Mockingjay is the third and final installment in The Hunger Games series of novels by Suzanne Collins, completing the story of Katniss Everdeen which began in The Hunger Games (2008) and continued in Catching Fire (2009). By the time Mockingjay was published in August of 2010, The Hunger Games had become a cultural phenomenon. Mockingjay sold 450,000 copies in its first week of release. By 2012, Scholastic reported that there were over 26 million Hunger Games books in print (Springen). That same year, the series overtook the Harry Potter books as Amazon.com's top selling property.
Like the previous two books in the series, Mockingjay received generally positive reviews. Katie Roiphe of the New York Times writes, "Our voyeurism is fully engaged in these books, but so intelligently, adeptly engaged that it does not feel trashy or gratuitous." It earned a starred review in Publishers Weekly, which read: “This concluding volume in Collins's Hunger Games trilogy accomplishes a rare feat, the last installment being the best yet, a beautifully orchestrated and intelligent novel that succeeds on every level." Kirkus praised Collins's ability to satisfy fans' anticipation, writing, "In the final analysis, this is exactly the book its fans have been hoping for. It will grab them and not let go, and if it leaves them with questions, well, then, it’s probably exactly the book Collins was hoping for, too."
While some critics and readers (and readers' parents) find The Hunger Games to be overly violent for young teens, Suzanne Collins asserts, "I want the protagonist to be the age of the viewing audience. So I’m not going to write a war story for kids and then just have them on the sidelines. If I write a war story for kids, they’re going to be the warriors in it" (Margolis). More than science fiction or fantasy, Collins classifies The Hunger Games series as "war stories." Her unique ability to write brutal and visceral battle scenes comes from her military background (her father was career Air Force). Her father taught Suzanne and her siblings about war at a very young age, and Collins believes that children should be aware of the ethical ambiguities and ramifications of conflict so that they can participate in a beneficial dialogue with their parents and other adults.
Like any other wildly popular literary phenomenon, The Hunger Games series has been adapted for the big screen. Lionsgate Entertainment acquired worldwide distribution rights to the film adaptations of The Hunger Games, which is produced by Nina Jacobson's Color Force production company. Jacobson optioned the first book in March 2009, less than a year after its release. Predictably, the first Hunger Games film (2012) and Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) have been extremely successful, earning a combined total of $1.5 billion worldwide.
Mockingjay is currently being adapted for the screen as two feature-length films. Part 1 will be released in November 2014, and Part 2 will bow a year later. Director Francis Lawrence (who also directed Catching Fire) will helm both films, which have a combined budget of $250 million. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth will reprise their star-making roles as Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mellark, and Gale Hawthorne. Co-star Philip Seymour Hoffman, who plays Plutarch Heavensbee, tragically died of a drug overdose in February 2014. He had completed filming scenes for all of Part 1 and most of Part 2 - and will be digitally re-created to complete his role.