I really, really, really love these books.
I've read some complaints that Katniss didn't do enough at the end, that she just reacted to things, was manipulated, etc., especially in the third book, and I agree about that. But I also felt that it was exactly as it should be. She was only 16/17 years old, she had everyone she loved taken from her or put in danger. Her world (District 12) was destroyed. She was lied to over and over again. Even if she didn't make all the big decisions, even if she was manipulated into doing things, even if she reacted more than she acted, it made sense. She was a broken, nearly-destroyed child who still went through a series of horrifying events with more grace, strength, bravery and goodness than many others could have. And I think that Suzanne Collins displayed that core of character beautifully from page one of The Hunger Games to the last line in Mockingjay.
I know there were others who were upset that the "triangle" or "love story" was backburner for a lot of book three in favor for a political message and some deeper agenda. I can't agree with that complaint at all, because to do so is to believe that the first two books were about a love story/triangle from the get-go. It was always obvious to me that these books were about a political message, a human message, and meant to make people think -- especially the young adult audience the books were aimed at. And Collins did that beautifully as well. The love story/triangle was always just one of the threads, albeit one of the larger, more colorful ones, never the main thrust of the story.
Now, it's easier for me to be happy with the ending because I was more inclined towards Peeta from the first book, and then gung-ho for him in the second because Catching Fire pretty much made me fall completely in love with him, so I wanted him to have what he wanted most in the end. And Gale, as much as he loved Katniss, could survive and find happiness without her, I believed. I think Katniss *was* happiness -- at least his truest sense of it -- for Peeta. And when this paragraph on the last page, pre-Epilogue hit, I couldn't help but smile through my tears because it's the exact conclusion I'd come to myself about three chapters before.
That what I need to survive is not Gale's fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that.
Like I said, I had already come to that conclusion myself so reading, in such perfectly-worded prose, Katniss come to that conclusion herself was the perfect ending. And I adored how she brought the dandelion recall into it, as well. Such a simple, beautiful touch that tied in how Peeta, as the boy with the bread, had saved her in her darkest period once before, and now he had done it again. Gale may have been the other half of her in many ways -- and he so was, but Peeta was her light ... and after all of the darkness that Katniss had endured, she needed that light to survive. She would have been drowned in Gale's darkness, and would have lost the girl who sang for Rue, who thanked District 11 during the Victory parade, who reached out to the soldier with a gun coming out of the train tunnel.
I just loved so much of everything about these books. The characters (Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Prim, Haymitch, Effie, Cinna -- oh, my God! Cinna!!!!, Katniss' prep team, the evil of Snow, the controlled dark of Coin, Plutarch, Rue, Boggs, Johanna, Finnick .... gosh, the list just goes on). I loved these characters, I felt for them, got to know them, love them, hate them through Katniss' eyes. Oh, and her voice, Katniss' voice was so perfectly rendered. So real, so vivid and even through that first-person narration, the other characters were just as real, so unique, and such complete characters. The story that was set-up simply in book one with enough threads and hints to point to exactly where it would end from almost every single point to this huge history-changing climax. The dialogue, and the heart, the emotion, the love story, the ... gah! Everything.
I just ... I really, really, really love these books.