It took me awhile to get to the final book for the Hunger Games trilogy. Having been a huge fan of the first two books, I just didn't want it to end... and secondly, I was slightly fearing disappointment as there was some consensus that the series deteriorated with each book. While there was not much I could do about it ending, I remained hopeful the latter would not be the case, but alas I felt Mockingjay was a fairly steep drop-off from the first two books.
While the whole return to the Hunger Games in Catching Fire was gimmick-y, I still fell hard for it. And while I don't relish the killing of children for sport (okay, maybe a little), I knew Collins could not pull it out a third time. So, without a Hunger Games, quite a bit of the magic was lost. Additionally, the creativity and "can't flip the pages fast enough" suspense of the arena was replaced by what I felt was repetitive, somewhat dull, "damsel-in-distress"-oriented action sequences. Also, sorely missing was the camaraderie amongst the main characters -- or at least those who made it this far and/or weren't tossed to the sidelines. The previously charismatic Katniss was downright mopey (not that I can blame her!) and the guys kind of lost their spark as well, particularly Gale even with (or perhaps due to) increased presence in this volume.
It's not that I didn't like it, I just didn't love it... and that makes me pout a bit like Katniss does when Gale and Peeta commiserate on her personality. I was really quite into it and optimistic but it just got sluggish in the middle/later half where it seemed like Collins was struggling to figure out how to end it, but with a surprise twist or two. The post-battle action end sequence and even the tacked-on epilogue won me back, tho probably a bit too little, a bit too late.
I gave the first book 5 stars, the second book 4.5 stars (with the round-up to 5)... Mockingjay gets 3.5 stars and while I am tempted to round-up to 4 stars out of goodwill for the entire series, the odds were just not in its favor for Mockingjay... a reluctant round-down to 3 stars.