Katniss discovers that District 13 has not been destroyed and that survivors of Distict 12 are going there to join the rebels while the other districts begin open revolt. But Peeta has been captured by Snow and Katniss fears for his safety. Yet she must focus on joining the soldiers who are on a mission to invade the Capitol and find Snow.
What I liked about this book and the series in general is the realism in the characters and plot. Katniss would have to be emotionally damaged by her experiences in the Hunger Games and I like that it was shown in book 3-irrational decisions, moodswings, fighting with everyone and not being able to accept her new position in a new restricted society.
So lets look at the characters. Katniss is damaged goods when book 3 starts and having serious doubts about some of the rebel decisions. She can't sort out her feelings for Gale and Peeta, she can't get through some days with the depression and she is still rebelling against the system. Morally she seems sure of what is wrong-trying to stop the mountain explosion killing everyone, trying to stop the District 2 survivors being shot-yet she shoots dead the civilian as they escape the tunnels and votes for sending the Capitol children into the Hunger Games. It seems shocking that she wants to inflict the arenas on innocent children after all the years of that being done to her generation. Nice twist! I loved the way Prim developed into a capable and strong young woman because of what she has seen happen to her family. Her development mirrors the way Katniss had to grow up fast when their father died and she became head of the family. Circle of life anyone?!! I liked the fact that Prim died saving lives as it goes to show the life lesson that you just can't save someone you love from fate. Katniss destroys her own life saving Prim in book one but in the end fate will not be denied. In a war, you do lose what you love and I liked that Prim died saving the children, just as Katniss failed to save Prim and Rue. Gale's development was great-the devoted friend and protector who, when he gets involved in the war, becomes the complete soldier and wants to see all of the enemy destroyed at any cost. People who have lost everything to a regime like that are not looking for justice-they are looking for vengeance and I think that it was well written. In the circumstances, there could be no future for him and Katniss-she sees that the rebels will be repeating the same evil against District 2 that was visited on district 12 by Snow, and she can't be with someone who believes in that kind of bloodshed against civilians. I did cry for Finnick as he did not deserve that kind of death but I liked the fact that the strong died while a few of the weaker survived, just as would happen in that situation. Just the luck of where you are in the formation or what part of the street you step in.
In the first two books it is made clear who the enemy is-Snow. Katniss is hell bent on destroying him and his regime but in book 3 we start to see that the 'good guys' are not all they seem. District 13 has even less freedom than District 12 had under Snow and punishing people for saving part of a meal for later seems harsh and un-necessary. The Prep team being tortured and imprisoned for being from the Capitol and stealing food is no different from Gale being whipped in book 2 for the same offence. Coin never forgives Katniss for getting the better of her and decides to have her killed in the war which perfectly mirrors Snow putting Katniss back in the arena for embarrassing the regime with the berries in book 1. Gale's plot to blow up the mountain and kill everyone inside is no different from Snow having District 12 bombed to kill civilians. The plot in District 13 to invent the double explosion bomb to kill or maim victims then lure in those who come to save them, is no different to the Hunger Games arena tricks. In both situations, children die including of course Prim. I liked the mirroring between the way the Snow regime committed these crimes and the rebels using the same methods to win the war. As happens in any war, it is the innocent who pay for these decisions and tactics, whichever side they are on.
So did Katniss make the right choice with who she chose to kill? Yes-as revenge for Prim and to stop another evil leader taking charge. I liked the irony of Snow dying laughing as he watches the rebel leader die. There is no real happy ending, which I love in this kind of story. Good people are dead, Katniss has lost Prim, Gale and Finnick and to a lesser degree her mother. She is left with the only two people who understand her fear for the future and her pain from the past-the other equally damaged Hunger Games survivors Peeta and Haymitch. Perfect!