Krista McGee uses her prologue to thrust you into the annihilation chamber with Thalli, making it impossible for the reader not to care about her. In...moreKrista McGee uses her prologue to thrust you into the annihilation chamber with Thalli, making it impossible for the reader not to care about her. In Thalli’s world, each person is given a purpose, a role to play. She is the musician. But Thalli is different from the others in her pod, and she has always felt this difference. She’s curious. She asks questions. She feels deeply. It’s hard not to identify with Thalli in her struggle to understand the world and herself, to find her meaning and purpose. It’s a natural part of life and growing up, and we’ve all been there. In our world, differences are often heralded, markers of individuality to be celebrated. But for Thalli, these differences don’t simply define her, they threaten her existence.
McGee makes Thalli a convincing character whose curiosity and naiveté make her endearing but fragile. So we like her and worry about her. And as the plot progresses, we turn the pages with increasing speed to find out exactly what fate awaits her. Herein lies one of the novel’s strengths. You just want to keep reading to find out what happens next. Unfortunately, in the end, the author’s hand is a bit too visible, as the plot relies too heavily on reversals, the shifting tides of the Ten who seem to be capricious as far as scientific minds are concerned. “Let’s annihilate her; Wait, no, let’s study her; What were we thinking, let’s destroy her; No, she fascinates me, let me make her my lab rat.” On and on it goes…
Overall, the novel succeeds in drawing a sympathetic character in Thalli who is full of questions and becomes dizzied by her shifting, changing environment that makes her question what is reality and what is fiction. She navigates her world with the help of her friend/love-interest Berk and a wise but mysterious elderly man, named John, who tells her stories of life before the Ten. Stories that include a loving God, “The Designer.”
This inclusion of theology, or God, as “The Designer,” serves as both a strength and weakness. While this is an unusual, and laudable, part of a dystopian novel — it gives a larger context and viewpoint from which to define and create meaning and purpose for life and death, both individual and cosmic — the theological threads were not fully interwoven into the novel’s whole. So, what could have been a huge boon, felt like an underdeveloped sub-plot thrown in now and then. And, honestly, sometimes it took away from the momentum of the plot and felt like, at best, a simplistic, sentimentalized distraction.
Like any installment of a dystopian series, you finish the book with as many questions as answers. That’s a good thing for continued interest in the book (“What happens next?”). There are too many other kinds of questions, however, that reveal holes or flaws in the text that keep this book from ultimately taking off.
3 of 5 stars. Good. An enjoyable dystopian novel with a hint of romance and suspense. A good, clean read for girls and young teens. Older teens and secular readers may look for something with a little more edge and a little less predictability. In the end, the novel suffers from trying to straddle the line between being a Christian book and a secular book. Secular readers will likely ask for a little more plot and a little less God. Alternately, inquiring Christian readers may wish the theology had been more robust and better integrated.(less)
Another fun, light read in the series. My only issue is that the plot tension is resolved too quickly and easily. And yet, isn't. Still, this series i...moreAnother fun, light read in the series. My only issue is that the plot tension is resolved too quickly and easily. And yet, isn't. Still, this series is a lot of fun and the books are nice to read when feeling bogged down in other texts.(less)
Mockingjay. What a book! Suzanne Collins has crafted one of the most intelligent and and readable series that...moreOriginally posted on my blog,Read Love.
Mockingjay. What a book! Suzanne Collins has crafted one of the most intelligent and and readable series that we've seen in recent years. She utilized each piece in the trilogy to develop and bring the series to completion. Nothing is wasted. While she might have been tempted to stretch the series out for sales, it's clear she stayed true to her vision as she steered the story to an end. Much respect to Ms. Collins!
No bones about it, Mockingjay is a dark novel. You'll be emotionally spent when you finish it. And that's as it should be. Collins has successfully demonstrated the crippling and devastating effects of war. Civilian or soldier alike, no one escapes unscathed. No one remains unchanged. If you read The Hunger Games hoping for more exploration of the ramifications of war and violence, you'll be satisfied to see that Mockingjay is both ambitious enough and honest enough to confront the stark reality head on. Nothing is sugar-coated or glossed over. This unflinchingly realistic portrayal of war and revolution shows that even the victors sacrifice more than anyone should.
If you are looking for sunshine and happy endings, you'll be disappointed. This is no fairy tale, and Collins would be doing you a disservice to serve up any other ending than the one that she provides. Because it stays realistic, this series feels more adult. It becomes elevated beyond a story. The characters start to live and breathe and rise off the page. Your heart will break for them as they love, fight, struggle, and survive (or die). Survival will not come easily or cleanly; it will not be free from trauma and after-effects. In this sense, the books succeed masterfully by showing the reader vicariously what war is like. Hopefully, most of us will never need to learn first hand the horrors of war. Collins has taken the subject and presented it in a way that effectively shows us the atrocities of war in order that her readers can learn something the easy way rather than through experience.
These books will inspire intelligent conversation about war and violence, truth and lies, and the influence of television and the media in disseminating information to manipulate the masses. Additionally, the series should inspire discussion about love and hope, compassion and kindness. By nature, man is capable of committing the most egregious acts of violence and hatred. But at the same time, we are capable of much beauty and love. And these novels show the complexity and fullness of humanity and how extreme circumstances can bring out both the worst and the best in us.(less)
Suzanne Collins did it! She wrote a sequel that is every bit as good as The Hunger Games. Possibly better....moreOriginally published on my blog, Read Love.
Suzanne Collins did it! She wrote a sequel that is every bit as good as The Hunger Games. Possibly better. It's everything I can do not to dive into number 3 right away. I would if I could, but my dear husband has ordered the hardcover series box set after reading my paperback copy of book 1. So rather than order the Nook version, I will wait a few days for the books to arrive.
Don't worry, no spoilers here. I wouldn't do that to you! Read on....
I enjoyed seeing more of Panem and getting to know the other districts better in this installment. The overall setting really came to life.
Some have commented that the first part of Catching Fire is slow, but I didn't find it to be so. I enjoyed catching up with what life after the Games had been like for Katniss. We get to see more of her family and friends in District 12. Overall, Suzanne Collins continues to develop her characters. Katniss is more self-aware. It's nice to watch her grow and learn from her experience. She's still the same feisty girl, but she becomes more savvy about how her actions affect others. In addition to our heroine, you'll get to know all the principles better and meet some new folks, too.
Once again, there are scenes that will touch you, scenes where you will laugh and scenes where you will cry. And the whole time, you'll be totally immersed in the story. Like book 1, the text is tight and doesn't bog down the plot or slow the pace. Collins' economy of words is amazing. She manages to keep the plot moving while at the same time maximizing scenes. For instance, though sometimes a character may not have many scenes or extended dialogue, Collins always makes the most of the words she does use. Additionally, I marvelled at just how much takes place in such a slim volume. The plot, as it unfolds, gets increasingly complex. By the midway point, the novel takes off. And once you've read that far, you won't put it down. And don't worry, the author will keep you guessing. Trust me, when I finished the book, my jaw just plain dropped!
I look forward to finding out how life will continue to evolve for Katniss and the rest of Panem. I know Mockingjay will be just as incredible as the other two books have been. Can't wait!
If you haven't read this series yet, what are you waiting for??! (less)
Still has some mistakes, like the first. But every now and then there is a turn of phrase or paragraph that is written with beauty and care. Oliver's...moreStill has some mistakes, like the first. But every now and then there is a turn of phrase or paragraph that is written with beauty and care. Oliver's strength is in writing about emotion and relationship.
Not as satisfying as Delirium, probably because there was more predictability. The alternating storylines were a little unsettling at first, and it took some time for the "then" storyline to become as compelling as the "now". Oliver waited too long to flesh the characters out. When she finally had the reveal of Raven's past, that side of the novel became as interesting as the other.
What keeps me reading is Lena. She is unwilling to lose her heart or to force her tenderness to take a backseat to a cause or ideology.
Another love triangle. Love triangles are becoming a YA fiction cliche. Hope book three centers more around plot then love-triangle driven dramatic tension. (less)
My first reaction after finishing The Hunger Games was this: Why did I wait so long?!
I knew this series was all-the-rage, but sometimes that keeps me away. Hype can lead to expectations which can end in disappointment. I waited for the paperback release. And even then, it sat on my shelf. So if you are reading this review to decide whether or not to read the book...you can stop right now. Stop. Drop what you are doing. Get thee to a bookstore or library. Get a copy in your hands. Let the reading commence!
Although she certainly didn't create the genre, Suzanne Collins may be responsible for the Dystopian trend the YA publishing world is currently enjoying. Just as Stephanie Meyer ushered in a plethora of vampire/paranormal romance books, Collins paved the way for more post-apocolyptic page-turners. And it's no wonder, because with The Hunger Games, Collins crafted a nearly flawless book.
Panem is an interesting place. There are, or rather were, 13 districts in this post-apocolyptic world. The unlucky 13th was destroyed during a rebellion against the totalitarian government. Interesting choice, as I can't help but think of the 13 original colonies that were America's beginning. Could this world then be our future? Could we be controlled by a government that cares more for power than for its citizens?
Collins has made a society that feels realistic and plausible, which makes her fictional horrors perils worth consideration. The writing is not flashy or self-conscious. Collins avoid common YA cliches and pitfalls and serves her novel best by staying out of its way. As John Green (yes, THE John Green) wrote in the NY Times: "...by not calling attention to itself, the text disappears in the way a good font does: nothing stands between Katniss and the reader, between Panem and America." Perhaps the biggest strength of the novel is its cast of characters. Many are vividly drawn and memorable. This is especially important in a series. Several of the secondary characters are compelling enough for you to care about them - whether it's to fall in love with them, laugh at them, cheer for them, or want to know more about them. One will even break your heart.
Katniss, our heroine, is a singular girl. She's strong, tough, and a little cold. But it's not surprising that a girl whose life has been a struggle for survival is sometimes lacking skills in the finer feelings. While detached and calculating she may be, heartless she is not. That's why it isn't difficult to love this smart, strong female lead. Her emotional inepitude makes her imperfect and that makes her more loveable. I won't go into the cast of characters beyond Katniss because you should really meet them on your own terms.
Lastly, The Hunger Games is well-plotted and perfectly paced. You'll find yourself turning the pages, devouring the tale, and then reaching for the next. Did I tell you to grab it? Let me revise that. If you are late getting the book like me, you're in a lucky spot. All the books in the trilogy have been published. Grab all three at once! You'll probably not come up for air until you've read the whole shebang!
A word to those leery about the subject matter. (I know you're out there -- Hi, Mom!) Yes, the premise is brutal. Kids fighting to the death for survival is grim. But let's be clear about something: The Hunger Games does not glorify violence. If you want to worry about your kids being influenced negatively by popular entertainment, worry about some of the stuff on television, worry about those crazy video games they play like Grand Theft Auto. Worry about those CDs with warning stickers. But please, don't let your fear keep your children from picking up this book. It's entertainment, yes. But it's not disposable or gratuitous. It is literature. They will learn something about themselves. Thematically, the book is about sacrifice, love, freedom, and humanity. In this fictional reality, just like in real life, adversity and struggle can bring out either the best or the worst in people. When tested, it is up to each of us to decide how we will respond. My mother, who disliked the premise of this book, happened to love Lord of the Flies. Newsflash, Mom: These two books really aren't that far apart. (less)
Originally posted on my blog, "a href="dawn-readlove.blogspot.com">Read Love.
Wow! I bought a digital copy of Delirium when it was offered at the ba...moreOriginally posted on my blog, "a href="dawn-readlove.blogspot.com">Read Love.
Wow! I bought a digital copy of Delirium when it was offered at the bargain price of $2.99. And I'm glad I did!
Delerium is YA Dystopian Fiction at its best. Who doesn't love Dystopia? There is nothing more appealing in fiction than an exploration, on some level, of what it means to be human. Dystopia puts our humanity -- our freedom of choice, freedom of thought, and in this case, our freedom to love, on the line. So we cling to our seats and hold tightly to the page as we hope to see the characters beat what feels like insurmountable odds. All in the name of human freedom. What's not to love, right?
As I mentioned, this time it's love that's on the line. In Oliver's world, love is seen as a disease, and once adulthood is reached, each citizen goes through a procedure to be cured. Lives -- schooling, careers, marriages -- are arranged and selected for you through testing and an interview. And finally, the most important part of the process, the cure, takes place. All to ensure individual and collective happiness. Ah, but does it?
Lauren Oliver creates a compelling world. I especially liked her use of epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter to give more detail and context to this world. There is nothing to specifically date the world of Delerium. I think we are to consider this our possible future or even an alternate present. Small details were mentioned that add to the worldbuilding: the internet has become the intranet, the U.S. borders were closed, and cell phone static is the result of government surveillance. Oliver succeeds in her characters. From the beginning, you care about Lena. Her relationship with Hana is one of the best portrayals of best friends in my recent memory. Though much of this story, when not plot driven, is internal-dialogue driven, there were little tidbits thrown in to give Lena and Hana a history. Another secondary character that I like is Grace, who, although I can't tell you why, is perhaps the ultimate rebel.
Finally, the romantic element of the book feels natural and right. Oliver captures what it is like to fall in love; how love both disturbs and repairs our personal world. Above all, she illustrates why love is worth the accompanying risks and the potential pain. Don't let the four-star rating fool you. I absolutely loved this book! But I give only whole star ratings, and it's because the writing and the prose are, as a whole, so strong and emotionally compelling that a couple of editing mistakes, one in continuity, and the other an impactful oversight in word use, keep this book from getting top marks.
Still, after finishing Delirium, I immediately pre-ordered the next installment, Pandemonium (February 28, 2012). I also pre-ordered Hana, a short story that releases the same day. I can't wait to read more about what happens to Lena (and Hana)!(less)
In actuality, this may be closer to 3 1/2 stars. While the book is hard to pull away from, I found I didn't really care that deeply for the characters...moreIn actuality, this may be closer to 3 1/2 stars. While the book is hard to pull away from, I found I didn't really care that deeply for the characters. Maybe if the author had taken time to develop the characters a bit before the catastrophe (and you have to suspend disbelief, here, because scientifically, it's unlikely that what happened could really take place. That would have to be one HUGE meteor) it could have been as emotionally pulling as it was riveting from a plot standpoint. I think in the end, my favorite characters were the older brother and the doctor. Still, for a book that keeps you turning the pages, this one is really good.(less)
**spoiler alert** I devoured this book. Read it mostly in two sittings. Tally is a very likeable character, so I just wanted to watch what happened to...more**spoiler alert** I devoured this book. Read it mostly in two sittings. Tally is a very likeable character, so I just wanted to watch what happened to her and hope she did the right thing. But, because she was a sympathetic character, I went from wanting her to betray Shay so she could be pretty, and, therefore, happy, to wanting her to remain a faithful Smokie. Of course, it isn't that simple. And I'm sure she won't be made pretty and then cured that quickly, either, but I can't wait to find out what happens to her in the next installment. And I hope things turn out well for her and David!(less)