“Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins

I woke early this morning and finished reading Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, and I have to say that I enjoyed the book as much as the other ones in the trilogy. Before I go on, though, I have to warn you that there will be some spoilers in here for those who have not yet read the book.

While the first two books explored totalitarian government as represented by the Capitol, this book addresses the problems associated with a militaristic communist regime, as represented by District 13. In the book, “soldier” is used instead of “comrade,” and the propos are the propaganda materials used to sway the views of the citizens to join the rebellion. People in District 13 are forced to dress the same, given assignments and schedules, and basically discouraged from expressing individualism.

I was fascinated by the brainwashing of Peeta, because it was reminiscent of what was done to Alex in A Clockwork Orange. Peeta is given a drug (tracker jacker venom) that causes intense fear and paranoia. While under the influence, it is presumed that he is shown films of Katniss, causing him to associate his pain and terror with her. This is no different from the Ludovico Technique in Burgess’ novel. So while the concept is not new, it was certainly well done and fits perfectly in the story.

For me, the pinnacle of the story was when Katniss realizes that Coin, the leader of District 13, is no different from Snow, the Capitol’s president. Katniss concludes that the slaughter of the innocent children was staged by District 13 to turn the last citizens against the Capitol and bring the war to a swift end. This is followed by Coin deciding to have a new Hunger Games, only this time reaping tributes from the Capitol. As the scene plays out, I kept thinking about the lyrics from The Who’s classic anthem, Won’t Get Fooled Again: “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”

Plutarch has a great line that really sums up the problem with society as it is presented in the book: “We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction” (p. 274). I am inclined to agree, which is why I am grateful that Ms. Collins wrote these books. Lest we forget, she reminds us of the cruelty we are capable of, and more importantly, she also lets our young readers know.

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