If you liked The Hunger Games, but you liked the third book the best because of the anti-war sentiments, you'll probably like this series. I would hav...moreIf you liked The Hunger Games, but you liked the third book the best because of the anti-war sentiments, you'll probably like this series. I would have to say that I don't usually enjoy thrillers (movies or books), war novels, or a whole lot of suspense, but it was definitely worth it. I don't have the energy to review all seven in this series, so consider this review to cover the series as a whole.
At the beginning of each book, Ellie (the narrator) spends a certain amount of time waxing poetic and generally going on about "how things are". I didn't particularly enjoy these parts, though I sort of understand why Marsden put them in. You have to remind people what was going on, especially when these first came out. Now that I can borrow all seven at once from the library, it's less important. Still you can't jump right in to the scary stuff without some warm-up.
I've always wondered what I would do in a situation like this one. Whenever I go backpacking, especially on long trips, I wonder, what if something crazy happened and nobody was alive when I came out? So I enjoyed reading someone else's idea of this particular "what if." Some of the situations were a little far fetched that they could get away with all that, but Marsden kept it realistic by killing off some of the characters and allowing them to get hurt. Sometimes this was pretty nerve wracking, reading the jacket flap and wondering, who's not going to make it? Like I said, I'm not so good with suspense, so I spent a whole lot of time with my heart racing and my blood pressure up, gnawing on my knuckles.
I did love the slang. I'm pretty sure whenever I see an outhouse from now on I'm going to call it a dunny. That was my favorite one. The glossary of slang at the start of each book was essential.
Another book you might like (especially if you don't want to commit to reading seven books) is How I Live Now. It's set in England, and while it's not as complete as this set is, it still has a lot of the same elements.(less)
I wanted to like this book, and some of the stories were really enjoyable. And I'm willing to say that maybe it had to do with me being sick and out o...moreI wanted to like this book, and some of the stories were really enjoyable. And I'm willing to say that maybe it had to do with me being sick and out of sorts. But I had such a damn hard time getting through the dialog, I almost gave up on the book. I know Uwem Akpan was working hard on giving the reader the true, full experience of being immersed in the cultures that he was writing about, and I applaud that. Perhaps I would have been less frustrated if there had been some sort of vocab list at the end with some explanations of at least the more common words.(less)
I enjoyed the edition I had because of a very thorough and interesting essay at the beginning by someone who had done research on Willa Cather. This h...moreI enjoyed the edition I had because of a very thorough and interesting essay at the beginning by someone who had done research on Willa Cather. This helped me get more out of it than I would have without such a reference. Normally I don't read those, so I was glad I did.
This book was easy to get through, and reminded me of the days when I read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. She takes that pleasant tone, filtered in sepia that makes nostalgia so appealing. Not much really happens in the book, but a lot of little things go on that keeps the book moving. It was a very low-stress experience for me, unlike some of the more modern pieces that I read that force me to THINK! all the time. So, kind of like a vacation. I liked that.(less)
You might be tempted to say this book is like Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale, but besides the post-apocalyptic setting and the baby motif, it is...moreYou might be tempted to say this book is like Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale, but besides the post-apocalyptic setting and the baby motif, it is definitely it's own book. O'Brien sets up the characters and the action so that the reader can't help but be pulled along. It was a tiny bit predictable at times, but not so much that adults would be put off. In fact, I found this on a list for adults who like YA lit, and was very satisfied.(less)
I enjoyed the excerpt that was printed in the "American Fencing" magazine. As a fencer, I am curious how he will weave the fencing in with the plot, e...moreI enjoyed the excerpt that was printed in the "American Fencing" magazine. As a fencer, I am curious how he will weave the fencing in with the plot, especially since fencing is a fairly fringe sport in the USA. Many of the teens I fence with are also avid (might I say, "rabid") readers, so it will be great for them to see their other passion recognized in print.
I finished the book in a quick weekend, and one where I had a fencing tournament! It was a very fast paced read, with plenty of action. Richards does a great job of explaining fencing to non-fencers, without sounding too patronizing for those who already know the sport.
I really appreciated the parts where the father stands up for the son's fencing against the teasing of his brothers. Plenty of our students have heard "that's a sissy sport!", even to our faces at demonstrations. However, if you do it, you know it's not, and Richards has a great scene showing this.
The action might be a bit much for the under 12 yrs crowd, since a few people do die. But Richards is great about keeping the gore to a minimum, so most sensitive readers need not worry. Those who are not sensitive will not be bored, as the action is constant and there is always a new twist.
Adult readers might raise an eyebrow a little at the idea that a teenager could be smarter than the US military, but it makes for a good story.(less)
Other than the ending (which was way too abrupt for my taste), this book was a really fun, engaging read. Courtenay tells the story of Peekay, a boy w...moreOther than the ending (which was way too abrupt for my taste), this book was a really fun, engaging read. Courtenay tells the story of Peekay, a boy with a lot of heart who gets into all kinds of crazy situations. Lots of action/plot development (broken into different parts - a good touch), lots of likable characters (Grandpa Chook!), some history of South Africa (I didn't know about the Afrikaaners disliking the English), and even some new language (Afrikaaner words and phrases). Wasn't what I was expecting, and wasn't even all that believable at times, but a rather enjoyable read. Something I would like to take on a long plane ride.(less)
I can see why this book is perfect for a high school classroom, or reading group. I'm not sure how I missed reading it at that point in my life, but I...moreI can see why this book is perfect for a high school classroom, or reading group. I'm not sure how I missed reading it at that point in my life, but I'm glad I read it now. Plenty to think about and discuss, and a quick read (unlike some other classics I know...).(less)
I think I was too young to get this when I first read it and haven't been back since, though I'd like to. I read my mother's old copy, one with seagul...moreI think I was too young to get this when I first read it and haven't been back since, though I'd like to. I read my mother's old copy, one with seagull pictures. I read it very quickly, which is what I do - consume books - but I think it was to my detriment.(less)
A favorite to read out loud. I loved this book as a child and still capture the wonder I felt then when I re-read it now. Had a great experience readi...moreA favorite to read out loud. I loved this book as a child and still capture the wonder I felt then when I re-read it now. Had a great experience reading a (very) shortened version of it to a little girl I was babysitting - I could see the wonder in her eyes as well. A definitely children's classic.(less)
I enjoyed a lot of the funny and touching stories that were in this book. I loved reading about the cultures and the different placed they visited, es...moreI enjoyed a lot of the funny and touching stories that were in this book. I loved reading about the cultures and the different placed they visited, especially since I've actually been (or know people who have been) to many of these places. Their family was fun to get to know (I laughed out loud several times, prompting my girlfriend to look at me askance), and pretty inspiring (though I imagine we didn't hear about a great many of the squabbles that must happen when you're that close all the time). As a stand-alone book I felt it glossed over a fair number of stories, but that's what editors are for - if it didn't, we would have been hearing about their travels for several volumes.
When I got the book, I didn't realize that it would rely so heavily on Google Earth to tell the story. At first I thought it would be cool, but it was difficult to get into the story when I had to constantly put the book down, mess with the computer, pick it back up, and try to re-engage. I think this would be an AWESOME partnership if the book was an e-book... but it wasn't. If I didn't look at the Google Earth link, I felt like I was missing something, but if I did look, then I was either disappointed that it wasn't cooler, or couldn't get back into the story.
However, for someone who is really good at using Google Earth prior to reading this, I think they would have a great time. For that reason, I plan to get it for my mom for her birthday.(less)
First off, I was distressed by all the typos. Or maybe Dr. Impossible is just that much smarter than I am?
But getting to what really matters, I liked...moreFirst off, I was distressed by all the typos. Or maybe Dr. Impossible is just that much smarter than I am?
But getting to what really matters, I liked this both more and less than I thought I would. I don't usually like comics, and Grossman bridged that gap for me and made that world just wry and literary enough for me. At the same time, there were some flaws that other reviewers have touched on, like lack of character development and the awkward segue into the scene where they are all locked up and start telling their origin stories.
Still, I have no regrets about reading it and if you sort of like comics but aren't sure, check it out. Brain candy!(less)
Collins did a splendid job with this last novel in the series. I was very pleased with how she built on the characters and situations from the last tw...moreCollins did a splendid job with this last novel in the series. I was very pleased with how she built on the characters and situations from the last two, especially with the second one ending in such a cliffhanger. My main concern was actually that - I didn't remember quite enough from the last two, and wished I'd read them in quick succession (which wasn't possible of course, seeing as how she hadn't written them yet!).
*** Some Spoilers Below ***
The first thing I liked about Mockingjay was Collins' exploration of the morality of war. This was especially clear in the way Katniss was taken aback at what Gale was willing to do to win. I found some strong ties to Ender's Game in this and other themes. Both books ask, "what are you willing to do to win a war?" as well as "who is the enemy?" Both use children who feel they are very alone and become reluctant leaders as their protagonists. Both also ask, and to some extent answer the question, "what do you do with a hero when the war ends?"
I thought that Collins took on these questions in a way that both adults and teens can relate to, and which give real, deep answers, not just surface stuff. These are tough questions, especially when so much of the world's populations are facing wars and armed conflicts. Particularly moving was the grief that Katniss gives in to towards the end when her sister's cat shows up in district 12. That made me cry!
As in the other books, everything moves really fast, but it's not too fast to follow, and generally everything flows really well and connects back up in the end. Some of the deaths are not explained or grieved by characters, and I can see how younger readers might not understand why Katniss chose to end up with Gale, but I felt that Collins had a stellar team of editors and readers to help her answer all the questions.(less)
Well, it moves quickly. There's a lot of stuff going on and a fair amount of it is tied back together. But a lot of it feels rushed and plot driven, n...moreWell, it moves quickly. There's a lot of stuff going on and a fair amount of it is tied back together. But a lot of it feels rushed and plot driven, not really well thought out. More like the author worked backwards and threw in random characters as needed to make it work. I felt the pregnancy subplot was unnecessary, really. Suffice to say I liked "Water For Elephants" much better, but this was an amusing diversion. (less)
Many of the GLBT themed books that I read allude to the AIDS crisis, especially those written in the 80's and 90's. Today's GLBT books don't generally...moreMany of the GLBT themed books that I read allude to the AIDS crisis, especially those written in the 80's and 90's. Today's GLBT books don't generally use HIV/AIDS as a major plot device, so when I read books that do, I automatically assume they're older. This one caught me by surprise, because Grossman's book was written in 2005, but the "AIDS crisis" still seems in full swing. And honestly, I don't like it much. I know that seems crass, or unfeeling, because there's still a "crisis" - it's just gone underground, making it that much more insidious. But honestly, that seemed to be the major defining characteristic of being gay for Brian and his friends, and it was just soooo 90's.
Then again, I'm not a gay man in NYC, so what do I know?
Otherwise, it was a readable book, no other major complaints. I'd read another one of her books.(less)
I loved the first book so much, I almost wished I hadn't read this one, because I wanted to believe that everyone lives happily ever after.
Still, it w...moreI loved the first book so much, I almost wished I hadn't read this one, because I wanted to believe that everyone lives happily ever after.
Still, it was a good sequel, and I could see how it could also be read as a stand-alone novel. The writing was still as good as the first one. I just didn't feel as deep a connection with the new characters as I did with those in the first book.(less)
I don't know if I'll read subsequent installments in this series, but the first book was intriguing. The politics were the most interesting part. You...moreI don't know if I'll read subsequent installments in this series, but the first book was intriguing. The politics were the most interesting part. You have three factions: 1. The winged ones, who have all the wealth but fairly little power in the end; 2. The groundlings who are lobbying for change; and 3. The groundlings who want things to remain the same (both regular folks and the priests).
Politically, my sympathies should have been with the labor party - obviously the ruling class isn't helping them lead more fulfilling lives, and treats them they're basically slaves, or worse, like they don't exist. But because Jay Armory introduces Az and his world first, that is the group to which my loyalties default. Nobody can have much sympathy for the priests, except maybe catholics.
There are obviously connections alluded to here with capitalist society living on the backs of sweatshop labor, but it goes a lot deeper. Even though the plot itself wasn't entirely to my taste, I was pulled in by all the layers the author puts in place.(less)