Disclaimer: I'm not a good book reviewer, because I either tell too much, or it is so scrambled that people think "Why would I ever read that book?" But here is what I can tell you:
What: Mockingjay (Book 3 of The Hunger Games Trilogy - The Hunger Games #1 and Catching Fire #2)
Who: I would say from Junior High up. They are classified as Young Adult, but every Old Adult that I have coerced into reading them has loved them.
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, but don't let that scare you. It's not aliens and witches and vampires. It's only classified that way because it is set in what's left of a post-apocalyptic world. The author describes it as inspired by a mix between the Minotaur myth (sending children in to the labyrinth as tributes) and Spartacus (slave uprising)
I picked up The Hunger Games based on an inspiring book review. I finished The Hunger Games in total awe...and immediately sought out Catching Fire. That was last November and I have been patiently waiting for Mockingjay which came out this Tuesday. Due to life...I was only able to get to page 80 as of yesterday afternoon.
But for some reason the girls were in an accommodating mood that allowed me to read on the back porch while they played, which got me to about 140. And then I got them to bed on time.
That was it. With an occasional glance up when Scott turned on House Hunters...I made it through to page 389 a little before midnight. There was just no way I was going to bed before I knew.
It's a story about war and especially its effect on the children caught in the middle. And its a story about standing up for yourself and others that are weaker than you to fight for what is right, no matter the cost. (Almost sounded like Billie Jean, there.)
This is not Harry Potter. This is certainly not Twilight. It's not even His Dark Materials (which is another excellent Young Adult series). This is like nothing I have read in a LONG time. I don't think I've cried this hard over literary characters since Beth died in Little Women. (not counting animals, because spiders Charlotte's Web and rabid dogs Old Yeller are bound to tear your heart strings out.)
And that's not a spoiler...I cried over many things in this story that did not involve people dying. (Although, you have to know that people die in wars.) And you might wonder why I'm telling you to read a book that so obviously full of depressing subject matter.
But that's just it. I should be totally depressed by this story, but instead it's inspiring. Every single one of Collins' characters is beautifully drawn through their actions. Not easy to do, when a book is written in the first person.
And while dialog is always the toughest sell in a book (I think Stephen King once said to only use dialog if you can think of no other way to get the point across.) Collins is never wrong when she uses it, making the book flow along at the pace of the action.
And since I am trying desperately not to give away any spoilers, I will use the following words and you can come back to them after you read the books for yourself and make your own judgement. (Because how could you not read them after what I just told you?)
Prim's name announced.
The burnt loaves of bread.
Rue and the Mockingjay.
Katniss cries "Peeta!" after an announcement during the first Hunger Games.
Visit to District 8.
Haymitch's promise to Katniss.
The hovercraft appears in the arena.
The white rose in District 12.
Katniss's demands to agree to Mockingjay.
Katniss and Joanna's training.
Peeta and Gale's conversation in the Capitol.
"I'm with the Mockingjay."