A Facebook friend posted a tantalizing photo on her wall the other day. It was a picture of herself happily sitting with an advance copy of Suzanne Collins‘ hotly-anticipated Mockingjay. (Yes, she was “mocking” all of us who would give our eye teeth to get our own advance read!) This sent librarians into a Facebook comments frenzy for a bit, and then the FB friend eliminated all traces of the photo and conversation. All is calm again, except 99.9999999% of us are still waiting for Mockingjay, which won’t be officially released until August 24.
Why the anticipation? Hunger Games and its sequel, Catching Fire, are the first two tomes in Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy—a science-fiction adventure aimed at young adults, but discovered and devoured by adults as well. The first book is an award-winner, has sold 800,000 copies, is available in 26 foreign editions, and has been optioned for a movie. No, we’re not talking anywhere near the success of Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight novels (and don’t even think Harry Potter territory). What we have here is a dark horse that received positive buzz online, and lots of reader-to-reader recommendations. I knew it was hot with young adult librarians, but when Chicago Tribune TV Critic Mo Ryan sent out tweets about how great and suspenseful the work was, I knew I had to give it a try myself. I’m glad I did, and now I recommend it to friends and family.
There are many reasons to love this tale: The trilogy is the story of young Katniss Everdeen, a resourceful and charismatic heroine for our time. She is steadfast and loyal, fiercely brave, and ultimately true to her convictions. Everdeen’s world is a nightmare: a despotic government keeps tight control over 12 districts that provide consumer goods to the lucky citizens of the Capitol, while residents of the districts barely survive their harsh conditions. An ultimate annual reality show pits young teams from each of the districts in a fight to the death, a ploy to keep the districts in fear and in line. But something happens when Katniss participates in the Hunger Games. She becomes a star to citizens of the districts, and a catalyst for rebellion.
Plots can intrigue, but it’s the writing that makes or breaks a book, and Collins comes through with flying colors. And so, we wait for Mockingjay—wait to have our questions answered about the rebellion and the mysterious District 13; wait to see if Katniss and her family and friends will survive; wait to get another, and final, fix of our favorite book series of the moment.