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Bookends: Revolution – Meet the New Boss; Same as the Old Boss February 6, 2013

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends.
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Bookends: Revolution – Meet the New Boss; Same as the Old Boss

By Dan Davidson

October 10, 2012,   Star, Oct. 12/12


– 785 words –

Mockingjay: The Final Book of the Hunger Games 
Scholastic Press

400 pages


You all probably haven’t been waiting with baited breath for my opinion on the conclusion of Suzanne Collins’ successful young adult dystopia. Sales figures and the eventual plan to make two movies out of this third book (following the lead of both the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises) indicate that Collins needs no assistance from me. But I did manage to finish the book in a hotel in Toronto last month while travelling, so here I am anyway.

That I finished this trilogy is a testament to its power, seeing that I did so reading it on my laptop computer, my least favorite way to read anything. My wife had it in a KOBO version on her iPod and this was the only way she could share the file with me.

Collins left us at the end of Catching Fire with a tremendous cliffhanger, as Katniss Everdeen and some of the contestants in the special punitive edition of the Hunger Games were rescued from the arena by airborne rebels who took them to the legendary District 13.

The nation of Panem is what became of North America after some sort of social and ecological collapse. The opulent Capital (somewhere in the Rocky Mountains) is supported by the labour and production of the workers in Districts 1 through 12. The Capital, led by President Snow, enforces its rule through the mechanism of the Games. When Katniss and Peeta forced a change of the Game’s rules in the first book, “the girl who was on fire” became a rallying point for the rebellion bubbling under the surface of this society, and her signature pin, a Mockingjay, became a codename and symbol of the rebellion.

Katniss is hardly aware of this at first, but Snow sees it all, and forces an extra set of Games, a Quarter Quell, with the purpose of killing most of the living winners of the previous games. The resulting struggle in Catching Fire does more that simply repeat the action in the first book, The Hunger Games, and sets up a transition to something else, which is which the final volume delivers.

As before, the book is divided into three sections. Those hoping to have the action continue flat out will be disappointed. In “The Ashes” Katniss and her colleagues (minus Peeta, who was captured) have to adjust to the regimented life of District 13, where people have been living underground for the last 75 years, waiting for the time to take back freedom. Spend that long in a kind of cage and you might just lose sight of what the word “freedom” means. As any rate, they see Katniss as a propaganda weapon and not much else, at first, and it takes her some time to make the necessary adjustments. After all, she never really wanted to be a hero in the first place.

“The Assault” cranks up the tension as they rescue Peeta from the capital, only to find he has been brainwashed to want to kill the girl he has loved since he was a boy. That makes life even more confusing for Katniss, who has been torn between him and her childhood friend, Gale, ever since the first book. As the title suggests, this section leads into a series of assaults during which district after district falls to the rebels. They finally end up in the Capital, fighting a new kind of game, while Katniss and Peeta struggle to rebuild his shattered mind.

In part three, “The Assassin”, Katniss plays her own game, intending to end Snow once and for all, planning to go alone and kill him in retaliation for his destruction of District 12. By this time, however, she is beginning to be suspicious of the motives of some of the leaders of District 13, especially President Alma Coin, who seems to want nothing more than to replace Snow in his role at the Capital. There are some revelations about the rebel’s conduct of the war which resolve the Gale or Peeta question once and for all, and lead to a surprise climax.

There’s a chapter after the climax, and it might have been called “Katniss rising from the ashes” but it’s just chapter 27. There is also an epilogue, which takes place about 20 years later. In Harry Potter fashion it ties up some loose ends and closes the story nicely, without sugar coating anything. War is hell. The trilogy is clear about that, and the choices made during wars have consequences well beyond victory marches.




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