Book Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

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Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins is the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy. In it, Suzanne Collins pushes the boundaries of young adult fiction. Like other YA novels before it, such as The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier or Lord of the Flies by William Golding, it explores themes of violence among child and young adult characters. Some parents might be opposed to these themes in their kids' literature. I'm not.
Spoilers ahead.

Mockingjay reintroduces us to the protagonist of the series–Katniss Everdeen. Rebels have rescued her and taken her to their underground bunker. They did not rescue her friend Peeta. This makes Katniss resentful of the rebels with whom she is now working. Katniss has been mistrusting and angry throughout the series, but she is now distrustful of the rebels too.

Rebel leaders want Everdeen to be the symbol of their rebellion–a propaganda tool that inspires fighters. Their methods are similar to those used by the enemy, which sheds light on the story's true moral conundrum. When both sides are killing for what they want, how can you tell which side is the right side? If you cannot gain freedom from murderous leaders without violence, how do you stop the violence once you have won? This is not a new concept in literature.

The plot of Mockingjay is not surprising. The first two books set it up, but that doesn't make it less entertaining. They way the characters come to the realization that they may be trading one dictator for another, and the way they deal with it, keeps the plot moving. The morals are deeper, and the protagonists more colorful than those in most current YA fiction. I think Collins put herself near the top of the genre with this series. Let's hope she has more books to offer.

Shelly Barclay

Biography of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling reading to children
at the White House
Photo by Daniel Ogren

J.K. Rowling is the unprecedentedly successful author of the seven books in the Harry Potter series. Since the publication of her first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the popularity of her books has steadily increased. All of the books in the Harry Potter series were made into insanely popular films. There will even be a film made of a short side novel and a Rowling has written a play to go along with the franchise.

J.K. Rowling was born Joanne Rowling on July 31, 1965. She later added Katherine to her name so that she could have another initial for her pen name. She was born on the outskirts of Bristol, England and is the eldest of two daughters. Her parents moved Joanne and her younger sister Di to Winterbourne when Rowling was four. There, she met a young boy and a young girl whose last name she came to like. Their last name was Potter. The Rowling family moved one more time, when Joanne was nine, to Tutshill. The family was living here when her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  Joanne was fifteen at the time.

J.K. Rowling attended a few grade schools and then went on to attend Wyedean Comprehensive. After her high school graduation she enrolled in the University of Exeter, where she studied French. During Rowling’s time in college she was able to spend a year in France as part of her studies.

J.K. Rowling’s mother died shortly after Christmas in 1990. In 1991, when she was 26, J.K Rowling moved to Portugal and began teaching English. There she met and married Jorges Arentes. The couple had a daughter, whom they named Jessica. The couple separated three years after their wedding and Rowling took her daughter with her to Edinburgh, where they could be close to Di. Rowling had been working on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for a few years by then and it was at this point that she set to finishing the novel in earnest.

After J.K. Rowling finished the first Harry Potter novel, it sold to Bloomsbury for only $4,000. Eventually Scholastic Press purchased the American rights to the novel. With the money from the sale, Rowling was able to quit her job and become a full-time writer.

J.K Rowling is now a millionaire and one of the most famous authors of our time. She married Neil Murray on December 26, 2006 and they are still happily married. She had two more children with her husband. Their names are David and MacKenzie.