This has been a much-anticipated book for me; not quite on par with waiting for Harry Potter, but close enough to be notable. Oh, and there are spoilers, so….
This third book picks up where book 2 left off and continues the nascent public rebellion against the Capitol. While Katniss is generally just as interesting as always, I was sad to see that Collins could not carry the full power of the second book forward. That book was deeply interesting for the exploration, through Katniss’s eyes, of the surrounding people. This book does not do that. It lives entirely inside Katniss, which is appropriate for the subject, but disappointing for the interest.
The overall flow of the book is too simple. The war progresses too easily, too simply, and too much in the background. Too much of the book is spent in repeated failings of Katniss’s mental state. Too much is spent waiting for Katniss to finally kill herself. Too much is spent in the abstract thoughts of a 17-year-old that don’t really make sense. Multiple times, I found myself wondering if a particular line was actually happening, and while that is an intriguing theme that continues with Peeta, it was more confusing to me than not. More distracting than not.
The climax and conclusion of the book was… open for debate. Interpretation. I could see myself liking it, but I currently don’t. I’m disappointed in the suddenness, simplicity, and unhappiness of it. This is certainly not a Hollywood ending, but it is also not a satisfying ending. It’s just an ending. And while I’m glad for the choice, you never really get the feeling of healing and wholeness. Peace. Satisfaction. You just feel that it happened because it had to, not because it should have.
By now you’re assuming I hated it. I didn’t. I enjoyed it. It just never quite flowed or went the way I expected it to. Where HP 7 was a conclusion to a masterpiece, a da Vinci, this was more the conclusion to a Thomas Kinkade. Interesting and beautiful but with a worth only to the possessor. Something to be admired, but not adored. Owned, but not possessed.
And still necessary, solid, and good in its own way.
Of all three books, this is the weakest. I’ll give it 3 stars because, on its own, it’s still a good book. It does not compare in any way to the first two, but still good. As for the series, I’ll settle on 3.5 stars. Not a classic by any right, but also not a series that will soon fade. When my children are the right age, I’ll certainly recommend it.