I finished this book yesterday, so it should be fresh in my mind but honestly the whole thing feels like a blur of impressions and crazy crap happening. So I’ll just tell you what I think and hope that it’s in some sort of order.
First of all, Katniss is screwed. Seriously, she’s never gonna shake her PTSD. To go from one arena, to fearing for everyone she knows, to another arena, to her district being fire bombed and most of everyone being killed, to a war zone. That kind of PTSD just doesn’t go away.
Second, what the hell is wrong with the Capitol? How could they do that to Peeta? That’s terrible! I realize in that a series where terrible things happen more often than not, it really shouldn’t seem like that big of a surprise that they did something terrible to him, but somehow what they did just seems so much worse. More personal, maybe. I mean, they didn’t just torture him, they reached into his head and twisted things around, twisted his memories and his reality, and twisted his emotions. They took away his love. His love for Katniss has been one of his main motivating factors for years. It’s so strong that he was prepared to die for her, more than once. And they just took it away. Just like that. Like it meant nothing, like he meant nothing. I realize that that’s a stupid thing to say about a group of people that firebombed an entire district and had hundreds of children slaughter each other for years but that… Death happens. Violent death. All the time. And in a war, bombs will be dropped and large groups of people will be killed. It’s a thing that happens. Even sacrificing the losers isn’t that unusual, not back in the old days. The way they did it was way worse than anything I can remember offhand from the history books, but it’s still a thing that happened. But to take someone and to take away a huge part of who they are, how they feel, who they love… that’s just horrible.
And on the subject of horrible things, lots and lots of those things happen in this book. All the time. It’s not a book to get comfortable in. It’s not a book that’s entirely enjoyable to read, I have to say. I hate to say it, I do, but it’s not fun. It’s a good book, it’s a good series, but it’s not one of those where as you read it you find yourself falling in love with the author all over again. It’s just not. It is, I believe, meaningful. It’s a story about injustice, resilience, surviving against the odds, about revolutions and knowing who you’re friends are, who the enemy is and how to keep true to yourself, no matter what. But it bears saying that by the end, I kind of felt like I was getting PTSD. It’s one of those books where like 90% of the cast is dead by the end. This is including Prim, Katniss’ little sister, the one she gave everything to protect to begin with. And poor Peeta and Katniss are left with flashbacks and daily nightmares for the rest of their lives.
They were used by the government of Disctrict 13 just like they were used by the government of the Capitol, in the end. The ones who were supposed to be the good guys, the rebel alliance against the evil empire, turned out to be just as bad, just a manipulative and calculating, as the enemy. That itself was terrible. It left the book with few safe places to rest, few places where it felt like everything was okay or was going to be okay. It didn’t even end with the feeling like it was going to be okay. It ended with the desperate hope that it would be, that this time the peace would hold. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’m a person who likes a good happy ending and I’m not sure if this counts as one. Yes, Katniss and Peeta get married and have kids and presumably spend their lives together happily, but they live on top of a graveyard and they were essentially abandoned by the new government as soon as they no longer had a need for them. The minute they no longer had a use for them, they were dropped like a bad cell plan. Where’s the gratitude? Where’s the loyalty? It’s left on a rather disquieting, vaguely hopeful, haunted note and I wish it were more concrete.
And for those who got all wound up about the love triangle, which I honestly never gave too much of a crap about, I’ve kind of already covered how it turned out, and I don’t blame her for one second. I liked Gale better at first, but it wasn’t too far into the second book that I decided I loved Peeta. I liked Gale, but I loved Peeta, so I wasn’t upset at all when she picked him. Honestly, she picked him in the second book when they went back into the arena and she let Gale go to focus on saving Peeta. She took awhile to realize it, as one of the least emotionally aware people ever, but she loved him and needed him. She fell apart when he was in the hands of the Capitol, and it shattered her when they got him back and he was so damaged and tried to kill her. Gale was awesome but I just wasn’t as impressed by him. Also, he helped develop the plan that killed Prim, might even have built that bomb. There’s no getting past that. Yes, he never intended that, never would have intended that, it doesn’t change the fact that his actions led to her death. As a sister, I don’t blame Katniss at all for letting him walk away. And, like she said, she needed hope, the promise of a better day, not more fire, more anger. She needed Peeta, not Gale.
So, I like these books but they are not ones I’ll read all the time or even very often. They’re good and huge, epic things happen, but they’re not books you read often. Too many bad things happen to too many characters you love. I’m still sad about Finnick.