Mockingjay (Collins)

Mockingjay (Hunger Games series #3)
Suzanne Collins, 2010
Scholastic, Inc.
390 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780439023511

Young Katniss Everdeen has survived the dreaded Hunger Games not once, but twice, but even now she can find no relief. In fact, the dangers seem to be escalating.

President Snow has declared an all-out war on Kattnis, her family, her friends, and all the oppressed people of District 12. The thrill-packed final installment of Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy will keep young hearts pounding. (From Barnes & Noble.)

Author Bio
Birth—August 10, 1962
Where—Hartford, Connecticut, USA
Education—B.A., Indiana University; M.F.A., New York University
Currently—lives in Connecticut

Collins's career began in 1991 as a writer for children's television shows. She worked on several television shows for Nickelodeon, including Clarissa Explains It All, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, Little Bear, and Oswald. She was also the head writer for Scholastic Entertainment's Clifford's Puppy Days. She received a Writers Guild of America nomination in animation for co-writing the critically acclaimed Christmas special, Santa, Baby!

After meeting children's author James Proimos while working on the Kids' WB show Generation O!, Collins was inspired to write children's books herself. Her inspiration for Gregor the Overlander, the first book of the best selling series "The Underland Chronicles," came from Alice in Wonderland, when she was thinking about how one was more likely to fall down a manhole than a rabbit hole, and would find something other than a tea party.

Between 2003 and 2007 she wrote the five books of the "Underland Chronicles": Gregor the Overlander, Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of Secret, and Gregor and the Code of Claw. During that time, Collins also wrote a rhyming picture book illustrated by Mike Lester entitled When Charlie McButton Lost Power (2005).

In September 2008 Scholastic Press released the The Hunger Games, the first book of a new trilogy by Collins. The Hunger Games was partly inspired by the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Another inspiration was her father's career in the Air Force, which allowed her to better understand poverty, starvation, and the effects of war.

This was followed by the novel's 2009 sequel, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay in 2010. In just 14 months, 1.5 million copies of the first two "Hunger Games" books have been printed in North America alone. The Hunger Games has been on the New York Times Best Seller list for more than 60 weeks in a row. Collins was named one of Time magazine's most influential people of 2010.

Collins earned her M.F.A. from New York University in Dramatic Writing. She now lives in Connecticut with her husband, their two children, and 2 adopted feral kittens. (From Wikipedia.)

Book Reviews
Mockingjay is not as impeccably plotted as The Hunger Games, but nonetheless retains its fierce, chilly fascination. At its best the trilogy channels the political passion of 1984, the memorable violence of A Clockwork Orange, the imaginative ambience of The Chronicles of Narnia and the detailed inventiveness of Harry Potter. The specifics of the dystopian universe, and the fabulous pacing of the complicated plot, give the books their strange, dark charisma.
Katie Roiphe - New York Times

Nothing is black or white in this gripping, complex tale, including the angry, self-doubting heroine.... This dystopic-fantasy series, which began in 2008, has had such tremendous crossover appeal that teens and parents may discover themselves vying for—and talking about—the family copy of Mockingjay. And there's much to talk about because this powerful novel pierces cheery complacency like a Katniss-launched arrow.
Mary Quattlebaum - Washington Post

This concluding volume in Collins's Hunger Games trilogy accomplishes a rare feat, the last installment being the best yet, a beautifully orchestrated and intelligent novel that succeeds on every level. At the end of Catching Fire, Katniss had been dramatically rescued from the Quarter Quell games; her fellow tribute, Peeta, has presumably been taken prisoner by the Capitol. Now the rebels in District 13 want Katniss (who again narrates) to be the face of the revolution, a propaganda role she's reluctant to play. One of Collins's many achievements is skillfully showing how effective such a poster girl can be, with a scene in which Katniss visits the wounded, cameras rolling to capture (and retransmit) her genuine outrage at the way in which war victimizes even the noncombatants. Beyond the sharp social commentary and the nifty world building, there's a plot that doesn't quit: nearly every chapter ends in a reversal-of-fortune cliffhanger. Readers get to know characters better, including Katniss's sister and mother, and Plutarch Heavensbee, former Head Gamemaker, now rebel filmmaker, directing the circus he hopes will bring down the government, a coup possible precisely because the Capitol's residents are too pampered to mount a defense. "In return for full bellies and entertainment," he tells Katniss, explaining the Latin phrase panem et circenses, "people had given up their political responsibilities and therefore their power." Finally, there is the romantic intrigue involving Katniss, Peeta and Gale, which comes to a resolution that, while it will break some hearts, feels right. In short, there's something here for nearly every reader, all of it completely engrossing. (Ages 12-up.)
Publishers Weekly

(Audio versionGr 7 & Up.) The final installment of Suzanne Collins's trilogy sets Katniss in one more Hunger Game, but this time it is for world control. While it is a clever twist on the original plot, it means that there is less focus on the individual characters and more on political intrigue and large scale destruction. That said, Carolyn McCormick continues to breathe life into a less vibrant Katniss by showing her despair both at those she feels responsible for killing and and at her own motives and choices. This is an older, wiser, sadder, and very reluctant heroine, torn between revenge and compassion. McCormick captures these conflicts by changing the pitch and pacing of Katniss's voice. Katniss is both a pawn of the rebels and the victim of President Snow, who uses Peeta to try to control Katniss. Peeta's struggles are well evidenced in his voice, which goes from rage to puzzlement to an unsure return to sweetness. McCormick also makes the secondary characters—some malevolent, others benevolent, and many confused—very real with distinct voices and agendas/concerns. She acts like an outside chronicler in giving listeners just "the facts" but also respects the individuality and unique challenges of each of the main characters. A successful completion of a monumental series. —Edith Ching, University of Maryland, College Park.
Library Journal

(Starred review.) The highly anticipated conclusion to the Hunger Games trilogy does not disappoint. If anything, it may give readers more than they bargained for: in action, in love, and in grief.... Collins does several things brilliantly, not the least of which is to provide heart-stopping chapter endings that turn events on their heads and then twist them once more. But more ambitious is the way she brings readers to questions and conclusions about war throughout the story.

Discussion Questions 
1. What is Katniss’s greatest challenge when she returns to see the ruins of her home? What is the meaning of the rose she finds on her dresser? Why does she keep repeating facts about herself?

2. Why does Katniss take the cat Buttercup back to District 13? What role does Buttercup play in the story in later chapters?

3. What is the first reaction Katniss has to the people of District 13? What makes her say, “In some ways District 13 is even more controlling than the Capitol”?

4. What influences her decision to become the Mockingjay? Why does Katniss have to ask for conditions once she agrees to take on the role of Mockingjay?

5. Discuss the feelings between Katniss and Coin. Why do they distrust each other from the beginning? How does Coin treat the conditions that Katniss demands for being the Mockingjay? Is Katniss really a threat to Coin’s power?

6. Compare the reactions of Katniss and Gale to the imprisonment and treatment of Katniss’s prep team, Venia, Octavia, and Flavius. How does this reflect on both of them? What is the difference between the prep team and the filming crew—Cressida, Mesalla, Castor, and Pollux—who are also from the Capitol?

7. What was necessary for Katniss to create a truly effective “propo” for the rebellion? Why didn’t the first idea work? Why does Haymitch say, “That is how a revolution dies”? After the taping in District 8, what does Katniss mean when she says, “I have a kind of power I never knew I possessed”?

8. Discuss the role of television “propaganda” in today’s society and the techniques that are used to influence our thinking. How do these techniques compare to those used by the Capitol and the rebels in Mockingjay?

9. Why did Plutarch cover up Katniss and Gale’s insubordination in District 8 during the taping? What is the effect of the “propo” on the rebellion in other districts? Why are the “propos” so vital to the rebellion? What effect do Katniss and the Mockingjay symbolism have on those fighting against the Capitol and those in the Capitol?

10. Discuss the role of music in this book. What is the significance of the “Hanging Tree” song? How many ways does the song play a part in the story? How does it connect Katniss and Peeta to their past and their future? Research the song “Strange Fruit” sung by Billie Holiday and discuss its aimilarities and differences to Katniss’s song.

11. Discuss the changing nature of the relationship between Katniss and Gale. What does Gale say is the“only way I get your attention”? Did Katniss ever love Gale the way he wants her to love him? Does he truly love her?

12. Discuss the changing nature of Prim’s role in the story, as she grows older. Identify times when Prim helps Katniss when no one else can.

13. Why do the rebels decide to rescue Peeta? Discuss the effects of the “hijacking” of Peeta’s brain. Discuss Katniss’s comment, “It’s only now that he’s been corrupted that I can fully appreciate the real Peeta.” What is the significance of the pearl she keeps?

14. Why are Finnick and Johanna important to Katniss? Discuss her relationship to each of them and how they help her prepare for the final fight. What is the effect of Finnick’s “propo” about his treatment by President Snow?

15. When Katniss learns of the work Gale is doing with Beetee, using the psychology of trapping as much as the mechanics, she says to Gale, “Seems to be crossing some kind of line.” Gale’s reply is that they are “following the same rule book President Snow used.” Do the ends in this battle justify the means, as Gale seems to imply?

16. Why is it so hard for Katniss to accept Gale’s idea for trapping the workers inside the Nut (“I can’t condemn someone to the death he’s suggesting”)? What does she mean when she says to the wounded man in the square, “I’m tired of being a piece in their Games”? How many ways does the invasion of the Capitol remind Katniss of the Games?

17. Discuss Katniss’s feelings of guilt and insecurity when confronting Peeta. What makes her say, “Finally, he can see me for who I really am. Violent. Distrustful. Manipulative. Deadly”? What makes her think the worst of herself?

18. What are Coin’s motives in ordering Peeta to join Katniss’s squad in the Capitol? What are the advantages and disadvantages of having him on the squad? When Boggs transfers the holo to Katniss, why does he say, “Don’t trust them”? Whom does he mean?

19. Do you believe it was the rebels who killed the children with the exploding parachutes? If so, how does that make you feel about whether this was justified as a means of winning the war?

20. Why does Paylor allow Katniss to enter the rooms where Snow is being held? Does she know that Snow will reveal to Katniss the role of the rebels in Prim’s death? Did Snow tell Katniss the truth?

21. Why did Katniss vote for another Hunger Games? To save the lives of more people? Or did she secretly anticipate sabotaging the plan?

22. Why does Katniss assassinate Coin? Does she do it to avenge Prim, or because she believes it is for the greater good of the country, or both? How does Katniss escape retribution for Coin’s death?

23. Gale tells Peeta, when they are hiding out in the Capitol, that Katniss will pick whichever one of them she can’t survive without. In the end, why is that one Peeta and not Gale?

(Questions issued by pubisher.)

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