**spoiler alert** Ah, yes: our ruthless and bitter conclusion. For some reason, I was silly enough to think that our rebels would be more sympathetic,...more**spoiler alert** Ah, yes: our ruthless and bitter conclusion. For some reason, I was silly enough to think that our rebels would be more sympathetic, that Peeta would somehow be healed quicker, and for that I give Collins great credit. I also give her credit for the tiny slivers of verbal condemnation from Katniss's mouth about our present straits (her particular damnation about her ancestors taking care of the planet SO WELL come to mind), of showing Katniss's growth as a person as well as an individual full of weakness. In this novel, Katniss is ruthless when it comes to her assessment of self: she's weak, she's bitter, she's changed. She really doesn't like herself a lot and has that teen voice of "ugh, I'm tough, the toughest; I don't deserve anyone, I'm broken goods, I'm messed up" that I think a lot of marginalized teens – fresh out of Hunger Games or otherwise – often feel. For me, this is the heart of the book, why I'm able to still love it enough for four stars despite the fact that I sometimes feel that I've seen teen dystopias with better dismounts. (The classics – Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, and 1984 – come to mind.)
But it is the breaking and reassembling of Katniss Everdeen that makes my irritation at the ending so palpable – not her shooting Coin, but the fact that everything had to end with Katniss finally ~choosing the boy~. I don't deny that the pairing at the end was the obvious choice, but I think the sudden denouement between his arrival and their final and enduring embrace of love is abrupt, sharp. But maybe, given that so much of her short life was in front if cameras, this is the point: that we as an audience can't take away Katniss's private descent into love and trust on her own terms, that we don't get to see that. But as someone who is greedily invested: I wanted an end that read as if they were team members in rehabilitating each other as opposed to a sharp, hard drop into Loveville, Panem. Frankly, many probably interpreted that as occurring – and it probably did – but again: this is where the Hunger Games style comes up cold for me.
Compared to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire is considerably more spritely and surprising, thereby making it my favorite of the trio. (Indeed, if I cou...moreCompared to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire is considerably more spritely and surprising, thereby making it my favorite of the trio. (Indeed, if I could rate it 4.5, I would.) Most of this centers on the fact that the pacing is delightfully shifted from what I thought it would be; if you believe Tumblr and its gifs, the last third of the book is the entire movie. But it's not so book wise, which is a delight, as I yearned to know more about the world of the Districts themselves, to see what some of the Victors might have wanted to fight for in the first place. It also displays Katniss's gentle maturity in tone, in deciphering items and deducing this weird world around her. It would be wrong to say she becomes tender – I don't think a kindly Katniss are what this story is about, nor is it particularly accurate in terms of portraying world-weary teenagers – but she starts to look outside of herself, which usually happens at that age. It just so happens that to look outside of herself also means to look at a vast, terrifying, and grotesquely injust world that makes our present problems look like child's play.
Which, admittedly: maybe that's why these books are so captivating. We're fuck-ups, but we're not Panem-levels of fuck-up. (less)
I have a feeling that rating this as low as I have will be seen as some kind of sacrilege amongst the present taste. That said, I also live in a world...moreI have a feeling that rating this as low as I have will be seen as some kind of sacrilege amongst the present taste. That said, I also live in a world that is more or less impossible to keep spoiler free RE: the plot of this book and its successors in the trilogy. I mostly read it to see if I would still appreciate and enjoy the story that so many of my friends have even after knowing all of the essential punches. I mean, the same thing goes for most classic literature: you know what happens to the whale after Moby Dick, you're aware of most of Sherlock Holmes's verdicts, and so on. It isn't about the destination but the journey.
And, well: without the surprises and The Hunger Games's journey is okay. Not awful, but okay.
A lot of it has to do with the simplicity of the prose, but I don't really fault Collins for it: in many ways, it's very indicative of the point of view and internal narration of a teenage woman, especially in as extraordinary conditions such as Katniss's. In that sense, I admire the style; Collins knows her way around suspense and the psychology of characterization, to the point where I would argue that it's one of her greatest talents. But compared to the later installments and The Hunger Games doesn't have any moments in which I have to pause, to gasp not necessarily of what's occurring (see: above) but how Katniss reacts to the events as they unfold. That's the beauty of Catching Fire and Mockingjay, I think.
Admittedly, to the tale's credit: still gripping pacing, despite my knowledge. (SEE: speed of reading.) Also, the recurring anger of teens being lied to by adults? God, THAT FEEL, AM I RIGHT, FELLOW DIRTBAGS? Anyway, ready for nerds everywhere to sue me, bye.(less)
Maybe I should just direct everyone to my ridiculous Tumblr reaction tag, http://internetcouch.tumblr.com/tagge.... In fact, I heavily encourage it, a...moreMaybe I should just direct everyone to my ridiculous Tumblr reaction tag, http://internetcouch.tumblr.com/tagge.... In fact, I heavily encourage it, as this book is much more a visceral experience to be felt rather than a mere reading. Something that pretentious and you probably have high hopes of my feels on this, I guess???? (less)
In terms of Twain travelogue, I would say this is ultimately the weakest of the lot – although, bless, that still leaves a lot to enjoy. A Tramp Abroa...moreIn terms of Twain travelogue, I would say this is ultimately the weakest of the lot – although, bless, that still leaves a lot to enjoy. A Tramp Abroad starts out strong in Germany and builds thrills in Switzerland before sputtering to over-lingering in the Alps and plummeting to an abrupt conclusion in Italy so startling that I had no idea that I was going to be finishing the book until I was halfway through the chapter. You can tell that Twain was tired of traveling and lecturing with this book, that the luster was gone, as the second half of the book is heavily concerned with his homesickness for America.
Outstanding points: his interest in German university students and his "bromance" with Harris, a travel partner so uniquely pointed to be Twain's foil that it's almost as if he's been embellished by Twain's predilection to pad the truth of reality or something. Also, as per, the insults are killer – so killer, in fact, that they often veer into the acerbic. If I could, I'd probably rate this 3.75, but my love of Mr. Twain leads me to say that four stars are quite alright.(less)
When I started reading Orthodoxy, I made a point to go in cold. I wished so very much to only focus on Chesterton's language, the way he wove his sent...moreWhen I started reading Orthodoxy, I made a point to go in cold. I wished so very much to only focus on Chesterton's language, the way he wove his sentences into a fabric, rather than focus on the modus operandi of the rhetoric.
This was a very grave mistake.
In order to understand Chesterton's rhetoric, you must possess within yourself a more complete understanding of Catholic philosophy and mindset than I presently possess. It colors his argument and the language he uses to such a degree that I, an agnostic on most of my days, felt very much lost at sea. This makes sense, really; Orthodoxy is not a traditional example of Christian apologetics, as Chesterton fully admits that this is merely his journey of how he came to build his belief set. As such, it's not Jesus For Dummies 101 - no, it's implied that you're not ignorant to basic Christian doctrine. You wouldn't have been at that point in history anyway; if, for all the godlessness Chesterton bemoaned in these pages, he could see contemporary society... well.
As such, I couldn't follow his gorgeous words due to being far too lost in the forest to look at the trees. Sometimes, his arguments outraged me to the point that I couldn't put aside the fact that this was written a century or so before and could only gnash my teeth. If I had been more knowledgable of my context, this wouldn't have been an issue for me. As it stands, however, it is.
Perhaps I'll return to this when I have a solid knowledge of from whence Chesterton's arguments come. But until then, my rating places this book solidly in the middle. (less)
**spoiler alert** Admittedly, I thought I had read this but I am surmising that I only managed to touch the tip of the iceberg with certain bovine cal...more**spoiler alert** Admittedly, I thought I had read this but I am surmising that I only managed to touch the tip of the iceberg with certain bovine calamities (which were, for the record, roughly only the second chapter into the book). Point being: I was delightfully surprised to find that Anne of Avonlea was a book I hadn't tapped in my early adolescence -- probably, I surmise, because I was too unready to deal with the fact that Anne Shirley starts to grow up. Actually, at the time, I totally thought she had grown up, as if sixteen and seventeen are the oldest of maids. Retrospect teaches me how crazy this is, of course, and means that I (obviously) managed to finish this tale well and good.
The one thing I'm concerned about -- at least, to the point of picking tiny bones out of the grandiose salmon that is this delightful tome -- is the development of the Anne-Gilbert friendship. There were a lot of references to it, to be sure (hahaha, oh Improvement Society), but the placement of Anne's older relationships took the back seat to the new ones: her favored pupil Paul Irving, the twins (and Davy in particular), and Miss Lavendar. Granted, this makes sense in terms of moving plot/making a mark on a singular epoch in Anne's life, but when there is subtle implications across this book and the book prior that Anne and Gilbert are going to be doing the engagement jam ASAP, you'd think that there'd be more focus. But maybe this is my big old shipper heart speaking; after all, how interesting is it to listen to Anne and Gilbert study Virgil or discuss planting trees and shit? I DON'T KNOW. It just feels... empty, somehow.
Mind you, I say this like I didn't super-love the book and have it resonate in a particularly tumultuous time in my wee little heart. College graduate, meet formerly employed schoolmarm eerily nervous about the fact that Avonlea is turning itself upside down whilst she goes off to college on the Mainland. GIRL, DON'T I KNOW IT.(less)
Okay, first admission: I'm re-reading this at twenty-five years old. As the kids say: YOLO. Ergo, my diving into this easy, breezy, ever-delightful re...moreOkay, first admission: I'm re-reading this at twenty-five years old. As the kids say: YOLO. Ergo, my diving into this easy, breezy, ever-delightful read.
Anne Shirley, for the rare and uneducated soul, is one of our Patron Saints of Gingers. (Second admission: self-professed ginger; the proffered photograph lacks any doctoring in Photoshop beyond that of kind cropping.) She (along with Pippi Longstocking, the Weasleys, and any soul that Molly Ringwald gave to life in her acting) gave the awkward, red-headed stepchildren of the world such as myself hope. Mayhaps -- could my flights of ridiculous, dream-eyed fancy turn me into someone as gracious and accomplished as the Miss Shirley that blossoms at the end of this tale? How I hoped -- although, mind you, some of her infamous scrapes seemed so fanciful as to be irritating as of my first age of reading this (coincidentally, also at roughly age eleven).
I won't go through the plot, because Lord knows how well-published and versed the tale of Anne Shirley, the Cuthberts, and all of Avonlea are to most in the Western hemisphere, but I do wish to remark that Montgomery's writing ages terrifically well. It doesn't surprise me to find out that Montgomery had meant to write for a broader audience than the youth demographic; similarly, her vocabulary is breezy enough to be enjoyed by youth but challenging enough to not feel as if it's a idiot's read for the mild to moderately nostalgic individual aching to revisit his or her childhood. Moreover, Montgomery's characterization of souls really shines with the benefit of experience; whereas I was once wholly biased against Marilla in my youth, for example, I now see the beauty of the craft of her character by Montgomery's hands. And the interpersonal relationships -- well, if there was ever a justification for a brief touch of soliloquy, Montgomery's stylistic tendencies are it.
Mind you, Anne of Green Gables (and her sequels, I'm sure, but we'll see) is emblematic of late Victorian to early Edwardian literature of the time. There are Morals and a heavy presence of Christianity, but if you're really that jaded about such a presence in storytelling from that time period, you probably shouldn't be looking into this series. Similarly, if you're into heavy lifting with your books, don't come knocking -- Montgomery is a champion of small revelations in the character of Man, not Big Truths. Think of it this way: reading Anne of Green Gables is sweet, nourishing, refreshing: a smoothie in terms of reading, I'd think. It's lovely, easy to consume, terribly nutritious in certain ways, and good for the soul. But it's not a good vegan meal in terms of reading, that's for sure.(less)