** spoiler alert ** Okay so I am probably going to ramble here, because I am going to talk about the things in this book I did like, and the things - and there are a few here - that I didn't.
Things I liked: Finnick, and seeing him so vulnerable, and then seeing him with Annie. Katniss and Gale able to regain something of their friendship. Prim's growth as a character. The entire idea of District 13. That the book, and the series, always felt in the realm of possibility. Early on I asked myself, "would we do this, would we become these people?" And the answer is probably a yes. So I liked confronting those fears, those what-if's.
Things I didn't like: Finnick's death. (Jacking up the body count, anyone?) Prim's death - even though I understand the why. That it drove a wedge between Gale and Katniss. Katniss giving up in the end and wanting to kill herself. The entire storyline with Peeta. I was fine with the torture. I expected it. But I hated the hijacking and how it altered him and his fundamental characteristics. I also wanted more explanation on his eventual healing - I feel like we missed something in the time Katniss sat in her dirty clothes in her home in the Victor's Village. The whole notion of another Hunger Games. Did these people learn nothing?
There's more in both columns, I know. I thought the love triangle was handled much much better in this book, but I still wasn't a fan of it. I will always like the idea of Gale/Katniss, but I never felt as if they were suited for one another. I wish we had seen him and Katniss on better terms in the end. I hate the idea that we never saw him again. And I didn't feel like we needed the epilogue.
I seem like I hated the book, but actually I really really enjoyed it. I laughed, and discovered an epic love for Finnick Odair. EPIC love. I cried more times than I can count. The book was very bittersweet for me in a lot of ways and also very moving. I like that everything wasn't happy and shiny in the end, but I feel like Suzanne Collins rushed toward the ending a little too quickly. Things that should have been elaborated on weren't.
But. The book was still pretty fantastic, and succeeded in earning a place in my heart. So that's something. :)
REVISED review: Wow. Was re-reading my original review today and it's amazing how much a re-read and a year and a half can change your mind! To think that I once shipped Katniss/Peeta, whereas I now definitely think that Katniss and Gale belonged together. Huh. Peeta is a lovely person but he's too safe for Katniss. He's THERE for her, sure, but he never pushes or challenges her. If Gale is hot-tempered and rough around the edges, he also UNDERSTANDS Katniss, and doesn't encourage her to stand still, like Peeta does. Oh Gale. My poor, poor Gale. *hugs him forever*
Definitely gonna have to re-read again so I can totally update these reviews.