I don't quite know what to say about this book, or what to rate it. Realistic? Perhaps. Engrossing? Yes. Satisfying? Not really.
And with that I must warn you that *spoilers* will follow. I do not know how to discuss my feelings on this book without them.
I close the final chapter in the Hunger Games trilogy feeling depressed. I know it's a dystopian novel, but I still hoped that there would be hope at the end: hope for a better life, hope for freedom, hope for the future generations. And while there was a tiny glimpse of that, as a whole the book was filled with doom and despair and a tragic resignation to mankind's tendency towards hate.
Lots of characters die. Many that we care about. Many in gruesome ways. One in particular that left me shocked and nearly made me want to put the book down right then.
The sweet romance between Peeta and Katniss is absent. Katniss feels cold and detached throughout most of the novel. It's hard to read. And even harder to connect to her. The passionate, spirited girl we feel in love with in The Hunger Games is not to be found in this book.
I kept hoping that despite the despair and horror of the beginning of this novel, that by the end the characters would find reason to move on. They would pledge to make things better. To right their wrongs and not make their children suffer through the world they did. Instead we see the rebels squeak out a victory by becoming almost as villainous as the Capital, and proceed to contemplate another Hunger Games as punishment for the Capital. Have they learned nothing?
I miss J.K. Rowling with her sweeping, victorious ending that honored the sacrifices of the fallen with a solid, strong hope for the future. There was sadness, but it was tempered with moments of joy, and hope.
I miss Stephenie Meyer with her golden, perfect ending were everyone is loved and happy and left with the feeling that they can conquer whatever comes next.
This book was not the satisfying ending I'd hoped for. There is no joy here.