Ember is 16 and just wants to spend the summer surfing, hanging out with her friends, and partying.
Unfortunately, she’s also a shape shifting dragon Ember is 16 and just wants to spend the summer surfing, hanging out with her friends, and partying.
Unfortunately, she’s also a shape shifting dragon and she is hopelessly caught between three radical factions. One group wants her dead, one wants her enslaved, and the other wants to make her a rebel pawn.
Of course, there’s a boy in each camp demanding a piece of her heart, and she doesn’t know which way to turn.
I want to say the book is like the movie Salt except with shape shifting dragons instead of undercover Russians – but Ember is nowhere in the same league as Angelina Jolie, since the only talent she has is surfing, which doesn’t come in handy when people are trying to kill her.
Possibly there is a lot to be read into a subtext about 21st century radicalization and helicopter parenting and good intentions and evil corporations.
Here we have two supernatural groups of disembodied godlike creatures – the “Ambassad Two households, both alike in dignity.
Sorry, couldn’t resist. :-D
Here we have two supernatural groups of disembodied godlike creatures – the “Ambassadors” and the “Mercenaries” – which sound like street gang names made up by a very geeky 12 year old. (Or someone who is very into Jayne/Inara fanfiction.)
The two groups are deeply concerned with True Love.
The Ambassadors want to make sure all the Buttercups and Westlys of the world pledge their undying love and stay together, while the Mercenaries want to turn lovers on each other and have one kill the other in exchange for a vampire/zombie/ghost-like eternity. Because love, in different forms, is their drug, and both sides will do whatever for their next fix.
Back in the 14th century the two groups went head to head over a young couple, and the Mercenaries won that round when Romeo killed Juliet. Romeo became a Mercenary and Juliet became an Ambassador, meaning, every 50 years or so, each are forced into possessing someone else’s body so Romeo can try and destroy a pair of soul mates while Juliet does her best to keep yet another generation of crazy kids together.
(Sidebar: There’s no mention of gender swapping at any point, which seems like a missed learning opportunity for the characters and a missed creativity opportunity for the author.)
R and J each have about a 50% success rate in this cold zero sum chess game they’ve been forced into.
By the time the 21st century rolls around, they are both pretty sick of this game, but Juliet still hates Romeo for killing her, and Romeo is carrying a warped torch for her. He keeps insisting she still feels something for him and she keeps reminding him: ‘remember that time you killed me?’ They have become that kind of superhero / supervillain dynamic with a lot of sexual subtext to their fights.
Juliet is tired and on edge from the whole thing. Romeo has gone Joker-esque mad. His insanity would make even Ophelia and Hamlet sit up and go ‘wow, that is some good crazy.’
This round of the game Juliet and Romeo are going just sort of through the motions of trying to break up / get together a pair of teenagers since neither are really committed anymore to the cause, and Romeo is making some fairly seditious noises about ditching this whole boring cold war and running away together to like, Tahiti, or somewhere.
Meanwhile, part of Juliet’s cover involves working on a high school production of West Side Story, which is so nauseatingly meta that Juliet is all like ‘I’m gonna hurl.’ Turns out, Romeo paled around with Shakespeare back in the day and convinced him to write a twisted version of ‘what really happened’ and Juliet has spent centuries hating that. damned. play.
Romeo, Juliet, and their assignments quickly devolve into a twisted love dodecahedron, with everyone exhibiting the worst extremes of relationships that, sadly, are not in any way fictional, as the boys fight like cavemen and the girls scream like hyenas, showcasing exactly why teenagers are constantly being told: ‘this is why you can’t have nice things!’
Urgh, and then, the end happens, and just about everything gets negated as it turns out some of the characters have the cheat codes for resets and time travel and multi-verses, which lowers the stakes to about 0 and made me stop caring. Urgh. ...more
The story starts out strong but there is a little too much stereotyping and I was surprised that despite setting up for a strong message about Life an The story starts out strong but there is a little too much stereotyping and I was surprised that despite setting up for a strong message about Life and Death it ends up all being a little cutesy. ...more
Family hisotry set to prose poems telling of one girl figuring out who she is, where she comes from, and hwre she's going. A true telling of one of ma Family hisotry set to prose poems telling of one girl figuring out who she is, where she comes from, and hwre she's going. A true telling of one of many American girls who were the first of many things in thier families - ie American, educated, and longing for independnce. ...more
A dazzling exploration of the future, combining religion, art, music, technology, love, youth, age, and sacrifice, examining who we are and who we mig A dazzling exploration of the future, combining religion, art, music, technology, love, youth, age, and sacrifice, examining who we are and who we might become....more
I really wish someone had pushed this into my hands when I was about 15. The book is excellent as an introduction for teenage girls about healthy appr I really wish someone had pushed this into my hands when I was about 15. The book is excellent as an introduction for teenage girls about healthy approaches to food, exercise, and overall staying sane while in high school – always a difficult feat.
I HIGHLY recommend for teenagers who want to work on taking control of their self-esteem, mental health, and physical health. ...more
Snow White, a fairy tale as about as much about appearances as you can get, perfectly matches with modern day Los Angeles.
Frustratingly, I both hate Snow White, a fairy tale as about as much about appearances as you can get, perfectly matches with modern day Los Angeles.
Frustratingly, I both hate and love this book, so I’m going with a split-the-difference 3 star rating.
The book gets a major fail for using eating disorders as a light hearted vehicle for a fluffy rom-com of a novel.
And the whole Ugly Ducking story was cliché when Anderson write the damn thing.
On a lesser degree of offense, this book is also going to become incredibly dated very quickly, given the Hollywood name dropping.
However, its genuinely funny, I loved how the love interest story lines played out, it was a great cast of characters, the dialogue was funny and believable, and it was awesome to have a main character so determined to be herself, rather than copy anyone else. ...more
An extremely enjoyable, funny, fluffy, adorable teenage summer love story.
Lots of shout outs to Jane Austin, the American Revolution, Nancy Drew, and An extremely enjoyable, funny, fluffy, adorable teenage summer love story.
Lots of shout outs to Jane Austin, the American Revolution, Nancy Drew, and Battlestar Galactica.
All of the characters are, to some degree or another, hilarious, the setting was tailor made for the book-loving, history geek, there’s a costume ball, fireworks, a tidy little ghost story, ships, ice cream, sunscreen, and the Jonas Brothers predicting True Love.
My only problem was I had a really hard time suspending my disbelief that 17 year olds would be left unsupervised so often. The book is set very firmly in the 21st century, despite the historical reenacting, and in this day and age of lawsuits and liability, it doesn’t matter if you are 7 or 17 – adult supervision is required at all times. ...more
The third book starts out by taking a weird u-turn back to the 1980’s, the height of the Cold War, and the sub-genre of science fict**spoiler alert**
The third book starts out by taking a weird u-turn back to the 1980’s, the height of the Cold War, and the sub-genre of science fiction that sprung up during those days.
This particular sub-genre she draws from for her third book’s start is one where nuclear Armageddon has decimated the planet’s surface, what’s left of the population is living in very strictly regulated underground bunkers, and the Cold War continues as the underground population has split into two factions.
It was very surprising to see remnants of this genre here, considering how it pretty much petered out circa 1989 when the world realized we could have other, better, different, endings to the Cold War besides complete annihilation.
Meanwhile, in the world of Panem, the stakes go up again. Whatever else, you can’t accuse Collins of sugarcoating what humans can do to each other. Not only the horrors of war – that’s old hat – but what people will do to rise to power, to stay in power, and, worse, the damage we don’t mean to do. Also, she underlines in red ink that war has its cost, and, somehow or other, everyone is forced to pay.
The book chronicles several wars happening at once. There’s the old fashioned bombs and gun battles going on throughout the country along with some man vs. mutant battles that scared the crap of me. There is the personal war each person goes through trying to stay sane – some with more success than others. There is a propaganda war the Capital and the rebels are fighting, issuing commercials to win (or scare) hearts and minds, with the two presidents high jacking each other’s live feeds back and forth that at times felt like a particularly aggressive televised debate between two presidential candidates.
And there is the very, very creepy war between Snow and Katniss.
Snow becomes a pedophile, a stalker, and a pimp as well as a ruthless child killing dictator, just to make sure, on two levels, he has absolutely no redeeming qualities, just to make sure the book audience and the people of Panem are right there with Katniss as she keeps muttering to herself I will kill you, leaving the audience no possible response but you go girl.
Which is why it was so surprising that we don’t get quite the showdown we are promised. The last act takes a lot of weird twists and turns, leaving me at parts wondering if Katniss was caught in some sort hologram or dream sequence or some such.
A word about the Propaganda War.
It’s not enough to steal the plans for the Death Star or blow up the munitions factory or free the slaves or throw tea in the harbor – these days, you have to be able to do it while looking good for the camera.
Does anyone remember studying this picture in high school history class? A secular pieta, a young woman howling her grief, a perfect summary of all that was wrong with that moment in time.
And then it turned out it had been edited from this:
The edited version was made to let the viewer focus better on the tragedy, but the debate to this day wages back and forth on whether it was wrong to doctor a primary source, even if it meant getting the larger Truth out, without letting a few untidy Facts get in the way.
So, Collins asks her readers, what is more important? Truth? Or Fact? ...more
**spoiler alert** My hat off to Ms. Collins raising the stakes in Book 2 to dizzying heights in a follow up to Book 1’s fight to the death plot.
While**spoiler alert** My hat off to Ms. Collins raising the stakes in Book 2 to dizzying heights in a follow up to Book 1’s fight to the death plot.
While I expected Katniss to have to return to the arena the second she got out of it at the end of Book 1, and you don’t set up an Evil EmpireTM without planning a revolution/rebellion plot, there were a lot of twists and turns to the story that caught me off guard, and the set up had me tearing through the pages to see who was going to get out of this alive.
Loved, loved, loved, the development of pre-existing characters and the additional characters who joined the story. Nice touch to show Prim growing up, and was very pleased to have Peeta grow a brain. I kinda wanted to slap Gale for his revolutionary zeal, but he is exactly the kind of fired up 18 year old that real armies are made of.
Also, while I had a little trouble picturing the Arena this time round, full marks for creativity. Seriously – what kind of sick, twisted mind comes up with this stuff? And just how much god-awful reality TV drek did Collins have to watch to research her trilogy? ‘Cause there is a lot that is not that different at all from current programming. >shudder< …the horror
And I got what I wanted at the end of Book 1 – a cliffhanger that is sending me running for the third book. ...more
While it’s easy to point to other times and places that are/were physically more dangerous with higher mortality rates for teens, I think one could ma While it’s easy to point to other times and places that are/were physically more dangerous with higher mortality rates for teens, I think one could make a good argument that middle class suburban America is pretty emotionally scarring for your average teenager these days.
Lot of pain here as the main character struggles with mental and emotional challenges – but what makes him such a great character is he is active rather than passive; he’s life sucks – so he does something about it. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Holden.
My complaint is I think OCD was watered down somewhat here – from what I’ve read about it, it can be much, much worse than what is shown here. ...more