OK. This is how I rate the series. Book 1 = 5 stars. Book 2 = 5 stars. Book 3, first half = 5 stars. Book 3, second half = 1 star.
Maybe that's being a bit unfair about the second half of Mockingjay, because without a doubt it was well written, but the faults to me were so enormous that I couldn't get past them. Suzanne Collins is an incredibly talented author, with an amazing imagination and insight, but she struggles with building any kind of romantic connection or the development of a relationship.
THE FAULTS (***** Spoilers from here *****)
Finnick's Story: Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. His character is developed beautifully. We go from abject dislike through to adoration. A masterclass in developing a character. What drives Finnick is unveiled to us bit by marvellous bit, to reveal a complex character, strong, yet abused and vulnerable who you have to admire. His love story with Annie is one of the highlights of the book for me even though their relationship was hardly touched on. I WANTED him to have his happy ending. Then what happens? The author simply throws him away. Gone. Dead in a couple of sentences without a backward glance. To me it was one of the oddest deaths in any book I've ever read. After all that, Finnick's death was just a plot device to rack up the sense of danger. Nobody's safe! Nobody's safe! It was totally and utterly unnecessary. We already knew that nobody was safe. What a total waste of a good character. Rule Number 1. Leave your readers satisfied. That was one of the most unsatisfactory moments in any book I've ever read. It would have cost the plotline and the energy of the book nothing to leave him intact to go off into the sunset with Annie at the end. All it achieved was a lot of dissatisfied readers. A huge emotional let down.
The Mission to kill Snow: Rule Number 2. If you are going to start something finish it. What a mish mash this was. Really it was during this part of the book I started to wonder if the author had forgotten everything she knew about good storytelling. I can't speak for the author, but I think I see what she was trying to do. Rack it up, rack it up, Finnick's death, chaos, Gale's capture, rack it up, rack it up, Prim's death, and BANG! Katniss blows up and enters some kind of La-La land of Weirdness. Except it just doesn't work. It feels more like the author abandons the mission half way through because really, she just can't be bothered. Conveniently when Katniss returns from La-La Land the war is over. Unfortunately the Weirdness isn't. It's a massive anti-climax.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Overload: Yes, we all know people get it. Yes, we want our books to feel real. But we don't want them to be TOO real. That's why we loll around the house reading instead of having a proper life. There's nothing interesting about someone who spends weeks in solitary confinement or hiding in a cupboard. I know that's the real reaction, but I just don't want it happening to the lead character in an action story. The lead characters in action stories pick themselves up and get on with it. That's what they're there for. To carry the story. I think Katniss gave up right about the same time the author did.
Gale? Gale? Where for art thou Gale?: OK. So you start a story. Girl meets boy. Now, I'm not a fan of formulas and rules, but there are some things that always work and some things that will always fail. Rule Number 3: If you are going to start a story with girl meets boy just make sure you don't half heartedly abandon the boy half way through the story. And for god's sake don't have her end up with somebody else unless the boy at the start was evil incarnate. If Suzanne knew that Katniss was going to end up with Peeta, she might have started the 1st book with the bread story, and she shouldn't have invested so heavily in Gale. Remember we want to feel satisfied at the end of a book, or we might leap to the computer and hammer out all our frustrations by writing horrible reviews on Amazon. All through book 3 I'm waiting patiently for THAT moment with Gale. Only it never comes, even though I'm very very very patient. In fact Gale disappears without so much as a goodbye, never to be seen again. We hear he's off doing stuff in Sector 2, and has apparently just forgotten the great love of his life even though she is now a bit doolally. Is it me?
The End: I could write a whole separate review about the character arc that is Peeta but frankly; I can't be bothered, so I'll skip to the end which is kind of what every section of this whole book seemed to do. There are two things that the author really ought to work on. 1) How to end a story so that all the ends tie up and there's a certain level of satisfaction. 2) The development of an emotional attachment between two characters. Both were so wholly absent in this book that it spoiled the whole trilogy for me. Maybe she was trying to show that they were so damaged in the end that they couldn't connect to each other or even to their own children. I have never in my life referred to my daughter as "The girl" or my son as "The boy". Never. It shows a level of detachment that is a wee bit scary. Surely after 15 years, she's left the Weirdness behind to the point where she can give her kids proper names. And her relationship with Peeta at the end? What relationship? If they developed one I didn't see it.
The Agenda: If you have an anti-war agenda that's fine and dandy with me. Suzanne Collins had three books worth of space to hammer home all the dangers of a future Orwellian type state and the horrors of war. Just don't let your agenda obliterate what people ultimately buy books for, which is a good story. I don't buy novels to told how to think. There's a kind of irony there.
A weary attempt at satisfying a publishing deadline rather than any actual readers. The most unsatisfactory ending that I've ever read.