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Book #5 (of 2012): Mockingjay
by Suzanne Collins (young adult fiction)

I’ve said it in two posts and I’m say it again. If you haven’t read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins then you should have. Go and read them, I promise, you won’t regret it! Also please note that Mockingjay is the third book in this series and this review will be littered with The Hunger Games and Catching Fire spoilers. Please don’t read this unless you’ve read the first two books. Again, you won’t regret it!

This book was very good. It was sad though. Like it had a good ending that I know should have been happy and is, but I’m still left feeling a bit sad… It was a good conclusion though. It tied everything up and it left you knowing it was totally complete and that it was just a story that would always feel a little sad. I definitely teared up a few times and, if I’d let myself, could have bawled, but I didn’t. I like this one, in fact ordering the books from my favourite to least favourite, I’d say The Hunger Games, Mockingjay, and then Catching Fire. They all fit together very well though. The first book, I feel, could have stood on it’s own and will more or less make sense to those who don’t want to read the whole series because it’s cliff-hanger at the end wasn’t too extreme. I would never have wanted to leave the story at that point, but I suppose if a reader wanted to, they could. Catching Fire however, you could not stop reading at. It’s cliff-hanger is too extreme. Once you’ve started the second book, sorry, I’d say you’re hooked!

Be warned, from now on I don’t apologize for spoilers, because I know there’ll be some. Read at your own risk!

The fact that district 13 was still in existence was a part of the cliff-hanger in Catching Fire. Also the fact that Katniss was rescued and taken to 13 but Peeta wasn’t was and that they don’t know what’s happening to him was some thing I as not expecting. I kind of had taken it for granted that if Katniss was there Peeta would be too, but I guess that was part of the cliff-hanger. They’ve destroyed the arena, escaped, Peeta’s gone, and district 12 is demolished.

Hearing about district 12’s destruction and seeing Katniss’ pain as she goes back is so sad. Her description of everything, the dead bodies, the ash covered town, still completely dry from a lack of rain, the bricks of her old house’s chimney all collapsed in a pile, everything destroyed, it’s terrible. When she goes home and finds Buttercup and resolves to bring him back for Prim, things seem to be looking up, until she smells the rose and finds the message President Snow left for her. Then suddenly we’re filled with terror along with Katniss as she realizes he’s still out there, Snow might still be watching her, he’s still in control, he has Peeta.

As this is the last book I sort of wanted to look a little more in depth into a few of the characters from the trilogy.

Gale is an interesting character. In the beginning of book one he’s just Katniss’ best friend. The one who’s helped her hunt since she was 12. The one whose father was killed in the same accident her’s was which is one of the main things that brought them together, hunting in the woods to keep their families alive. Gale is the one Katniss talks to, that she trusts, but she’s not sure if she loves him romantically. She trusts him with her family when she leaves for the games and she feels guilty, like she’s betraying him, when she has to play up the practically non-existant romance with Peeta. When we get to the second book though we begin to see Gale is definitely more rebellious than Katniss, he wants to take down the capitol, he wants to start rebellions, and he wants Katniss to use her popularity as a winner to help start a rebellion. Then the Quarter Quell comes and once again, Katniss trusts Gale with keeping her family alive, which he does.  He exceeds her expectations. When the firebombs rain down on 12 after Katniss destroys the arena, Gale rescues his family, her family, and as many villagers a possible. He evacuates people he becomes a hero and is given a position of responsibility when he gets to 13 which he embraces. Gale is very loyal, her always protects Katniss and stands up for her, he loves her unconditionally. He gets frustrated and upset with her, yes, but he always cares for her and they know how to agree to disagree without harming their friendship. He also wants to help her get what she wants. When he realizes in Mockingjay, that she’s desperate for Peeta to be saved, (she’s practically pining away for him) he volunteers to be part of the the rescue team. Unfortunately Gale’s motives are screwed up most of the time, he is motivated by anger, revenge and hatred. He wants to avenge his father, Katniss, the tributes who’ve had to die, the people who live in the districts starving to give the Capitol wealth. He hates the Capitol for it’s wealth and it’s disregard for the districts and the people there. Gale’s motives are not the right ones and he is very violent in the way he carries them out. His traps for instance, show his disregard for life when he wants to achieve the goal of bringing down the Capitol. He wants to play on human feeling, compassion especially, in order to kill more and to heighten the effect of a trap. In the end Katniss realizes she can’t get over the fact that Gale’s trap may have been the one to kill Prim, he’s not the right match for her. Katniss herself says, “what I need to survive is not Gale’s fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself.” (Mockingjay, page 388)

Katniss in Mockingjay is very different from the Katniss we met in The Hunger Games. In the beginning of the series she’s a loner, she trusts very few people, and only knows for sure that she loves her little sister Prim. To be honest, Katniss isn’t that likeable from the start, although it’s nice to see her laughing and talking with Gale before the reaping. When she volunteers for Prim we see how deep her love for Prim goes and how far she’ll go to protect those she loves.  Katniss stays more or less the same through this book except that she’s getting to know Peeta better and beginning to like him and thinking she might love him and she’s beginning to get confused and torn within herself. Do her loyalties lie with Peeta or Gale? This theme runs, underlying, throughout the series as Katniss gets to know herself. When we get back to district 12 after the first Games, Katniss begins to feel the need to protect her family and those she loves again when President Snow threatens them however as we go through the second Games (Quarter Quell) starting with Cinna gets beaten unconscious in front of her right before she enters the games until her rescue to 12, we can see that she’s slowly breaking down. Katniss is much more panicky and paranoid than usual and once she’s “safe” in 13 and she finds out Peeta’s not there, she looses it, she has a mental breakdown. Once Peeta is rescued Katniss is thrilled, everything will be fine now! On her reunion with him though, everything breaks down again. Peeta tries to kill her and they figure out he’s been “hijacked” or brainwashed against her. This breaks Katniss all over again and it’s extremely hard for her to come to terms with it. Eventually Haymitch wakes her up a bit and gets her to start treating the recovering Peeta the way he would have treated her if she had been the one “hijacked”. Katniss’ last breakdown is when Prim gets killed and with this breakdown she refuses to talk for days. The one person she’s been focused on protecting this whole time is gone. Two years before she took away Prim’s certain death and now what has it done? All that’s changed is there’s a war. Prim is still dead. Katniss blames President Coin (the leader of district 13, who takes over Panem after the rebellion is successful) and at the planned execution of President Snow where Katniss is to kill him, she chooses instead to shoot Coin. In this way she feels she’s partially avenged Prim. Katniss is sent away, back home to district 12 with Haymitch, and eventually Peeta (who has mostly recovered). Here we see who Katniss finally settles into being, she’s more subdued and she fights Peeta as he tries to be friends again. She fights him and fights him but eventually the two get married and we see our last sight of Katniss, a married woman, a mother. Katniss realizes she can’t survive without Peeta. It’s like Gale to Peeta when they thought Katniss was asleep, Katniss didn’t focus on who she loved when she chose between Peeta and Gale, she picked who she thought she couldn’t survive without. (Mockingjay, page 329)

Peeta, oh Peeta, the trouble he causes… In the first book Peeta starts out as someone they’re trying to program us to not think well of but we can’t help but think well of him. When he’s drawn to be the male tribute Katniss reaction is basically, “Oh great, not him, how can I kill this guy, he saved my life once” Peeta is selfless, she loves Katniss and he will do anything in his power to keep her alive, he’s loved her since he was about five. Peeta will do anything to help Katniss but he’s alright with lying to her and keeping secrets. He doesn’t prep her on his interview confession, he joins the careers without explaining tho her and she thinks he’s betrayed her, he pulls the pregnancy card in Catching Fire. Peeta has the right motives, but he doesn’t always go about them the right way. He’s also humble, he doesn’t expect to win, but he’s gonna get his true love to win. Peeta cannot stop protecting Katniss, even as he’s being tortured by President Snow, we see on the television, he fights through it all to try and warn her about the bombing that’s coming to 13. As we go through the series, we grow to love Peeta more and more. That is way when he returns in Mockingjay, hijacked and hating Katniss, we’re almost as shocked and heatbroken as she is. We withdraw, suddenly hating Peeta, what has he done? Giving into this brainwashing… We then watch as he slowly becomes more and more like himself, he decorates the wedding cake, he begins to comfort people, be kind, say things like he used to say them. Eventually the real Peeta is back enough to start protecting Katniss again. There are times when he wants her to leave him behind in case he hurts her, or when he wants to go off and cause a distraction, likely getting himself recaptured or killed, so that she can get her “mission” done. Peeta begins to shine back through and we start to allow ourselves to like him again. Eventually the old Peeta is almost completely back and he waits again for Katniss, waits until she’s ready to marry him. Peeta is patient and humble, kind and strong, he’s a protector and an artist, he’s a dreamer and a schemer, and he wins.

Primrose, Katniss’ little sister is the last person I’m going to characterize. Prim starts out as Katniss’ darling; she’s the only person Katniss knows she truly loves and she’s a sweetheart. She has compassion on everyone and everything. She keeps a mangy cat because she loves him and dotes on her pet goat. We, along with Katniss, see Prim as someone to be protected, sheltered, looked after. When Katniss returns home from the first Hunger Games, Prim is starting to grow up. She’s excited about Katniss’ wedding that is coming up with a girlish glee, but then when Gale is almost whipped to death, she and her mother are the ones that take control and begin to fix everything. the two people who were portrayed as the weakest, the ones who most needed taking care of are suddenly taking care of everyone, and keeping Gale alive. Prim is strong and keeps her head. Apparently she frequently helps her mother with patients while Katniss, strong, tough Katniss, gets sick and lightheaded. When Katniss finds out she’s going to the games again, Prim is a little rock, helping her, encouraging her, pampering her until she goes. We next see Prim in district 13 where she’s working with her mother in the hospital areas and in school, eventually, to become a doctor. Prim takes care of people one on one, she’s more personable. Katniss protects people and goes off and fights for them, not really with them more than she can help. When Peeta is rescued and reutrns hijacked, it was Prim who thought of the reverse hijacking technique. It was she who thought of the plan that ended up saving Peeta, they boy who Katniss ends up marrying. When Prim is **SPOILER! MAJOR SPOILER** killed in the trap, it was because of her compassion and her need to help others; she couldn’t see others suffer and do nothing. We see Prim grow from being a quiet little girl who needs her big sister to protect her, to someone who will put herself into danger in order to help keep someone alive.

This book was fantastic, I felt it was a really good conclusion to the trilogy and although whenever I think of it my heart breaks a little, I don’t think it could have ended any other way. I do wish Prim could have lived though, I honestly wish that that hadn’t had to happen. If it hadn’t though, Katniss wouldn’t have killed Coin and Panem would have turned into a giant district 13 which would have been frightful! It had to happen, it was just super sad.

I don’t have time to make a personal summary of the book so here’s the one off of the bookflap.
Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’ family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.
It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans – except Katniss.
The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’ willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay – no matter what the personal cost.

All in all, 9 out of 10. A very good book. I liked The Hunger Games better, but this one was very, very good.

And now, just for fun! This is a Hunger Games parody version of I Wanna Go by Britany Spears. It well made and hilarious! (Warning to diehard Hunger Games fans, it’s meant to be a joke, not taken seriously!)

Talk to ya later! DFTBA
– Becky


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Catching Fire

Book #4 (of 2012): Catching Fire
by Suzanne Colins (young adult fiction)

If you haven’t read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, then please note that Catching Fire is the second book in that series and this review will be littered with The Hunger Games Spoilers. Please don’t read this unless you’ve read the first book, trust me, you won’t regret it!

This is a good book, although the beginning, the Victory tour, didn’t keep my atention very well so I had some trouble getting into the book to begin with and was beginning to worry that the whole book would be Victory Tour, but it’s not, so once the tour was over and the plot twist came I was caught and really into it! I liked the book and how we first portrayed Finnick and the others as enemies (but especially Finnick I think, Katniss just really didn’t like him at first) but then began to get to know them and like them more and more.

I like what happened at district eleven during the tour, the whistle and the salute. Even though it was dangerous it showed where the country was going and what was beginning to stir up in the districts.

I loved the way Cinna turned on the President with what he did with Katniss’ dress that she had to wear to the interview for the Quarter Quell games. The transformation and the fact that not even she knew, it was wonderful. The way Suzanne Collins writes as well, is very descriptive and it feels like you’re seeing the transformation happen as it goes on. We feel Katniss’ panic as the flames appear, we understand her confidence in Cinna and then we see her wonder as she sees herself transformed into a mockingjay. That was probably one of my favourite parts in the book.

Read with caution… 😉

The book begins back in District 12. Peeta and Katniss have both won the Hunger Games together, something unheard of before they both threatened to commit suicide rather than kill each other, and now live in new houses with their families. They have enough food and telephones and luxuries they’ve never had before now. Katniss’ mother is using these things to be a healer or a doctor in the village as she has ready access to medicine now and Katniss uses their old house as a hideout, somewhere to get away from people, or get her stuff together before or after going hunting. Katniss is struggling with maintaining the public appearance of loving Peeta when she doesn’t and it’s all strained her relationship with Gale who was publicly portrayed as her cousin throughout the Games.
Katniss and Peeta are awaiting their prep teams and Cinna to arrive from the capitol to help them prepare for the “victory tour” which is  when the Hunger Games winner (well winners this time round) tour the districts making speeches and being congratulated by people in the districts of those they killed in order to win. The tour concludes with a big party at the capitol and then a big party and the winners’ home district.

The morning of the prep team’s intended arrival, Katniss arrives home from hunting (alone, Gale now works in the mines, so she doesn’t see him often), her mother seems anxious. A capitol official is in the kitchen with her mother and escorts her to the study where Katniss is greeted by none other than President Snow. This is not protocol, the president doesn’t visit people in their districts, not unless it’s very important. As it turns out, he’s there to warn her, but more threaten her, before she embarks on the victory tour, not to try stirring anything up, not trying to start a rebellion because he will kill Peeta and he will kill Gale and her family and everyone she loves if she does anything out of order. She must play up the romantic tie between her and Peeta perfectly and to Snow’s satisfaction or they’ll all be punished. After the “visit” Katniss lies to her mother and tells her that it’s normal for the president to congratulate the victors, it’s just not televised so they never knew. Soon after Cinna and the prep team arrive and she’s whirled back into the commotion of being plucked and pruned into some beautiful creature of the Capitol.

The first stop on the tour is District 11, where Rue and Thresh were from. Once there Katniss and Peeta must give speeches they have prepared and at the end of his, Peeta adds a surprise and announces that as a token of their regret and thanks, Katniss and he would like the tributes’ families to have a months worth of their winnings every year. The crowd gasps and though Katniss completely agrees she wonders if this is even legal… Katniss then gives a quick and yet touching speech and at the end of it, there is a moment of silence and then someone starts up Rue’s four-note tune and then the crowd, in one motion, put the three middle fingers of their left hand to their lips and raise them to Katniss. It’s the salute, the signal that her district gave her when she volunteered for Prim, but here it fills her with dread. She remembers what President Snow said and worries this might be seen as starting a kind of uprising. When they’re quickly ushered out, Katniss tries to go back and get her bouquet that she forgot, only to see the old man who whistled Rue’s tune being executed in the square. This wakes her and Peeta up, or perhaps it could be said it kills them a bit… They go through the motions, reciting their pre-written speeches at all the other districts and agree that they should get engaged to protect their loved ones from President Snow’s threats. When they arrives at the Capitol they are interviewed by Caesar Flickerman and Peeta proposes to Katniss live, and she delights Caesar and all of Panem when she “happily” accepts. They attend a party (or feast you might call it…) and during the dancing Katniss is approached by Plutarch Heavensbee who is the new head gamemaker (and will be in charge of planning the next year’s games). While dancing with her he mentions that he has to go to a planning meeting for the next year’s games and shows her his watch, when he rubs his thumb across the crystal of the watch a mockingjay (like the one on Katniss’ pin) appears and then disappears. “It starts at midnight” he says and says goodbye to go to his meeting.

The last stop of the tour is in District 12, Peeta and Katniss’ home district. They’re taken to the mayor’s house to be prepped by the prep team and when Katniss is finished early she goes to find the mayor’s daughter, her friend, Madge. On her way to find her she pops her head into the mayors study to say “Hello” and sees a report on a television channel for the mayor’s eyes only about an uprising in district eight. She quickly leaves the room and hurries of to find Madge.

On a Sunday trip to the lake with Gale, Katniss suggests they run away, like they once thought of doing before she went to the Games. She wants to run away with Gale’s family, Peeta’s family, Haymitch, and her family. As she tries to convince Gale (who doesn’t want to go with Peeta and Haymitch) she acciedently mentions the uprising she heard of in eight which sparks his interest. She is unable to convince him to leave however, he wants to stay and participate in the rebellion against the Capitol.

Quickly now, too many words…
A new head Peacekeeper is brought to district 12 and he’s mean, he keeps the rules tightly and beats those who break them. He whips Gale and would have killed him if people hadn’t interfered and he turns on the electric fence and Katniss almost gets trapped outside it after a visit to the lake where she meets two refugees (They are from district eight and are running away to district 13 where they hope to find an underground city with survivors from when 13 was destroyed by the capitol).

Soon it’s time for Katniss’ wedding shoot. A photo shoot in which she has pictures taken in six wedding dresses and when the program is aired, the people of the capitol vote on which she’ll wear to her wedding. The next evening the shoot is aired on television and after it comes the reading of the card for the third Quarter Quell. The Quarter Quells happen in twenty-five year intervals and every time they happen a card is read that was written by the creator of the games saying what’s to be “special” about that year’s Games. This first Quell the district had to vote on the tributes who went in to the arena, the next, twice as many tributes had to go in. This year when they read the card it announces that the tributes will be chosen from the surviving victors from each district. Katniss has a breakdown, she is going back into the Games with either Haymitch or Peeta.

Peeta, Katniss and Haymitch all prep this year, working out like careers so they’ll be stronger and have a better chance of winning. The reaping comes and Haymitch’s name is drawn and Peeta promptly volunteers for him. Peeta is determined to keep Katniss alive and Katniss is determined that this year, she and Haymitch will work to keep Peeta alive.  They go to the capitol and on their way research the other tributes and watch the recordings of their games so they can see how they fight. The have their interviews and their prep with their old preps team and Cinna. Katniss’ team, Octavia, Flavius, and Venia are heartbroken that she’s going back into the Games and keep breaking down in tears as they try and get her ready.

During the training work outs at the Training Center Haymitch instructs Katniss and Peeta to find some people they want to form an alliance with. When they finally get into the Games (the arena is a circle with the Cornicopia in the middle surrounded by water. At the water’s edge is beach and then jungle) Peeta and Katniss end up in an alliance with Finnick, Mags (who, sadly, dies), Johanna, and Wiress (who also, sadly, dies), and Beetee.

And you know what…I’m not gonna say anymore, I’ve spoilt enough, so go read the book, I’m not sparknotes =D

All in all 8 out of 10. It was a good book with a good story but it ended with a terrible cliff hanger and the only reason I’m as okay with that as I am is because the next book was already sitting ready for me on my shelf. Now cliff hangers keep you interested yes but this one draws you in and in and in and then cuts of leaving you in shock.

In other news I registered in the Capitol on the official Hunger Games website thecapitol.pn and was assigned to live in district nine and be a harvester.
What district do you live in?

– Becky

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