Review: Mockingjay

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, we have book one: satire of reality TV, book two: propaganda, and now book three: the reality of revolution and civil war. This trilogy is a perfect example of how YA and children’s literature is often subversive – this is why there are so many book burnings and book censorships.

The first book is an entertaining satire of the 2000s-2010s told through a futuristic hellscape. But taken together the trilogy is somewhat of a primer for the YA reader to begin to question ideas of propaganda – is everything I see on TV real even if it’s the news? It also is a good introduction to a very hard idea – often both sides of a revolution contain despicable people. To tie it back with the first point, there are no guarantees that the freedom fighters will treat people any better than the “evil” government.

This final book, in particular, is interesting to read in light of the CIA torture report that Congress put out a few months ago. What does it say about District 13 that they are willing to sink to Snow’s lows? What does it say about us that we are willing to do horrible things in the name of righteousness?

Returning to this book as a look at the reality of civil war and revolution – people on the Internet agitate for lots of things. But you often hear people speak of the need for a new revolution in America to put us back on the right course. But 200+ years after our founding and having never fought a war on our land since the Civil War, we forget how destructive war is. This book is a great companion to what has happened in the middle east since the Arab Spring. Oh, how we welcomed the destruction of tyranny. But things haven’t quite turned out well in many of those countries. In Egypt’s case, the new government is just as repressive as the old one (at least when it comes to media and criticism).

Collins also did a great job rendering Katniss a wreck at the end of it all. It is nice to have a protagonist who has realistic responses to tragedy rather than brushing them off.

Given how complex this book is and how Hollywood tends to soften edgy books, I’ll be curious to see how the Mocking Jay part 2 ends. I suspect it’ll have a radically different ending. But who knows, maybe they’ll have some balls and put out a complicated PG-13 movie.

Having completed the trilogy I’m glad I finally gave it a chance and sorry I wrote it off for so long as a Battle Royale knockoff. As I said before, while the plots are superficially similar, the writers’ intentions are not in the same arena. I will definitely make sure my daughter reads these books when she’s at the right reading level.

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