By Suzanne Collins

I have now joined the rest of the world in reading The Hunger Games series. Apparently they’re going to make them into movies, so I’m very interested in seeing those when they come out.

Here is the book’s summary from the Kobo store:

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that shes made it out of the bloody arena alive she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And whats worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12.

The second book in the series, Catching Fire, ended on a major cliff-hanger, so I was really eager to read this book. Overall, it was very good, and if you’ve read the first two books in the series, you must read this one.

Having been rescued by the rebels working to take down the Capitol, Katniss agrees to become the Mockingjay, the symbol of the revolution, at the request of District 13’s President Coin. We learn that Peeta and other Victors who were in the arena when Katniss was rescued have been taken by the Capitol, and their fate is unknown.

Gale and Katniss’s family are in District 13 with her, where they learn a lot about how the people have survived over the years. With plans for a revolution in full swing, Katniss begins to see that being a symbol of the revolution gives her some power – but not enough, at times, and she struggles with issues of trust, following orders, and the realization that no matter which side she’s on, innocent lives will be lost in the ensuing battles.

There was a lot of action in this book, which I liked. It was very suspenseful and exciting and bloody, but sad at the same time because no characters were safe from the violence – a number of characters that I really liked, and hoped would somehow survive, died. Although that made me sad,  at the same time, I appreciated that Collins wasn’t afraid to do that. The themes of war and violence and the tragic, senseless losses that can result really hit home when it results in the death of characters that I’d become attached to and cared for.

This book was a major page-turner. There were  a lot of events that took me by surprise, and I really liked that I could never be sure about what would happen next.

The love triangle between Katniss and Peeta and Gale gets very, very complicated here, and while it is eventually resolved, once again I couldn’t predict what the resolution was. I certainly had my thoughts on what I wanted it to be, but I won’t give anything away there. You’ll have to read for yourself!

Events took place on a much larger scale in this book than in the previous ones. Whereas things had mainly focussed on the Games, and Katniss’s participation in and rebellion from them, the events in this book concerned all of Panem. We learn what has been happening in the other districts this whole time, and how the lives of citizens in not just the districts but the Capitol have been effected, all negatively. The terrible impact of war and violence is spelled out very clearly here.

My one complaint would be that the book seemed to end too abruptly for me. After caring for these characters so much and eagerly reading to see how things turned out, I really would have appreciated more of a wrap-up to the series. Although that’s the only negative thing I have to say, for me, it’s a big one. I was left feeling a bit disappointed. Perhaps, though, that was the author’s intention. After all, there are not always perfectly wrapped-up, happy endings for all involved in war in real life.

This book was very bittersweet. Perhaps because it’s a young adult book, I had been expecting something a bit more sugar-coated, and I am really happy that Collins tackles the themes of war, poverty, and violence so unflinchingly. Although I felt real sadness at the deaths of a number of characters, I appreciated that I was feeling something. I don’t like to feel as though I’m merely observing events when I read something – I want to feel drawn in and attached to the people, and I definitely felt that in this book, and the series as a whole.

This is definitely a book – and a series – that I recommend.

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