It’s either brilliant or unforgiviable. Depending on who you ask.
How I (We) felt:
Okay, so this is one of those books that has divided readers. Chances are that you fall somewhere between the spectrum of:
1) The ending was so realistic and great for the series!
2) That ending just ruined the series!
Myself, I would place somewhere in between, but actually closer to number two. I don’t think that it anywhere near ruined this amazing series, but it wasn’t quite what I wanted. I wanted so badly to like it. I really did. But I actually felt a wave of disappointment and slight disbelief over the way the story ended. I felt like the epilogue had just given up and flopped over, totally undoing the greatness of everyone I had come to admire.
Now, that’s just my own opinion. I rarely react this way to stories, usually finding something to critique positively and taking as objective a stance as possible to review the material. But… with this I just can’t. This hit me at my core. I had such high hopes.
But isn’t that everyone’s story? From what I’ve gathered from reviews, most people are not very satisfied with this ending. They wanted their own storylines to wind up in the mind of Collins, later to be etched on paper. And while life of course doesn’t work that way, I couldn’t help but find myself in that camp. I guess it largely stems from the fact that I feel like there was so much set up, great story lines and ideas bolstered by a steady pen… to be ultimately deflated by the same tool in the last pages of the book.
These emotions come from just a few key points:
- Prim died. I know, I know, Katniss needed a way to give up Gale and a reason to kill Coin. But I can’t help but feel a bit angry at this. Katniss started this whole thing essentially to save Prim’s life when she volunteered. And to see her die was just kind of backwards. I’ve actually seen some folks online suggesting that the mother should have died instead, which I agree with. There was so much time spent showing how much Prim was growing up despite, keeping her chin up despite everything around her. She was Healer2.0, and it would have been more appropriate, in my opinion, to have her carry on the tradition while building a new world with her sister.
- I’ve been Team Gale from the start. I liked Peeta as a character, but I thought he’d be just as fine with any other girl. Really. Gale and Katniss had this chemistry and strength between them that I thought was just beautiful. Why give that up so easily? Alternatively, had she ended up on her own without a love interest at all she might have seemed a bit stronger in the end, preoccupying herself with the state of Panem.
- The epilogue was cold, distant, and I didn’t care for the kids. And I didn’t feel like much was resolved at all. I felt hopeless. At the end of the rebellion. What.
- Finnick, come back please! Your death was so completely pointless! I waited so long for him to see Anna again, so I was crushed.
In addition, there are just some points that are unresolved. So many questions needing answers! I was really hoping to see the future after the war. What happened in the capital after Paylor became president? What TV thing is Gale doing? Is he a dystopian Ryan Seacrest? Please God, no… And did he really have anything to do with Prim’s death? Did Coin? Are people from the capital and districts integrating? Where will everyone live? And a lot more that I had hoped we’d gain insight on.
I guess I was really bothered by the fact that the epilogue didn’t answer anything of the sort. Nothing to help the audience know this new Panem and its potential future.
Another huge complaint I’ve been hearing is how “the book is just a total mess”. And I will gladly disagree with that sentiment. The plot was very well paced, for the most part, I think. The fighting was action packed but I didn’t get lost in it. I wasn’t overwhelmed. I thought it was well written and the tone was always spot on and the story flowed. It wasn’t until the underwhelming ending that I felt some kinda way about it, like more could have been done to end this deserving series on a truly strong note.
BUT, while I do feel this way, it is important to keep in mind that this is in fact a first person perspective. What we get is what’s important to Katniss, and I do commend Collins for sticking to that perspective, even though she probably knew that readers might not be 100% happy with the way things ended up. I respect her as a writer. And while I may not agree with her choices as the storyteller, I respect them as well. No matter how pointless Finnick’s death seems (RIP bro).
For all my whining, the epilogue does sum up the state of mind of Katniss very well and gives us an honest description of what her life has become because of what it once was. She feels emotionless almost, it seems, distant from the people around her. She doesn’t even give the names of her children, which actually really pissed me off while I was reading it. “Boy” and “girl” was essentially what we got, and I felt nothing for these kids as characters. I wanted to love the children of the Mockingjay! I felt no hope for the future, nothing for this Panem which wasn’t even described in the end.
But you know what? This is still the POV of, essentially, a war veteran. She talks about how she finally had kids when Peeta had nagged her enough, and while I was upset at her coldness, I realize that yeah, Katniss might not be all there anymore. How would I feel having/raising kids in the world she now sees, covered in the shadows of her past? I mean, the kids are playing on a graveyard for goodness sakes. It is a realistic ending.
This is just something I think we should keep in mind when critiquing/criticizing the book. And as I mentioned in my Crossed book review (which you can see here), we can’t blame the author for this. This is just her interpretation of her own work, and I can’t argue with it. I respect her decision, and I just wanted to give my own opinion on the matter since I’ve been seeing much debate about the ending. So here’s my own perspective.