My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book and by extension series left me wanting more yet fulfilled at the same time. So begins my review of the most hard to read book I have enjoyed in a long time.
Beware, thar be spoilers in the following, you have been warned.
The basic plot is a direct continuation of Catching Fire. Katniss has been liberated from the Quarter Quell and is smack in the middle of the head of the rebellion, District 13. In the militaristic environment, she struggles for independence and individuality while attempting to assimilate so she can survive. The plot is the same as the other two: Katniss stumbles around a new environment, is hungry, fights with someone about something, excels at whatever she needs to, then goes into battle and triumphs in a backhanded way. There, I did that without really spoiling anything.
All our favorite characters are back, with the point of view squarely in Katniss’s eye. She hems and haws through most of the story, looking for her place in the world that has been thrust upon her, blah blah blah. Looking at the mechanics as a whole, nothing has really changed about the structure of the story which makes the characters that much more important. And, I have to say it, I’m kinda done with Katniss. Most of the way through this book, I was bored with her. She’s a reactionary character for the majority of the time, having greatness thrust upon her over and over. I was much more interested in the side characters as more was revealed about them, but the novel only gave information as Katniss received it so we got very little and then her projections of that information. This made the reading really frustrating as you were thrust into her mindset so much that I did not feel empathy as much as I wanted to control her as a puppet. Go over there! Talk to that guy! This makes it kinda jarring when she does act, throwing off the dynamic of how much we are actually told about her state of mind versus what she plans to do next. I do not think I have ever had that in a book, a character where I know their thoughts except when he or she is actually thinking.
So this book is at its heart about Katniss’s struggle within the rebellion and her place in it. Is she a figurehead or a leader? A soldier or a vengeful being? In the end, none of this is really answered. Yet, it is. She’s just Katniss. I can get behind that, except that there is no application of that beyond what I stated above: she reacts when we know what she’s thinking and we get jack when she decides on a course of action. Also, key points in her story are placed off screen, fueling the reaction. The rescue of Peeta and the rebels winning the war all happen when she is unconscious. This is bullshit. Realistic, but bullshit. I equate this with Leia getting knocked out and coming to with some random we just met telling her Luke saved the galaxy. As a reader, this is frustrating as hell, yet I do admire Collins’s commitment to follow Katniss’s story, no matter how boring it may be.
At the end of the day, this trilogy I would put on par with The Lovely Bones. A great series that tells an epic journey in a realistic way that defies expectation to a fault. Sometimes realism is great, but I felt fairly disappointed through much of the novel. That being said, I thought it had one of the most touching and perfect endings to a character’s story I have read. I would not have been surprised if Frodo had shown up at the end to take her to the Grey Lands.