On one hand, I admire Collins for keeping to the reality of the world she created and not turning this into an action-adventure created by Hollywood. There are no heroes here. At least, there aren't any Hero archetypes, not really. Everyone is stuck making choices between bad decisions and worse decisions. Coin is so totally Animal Farming all over the place. Plutarch is a Gamemaker, whether it's the Hunger Games or the rebel war. Gale's full of hate for the Capitol and doesn't care if his traps will kill innocent people, because in his eyes, none of them are innocent. Beetee's just doing his job, giving the rebels every advantage that he can. Katniss is nothing more than a spokesperson in someone else's agenda. Peeta can barely tell reality from the twisted memories Snow subjected him to. They didn't find some inspirational goodness deep down in themselves at the 11th hour. They didn't plan some grand scheme to sneak anyone into the Capitol to kill Snow and end the war by clandestine maneuvers. Katniss and the victors weren't put on the front lines, where they had zero training or right to be. They were saved for the propos and the cameras, to be the faces of the war campaign. Katniss's PTSD is actually given time and breadth in the book, not just done lip service to like I've seen in too many other books that pretend to have a hero suffering from PTSD. The rebels win, but no one's partying in the streets as if there's no other battles to fight. It's grim and it's realistic. I fully believe this is an author who came up with this world and these characters and then let them tell the tale, rather than push the characters around like chess pieces to get the result she wanted whether it made sense or not. That takes guts, especially because readers are going to expect Katniss to be in charge, to be on the front lines, actually fighting. But she's just one girl in a much larger scheme that really has nothing to do with her, except she captured a nation's heart. So she's the heart of the story, but not the war.
On the other hand, the story did drag at times because Katniss wasn't in the action. She does have PTSD that she's wrestling with, so a lot of her time is spent ignoring everything going on around her just so she can get through a fricking day. We're forced into an outsider's perspective when we want to know what's going on because Katniss keeps herself on the fringes as much as she can. And while I do admire Collins for actually portraying Katniss's PTSD realistically, I was also frustrated at times by our Heroine constantly being Overcome With Emotions and Unable to Function, because don't we have enough girls who act like this in media already? It's saved somewhat from being an unfortunate gender implication since we get Peeta struggling with his hijacking issues, and Finnick struggling with his own PTSD, and pretty much all of Haymitch's scenes in the previous two books. So it's clearly not just because "she's a girl" but yet it also sort of does come across as "she's a girl" - though I realize that's probably more to do with preconditioning on my part than what's actually being intended here. It doesn't help when Katniss is constantly having all these men speaking for her, making decisions for her, and saving her.
So overall, I enjoyed the book for what it was and I admire Collins for sticking to her guns. I also understand why so many readers felt disappointed by this book. I'm glad I read the series, since it gives a lot of background you'd miss by just watching the movies, but I will probably never reread these books. I'll certainly rewatch the movies though.