What a fun reboot of the X-Men franchise. The action and situations were completely ridiculous (one of the main plotlines involves giant humanoid roboWhat a fun reboot of the X-Men franchise. The action and situations were completely ridiculous (one of the main plotlines involves giant humanoid robots sent by the government to destroy anyone with the mutant gene... with lasers) but wow, it makes for fun action.
As somebody whose only experience with X-Men is the movies, I really liked what they did with the characters. Pretty much all of them, even the "grownup" characters from the movie are presented as angsty teenagers whom Professor Xavier (who himself is only mid-30's) recruits for his school and counter-army to Magneto's. Jean Gray in particular is a hot, spunky little 19-year-old redhead who beds down Wolverine... who was sent by Magneto to kill Professor Xavier.
The character development wasn't quite as in depth and nuanced as the movies. I for one missed the old-friend / new enemy vibe that Xavier and Magneto displayed in the movies. But everything else fired on all laser canons. Heartily recommend this one to non-comic book people who are looking to make an entrance into comics with familiar characters....more
After a LO-O-O-O-T of exposition, this book really picked up and was quite a fast and engaging read. I don't know that I'm necessarily as in love withAfter a LO-O-O-O-T of exposition, this book really picked up and was quite a fast and engaging read. I don't know that I'm necessarily as in love with it as everyone else, but it was a fun read. Kind of reminded me of "The Church of Dead Girls" albeit with a different tone. And yes, Lisbeth Salander is pretty cool, but again, I don't know that I'm as in love with her as everyone else.
Still, a solid and exciting read. Looking forward to continuing on with the series....more
**spoiler alert** (If you haven't read the first Hunger Games book, this one will have spoilers for you)
Wow! No, absolutely WOW! Suzanne Collins has m**spoiler alert** (If you haven't read the first Hunger Games book, this one will have spoilers for you)
Wow! No, absolutely WOW! Suzanne Collins has managed to do what, so far, so many other speculative YA fiction authors can't seem to figure out. She's made a sequel that manages to ratchet up the intrigue and tension of the original, while at the same time never losing focus on what made the original so captivating: its characters. Too often in the sequels to really cool character driven stories (Ender's Game, City of Ember) the author decides to forgo character development in favor of making broader sociological points. But in this sequel to The Hunger Games, Collins actually takes us DEEPER into the mind and personality of protagonist Katniss than she ever did in the original.
Picking up a few months after Katniss and Peeta defied the Capitol and became the first dual-winners of the Hunger Games, things back in District 12 are getting tense. In addition to dealing with constant nightmares and a loveless relationship that they had to concoct on the spot in order to win the games, Katniss is also paid a visit by President Snow who, without mincing words, tells her that her entire family is in danger if she can't convince all the other districts that the whole "star crossed lover" thing she and Peeta cultivated in the arena is for real.
Now there is talk of uprising in the various districts, which was triggered by Katniss's act of "berry defiance" at the end of Book 1 and her Mockingjay pin has become the symbol of the rebellion. Katniss, Gale, Peeta and Haymitch debate whether to run away or start their own uprising in defiance of the Capitol. But all those plans are put on hold when it's revealed that this year's Hunger Games will pull tributes from each district's current batch of past winners. Which means Katniss and Peeta are headed back into danger.
And oh man. The action and excitement simply don't let up. Ever. And neither do the emotional sucker punches as Katniss both has to make tough decisions and grapple with confusing decisions and loyalties made by her fellow tributes.
The book ends on a wonderfully constructed cliffhanger that makes me absolutely ravenous for the final book in the trilogy.
Holy crap, I'm sucked in again after only one chapter. This sequel has hit the ground running.
"It must be very fragile, " says Katniss, referring to the Established Order, "if a handful of berries can bring it down." Whoa, now that's deep.
And President Snow has officially become the scariest dude in kid's lit EVER. ...more
This is one of the few books over the years that I have not minded reading over and over and over AND OVER AND OVER. Fun rhyme, fun rhythm, fun storyThis is one of the few books over the years that I have not minded reading over and over and over AND OVER AND OVER. Fun rhyme, fun rhythm, fun story about the most frazzled parents on the planet and their children who make your picky eaters seem like downright gourmets. Allison is finally getting old enough that she can read this one to me. (sniff) She's growing up....more
Fun read with Allison. Apparently in a lot of areas of the world, the primary "tooth tradition" involves chucking the tooth onto the roof of your housFun read with Allison. Apparently in a lot of areas of the world, the primary "tooth tradition" involves chucking the tooth onto the roof of your house and/or waiting for a mouse or rat to come and get it. America and a couple other "english" countries are the anomalies in the world with their Tooth Fairy. Neat stuff....more
Wow, what an amazing read. I plowed through this one, staying up late several nights to read "just one more chapter." The Hunger Games takes place inWow, what an amazing read. I plowed through this one, staying up late several nights to read "just one more chapter." The Hunger Games takes place in a dystopic future where North America is divided into twelve districts, ruled with an iron fist by "The Capitol". And just to constantly remind the districts who is really in control, the Capitol picks 1 boy and 1 girl from each district every year to compete in a kill-or-be-killed game in which only one person will survive.
From the selection process, through the contestants preparations, and into the gut wrenching competition itself, this book pretty much fires on all cylinders. My only gripe is that character development for the protagonist, Katniss, is rather lacking. There were several moments where I expected the author to delve into what was going on in her head, like say how she reacts when she makes her first kill. But this doesn't happen which was kind of disappointing, especially compared to the rest of the book which is really quite amazing. Definitely worth the read....more
I've gotta admit, I was worried this book was going to come across as hackish and derivative based on the very first line: "The early summer sky was tI've gotta admit, I was worried this book was going to come across as hackish and derivative based on the very first line: "The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit." Sounded like the author was trying to copy the famous first line from "Neuromancer" but with a "look how weird, edgy and gross I'm being" slant.
But once I got past that initial eyebrow raise, the book was thoroughly awesome. This post-apocalyptic world has been rebuilt to be even more perfect than its pre-apocalypse reality. At the age of 16 everyone undergoes an operation that will make them "Pretty". But not just pretty. You become the absolute pinnacle of visual perfection and spend your days having one giant party and hanging out with people who are just as gorgeous as you are. As a pre-sixteen "Ugly" Tally yearns for the day when she can become pretty and rejoin her former friends in Pretty Town.
But then her friend Shay tries to convince her to run off to a phantom place called "The Smoke". Shay doesn't WANT to be pretty. She doesn't want somebody else deciding who she will be. She doesn't want to be like everyone else. What ends up following is a story of coerced betrayal, espionage, and many multiple questions of right, wrong, good and bad. What could have easily turned into a morality play about how it's ALWAYS better to do what's natural (i.e. stay "ugly" and live amongst nature), the author actually lets the characters grapple with what the right decisions actually are. And, mercifully, he refrains from giving us an answer.
Good philosophy. Good character development. Plenty of kick ass action scenes involving HOVERBOARDS. Great first book of the series. I'm eager to check out the sequel, "Pretties"...more
First of all, this book has perhaps my favorite opening line of any book ever: "We went to the Moon to have fun, but the Moon turned out to completelyFirst of all, this book has perhaps my favorite opening line of any book ever: "We went to the Moon to have fun, but the Moon turned out to completely suck."
In the indeterminately near future, everyone of at least modest means has a "Feed" installed in their brains that allows them to access information, interact with their friends and purchase products from targeted advertisements beamed directly into their heads. Culture is completely driven by the capitalist/consumer mindset. Even School(TM) is run by the corporations because, as the lead character says, having the government run the schools "sounds completely, like, Nazi." It's gotten to the point where nobody really knows what goes on in the world beyond keeping up with whatever product, fashion or TV show is "meg brag" right now. Rumors of war, of riots, of the tensions surrounding the United States' annexation of the Moon are mere blips in a neverending flood of information fed directly into your head, making it hard to really care about anything, much less be impressed by even a Spring Break trip to the FREAKIN MOON!
The brilliance of this book, of course, is that you immediately realize that this isn't some dystopian future. This is RIGHT NOW.
But the beauty of this book is all in the language, in the voice, in the way the main character talks, even thinks, like he's KIND OF aware of the bigger issues of the world, but is already too much a product of his information and marketing saturated environment plus his "whatever" attitude peer group to even make heads or tails out of it. And even when he meets a girl who can finally open his eyes to what's really going on, even when the very reality of the feed starts to kill her, all he and his friends can think about is what a major drag she is.
Mesmerizing, albeit a bit slow in the middle, this book should be required reading for anyone who has immersed themselves in the social media world of today....more
Knowing nothing about the established Spiderman universe outside of the movies and the mid-90's cartoon series, I really liked this re-boot. Good setuKnowing nothing about the established Spiderman universe outside of the movies and the mid-90's cartoon series, I really liked this re-boot. Good setup of the character. Good setup of the conflict with the Kingpin. Kind of a quick treatment of the Green Goblin, but I know this is a comic book, so it's likely that he'll be back again to raise some hell. Looking forward to "future" volumes....more
For a book that is pretty much straight sci-fi / cyberpunk (which I'm normally not into) this one moved along pretty fast. In fact I plowed through thFor a book that is pretty much straight sci-fi / cyberpunk (which I'm normally not into) this one moved along pretty fast. In fact I plowed through the whole thing in one long day of cross-country flights. The story takes place in a dystopic future (I seem to be reading a lot of these lately) where no human over the age of 14 has survived and where children are placed in dorms until their 14th birthday, at which point their brains and muscle tissue is harvested for use in a race of creatures destined to fight and die in an ongoing set of wargames orchestrated by "The Overlords."
The few kids who are lucky enough to escape and not get recaptured come under the protection of "Shade" a former human who only exists as a digital mind now. He helps train his children to fight back against the Overlord, though it becomes pretty clear that he has rather self-serving motives of his own.
I never felt particularly engaged by any of the characters, or really even understood WHY all of this was happening. The explanation for WHY the Overlords first came into power is never explored enough to my satisfaction. But despite all of that, it certainly was a fast and entertaining read with a TON of action. ...more
To quote a friend of mine: "What a delicious piece of storytelling this is." Coraline is, indeed, a deliciously creepy story about a girl who finds aTo quote a friend of mine: "What a delicious piece of storytelling this is." Coraline is, indeed, a deliciously creepy story about a girl who finds a special door in a hidden room of her house which takes her into a world where her "other family" lives. Everything seems perfect. Her other mother is sweet and fun and her other father actually pays attention to her, unlike their real life counterparts. But we and Coraline quickly realize that there is something altogether not right about this place... or about the "Other Mother". But before Coraline can beat a speedy retreat to the other side of the door, the Other Mother ups the ante on her, forcing her to participate in a rather macabre scavenger hunt, with her parents' very souls as the prize.
The thing I think I appreciated most about the story is that when you get to the end and (SPOILER ALERT) everything turns out okay (this is, after all, still a children's story), Gaiman doesn't invalidate everything you just read by insinuating that it was all a dream... though he does play with the concept for just a moment, I like to think as a way of giving the middle finger to any children's author who ever pulled that lame stunt. Quite the contrary with this book though, where the nightmare of the Other Mother makes one last grab for Coraline on Coraline's side of the door.
As an added bit of deliciousness, I heartily recommend picking up the audio version of this book where the author, Neil Gaiman lends his perfectly deep and malaise British accent to the task, accompanied by just enough sound and music to add to the creep factor....more
This book was recommended to me by my father-in-law who says it has completely changed the way he looks at God and religion and how he, a pastor, preaThis book was recommended to me by my father-in-law who says it has completely changed the way he looks at God and religion and how he, a pastor, preaches about both. He bought the book for me because he was curious what the "atheist's perspective" on it would be.
The book's basic premise is essentially that we should strip away everything else we've learned about God and what it means to be Christian and boil it down to one simple concept: "God is Love". When we look at Him through that perspective, all our in-fighting, all our feelings of guilt and unworthiness not to mention our need to judge and condemn others will cease to seem important as we simply focus on loving God the way He loved us.
And that's all well and good as a theory except for one glaring thing: HELL. Specifically, how can you say God is Love at His most basic essence, and then explain a place created by Him (or at the very least, allowed by Him to exist) where people, who He supposedly at one time loved, get burned and tortured and pretty much get the shit kicked out of them non-stop over the course of trillions upon trillions of years. This kind of love, to me, reeks of an abusive relationship where the husband promises to love, honor and cherish his wife... but if it doesn't work out or she strays in any way, he will fucking KILL HER. And I know this isn't a new or mind-blowing concept, but it's one that the author seems to take a keen interest in repeatedly NOT addressing, almost as if he's conspicuously avoiding the subject. Which tells me one of two things: either a) he too doesn't know how to reconcile eternal hellfire with a loving God or b) he doesn't believe that Hell actually exists but is too afraid to alienate his Christian reader base.
The thing is, I was right on board with a LOT of what the author was trying to convey. They were the kinds of things I was thinking myself regarding the Christian faith while I was still a part of it. Namely that too many of the faithful would rather spend their time focusing on and worrying about the negative aspects of God's character rather than simply rejoicing in the fact that He just wants to be our friend, Dad and confidant. Unfortunately when you balance this "truth" to the "truth" of the Bible, you really can't escape the fact that this is a conditional relationship and if you walk away from it (citing abuse, absence of affection or complete and total alienation) you are beyond screwed. I made notes about various things that struck me as I read, raising issue with many of the author's minor points, but in the end, most every comment I made came back to that one irreconcilable point: "That's all well and good, but what about Hell?"
All that said, I actually think this is an important book for Christians to read. Honestly, if more Christians adopted this "love as the basis for everything" concept, the religion as a whole would leave a lot less to be loathed. Loving others and just being secure in your own salvation without the need to scare others into the faith is exactly what a religion based on love should be anyway....more
Good fun and easy read about a bunch of kids who get knocked off course during their death and end up back on Earth an a sort of "in between" place caGood fun and easy read about a bunch of kids who get knocked off course during their death and end up back on Earth an a sort of "in between" place called Everlost, where they have a lot to learn about how death works and how not everything is what it seems. Supposed allies become enemies. Supposed enemies become allies. The story is self-contained yet nicely sets up the conflicts for future books. Good solid YA paranormal....more