way around it. Mockingjay, like Lord of the Flies, asks you deep moralistic questions through the point of view of young characters. This is simply another great novel that makes you go hmmm.

My favorite quotes from Mockingjay:
“Frankly, our ancestors don’t seem much to brag about. I mean, look at the state they left us in, with the wars and the broken planet. Clearly, they didn’t care about what would happen to the people who came after them.”

“It’s a saying from thousands of years ago, written in a language called Latin about a place called Rome,” he explains. “Panem et Circuses translates into ‘Bread and Circuses’. The writer was saying in return for full bellies and entertainment, his people had given up their political responsibilities and therefore their power.”

“Something is significantly wrong with a creature that sacrifices its children’s lives to settle its differences.”
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on September 11, 2016
I finally got around to reading this book and due to the popularity, I knew how it began. It seems that so many books are going to the theme of a nation divided into districts and this book does as well.

Underneath all the fighting for survival is a boy in love with a girl and a girl who is desperate to return home. Willing to do anything, she goes along with the idea of them being in love, hoping that in the end, it will mean both will end up back in their district.
The imagery invoked a lot of breathtaking pictures. The characters had enough background that I found myself loving, hating, being indifferent, or hoping that nothing bad befell them. The emotions were sharp and cut deep in many cases; the fact that the nation forced children to fight to live as punishment for a long ago war, I found horrid. Yet, in some cases, I have to admit that I was glad when some were taken out.
There are a lot of twists and turns that occur. Some you see coming, some you are told are coming even if what will happen isn't known and still others that come from seemingly no where. How each character reacts helps define their personality and chance of survival. This is a book with very few places were things become dull.
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Honestly this was the first series I read while in college that was for fun since Junior High as that was when school began assigned reading. My sister was ill and admitted into the hospital so I bought the books she was reading in ebook form to let her read them on my kindle while in the hospital. Of course I then ended up reading them as well and found myself thoroughly entertained and forever addicted.

The Nation of Panem is divided into 12 districts, all serving the purposes of the Capital who runs the districts with an iron fist. With the harsh rule of Capital and no where else to run, the districts are forced to offer up one boy and one girl to the annual Hunger Games. It's in one of these games that a tribute named Katniss Everdeen will change the destiny of world by surviving and choosing to defy the Capital all in the hopes to save those she loves.

Overall, This trilogy is great for all ages, because it's action filled with a heavy focus on love and family, which are all key elements to a great series. The books are all easy reads that pull you in and keep you reading and before you know it you'll realize you've finished the whole trilogy. The first book is a great intro and second book continues the momentum into the trilogy. However, its the 3rd book which takes a bit of a emotional and perspective turn as readers get into Katniss psych and follow her to the end of the trilogy. After reading this trilogy more than a few times I can understand why its supremely popular and was quickly made into a movie. But the books as still great to read with the movies in mind since the movies only flush out the books. So if you haven't had a chance to read the books yet I'd take the time to do so to better understand what the hype is really all about, especially on the whole Gale vs. Peeta thing.

------Read more of my reviews at: http://heyitwasfree.blogspot.com/------
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on April 8, 2017
This book is, of course, written from the viewpoint of a young woman, but the lessons she learns, and the lessons she can not un-learn are, in our real world, critical for us to know, understand and never forget.

We as a species stand on the knife edge of our continued existence. We are not struggling in some post apocalyptic state, yet. However we are trying our damnedest to get there.

Our evolutionary heritage as a top predator has become our current evolutionary excess baggage.

Additionally the way our minds were constructed by natural selection to allow us to become a social species is a disaster when we consider how they allow us to be manipulated by fake, made up, and pure crap ideas that are just yelled loudly at us from sources that we do not, and can not question based on how we evolved to form social groups.

We must understand this if we are to persist as a species.

Our big brains do know how to self train to engage in contemplative scientific thought.

To the extent we require ourselves to exercise our big brains in this manner with a view toward curbing our evolutionary heritage that is preventing us from being sustainable: We will succeed.

To the extent we do not or can not: We will not persist.
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on November 21, 2017
I'm glad that I've waited long after the movies to start reading these books. I enjoyed the movies and love reading the differences, some small and some that seem very significant and changed my view of things I felt or thought I knew. I have so many questions about some of the changes that were made in the jump to the big screen, but other than the changes to Peeta, I think they did a good job of staying true to the book in the amount of time they had to tell the story. I can almost hear all of the fans of this series crying that they wish they could read the series again for the first time, so I feel a little excited to be envied. :)
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on May 19, 2016
I'm not going to get into the plot because, well, it's The Hunger Games!!! If you don't know anything about this then where have you been?? This book is the best of the best. Addictive, entertaining, gripping, heartbreaking and absolutely everything in between. It's a must read for everyone and has and will be one of my favourites.

So onto the narrator, while Carolyn McCormick makes for a great narrator, her tones and inflections were great for other characters, she didn't make a good Katniss. She made Katniss sound too old, when she is just a teen! I really think that they should have cast someone a little younger sounding because Katniss came across as too jaded. She did make a great Effie though!!!

Despite this, I would still absolutely recommend the audio to people. This series is one of a kind and no matter which way you read it you will instantly love it!!!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon February 19, 2016
Superb action/adventure stories with well-developed characters suitable for the entire family making this a teriffic self-contained set to pass around and (hopefully) survive multiple handlings unlike the paperback versions. I don't believe there has been a more universally read series of this caliber since the Harry Potter phenomena (and I don't know about you, but I'm needing to replace some of those earlier books as they are literally falling apart.) Great reads and certainly doesn't hurt to save $5 rather than trying to purchase all three hardbacks separately, not to mention having a protective box to help keep them all together.
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