A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is the final book in the bestselling Hunger Games trilogy. Like the previous books, there's plenty of bloodshed and psychological warfare in play; many sympathetic characters die, some are tortured to insanity, and, in one nightmare scene, main characters are hunted by giant reptillian creatures in the sewers as they hiss "Katniss, Katniss." But teen readers are sophisticated enough to understand that this is science fiction, not real life. And the book offers lots of food for thought on what it means to become a symbol to oppressed people, how war propaganda can sway people, what people will endure to be free of oppression, whether it's right or not to use the same dirty tactics as the enemy to win a war, and how hope and some peace can still be found after seeing the inhumanity of war.
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What's the story?
After Katniss is rescued from the Hunger Games arena at the end of book two, she's safe in District 13 with a group of rebels led by district president Alma Coin. Katniss knows her rescue was orchestrated so that she could become the symbol of the resistance -- the Mockingjay; and, sure enough, she's used to shoot propaganda films that hijack TV sets across the country of Panem as battles rage in the districts and move ever closer to the Capitol. Katniss also knows that her dear friend Peeta is in danger -- tortured, brainwashed, and used by President Snow as leverage against her. Rescuing Peeta from Snow's brutal retribution isn't the only risky plan at play -- Katniss is also determined to assassinate Snow ... whether she has Coin's approval or not.
Is it any good?
Trilogy fans won't return to the Hunger Games arena in this finale, but there's plenty of action to draw readers in and plenty of twists to keep you wondering how it will all end. Plus, Collins continues to add depth to the series, asking readers to consider what's justified in war or to maintain order in societies. She adds so many shades of gray -- how propaganda is used to sway people and what it means to be seen as a symbol more than a person -- that readers will be left with plenty of food for thought.
Katniss is still the tormented, conflicted character who doesn't see herself as a hero figure. This amps up the melodrama at times -- and so does her love triangle. Who will she choose? Team Gale or Team Peeta? And, yes, she does finally decide.
Talk to your kids about ...
This book provides a frightening look at the future. How does it compare to other future worlds you've seen depicted in movies, books, or video games? What is so appealing about reading books like this? Why is it important to read books set in the future?
How does the book portray the media? What role does it play in the war? Can you see any similarities between the way media is used in the book and the role that it plays in our lives today?
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