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A-MockingjayIn addition to The Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins is the author of the series of books called The Underland Chronicles (2003–2007) and worked for many years as a children's television writer. Mockingjay is the final installment of the trilogy that began in 2008 with The Hunger Games and continued with Catching Fire (3.5 of 5 Stars Nov/Dec 2009). The series, though aimed at young adults, is popular with readers of all ages.

The Story: A postapocalyptic North America is divided into 12 subservient districts which are governed by a tyrannical Capitol. As punishment for a past rebellion, each of the districts is forced to send two teenagers each year to fight to the death in "the Hunger Games," a bloody, televised spectacle. The main character, Katniss Everdeen, has twice survived the Games but now finds herself the uncertain symbol of a resistance movement against the Capitol, as well as the center of a teenage love triangle.
Scholastic Press. 400 pages. $17.99. ISBN: 9780439023511

Christian Science Monitor 4 of 5 Stars
"Collins doesn't take war lightly--her characters debate the morality involved in tactics used to try to overthrow the rotting, immoral government, and they pay a high cost for those tactics. ... In Katniss, Collins has crafted a heroine so fierce and tenacious that this reader will follow her anywhere." Yvonne Zipp 4 of 5 Stars
"[After the first few chapters, Mockingjay] quickly gathers steam and becomes a thing of incredible beauty and power, until it reaches an ending that you'll be thinking about for days, or maybe years, afterwards. And for those of you who've been waiting until the third volume came out to decide whether to read the Hunger Games books, it's now officially a good idea to do so." Charlie Jane Anders

Los Angeles Times 4 of 5 Stars
"More maudlin than the first two books in the series, Mockingjay is also the most violent and bloody and, based on the actions and statements of its characters, [ it's] most overtly antiwar--though not so much that it distracts from a series conclusion that is nearly as shocking, and certainly every bit as original and thought provoking, as The Hunger Games." Susan Carpenter

Onion AV Club 4 of 5 Stars
"The final slog toward doom for Katniss and her friends gets as grim as any book aimed at teens ever written, a death march that leaves Katniss and the readers choking on ashes. ... The real hero of Mockingjay just might be Collins, for creating an ending that invites readers to hold on to hope, but question everything." Todd VanDerWerff

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"[T]here's much to talk about because this powerful novel pierces cheery complacency like a Katniss-launched arrow. Look skeptically at computer and television images, it suggests, be aware of spin, gaze upon the young faces of the world's soldiers. Children forced to kill children? It's not just in the pages of a novel." Mary Quattlebaum

Entertainment Weekly 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Collins has kicked the brutal violence up a notch in an edge-of-your-seat plot that follows Katniss as she tries to fulfill her role, protect her mother and sister, and--in the end--[make a difficult choice]." Nicole Sperling

USA Today 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Mockingjay won't make much sense if you haven't read The Hunger Games (2008) and Catching Fire (2009), but Collins' fans, grown-ups included, will race to the end." Bob Minzesheimer

Critical Summary

As might be expected for the last volume of a series whose popularity is just below that of Twilight and Harry Potter, much of the ink spent on Mockingjay recreates the great anticipation for the final volume and assures readers it is worth it. Many critics were unwilling to reveal any details of the plot, but those who did argued that what really makes Mockinjay entirely gripping is how it continues to successfully explore the violence and moral ambiguity raised by the first two books. Reviewers were also happy to add Katniss to the list of endearingly kick-ass young female action heroes. "This dystopic-fantasy series," noted the Washington Post, "has had such tremendous crossover appeal that teens and parents may discover themselves vying for--and talking about--the family copy of Mockingjay."