When I finished Mockingjay, the last of the Hunger Games series a few weeks ago, I was sad. I was sad I was done reading the books, sad that the story had come to a close, and even a bit sad at the ending. It wasn’t that the story didn’t resolve–it did! And it wasn’t even that I didn’t get the ending I’d hoped for–I did! It just all came about a bit differently than I expected, and I was, after all, so quickly and deeply invested in these books.

After finishing Catching Fire, I thought there was no way that Collins could bring me to the edge of my seat yet again; but quickly into the third book, I was chomping my nails and reading until late into the night to finish. Mockingjay brings as much suspense, passion, and intensity as the first two books combined. The characters have grown, yet they are still surprising. And don’t be fooled into thinking that this last book merely wraps up a story. The reader is bombarded with massive amounts of new information and taken deeper into the fantastical world that Collins has created.

I threw my own tantrum when the ending didn’t play out as I’d envisioned. But perhaps this is some of Collins’ brilliance. By not giving me exactly what I wanted, and yet still bringing the story to a wonderful and heartfelt close, I was reminded that the characters were human, flawed, and that made them all the more relatable. It’s likely why the books have stayed with me, why even though they’re future-set and a bit sci-fi for my normal tastes, that I keep replaying the plot in my mind.

No reader is wasting their time with this series. The books are quite imaginary and exciting, still real enough that one could imagine something like this happening, terrifying as it sounds. And all the more real they’ll become–the first book hits theaters as a movie in just a matter of days. Soon characters we’ve so intimately envisioned in our mind’s eye are going to be in front of our real ones.

What did you think as the series came to a close? Was it what you wanted? Could you easily set it aside or did it stay with you?

Sarah Ann Noel is a freelance writer, blogger, and public relations professional. She blogs “Read Alert” every week and covers other Denver-related events and thoughts on writing and motherhood on her personal blogCheck back every week for reviews, literary events, and other bookish finds.