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Mockinjay
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In the final installment of Suzanne Collins's blockbuster trilogy, Katniss is forced to return to the Hunger Games arena again. But this time, the fate of the world is riding on the outcome. Narrator Carolyn McCormick voices Katniss's despair over those she feels are responsible for killing innocent people and her own tangled motives and choices. This is an older, wiser, sadder, and very reluctant heroine, torn between revenge and compassion. McCormick captures these conflicts by changing the pitch and pacing of Katniss's voice. She also makes the secondary characters-some malevolent, others benevolent, and many confused-very real with distinct voices. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

In its first week of publication, this third book in Collins's "Hunger" trilogy rocketed to the top of the best-seller lists, proving that teen-reading adults are interested in something other than vampires and boy wizards. For the uninitiated, The Hunger Games (2008), which began the series, posited a world where the United States is no more and a cruel capitol rules over 12 districts that must each offer an annual tribute of two children for a televised fight-to-the-death. In this final volume, a rebel movement goes to war against the capitol. The costs are high, causing the reader to question the moral rightness of any war, even one against a ruler as evil as President Snow, whose breath smells of "blood and roses." For the past week, Mockingjay has been the topic of backroom discussion in my libraries as friends and coworkers debate its shocking conclusion.-Angelina Benedetti, "35 Going on 13," BookSmack! 9/16/10 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

This concluding volume in Collins's Hunger Games trilogy accomplishes a rare feat, the last installment being the best yet, a beautifully orchestrated and intelligent novel that succeeds on every level. At the end of Catching Fire, Katniss had been dramatically rescued from the Quarter Quell games; her fellow tribute, Peeta, has presumably been taken prisoner by the Capitol. Now the rebels in District 13 want Katniss (who again narrates) to be the face of the revolution, a propaganda role she's reluctant to play. One of Collins's many achievements is skillfully showing how effective such a poster girl can be, with a scene in which Katniss visits the wounded, cameras rolling to capture (and retransmit) her genuine outrage at the way in which war victimizes even the noncombatants. Beyond the sharp social commentary and the nifty world building, there's a plot that doesn't quit: nearly every chapter ends in a reversal-of-fortune cliffhanger. Readers get to know characters better, including Katniss's sister and mother, and Plutarch Heavensbee, former Head Gamemaker, now rebel filmmaker, directing the circus he hopes will bring down the government, a coup possible precisely because the Capitol's residents are too pampered to mount a defense. "In return for full bellies and entertainment," he tells Katniss, explaining the Latin phrase panem et circenses, "people had given up their political responsibilities and therefore their power." Finally, there is the romantic intrigue involving Katniss, Peeta and Gale, which comes to a resolution that, while it will break some hearts, feels right. In short, there's something here for nearly every reader, all of it completely engrossing. Ages 12-up (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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