Book 2 takes the initial plot of the Hunger Games and magnifies it beyond a level anyone could have imagined in the first book. Book 3, while expanding the plot, does not do so as book 2 does; instead it provides the end cap which wraps everything up. After the tour of the districts in Book 2, Book 3 opens in actual rebellion against the Capitol.
Of course, we see this taken to its logical conclusions as the districts rebel against the Capitol that's held them in bondage for so long. Though no new plot twists come up in the overall story of the trilogy, I did feel that the book brought most of the plot strands to a suitable conclusion. A few I most definitely did not think so, though.
(The next two paragraphs have spoilers). The biggest plot strand which was left hanging was Katniss' relationship with Gale. This has been a large part throughout the first two books and then at the resolution of book 3 we watch as Gale basically falls out of the story altogether. Katniss ends up marrying Peeta, her companion in the games.
While I probably would say this is the correct ending for the book, I don't like the fact that Gale just vanishes. It's almost like Suzanne Collins didn't want to come up with a resolution for this particular strand, so she just didn't. It's disappointing as one of my favorite parts of this series was Katniss conflicting relationships with Peeta and Gale - I was excited to see how they'd come off in the end.
Another major flaw in the book is Prim's death. All through the series we watch as she stands on the sidelines of Katniss' life, still involved, but from a distance. Especially in the third book, we watch as she grows up and starts shouldering the burden of the family since Katniss can no longer do so. And, if you'll remember, Prim was the entire reason Katniss volunteered to go to the Hunger Games, in the first book, in the first place. So, Prim's death at the hands of an unknown bomb (Katniss never finds out who really detonated it) is grossly out of place in a mostly decent series ending. It wasn't led up to, there was no reason for it to happen, and the repercussions weren't properly explored. In my opinion it's the biggest plot flaw in the series.
Ultimately, I decided not to recommend this book because of the reasons above and a few more. Aside from the plot problems, the book is different from the other two. While the first one is gritty and dark in its own right, the second book ratchets this up to an even higher level. I mentioned in my review of Catching Fire that I almost grew weary of reading the book because the emotions of the main character were so well-portrayed. Book 3 takes this to an extreme. While book two was emotional and sad, book three is simply dark. It's almost like a completely different story from book 1. By the time we get to book three, I was just not even wanting to read because of all the death, gore, and random darkness shown in the book. It's even unecessary, too. Had the writer made a greater effort to stick with the flow of book one and two, we still would have had an excellent book which matched the rest of the series.
If you've read the first two books, I can't not tell you to read this one. The story has been so masterfully told in the first books that you really should read this one just to bring an end to the story (despite its flaws that I listed above). And while this book does stand alone, in a sense, I don't recommend it unless you've read the others. An unresolved story is one half of it, and uneccessary darkness and grunge would be the other half. While collectively Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay make up a great trilogy, Mockingjay is definitely the weakest link among the three by far.
~ Andrew J.