I thought it was strong, powerful and a great end to the trilogy. I do have some more specific comments though, so SPOILERS BEHIND THE CUT!
Did I mention SPOILER ALERT?
Okay, now that that’s sorted (and I hope you’re all warned), onto the novel.
I liked how Katniss was vulnerable. She had mental breakdowns and was generally unstable. I think that this was necessary considering everything she’d been through in the first two books. It’s called character development and I think Suzanne Collins did very well with Katniss’s emotional state. A lot of readers appear to be annoyed by her drug-induced hazes throughout the book, and how she keeps waking up in the hospital. I didn’t really mind it, it kinda showed how District 13 was just as controlling as The Capitol.
I’m really glad we got to know Gale better. The previous It was really interesting to hear Gale’s rantings about war and the Capitol and have Katniss reflect that he’s always been this hotheaded. Although we got to know Gale better, he really showed his true colours too. He was a fighter at heart and had almost no compassion for those he held grudges against. I think this is the big difference between Gale and Peeta — Gale sees negatively, is on the defensive, and holds a long grudge, while Peeta thinks positively and brings out the best in people.
About a quarter of the way through (before they rescued Peeta and the other victors), I was really rooting for Peeta. I began to think that Gale was way more important to her as a friend. Although, after Peeta was recovering, all the nasty things he said and thought about her — that she felt were so truthful — made me think maybe she didn’t need Peeta. After he was hijacked by the Capitol, I almost hated Peeta, but I really disliked how Katniss was beating herself up about it. I wish that Prim had been more prominent in this part since she seems to be the voice of reason for Katniss’s wild thoughts.
It was really good to see Gale working closely with Beetee, but I was also shocked how military-focused the book was. The first two books were more survival-driven. I am also surprised that Gale didn’t die protecting Katniss, or trying to rescue Peeta for her.
I was kinda shocked that there was so much emphasis on the love triangle. In the first two books, it’s more of an internal problem for Katniss, where as I think Suzanne Collins may have been forced to emphasize it due to the whole Team Peeta / Team Gale uproar by fans. Before I began Mockingjay, I almost was “Team Katniss” because we hadn’t seen Gale and Katniss together in the way that we’d seen Peeta and Katniss together. Peeta and Katniss’s relationship was far more developed (for the reader) than the Gale/Katniss relationship.
I was really upset that they killed Finnick, especially after he and Annie were reunited. Also, his death wasn’t heroic at all, it was just that he fell behind and they had to leave him behind. It seemed too short and in fact, took me a minute to figure out who was being killed by the rose-lizard-mutts. But I really liked how level-headed Annie seemed at the final gathering of the victors. I was so sad to find out in the epilogue that she had a baby — Finnick would have been a great dad!
I cannot believe that Katniss agreed to another Hunger Games after all she, and her friends, had been through. Just because Prim had died is no reason to put other children through the horror of fighting to the death. I don’t care if Snow has a granddaughter, it’s not her fault her grandfather is a controlling, cruel President. Althought I was glad that Katniss killed Coin, especially after sorting out what Coin (probably) did that resulted in Prim’s death. I dislike that Snow got to choke to death on his own blood, or was randomly trampled. His death seemed anti-climatic to me.
I was pretty pissed off that they killed Prim too. Her death, like Finnick’s, seemed unnecessary and unheroic too. I bawled my eyes out when Buttercup came back to find just Katniss. Katniss’s original purpose of participating in The Hunger Games was to protect Prim and her mother. Then with Snow blackmailing her with her family’s safety to be his pawn in the Quarter Quell. It just seemed all so pointless when Prim died in the end. I would have almost been happy if Katniss had died and Prim stepped up to the plate. Prim has always seemed wise beyond her years, though a healer not a hurter.
I feel torn about the epilogue. In some cases, I like to know what happened to the characters, but I didn’t think it was necessary for them to mention Peeta and Katniss having kids. I would have like to know that Gale found a nice girl, what Haymitch was up to, how Katniss’s mom managed, and how the new government fared. It’s sort of similar to how I feel about the epilogue from Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows; I didn’t need to know the names of Harry and Ginny’s kids, but I was glad to see who else ended up together. In terms of the Gale/Peeta debate, I’m okay with her ending up with Peeta. He will always try to protect her and understands what she went through in a way that only another tribute/victor can.
I did want every character to live happily ever after, and I was kinda shocked how Katniss never actually made a decision about Gale and Peeta (such as telling Gale to go away, or asking Peeta to come to 12 with her). But it was true to form — she has never really had to ask either of them for their love, devotion, or protection. Many people are shocked that Gale didn’t visit her in the hospital after Prim’s death, that it was uncharacteristic of him. But I think he felt guilty and that he’d let her down in a huge way. I was shocked that he didn’t come visit and try to patch things up as friends, even if he planned to go back to his life in District 2.
I realize I just listed all the things that made me angry and upset — but sometimes that is the mark of a good book: a powerful storyline, and strong characters. The reader becomes passionate about the story and the character. And trust me, I am quite passionate. I really enjoyed the series, I think Suzanne Collins is a good writer, and I can’t wait to recommend The Hunger Games trilogy to all my friends (especially those who don’t like reading books while the last ones haven’t been finished).
Need more? There is a long Mockingjay discussion at MawBooks.