Between my publishing the review for Catching Fire and writing this one, I myself have published a new book. It took me quite a while to write when compared to my first novel. Probably because it’s twice as long and I would argue a better book all around. That having been said, the last entry into the Hunger Games Trilogy was good enough to make me dislike my own writing in comparison. This is one of the strongest finales I have ever seen committed to paper. I think that a good majority of what makes it so is that it is a complete diversion from the style of the first two books. The mood is darker and the stakes higher, as they should be in any sequel, but the manner of story that the author uses to complete the narrative is fresh when viewed through the lens of the series thus far.
It becomes a straight up war book. It still retains the strong themes of the power of propaganda and the tendency of those in charge to forget the pawns in their machinations. The point of the series is not lost in the turnaround, it’s just revealed under a different light. It’s really quite well done. While I personally think that the second book was actually the better novel, the finale does an amazing job in its own right. It’s actually hard to compare the two because of the shift in direction. It is a testament to Collins’ ability as a writer that even by the third book, when we’re used to characters being picked off one-by-one in the games, the deaths of major characters still evoke considerable emotion within the reader. Make no mistake, she goes for the gut punch more than once and it’s usually very effective.
I would say that I place some fault with the ending, as calling it abrupt would be an understatement. But it’s satisfying enough in that it makes logical sense, really, the way it played out. The events leading up to the climax force the resolution in a way. I think the ending may very well have been different if there were more entries to the series, which honestly I would have approved of, as having the entirety of the revolution contained to a single entry means that we don’t have much time to expand on the newly introduced themes and characters. The president of district 13 is shortchanged somewhat here, as we’re forced to form opinions about her very early with not a whole lot of time to let perceptions grow organically. But that’s only a minor quibble because I don’t think she was ever intended to be anything other than a minor contrast to President Snow. I think it’s mostly a statement on my expectations and not a reflection on the shortcomings of the book.
Now that I’ve read all three books I’m more than ready for the film adaptations. And now I can be one of those assholes who gripe about stuff that gets changed. Yeah. That sounds like fun.