by Suzanne Collins
Wow. This was... not what I expected. And that's not necessarily a bad thing... though I don't think it's a great thing either. I'm forced to look back and figure out what it is about the first two books that I liked so much. 1- the characters on their own and 2- the unique culture and the games. So what did I get in this book? 1- the same characters (plus a lot of new ones) only everybody all at once together butting heads and with tension 2- the same culture but no games... well, really, the game was now a real life battle. And if I thought the fact that there were no actual games would keep the body count down, I was mistaken. Characters we love are brutally harmed and most are killed. And the couple who aren't killed decide to practically disappear at the end anyway.
The format was just... different. The whole feel of the story was different. And I don't know if it's because I earread the first two books and then read this one, but it felt like a completely different animal all together. Granted, there needed to be changes in story and character development. This revolution needed to build and come to a head (Down with the Capitol!) and Katniss needed to choose a boy. But it felt like the wrong sorts of things were given focus. It felt like a knock off of Edward/Jacob choosing (and I blame popular media for doing the Team Gale/Team Peeta thing so it forced me to go there). And it felt like so much attention was given to the propos and not enough to the actual fighting. The mountain cave-in mission was over like that *snaps fingers* and that was an incredibly important event, both in plot and for character development. It just felt like every time I got something I actually wanted, it went too quickly. And for stuff I didn't really need it went so damn slowly. And, sure, Katniss was the focus throughout it all, but she's in a weird state of not knowing what to do or who to be the whole time... and that's NOT the Katniss I remember from the first two books. I can make all sorts of valid excuses for that (morphling, surviving two games, her entire district being demolished, having to be the solitary figurehead of a war she hadn't realized was even being fought until recently, etc.) but I want the Katniss I loved in books 1 & 2 back again--the one who was sure of herself and crafty and bent on survival. Different circumstances (needing her side to survive, not just her) but not a difference I liked.
The book was good, don't get me wrong. Some of the changes were amazing (OMG PEETA!!!!!!!) and it was great to finally find out what happened. It was lovely and dark, thought-provoking, entertaining and terrifying. It just was just not the book I was expecting. And the end TOTALLY threw me. I didn't see it coming. It was fine--I'm not going to disagree with what an author sees in the future for her characters--it just... came out of nowhere for me. It wasn't what I was expecting. And it both broke my heart into tiny pieces and made me jump for joy. It was very weird. And then suddenly it was over and my head was spinning and I couldn't make sense of anything for a little while.
The series is still wonderful, and I think it works well. But the third book just didn't fit well with the first two for me. And that's a little disappointing. But I'm thrilled to know how it finally ends.