I expected the entire trilogy to be Katniss' eye-opening journey of who she is and what she symbolized, to her family, self, loved ones and to oppressed people of the districts. I liked her character in the first book. She was bold and strong and there were real connections to the other characters. The only problems I had with the first book was the tense and perspective, understandable because of the genre. She began pure and wanted nothing more than to be left alone. She experienced a first childhood romance, but knew it wasn't yet full. She had seen tragedy and wanted to protect those around her. She really began the story by trying to keep her sister safe from the hunger games. This was her first real plot choice.
She knew real evil, the Capitol. She knew she was a pawn. She did not want to be a pawn, she didn't even want to play the game. She played hard in the first book, because she had a reason. Her reason for playing was manipulated and changed through the books as her character grew, but then it stopped developing in the third book and disappeared all together. The atrocities she faced did not develop either and so became moot.
The one stable trait in the whole series was her ability to empathize and have compassion even upon enemies, the things that they listed that moved them when she failed at acting for the camera. Then in the end she votes for the hunger games, but still goes back to be a mom. So, did she loose her compassion or didn't she. Knowing the evil did she choose to become it, but then not? No explanation in the book, or even a build up to it. In fact the book felt like one of my old high school papers when I knew I'd easily make the page number requirement. She put great work into the first two books and less effort into detail as the ending came close. She slacked off. The storyline of the third book struggled without single idea like the hunger games to revolve around. Collins was stuck with character development as her centerpiece in the last book without a guiding plot and she didn't excel at it.
Katniss had the example of such good characters sacrificing for her, but did not ever choose to sacrifice herself despite saying she would for everyone. She was willing to be the Mockingjay not in self sacrifice to inspire people, but in selfishness to get what she wanted. She didn't put her all into helping others she simple huddled in closets. Her sister became wise and chose to put her all into helping. There is no extreme middle in the fight against evil. The author tries to show Katniss succumbing to evil but doesn't. Then she throws in an epilogue that seems to say, “don't worry she gets over it and has kids. Oh, and nothing happened to her Mom or Gale they weren't important anyway.”
Collins left the reader with nothing noble to cling to, no answers and no purpose. Every other character in the book was understandable and had a purpose that they achieved, but not Katniss. We the reader followed the one pointless character in the whole book, a teenage girl. Goodness tried to give her wings and evil forced her to action, but she never made a choice to embrace anything or to grow up. Her character was incoherent. A
reader can only take so many breakdowns before the character becomes pointless. Collins was building a strong heroine in the first 2 books, and lost her somewhere.
The love triangle got ridiculous at times, but that's how teen love is. Peeta's love was probably a little too true and devoted being 100% even before they had a chance to nurture it. Again this is acceptable for the genre. Then he is last seen in the capitol trying to keep himself from killing Katniss because of his hijacking, and then suddenly with no effort on the part of the reader he is back in love and planting flowers and having kids. I can follow the path in my mind, but the author spent hundreds of pages building up to something like this and then leaves it off in a few sentences rather than telling the story. Gale was more realistic as they grew apart as childhood sweethearts, but not as friends, and despite their differences they would always be friends, yet no phone calls or even a real mention of him in the epilogue. Where'd he go Collins?
Coin was a stupid character and too underdeveloped for her ultimate fate to be so important in the plot. She was supposed to be a the extreme other end of the spectrum from Snow. I speculate that's where her name came from, given for the other side of the same coin that was Snow. Huge decision, shocking to the reader and no explanation. Ok perhaps she wanted the reader to be forced to think about it. Coin seems too stupid to have become president, not even knowing how to diplomatically handle the demands of Katniss and turn them into a win for everyone. She's too shallow for that and we might like her too much if she had depth. After all she's the opposite of Snow in not using subtlety or depth of reason.
Every person was a slave in the story the capitol citizens the districts and even district 13's people. Collins made attempts to show this, but not a single character acknowledges it and so she doesn't give any opening for her readers to accept this either.
I hated the first person present, and the author had trouble maintaining it slipping past tense and present sometimes even into the same sentences. I'm surprised her editors let it slide so often. The story feels like it would have been better told from an alternating view point from third to first or from the past tense. I found it interesting that the author actually began in the present and finished in what felt like the past. She lost her readers
by having the story get farther and farther from the teller rather than drawing them closer and closer. Her sentence fragments and poor flow was distracting and gave her readers not only tied tongues but also great opportunities to put the book down in frustration.
The idea of 12 districts each only doing one industry and yet able to create such a wealth of diversity was ridiculous, but acceptable for a youth novel.
One last gripe, why didn't the tributes just all band together to stay alive? They all hate the capitol not each other so just spend your time working together to avoid the dangers of the arena the capitol still has their games and the last one alive still wins, but at least they maintain their souls. Sure the capitol could kill them for it, but they're going to die anyway and they fight either way. This way they just choose to fight the real enemy. Then it's the capitol killing their children rather than their children killing each other. You would think at least the past victors would have done that after all holding hands on stage the night before. Even if there were one or two who did fight you'd have 20 tributes all working together.
I don't regret reading the series, and the story was interesting, but I'd only give it 2/3 stars as the first 2 books were good and the third just kind of faded out.