I had been given appropriately low expectations of the final book of the Hunger Games trilogy. Expectations such as that I would really despise the Mockingjay herself, narrator Katniss Everdeen, and that the focus shift from dystopic public combat to rebellion also marked a loss of focus for the story as a whole. And you know… those things certainly have some truth to them.

Katniss isn’t a combatant in the Hunger Games anymore; instead, she’s the public face of the rebellion, which has caught fire just as predicted, which would be more okay if only one of her two possible boyfriends wasn’t the public face of the government against which they are rebelling. And things just get worse for her from there. It’s still an interesting world, and I still cared about what happened to it, but Katniss is never so compelling as when she’s in the arena fighting for her life against all the other tributes, and sure enough, those days are over. Plus, a year and a half has gone by, and the fact that she not only still hasn’t come to any kind of conclusion about the third of the story that is her love life, but actually keeps escalating the frequency of her lashings out against each of them and in fact everyone else in her world instead? It makes it really hard to believe she’d keep inspiring love from some people and loyalty from so many others.

Still, there’s a book here either way, because not learning a conclusion to the rebellion is untenable, and because people don’t have to like their Mockingjay personally to see her utility as a symbol. And her fate in that regard was inevitable, if only because the people watching her on TV can’t read her thoughts. To answer the obvious question,  the conclusion was satisfying; it’s just hard to read a book with a narrator that has grown mostly unlikable, especially if she isn’t locked in mortal combat often enough to mask what I didn’t like about her.

Unrelated prediction: the movie will succeed or fail on the strength of their Haymitch actor alone. That guy? He’s compelling.

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