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957 of 1,041 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And you thought the Capitol couldn't get any more twisted...
If you thought the Capitol couldn't get any more twisted... you were wrong.

The highly-anticipated sequel to The Hunger Games is the kind of novel that has you pulling back to take a breath and go, "How did the author think of this?" (if you can stop turning the pages long enough to breathe)

Catching Fire picks up right where Hunger Games left off...
Published on July 7, 2009 by Season Balik

versus
923 of 1,068 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Torn about this book...
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Okay, on the one hand, I liked this book. Liked it enough that I couldn't stop reading because I NEEDED to know what happened--specifically to Peeta. I also liked what happened in the end...but...well...
Published on August 30, 2010 by bklvr


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957 of 1,041 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And you thought the Capitol couldn't get any more twisted..., July 7, 2009
If you thought the Capitol couldn't get any more twisted... you were wrong.

The highly-anticipated sequel to The Hunger Games is the kind of novel that has you pulling back to take a breath and go, "How did the author think of this?" (if you can stop turning the pages long enough to breathe)

Catching Fire picks up right where Hunger Games left off. Unrest in the Districts is growing at an alarming pace and Katniss unwittingly finds herself the figurehead for the movement against the Capitol. The characters you loved return for the sequel and the reader must endure each indignity the Capitol inflicts upon them. It is painful, tortuous, imaginative and motivating. It is everything The Hunger Games was and more. It both answers your lingering questions and creates so many new ones. It challenges you to think and creates such feelings of empathy for the characters that whenever I had to put the book down, I was genuinely worried for leaving the characters hanging and couldn't wait to pick it back up just so they could continue fighting for their lives and freedoms.

Everything I loved about The Hunger Games is present in Catching Fire: the unique and engrossing storyline; characters so thoroughly and beautifully described they start to feel like friends; a fantastical setting that is both real and sad; and language that is easy to read and yet conveys such a profound meaning. It has action, romance, horror, hope, despair and, most of all, humanity. It has sci-fi and politics yet, unlike a lot of books on the market, they are not "in your face" and are completely approachable.

Due to elements of violence and some light romantic scenes, I would recommend it for 13+. That being said, I would recommend it for ANYONE 13+ of any reading taste or background: as a bookseller and a recent library school graduate, these are the books I find easiest to recommend to anyone I meet.

I am on the edge of my seat waiting for the third and final book to come out. After reading Catching Fire, I know you will be too.
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3,141 of 3,469 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected Direction, but Perfection (Potential spoilers, but pretty vague), August 24, 2010
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This was a brilliant conclusion to the trilogy. I can only compare it to "Ender's Game" - and that is extremely high praise, indeed.

When I first closed the book last night, I felt shattered, empty, and drained.

And that was the point, I think. I'm glad I waited to review the book because I'm not sure what my review would have been.

For the first two books, I think most of us readers have all been laboring under the assumption that Katniss Everdeen would eventually choose one of the two terrific men in her life: Gale, her childhood companion or Peeta, the one who accompanied her to the Hunger Games twice. She'd pick one of them and live happily ever after with him, surrounded by friends and family. Somehow, along the way, Katniss would get rid of the awful President Snow and stop the evil Hunger Games. How one teenage girl would do all that, we weren't too sure, but we all had faith and hope that she would.

"Mockingjay" relentlessly strips aside those feelings of faith and hope - much as District 13 must have done to Katniss. Katniss realizes that she is just as much a pawn for District 13 as she ever was for the Colony and that evil can exist in places outside of the Colony.

And that's when the reader realizes that this will be a very different journey. And that maybe the first two books were a setup for a very different ride. That, at its heart, this wasn't a story about Katniss making her romantic decisions set against a backdrop of war.

This is a story of war. And what it means to be a volunteer and yet still be a pawn. We have an entirely volunteer military now that is spread entirely too thin for the tasks we ask of it. The burden we place upon it is great. And at the end of the day, when the personal war is over for each of them, each is left alone to pick up the pieces as best he/she can.

For some, like Peeta, it means hanging onto the back of a chair until the voices in his head stop and he's safe to be around again. Each copes in the best way he can. We ask - no, demand - incredible things of our men and women in arms, and then relegate them to the sidelines afterwards because we don't want to be reminded of the things they did in battle. What do you do with people who are trained to kill when they come back home? And what if there's no real home to come back to - if, heaven forbid, the war is fought in your own home? We need our soldiers when we need them, but they make us uncomfortable when the fighting stops.

All of that is bigger than a love story - than Peeta or Gale. And yet, Katniss' war does come to an end. And she does have to pick up the pieces of her life and figure out where to go at the end. So she does make a choice. But compared to the tragedy of everything that comes before it, it doesn't seem "enough". And I think that's the point. That once you've been to hell and lost so much, your life will never be the same. Katniss will never be the same. For a large part of this book, we see Katniss acting in a way that we can only see as being combat-stress or PTSD-related - running and hiding in closets. This isn't our Katniss, this isn't our warrior girl.

But this is what makes it so much more realistic, I think. Some may see this as a failing in plot - that Katniss is suddenly acting out of character. But as someone who has been around very strong soldiers returning home from deployments, this story, more than the other two, made Katniss come alive for me in a much more believable way.

I realize many out there will hate the epilogue and find it trite. At first, I did too. But in retrospect, it really was perfect. Katniss gave her life already - back when she volunteered for Prim in "The Hunger Games". It's just that she actually physically kept living.

The HBO miniseries, "Band of Brothers", has a quote that sums this up perfectly. When Captain Spiers says, "The only hope you have is to accept the fact that you're already dead. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you'll be able to function as a soldier is supposed to function: without mercy, without compassion, without remorse. All war depends upon it."

But how do you go from that, to living again in society? You really don't. So I'm not sure Katniss ever really did - live again. She just ... kept going. And there's not really much to celebrate in that. Seeing someone keep going, despite being asked - no, demanded - to do unconscionably horrifying things, and then being relegated to the fringes of society, and then to keep going - to pick up the pieces and keep on going, there is something fine and admirable and infinitely sad and pure and noble about that. But the fact is, it should never happen in the first place.

And that was the point, I think.
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923 of 1,068 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Torn about this book..., August 30, 2010
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SPOILERS***************SPOILERS*****************SPOILERS
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Okay, on the one hand, I liked this book. Liked it enough that I couldn't stop reading because I NEEDED to know what happened--specifically to Peeta. I also liked what happened in the end...but...well...

From the first page of The Hunger Games to the end of Mockingjay, the one thing, the one character that kept me reading was Peeta. I liked Katniss alright, but she wasn't what drew me into the series. Katniss, like many reviews are saying, was a pawn in this awful war. In the first 2 books she acted against the 'control'. She rebelled--which is WHY so many people looked up to her. Which is why they wanted her face to be the seal of their rebellion. It made sense. But here's where I feel Ms. Coillins made a grave mistake in Mockingjay...she eliminated the 'goodness' that had motivated Katniss to move forward even when she didn't want to during the games from her life.

True, this whole series has been about fighting oppression and power. About fighting against a government set out to only make their own lives better, and I felt the first 2 books did that nicely. They were so dark, so horrifying, but inside all of that horror there was a spark of light, of sunshine, and that spark was Peeta and Prim--but mostly Peeta since he was there with her to remind her time and time again the type of goodness that was there to save.

Peeta represented true goodness, love, compassion. He was what kept Katniss from falling over the edge into total darkness. He was her rock, her friend, and no matter how confused she felt--she loved him, even if she didn't know it yet. The failure in Mockingjay was that, Ms. Collins took that light away from Katniss. There was no goodness anymore, and therefore Katniss lost her own 'personal spark'. Yet, this was never alluded to in the story. We just saw Katniss growing weaker and weaker, and were never given a reason as to why. People are complaining about how 'soft' her character went and I completely agree. But what isn't being talked about is the reason why. The reason is that Ms. Collins all but removed Peeta from this story.

I don't know about everyone else, but he was the only bright spot in this entire series for me. Everything was so dark and hopeless--except him. HE was the one the masses clung to. HIS words, HIS light, HIS goodness. He is what made Katniss look so incredible. It was his presence and words that did that. It is my opinion that she could not have risen to the level she was at without him--which is why she fell short in Mockingjay. The dynamic between them and what they accomplished together at both 'Games' was what drove the series for me. It wasn't even so much about the romance--although that DID add another human layer to this story which made it all that much more gut wrenching and true.

All across the review boards, message boards, etc...the main thing people mused about was 'Who is Katniss going to choose? Gale or Peeta?' (And really, was there even a doubt as to who it would be? Who it needed to be?) Yet, we get to Mockingjay and the author COMPLETELY obliterated that theme. Sure, we all understand that the war was the main plot, but the HEART of any story is it's characters and their personal journey. Love being one that drives most stories. The love was all but absent here. Sure, we get a resolution, Katniss chooses in the end, but it doesn't FEEL good to the reader. We were given no 'reunion' scene. We were given no 'love-filled' embrace. We were TOLD, 'and this happened.' Not fulfilling. Not in the least. Readers need closure. It doesn't have to be a 'happily ever after' which would have been completely off base for this story. But we need to see that in spite of everything that had happened, everything that the characters have suffered, that it had been worth SOMETHING. That everything they fought for, everything so many people died for, was worth something in the end. I'm disappointed because it wasn't like that. It was more like 'Yes, I finally admitted to myself that Peeta was who I loved, then I had some babies with him because he wanted them.'

Why, Suzanne Collins? Why? Why couldn't you let Katniss and Peeta be content afterward? Why couldn't it have ended with Katniss feeling at least somewhat like what they'd suffered had helped in some way. It ended with Katniss sounding just as depressed and unhappy as in the beginning--even though she had a wonderful husband and beautiful kids. I'm just...incredulous, I guess, that there couldn't even be a kernel of hope in the end. We all know this story wasn't a fairytale, and I prepared myself for bleakness. I just never imagined that I would get the ending I wanted (I was actually convinced Peeta would die and I'd be so incredibly mad that I'd throw the book into my fireplace), but that it would have such a sour note that I couldn't even be happy about it. I missed the dynamic between Peeta and Katniss so much. Only twice in the entire book did I feel ANY of that old spark (when he asked her, "You're still trying to protect me. Real or not real?" and when she kissed him to help him stay sane.) Twice in 400 pages. Characters and their relationship trump any and ALL fighting/gore/death--even in a war story because without that, readers don't care about the outcome of the war! This is where this novel fell short. The character relationships were completely annihilated. Gone.

Ok, I guess I've ended my rant. I just feel like she could have ended the book the same, but could have made that hopelessness feeling go away just a little. Because what is life if there is no hope? This novel left the reader feeling empty, drained, and hopeless. Not even being able to care about what happened to those characters we'd grown to love.
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1,346 of 1,571 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The detractors of this book wanted a fairytale, September 13, 2010
To start I am a 47 year old Veteran.
I have read a lot of the bad reviews for this last book and I see a theme running through them all. They didn't get their fairytale ending and the people they liked didn't end up the way they wanted. Well If you are looking for a fairytale read Harry Potter. If you want a realistic book on how war really is and how people will sacrifice themselves to save their country, then this is for you.
The love triangle between the three main characters resolves itself in the best way that I could see possible. The way each one would react to the horrors of war were obvious from book one. I don't want to include spoilers so Ill just say, read this with an expectation of a realistic portrayal of the characters and how the war would change them. The ending on a personal level, is not necessarily a happy one, but it is a realistic one. From a "Big Picture" perspective I think it was a happy ending. To expect that all of the main characters could live "Happily Ever After" after surviving what happened in all three books is unrealistic.
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438 of 514 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish I could give it 10 stars!!!, July 9, 2009
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Sunny in DC (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
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When I read the Hunger Games, I read it straight through the night, from 1AM til 5AM. Couldn't stop reading even though I had to pee badly. After I finished it, I was dying for the sequel. DYING!!!! When I found out the ARC would be available in the spring, I bribed everyone I could think of to get me one. And yes, I got it. The day I got it, I couldn't look at it until 1AM again. This time, I promised myself, I would only look at the first chapter and then put it down. Riiiiight. It was 4:30AM when I finished reading and immediately began plotting to find out when the next book ARC would be available.

I thought the first one was fantastic. In the back of my mind I felt that the sequel just couldn't be as good. How could it? Boy was I wrong! It was even better! My heart was racing the whole time I was reading it and I simply couldn't put it down. I believe Ms. Collins is the MASTER of the pageturner. Every chapter ends with almost a cliffhanger feeling. It compels you to keep reading. It physically traps you into the book so that you just can't put it down. If you can't read this book in one sitting, then I urge you not to even look at it until you can. Like the first one, you will not be able to put it down. The house could have been on fire and I doubt I would have noticed.

Since we got to know Peeta and Katniss so well from the first one, what the sequel does is invest us even more deeply into their emotional well being. I won't give any other spoilers than what has already been said. So the book starts with Katniss as the face of the rebellion because of her act of defiance in the first book. As rebellion grows, the President sets up his revenge - and when I found out what it was, I literally sat up in bed and shouted "Oh NO! I can't believe they are doing this to them!!!" Yes I was talking to my book. That's how deeply this book sucks you into this amazing and disturbing dystopian world. It makes you want to grab up a weapon and join the rebellion.

One thing I have to say, I was deeply satisfied with the ending of this book. The first book ended in such a way that I was bothered by it and itchy for the next book. With the end of Catching Fire, I felt it was absolutely right and thrilled with the conclusion. But I'm still DYING for the third and final book of this amazing book series.
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69 of 78 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars unrecognizable and unresolved, December 27, 2010
SPOILERS!!!!
The title of my review sums up my feelings about this novel. I was addicted to the first two books. I could not put them down. When it came time to read the last book I kept saying that I needed to pace myself since I knew it was the last but instead I read it in a day. In the end, there was no need to rush. Now, that I've finished the trilogy I feel as wronged and empty as Katniss felt at the end of Mockingjay.

First of all, after reading the first two books I viewed this as a story about an incredible character named, Katniss. I felt that the war was a backdrop to the character. This was was what shaped her, matured her, tested her. But, by the end of the series it changed. It became about war, war is bad, blah, blah. Everyone knows this. This is nothing new. I do not need Finnick to get chewed to death or for Prim to incinerate for me to know this. But, what I didn't know and what I wanted to know was how Katniss would resolve this issue of war, this issue of being a pawn, of loving two different boys. These things were never told to me because she spent the majority of the book hiding, getting injured, being unconscious, staying drugged, or half insane. It was horrible enough that the usually dependable character of Peeta was hijacked but so was the character of Katniss. Her character and her reactions to the Games and the war were what made me invested in this story. There was none of that in Mockingjay. She just simply existed. Gale and Peeta were both seriously injured at the end and she didn't even try to find them once she healed. Really? These two men she would die to protect she suddenly could care less about them when one got shot and the other got burned? The author seemed too focused on throwing in as many tragedies as possible instead of showing us any genuine reactions or dialogue from the characters the readers cared about. Also, when Peeta was struggling to find his old self back in 13 she did nothing to help him but just kept avoiding him. In fact, that was really what she did the whole story which was such a change from who she was in The Hunger Games.
The second thing I didn't like was there was just so much pointlessness. When the heroes leave for their mission to assassinate Snow I think that we are finally going to see Katniss take control and stop being a pawn. We are finally going to see her mature and figure out who she's going to love. I'm waiting and waiting for this pivotal moment. I've got no time to grieve for Boggs or Finnick because I'm just trying to hang on to the climax that will make everything worthwhile. It never happens. Peeta and Gale get injured "offscreen". Prim who stayed in the background for most of the book suddenly gets plopped literally right down into the middle of all the action only to die. I'm still thinking there's time for this great climax BUT NO! Once again, Katniss gets injured only this time it's worse. Not only does she watch her sister die but she gets to forever carry scars that will remind her of how her sister died. But, that's not enough. Apparently, Peeta will also carry the same scars, too, only the readers don't even get to read what happen to him. All of this just seemed so pointless. I understand that war is bad and unpredictable but it did nothing to move forward any kind of plot or character development. I just felt like the author was trying to hammer home how terrible war can be but people already know this. This story in my mind should have stayed on track with the character of Katniss. Also, just how many people in a book can be "losing it" at one time? You have Katniss, Peeta, Finnick and Annie all having mental problems??? That's a bit too much.
Third of all, there were so many things unresolved. The resolution between Katniss and her two men just simply happened by chance it seemed. Gale invented the bomb that killed her sister so she simply picked Peeta. It helped that Peeta moved back to 12 and Gale did not. Would she have tried to find him if he didn't? Did she pick him because he was the only one there? Would she have picked Gale if he moved back? She was never proactive with her choices in the end. Everyone else made all her choices for her. Then there were other characters never fully resolved. Effie suddenly appeared at the end with little written about that. The style team just went away. Gale never really said good bye. There was no scene to find out about how Annie was coping. Her mother had nothing to say to her in the end other than a letter that was never read. Haymitch barely got mentioned once they were back in 12. Johanna had no ending. Peeta should have had plenty to say after what he went through and how Katniss treated him but there was nothing there to reward the readers in the end there, either. Also, the character of Katniss ended up doing pretty much nothing with her life after she stopped being the Mockingjay. Did her life peak at the age of sixteen and after that she did nothing that was meaningful? It seemed she married Peeta because he never left her side and had children for him because it was what he wanted...not her. In the end, she became this hollow shell compared to the girl her took her sister's place in The Hunger Games. She became her mother whom she hated so much in the beginning for "losing it". I didn't even understand why Peeta would want to stay with her in the end. She was nothing like the "Girl on Fire" that he and Gale fell in love with.

After I read this book I could not stop thinking about it. I couldn't decide if I even liked it or not. I was glad she chose Peeta in the end but that was all I was happy about. I had problems shaking off my feelings of depression. The book itself was depressing but I finally figured out my depression came from how drastically different this book was from the other two. It changed from a story about a unique character put into an impossible situation (Hunger Games and the war),deciding between two equally great men and instead changed into a lame After School Special on how war is bad. I already know this. What I wanted to know was how someone as great as Katniss would handle it. I never found that out because the character that I fell in love with never showed up in this book.
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52 of 58 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Reads like the author had to meet a too-quickly-approaching deadline., January 13, 2011
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Spoilers. Read at your own risk.

I came to this series late. By the time I heard about it, the entire series had already been written and published. I voraciously read the first two books in this series, and I had high expectations for the final book. Let me say, I am glad I did not have to wait a year for book 3, which was disappointing and left me feeling thoroughly unsatisfied. Here's why.

- Rushed.

As the title of my review suggests, this book reads like Collins had to meet a too-quickly-approaching deadline. It is not the labor of love the other two books were (especially the first). I couldn't believe how much story still had to be closed when I had only 50 pages left to read, and the hurried nature of it all was very disorienting.

- Didn't "sound" like Collins.

This book read as if Collins collaborated with someone else, or even that entire passages were written by another person altogether. It felt choppy, disconnected, and just plain unnerving.

- Lack of focus and odd pace.

So much time was spent on unimportant details (such as Katniss's deciding which boy she loved and trusted), while major plot points (such as the ending with President Coin and Katniss's decision surrounding it) and major character deaths (in particular, Finnick and Prim) were insensitive and glossed over.

- Finnick's death.

Finnick was a main character who was loyal to Katniss and the cause, yet he was killed off in the most infuriatingly unceremonious manner, like it had to be completed in ten words or less. And, no. Annie's pregnancy didn't console me and was pretty meaningless. I would rather Finnick had lived. This was foreshadowing that I missed. Usually if a woman gets pregnant, you know that'll be their consolation because their lover (who's alive now) will probably die later in the book; or, if their lover has already died, you know the woman will magically be pregnant. Some of my friends didn't even know Finnick had died until after all the fighting when Katniss was counting who was left!

- Prim's death.

By this point, I was feeling like series became "Legends of the Fall" where pretty much everyone dies for apparently no reason, other than to be gratuitously tragic. It took me a while to even realize that it was Prim and she was dead because it was cheapened with odd hallucinations and no substance--again, the death of a main character which was nearly glossed over. Additionally, I felt this death defeated the purpose of the whole series, although I do know some people who felt it made perfect sense. I admit to being someone who cannot see how it made perfect sense at all, especially when it happened so late in the series. This was another death that I realized had been foreshadowed when the timed weapon was being described.

- The endless waffling.

I get that Katniss is troubled, trying to figure out what she wants, doesn't know who to trust... but, seriously--enough is enough! I got bored near the middle because every sentence and every thought was teenage angst. It started to feel like the "Twilight" saga, and that is NOT a compliment (you can see my review of that for why). In the first book, this uncertainty was understandably at the forefront; in the second book, it was still prominent and less understandable, but did not bother me too much; in the third book, I was bored with it.

This book did not feel like it rang true with the series. It was wholly disappointing and there's nothing worse than a book, especially a series, that leaves you feeling unsatisfied and cheated.
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375 of 447 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, October 9, 2010
By 
Cristina (Rio de Janeiro, RJ Brazil) - See all my reviews
I absolutely love the first books and I was totally certain the third would be just as great but I have to say it was overall really disappointing. The worst part for me was the lack of character development, I was expecting anything tragic to happen to any character including Katniss but I never thought she would completely ignore their relationships which were the foundation of the first books. Maybe success ruined it for the author, she started believing she had to write "Literature", send a big message and somehow forgot to be loyal to her story.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

I guess my major complaints are: Katniss's mother is never "real" to me, there is not a single scene in this book that makes her alive, differently from CF and in the end she just disappears, doesn't even visit Katniss in recovery. Finninck's death was so gratuitous, they seemed to have time to escape those mutts and he was an excellent survivor, didn't seem realistic to me. The capitol city is full of pods? Why??? The last rebellion was 75 years ago! One of Katniss's best qualities in the arena was her capacity to evaluate her chances. How could she and a bunch of trained soldiers cross an occupied city and invade a well defended mansion to kill the president ??? It was totally absurd to me and this was the whole last third of the book. Prim's death was a big mistake, not because it happened, I was imagining the HG series being what it was, dark and realistic, somebody big was probably going to die in the war. I didn't think it would be Gale or Peeta because that could be a cheap way to save Katniss from choosing one of them and Collins didn't run from tough choices in first books. I was betting on Haymitch or Prim from the beginning. But I thought it would be a sad, well written scene like Rue's death not the insane bombing I didn't fully understand yet. Coin was maybe evil but not crazy, she wouldn't kill lots of children with such a big chance to be discovered. Worse. What was Prim doing over there? A thirteen year old girl still learning the basics? When the war already won? What exactly happened to Johanna? Gale?

And of course, Peeta. He was the ray of sunshine that made the first books feel hopeful despite all the violence. I could have done without that but I wish it had been for a good reason. I understand the choice of his "mental confusion" when he returned. I always thought he idealized Katniss too much and I as soon as he tried to choke her I thought that would be a great way to develop their relationship and conclude the series. He would slowly come to his senses, become the old Peeta again but finnally see her for what she really was while she would learn to really value his qualities and fight for what they had, what they could have, learning this was what she really needed. This would be "the choice" that was hinted in the first books, a slow realistic proccess, without an actual "choice" scene. But that never happens. Katniss mentions she would have chosen him anyway and that she does love him but it is too little too late, by then it seems he only went crazy so she could infuse the book with more suffering and there was no point in it. Not that it has to have a point, I don't mind reading sad stuff, watching sad movies, but they have to be really good and well made otherwise it is just melodrama. Like most people have already said the ending is totally rushed, that is a poor way to end a trilogy. I would have liked to read about them "growing back together" at least to make up for all the previous mistakes in the book at that point. I really hope in the future I can reread the first books and make up an ending of my own!
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334 of 398 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Collins missed an opportunity, November 3, 2010
I loved The Hunger Games. It was lightning-fast, clever, and engaging. I also really liked Catching Fire -- it started out a bit slower than its predecessor, but really picked up in the final third. In general, it served as both an echo and an expansion of what made The Hunger Games so exciting. I had high hopes for Mockingjay. I expected the story to blaze and explode, continuing to develop and intensify the characters and relationships from the first two books, before crashing into a satisfying conclusion. Instead, Collins dropped the ball and let the story fizzle, and it was painful to read. [Spoilers ahead.]

First, the characters. In Mockingjay, Katniss spends a lot of time sedated, hiding, and having nightmares. The charming, gentle, selfless Peeta I knew and loved made no appearance -- instead, he's been tortured into a monster that illogically switches moods between violent, repentant, self-loathing, confused, and docile with no real reason except that Collins needs him to. I still like Gale, but he gets pushed aside because he makes Katniss mad (again, for no real reason, considering we're supposed to believe they're the closest and dearest of friends). All three of them seem to forget who they are, and who the others are -- you'd never know that for the past two books we've been watching them protect each other, cry over each other, miss each other, and comfort each other. We also get introduced to a lot of minor characters -- many of whose names I couldn't even be bothered to remember -- only to watch them get killed off one by one. We get it, Collins. There are casualties in war. Funny how none of those casualties are important characters, until we get to the most pivotal of moments.

Second, the pacing. When I read the first two books, I could hardly put them down because there was always action and I was always desperate to know what would happen next. In Mockingjay, those moments of urgency were few and far between. There were endless descriptions of battle plans and technology that were tedious and hard to follow. When the action finally deigned to make an appearance, it happened in short bursts with a lot of wallowing in between.

Third, the ending. I understand the point Collins was trying to make. War changes people. Okay. I get it. But given the backdrop of the first two books, I wasn't convinced that these characters would have been changed in these ways. Even the meager epilogue did nothing to balance the bleakness of the ending. Katniss chooses Peeta and completely gives up on Gale, which shocked and upset me, since I was always convinced that her relationship with Gale was the realer, deeper one. Even if she didn't choose him romantically, I have trouble believing that she could just write him off like it was nothing, and that he would go along with it. We also get no satisfying explanation for how Peeta was able to go from wanting to kill Katniss with his bare hands to being able to calmly raise a family with her. Perhaps most offensive of all, however, is the fact that after three books of buildup, the reader doesn't even get a front row seat when the Capitol finally falls. Instead, we're whisked away from the action with Katniss, kept in the dark with her while everything exciting happens, and then given an incomplete explanation that doesn't even cover what we most want to know. I was waiting to find out that there was more to Snow than just a supervillain exterior, waiting for a solid explanation for Katniss's last-minute turning on Coin, waiting to hear about what had become of the Capitol... but we got none of those things. Instead, we're given page after page of Katniss's tortured inner monologue, which is unrealistically brimming with metaphor.

Mockingjay could have been the exciting conclusion of a thrilling and memorable trilogy. Instead, it was heavy-handed, slow, unsatisfying, and poorly executed. I think Collins could have made her point without sacrificing the fast pace and logical character/plot development of the first two books. Too bad she changed course at the last minute and took the trilogy with her.
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308 of 367 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hugely Disappointing., October 23, 2010
By 
Megan Hicks (Pennsylvania, USA) - See all my reviews
I enjoyed Hunger Games a lot, and Catching Fire as well (though I thought that Catching Fire had some flaws). These flaws became all the more apparent in Mockingjay, where the fast pace and any character development was quickly derailed. The main problems can be summed up thusly:

1) Limitations of the point of view. In Hunger Games, Katniss's first person POV helped keep up the suspense. You only knew what she knew in the arena, and you read to find out what was going on. When were the Careers going to find her and try to kill her? What were Peeta's motivations? Etc, etc. This also worked in Catching Fire. However, much of Mockingjay is spent with people explaining what happened off-screen to Katniss. She gets told things second hand a lot. This really bothered me. I wanted to see the action take place, not be told about it. What little action there is in the beginning is the awkward, staged propaganda pieces which make little sense. Which brings me to the next point.

2) The action in the back third of the book was poorly written. I think it was rushed. At no point in Hunger Games did I have trouble understanding what was going on. I had to reread parts several times to understand what had happened, particularly Finnick's and Prim's deaths. The last part was basically one big swirl of confusion, choppily written and edited. What's more, the constant need to tie everything back to the Hunger Games got old really fast with the "pods are like being back at the Games!" thing. Uhhh no.

3) Gale's rather odious character derailment. I was indifferent to who Katniss ended up declaring her love for, but all the ploys that Collins used to get Gale out of the picture just felt cheap to me. Him possibly having a part in the bomb that killed her sister? Katniss needed that to realize that he wasn't right for her? That's cheap. She should have had to struggle to reach that conclusion on her own, rather than making Gale not only uncomfortably, if indirectly, responsible for Prim's death on top of having Gale be a jerk to Katniss through most of the book. Collins set up a perfect plot for Katniss to realize she loved Peeta. Taking his love away from her should have really finally opened up her eyes to what she felt, and had her try to earn him, but this is relatively glossed over.

4) Collins seems to have forgotten that the readers see the world through Katniss's eyes. And hollow, inactive, depressed, and drugged up eyes are not really the best eyes to see the world through. A different writer might have been able to make this work, but keeping Katniss's depression and lethargy compelling was just outside the scope of her gifts. She's much better at other things that she didn't capitalize on. Katniss is horribly traumatized -- as she should be -- but wandering, self-centered thoughts about how traumatized she is don't make for very interesting reading in Collins's hands. After a while, I was really starting to hate Katniss, and how she seemed unwilling to sacrifice anything for the rebellion. Everything seemed to come back to her. Oh, Haymitch manipulated me in the arena! How terrible! It's not like he wasn't trying to do something good for the world at large by doing so! These thoughts, all of which we're privy to, got wearing fast.

I think Collins needed more time to write this book. The ending in particular felt extremely rushed. In the end, it wasn't the worst book I've ever read, but it was so far from living up to the promise of the first two installments that I just hated it.
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