Kids pitted against other kids in an arena death match for Roman-style entertainment is horrifying, although author Suzanne Collins also makes the story captivating. She weaves through her violent tale elements of sacrifice, survival, strong family loyalty, and, of course, a love triangle that keep the reader turning the pages in spite of the dark themes.
It wasn’t until I got the to the final pages of The Mockingjay that all the pieces of the trilogy began to fit together. In the end, Suzanne Collins has an anti-war message to sell. She tries to draw a parallel between war and the arena death matches pictured in the first two books – it’s all gruesome, horrifying violence that destroys merely for power, money and the glory of winning.
As a parent, if you chose to let your child read this book, I’d recommend staying a bit ahead of them. There are some definite talking points even outside of the war themes. Love, sacrifice, vigilantism, revolution, pragmatism, just war, drug abuse, suicide, slavery and more find their way into the story. Suzanne Collins wrote an entertaining story that is obviously popular, but it’s loaded with baggage that a young reader might need help unpacking.