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Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

01st September 2010

I won’t spend a lot of time reviewing a book that has been reviewed thousands of times already.  But here are a few thoughts:

  • I’m sad that this series is done.  Start to finish, I absolutely loved it.  I even held onto this book for a day before I started reading it–how silly is that?  But part of me didn’t want to start it, because I didn’t want it to be done.
  • This final book felt more rushed to me than the previous two.  Collins did a lot of filling in the gaps, especially in the first half of the book.  While it was all necessary information, the book had fewer action sequences, less suspense and more history.
  • Collins still managed to surprise me at the end.
  • I think Katniss ended up with the wrong guy.
  • I love Katniss’ character–she’s strong, she’s smart, she thinks through her actions, she accepts the consequences for her actions, she loves her family, she fights for what’s important.
  • And overall?  One of my favorite series ever.

This was one of the best history books I’ve ever read.  I learned so much about a time period that is often reduced by history textbooks to a summary of The New Deal and the beginning of WWII.  American History classes should use this book!  Egan interviewed people who lived through the Dust Bowl, and combined their stories with historical records to recount 40 years of history on the American Plains.

Did you know that during the great dust storms, the skies would rain mud?

Did you know that babies, children and even adults died from lung diseases brought on by dust?

Did you know that the dust storms blew dirt from the plains all the way to Washington DC and out into the Atlantic?

Did you know that the dust storms could have been prevented?

Ernest Shackleton’s quest to cross Antarctica could not be completed by the Endurance crew alone.  The Ross Sea party, led by Captain Mackintosh, were tasked with depositing supplies for Shackleton to pick up on the other side of the South Pole.  Without these supply depots, Shackleton and his men would starve to death half-way through their journey.

While the Endurance and her crew were beset in ice, Mackintosh and his men were facing their own life and death struggle.  They were separated from their ship and supplies and stranded on the Ross Ice Shelf.  Knowing that Shackleton’s life was in their hands, they refused to give up, and at great sacrifice to their own health and lives, managed to deposit all of the supplies that Shackleton would have needed, had he been able to begin his cross-continent journey.

Once again, I am overwhelmed by the strength, devotion and sheer determination that these men showed in the face of such a great challenge.  It’s haunting to think that their supply depots, laid at such great cost, were never used, and remain encased in ice and snow to this very day.

Hannelore was safe at her school in Germany when her mother and brothers received a letter saying that they were to be deported.  Knowing that her family would have a better chance at survival if she were there to care for them, Hannelore voluntarily turned herself in for deportation as well, thus beginning a nightmarish journey through the concentration camps of wartime Europe.  Hillman bravely records her haunting memories in order to ensure that her loved ones will not be forgotten, that the sacrifices of good people will be remembered and that the horror of Nazi Germany will never be repeated.

A few weeks ago, I read and briefly reviewed a fictionalized account of Ernest Shackleton’s expedition: Shackleton’s Stowaway.  That book was phenomenal, and made me curious to learn more.

Lansing’s account of the Shackleton expedition did not disappoint.  I rarely read non-fiction, and even more seldom will I read a non-fiction history book.  Lansing’s book was not a dry history book, but a fascinating, fast-paced account of Shackleton and his men.  I had a hard time putting it down, and now I’m hooked on this amazing story.

Next up, I plan to read Endurance : An Epic of Polar Adventure, by F.A. Worsley, Captain of the Endurance, and Shackleton’s Forgotten Men : The Untold Tragedy of the Endurance Epic, by Lennard Bickel, which tells the story of the men who were tasked with dropping off supplies for Shackleton to use as he traveled across Antarctica.

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