Today is the day! Our inaugural Segullah Book Club Discussion. We’ll be discussing four books a year here on the blog, and we’re kicking things off with a novel that’s had readers buzzing since its release in August: Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay.
Mockingjay is the final book in the Hunger Games series, a trilogy of novels aimed at teen readers that has found crossover success with adults. The Hunger Games novels explore a dystopian future where a powerful central government (the Capitol) keeps each outlying “district” in line by hosting The Hunger Games, a yearly event where one adolescent boy and one adolescent girl from each district are chosen by lottery to fight to the death. The series’ protagonist, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, volunteers for the games to take the place of her 12-year-old sister.
The trilogy is full of action—and violence—but many readers have been drawn in by the books’ vivid characters and powerful anti-war themes. The last book, Mockingjay, has elicited particularly divided opinions, especially regarding the level of violence depicted in a book intended for teens, and the trilogy’s ultimate resolution.
So, after that intro, I think we’re ready to discuss Mockingjay. A reminder that all commenters must abide by Segullah’s commenting guidelines. This is particularly important advice when it comes to discussing a book’s “appropriateness”—feel free to share your opinions on the subject, but disparaging others’ readers righteousness or calling other parents on the carpet if they choose to let their kids read the novel is entirely inappropriate. In short, please remember that we’re more interested in intelligent opinion sharing than smug aspersion casting. (If you’re in the mood to cast aspersions, I’m sure there are LOTS of other opportunities awaiting in the bloggernacle! But I won’t link to any, cause that’s just snarky.)
To get us started, I have three questions you might want to consider responding to in the comments. (You don’t necessarily have to answer these questions, but they might be a good jumping-off point.)
1. Mockingjay is a young adult novel intended for readers age twelve and up, but the book is very violent. School Library Journal calls the novel “ruthless” in its depiction of the horrors of war, and many readers have been stunned and disturbed by the book. Did you (or would you) let your adolescent child read Mockingjay? Why or why not? As an adult reader, did you find the level of violence in the novel gratuitous or necessary to developing the theme of the consequences of war?
2. Many readers feel that Mockingjay is a departure from books 1 and 2 of The Hunger Games series and were surprised by both the events in this book and its overall tone. Did you feel this way? Why or why not?
3. What about that ending? Did you agree with the way the main characters developed through to the end of the series? The resolution of the Peeta/Gale/Katniss triangle? In the end, was the novel satisfying thematically as well as emotionally?
A quick reminder to keep each individual comment as concise as you can: comments that are longer than two or three paragraphs probably get skimmed more than they get read (although *I* promise to read every one). If you have something to say about each question, consider dedicating an individual comment to each one. Also, I’m planning to jump in with my own opinions, but I want you all to get the ball rolling first. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say!