Mockingjay: The Hunger Games, Book 3

 
Exciting, dramatic -- and bloody -- sci-fi trilogy finale.

What parents need to know

Educational value

The book's plot could be a jumping-off point to discuss real wartime propaganda and symbols of freedom that people cling to during a war. See our "Families Can Talk About" section for other discussion ideas to sharpen kids' critical thinking skills.

Positive messages

Lots of food for thought on what it means to become a symbol to oppressed people; how war propaganda can sway people, for better or worse; 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.

Positive role models

Katniss takes on her role as the rebellion's symbol, but she's still very conflicted about it. And her desire for revenge clouds her judgment when it comes to the safety of those around her. However, after all of the bloodshed she's seen, she still finds a way out of despair and discovers a healthy way to remember those she's loved and lost.

Violence

Torture and deaths of many important supporting characters, with limbs blown off, faces/bodies melting, and necks broken by frightening beasts hunting them in sewers. Lots of weapon use, both in combat and for hunting. Constant sense of danger and peril. Bombings with many casualties -- even hospitals and large groups of children aren't spared.

Sex

Some kissing. Mentions of former Hunger Games champions sold as sex slaves.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Lots of a drug called "morphling" -- which has the same effects as morphine -- is given out to sick patients, including main characters; some become addicted to it. Haymitch is a recovering alcoholic at the beginning of the book, but only because alcohol isn't allowed in District 13. He's back to drinking heavily when he leaves.

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.

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?

QUALITY
 

Trilogy fans won't return to the Hunger Games area in this finale, but there's plenty of action to draw readers in (including a few arena-like surprises when fighting hits the Capitol) 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of this trilogy. What do you think has made it so successful? How does it compare to other popular series, like Harry Potter and Twilight?

  • 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?

Book details

Author:Suzanne Collins
Genre:Science Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Scholastic Press
Publication date:August 24, 2010
Number of pages:390
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17

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Quality

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Written byAnonymous August 24, 2013
age 12+
 

Great end to the franchise

4.3 This book is really amazing. It has shocking blood and gore and you never know what is going to happen. So well written and it is really shocking.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent of a 4, 9, and 10 year old Written bymockingbird72 November 16, 2010
age 17+
 

Torture scenes too intense for teens

**SPOILER** If I were to make a movie in which a main character sees a friend's limbs being cut off methodically or another friend being drenched with water and then electrocuted repeatedly, there would be no question of an R or even NC-17 rating. Why are books not treated the same way? This is not young adult literature.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent Written byBookOak October 23, 2011
age 17+
 

Not a PG-13 book.

I am appalled by this and the preceding two books in the series. Maybe I got stuck in time somewhere, but this level of violence, even if fake, is simply not acceptable in my opinion. When I read these books I am constantly wondering how my daughter's perspective is being changed. I am trying to talk to her about this and that we should guard against violence of this nature. We've talked about Roman gladiators and the torture of Christians in Roman times, about witch trails and about the holocaust, as well as torture in dictatorships and other situations. I'm constantly trying to tell her that violence is NOT an OK choice and that we abhor violence and especially torture and creative ways of killing human beings. What I fail to understand is how this book is appropriate for 12-year olds. All I want to do is toss the entire series in the trash can, where I think they belong - right with slasher movies and the like. If this book was made into a movie, it would not carry a PG-13 rating, but an R or NC-17.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Kid, 11 years old April 6, 2011
age 9+
 

Definately my Favorite Book.

I had finally finished two of three books in the Hunger Games Trilogy. I strongly believed that they were the most fantastic books I had ever read. However, after I opened Mockingjay, I knew that I had been wrong. This book was packed with even more drama and detail than the books before it. The reason I think this book was better than the previous books, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, is because the situation is much more difficult than before. Instead of having the Hunger Games themselves as a conflict, the conflict in Mockingjay was an entire war, putting tens of thousands of lives at risk rather than just 24. Many characters that I feel like I knew and loved died over the course of the story. I shed many tears over the perfectly written pages. This book reached out farther than any other book had before, right through my heart. That is what I admire most about the series’ author, Suzanne Collins, the most. The way she writes makes the words come alive, makes the characters jump right out of the page, the landscape painting itself right before your eyes. Mockingjay is probably the most inspirational novel I have ever read. I would recommend this book to more mature 9 year olds and up. Younger kids might not be able to understand some of the elements in Mockingjay as well as older kids and teens. The book brings up deep subjects like war, assassination, drug abuse, and alcohol. Although the drug and alcohol themes in the book are minor, it may bother some people. Readers should expect plenty of detailed violence and gore. If you enjoyed the other two novels in the Hunger Games Trilogy, and enjoy a fast-paced book with an excellent plotline, I think you will find that Mockingjay is absolutely breathtaking.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Great messages
Great role models

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