Middler Books and More

This blog contains Bruce DuBoff's book reviews, info on other media, and related topics. It is a collaboration between the librarian and both the students of Pennsauken Intermediate School and Phifer Middle School in Pennsauken, NJ, and the general middler book reading community. The books featured here are appropriate for grades 5-8, though not all books reviewed here are appropriate for all of those ages.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Collins, Suzanne. Mockingjay: The Final Book of The Hunger Games. Scholastic, 2010 (4 stars out 4!)

Sometimes an artist achieves recognition by being in the right place at the right time, usually due to superior skill and ingenuity. But we know it takes more than just skill to create excellence; for every Beatles, there are thousands of other talented bands never heard by anyone outside of their respective Liverpools. Musicians like The Beatles, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson articulated the narrative of their respective generations; artists like Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg reinvigorated the way we see everyday objects; and writers such as Laurie Halse Anderson and Kevin Brooks have redefined the boundaries of young adult literature. All of the artists listed above produced major works at the “right time,” a moment in history peculiarly suited to their craft. Upon the publication of Mockingjay, the impressive end to the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins has struck gold in 1848 California, writing the perfect book for this generation recognized for its wars, recessions, paranoia, xenophobia, intolerance, and dying decadence.

Katniss Everdeen just cannot catch a break. After being miraculously rescued from her latest foray into the Hunger Games arena only to find out her rescue was a carefully orchestrated plan by rebel leaders to begin a coup d’etat, she has been asked to be the face of the revolution, a role with which she is very uncomfortable. But Peeta, her public (and perhaps private as well) boyfriend has been captured by the Capitol, and Katniss is at the mercy of the leaders of the mysterious District 13, her new but untrustworthy compatriots. Katniss agrees to be the Mockingjay, the orchestrated and embellished voice and face of the revolution, but only so she can save Peeta and stay in the fight to kill President Snow. When former Head Gameskeeper Plutarch Heavensbee describes rebel President Coin’s plan to establish a republic just like our Roman ancestors (names and historical circumstances are freely borrowed from the best and worst of our Roman ancestry for this series), Katniss expresses skepticism: “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” (84). Katniss knows she is a pawn in a bigger game, one she does not fully comprehend. However, in order to save herself, her loved ones, and her world, she must face challenges and decisions even more deadly and wrenching than her experiences in the ring during the Hunger Games.

I have never been more concerned about spoiling the plot than I was when writing the previous paragraph. I did not even read the feature article in the August 2010 School Library Journal until today (mid-September 2010) for fear of ruining even a small part of the story. I savored every delicious morsel of this novel, with its end-of-chapter cliffhangers and moral dilemmas around every terrifying corner. Suzanne Collins has written the morality play for her generation, the novel that, for today’s youth, defines the best and worst that humanity offers. Katniss bears the guilt and shame for the sins of her species nobly, alternating between unbridled fury directed at her puppetmasters and crippling remorse over the lives lost due to her actions and inactions. When brutalities like Michael Vick’s dogfights, Ultimate Fighting bouts, and the Jerry Springer Show clog the airwaves, how far off are the Hunger Games? Are we not entertained? Mockingjay confirms and solidifies Suzanne Collins’ place as one of the most influential writers of her time. Lionsgate purchased the film rights to The Hunger Games in 2009, so not only am I looking forward to Ms. Collins’ next book, I am also eager to see news about the film. I hope Ms. Collins is prepared to be very successful over the next few years.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home