The Hunger Games was one of those books that I bought upon release, was over-hyped by everyone, and therefore went on the back-burner until my own expThe Hunger Games was one of those books that I bought upon release, was over-hyped by everyone, and therefore went on the back-burner until my own expectations of the book would be brought down. That was three years ago and I finally (FINALLY!) decided to dust off my hardcover...And I am KICKING myself for waiting so long to read it because it was AMAZING!
Okay, so the premise of The Hunger Games was awesome...and very creepy. You basically have 24 teens fighting each other to death for the chance to be the winner of The Hunger Games which includes a crapload or riches and such. Yeah it's vicious and I'm sure those who haven't read it can't comprehend why someone would do it. Well, it's mandatory in that they absolutely HAVE to do it or face...huh, the book never actually mentions what would happen if someone puts their foot down and decides not to go. Anyway, due to the premise, The Hunger Games was action-packed! I really didn't think that I would like an action book as much as I did. I just kept gasping, "Who's going to die now?! How are they going to die?!" See. Creepy premise that makes everyone else react creepily. However, said premise was made better by the awesomeness that was the main character.
Katniss was a kick-ass female character! I've read a plethora of Young-Adult novels where the heroines were pathetic, ooey-gooey type of chicks (Ahem, Twilight), so I'm always weary to pick up a non-realistic YA novel fronted by a female. But, Katniss was just made of awesome. She was so bad-ass and was just as smart, strong, and ruthless as any of the men in The Hunger Games were. In fact, most of the girls in this book were like that, even the blatantly evil ones (especially the blatantly evil ones). They all want to win and will do anything to achieve that.
Now the romance didn't make me want to stab my eyes due to the cheesiness of it all and that's the highest rating I can give it. For a romance to make me go "awww" and squee, it has to be the best romance known to man. This wasn't (and let's face it, this was a main reason why I loved it so much) and the romance wasn't all in your face (which I also liked). It was secondary to The Hunger Games. Although, let's face it, if someone was getting all cuddly during the games, I would think it was just so stupid considering that everyone should be concentrating on, you know, getting out ALIVE. But the way The Hunger Games went actually made a lot of sense.
So, The Hunger Games was just full of win. It was an amazing novel that's making me regret putting it off for so long because I could've enjoyed this book when the rest of the world (mostly) was enjoying. Oh well. At least all of the books are out, so there isn't much of a wait to read them....more
Coming right out with it, I actually found How I Live Now to be kind of terrible. I disliked everything about this book. However, my main issue with iComing right out with it, I actually found How I Live Now to be kind of terrible. I disliked everything about this book. However, my main issue with it was the fact that it was utterly boring. I'm sure that living in a dystopian world would be horrible, traumatizing, and just an all around sucky situation...however, it is NOT boring. In fact, it should NEVER be boring.
Another thing that I intensely disliked was the way How I Live Now was written. The lack of punctuation and the random capitalization is something that annoys me in every book. It just seems completely pretentious to me. Also, I often felt like the author was just telling me what was going on. I feel like a truly great book doesn't merely tell you the events, but in some way, makes you experience them. I didn't experience ANYTHING while reading How I Live Now...other than annoyance and exasperation.
The characters in How I Live Now were also paper-thin. There was absolutely no development there. I found myself caring very little about the characters due to this. Daisy's in danger? Oh well. They're all separated? Eh, who cares? We don't get to know anything about these characters or what makes them who they are. What little I knew about Daisy aggravated me. As for Piper, she was such a Mary Sue character. She's so cute and pure, she's an animal whisperer, she can get honeybees to follow her to get honey or some such nonsense such as that...yeah, I didn't buy it. And the random mind reading thing that all of the characters somehow have...was also never explained.
Overall, I found How I Live Now to be a complete mess. There was nothing good about it, in my opinion. The only reason I finished it was because it was relatively short and because it was part of a challenge. If it wasn't part of a challenge, I would have tossed the book at the first opportunity. After seeing the trailer for the film, though, that looks like it has major potential. So, I say skip the book and wait for the movie....more
I picked up Gone because it has been described by many like a young version of Stephen King's The Stand. The Stand is one of my favorite books ever, sI picked up Gone because it has been described by many like a young version of Stephen King's The Stand. The Stand is one of my favorite books ever, so I wanted to see how true that statement was. Having read the book, I definitely think that comparing it to The Stand is over-exaggerating Gone. It was good, but it was nowhere near the excellence that is The Stand. Still, it was very enjoyable.
Gone is basically about the world gone awry. Every person over the age of 14 suddenly just poofs. In a world where there are no adults, you have kids trying to run the FAYZ and a handful of them are either murderous psychos or evil kids hell-bent on gaining power and then you have the heroes who are trying to save the FAYZ. It's a pretty standard plot.
Gone is an extremely fast-paced thriller and due to this, it was a page-turner. Considering that this book was 500+ pages, that was really a must for me. The main character was likeable enough, but I didn't really care for much of the characters except for Edilio, Lana, and Patrick. I did love the idea of an alternate universe and looking into how kids would cope in a society with no order or rules. In fact, my favorite parts of Gone were when the kids reached a new hurdle and kept questioning how they would survive.
However, my main gripe with this novel is that I invested 500+ pages in this and none of my questions were answered. I don't care that this book has no closure, but it seems like this book was written with the clear intention of a sequel and if I don't want to read the sequel, I'm basically screwed because I'm going to have no idea what happened. Also, the romance between Sam/Astrid was highly improbable. I don't care what circumstances you're in. No 14-year-old is going to fall in love with someone they've only known well for a week. A lot of the characters also seemed to fall into their stereotypes. You have the hero: Sam, the pretty, brainy girl: Astrid, the little brother: Petey, the sidekick you can't really trust: Quinn, the power-hungry villain: Caine, and the beautiful bad girl: Diane. These characters were anything but original. The book was also way too long. It should've been at least 100 pages shorter, especially the author wasn't going to solve anything.
Anyway, while I did like Gone quite a bit, I felt that its flaws were too much to overlook. Plus, I'm still pissed at the whole 500 pages and no resolution thing. Maybe I'll pick up the next one in a while, but not anytime soon. So, while Gone is recommended, I definitely suggest you don't read it unless you want to devote yourself to reading the other 5 of this planned series....more
What is it about apocalyptic/dystopian novels that make most people love them so much? I mean, they can't be good for the soul. Great books have the uWhat is it about apocalyptic/dystopian novels that make most people love them so much? I mean, they can't be good for the soul. Great books have the uncanny ability to make you feel as you're not merely observing what's happening, but rather you are right there experiencing everything that's happening. That happened with me and The Things That Keep Us Here (and a big chunk of other dystopian/apocalyptic novels I've read).
I was extremely distressed while reading The Things That Keep Us Here. It's just that when I'm reading a apocalyptic/dystopian novel, I can't help but think "What would I do in that situation? Would I help my more unfortunate neighbors? Or would it be every man (or woman) for himself (or herself)?" And that just gets me all sorts of depressed. However, I felt like this novel really took those issues and dealt with them in a realistic way. Not once did I think "No one would ever act that way" because as depressing as it may seem, in a situation like this most people would be looking out for themselves primarily. And humankind would also disintergrate in an unfortunate way.
Now when it comes to the characters, most of the time I found them likeable. However, there were times were they where I really couldn't stand them. But I think that was kind of the point. In an end-of-the-world type of situation, most people are going to be unlikeable. You're going to be worrying about survival and not about keeping up pretenses. Part of my distress came from caring about these characters. I felt for Ann, Peter, Kate, Maddie, Shazia, and even Barney (I'm a huge dog person). I suffered when they suffered. I was scared when they were scared (and boy were they scared a lot). There were lots of tears for me while reading The Things That Keep Us Here.
I've read a few reviews (including one in Publishers Weekly) that state that the book didn't make much of an impact because it was written in the third person. I didn't feel that way. In fact in dystopian and apocalytic novels, I would rather them not be written in the first person because that just makes it worse for me. One that I can recall that was written in first person and had a huge impact on me was Life as We Knew It. I felt absolutely terrible when I finished the book and to this day cannot recall a book or a movie that has made me cry that much (wait, I stand corrected, the last three Harry Potter books are exceptions). Seriously, I was a wreck. When I finished reading it, I cried for ten minutes straight. So, I don't think that the third person view made the book any less enjoyable (I think that's the wrong word. How about interesing?) than had it been written in the first person.
Anyway, I have to say that I completely recommend The Things That Keep Us Here. It was riveting (My God, was it riveting! I finished it in one sitting) and so completely real. Sure, it didn't make me feel all fluttery inside, but I don't think that's the point of apocalyptic/dystopian novels. I think we read them to experience what would happen, yet maintain a completely safe distance (unless of course you're reading Life As We Knew It and then realize there is no "safe" distance) from the depravity of the world....more
Okay, so I've never read a comic book or graphic novel in my life. It just didn't seem like my type of thing and I've always thought that I would neveOkay, so I've never read a comic book or graphic novel in my life. It just didn't seem like my type of thing and I've always thought that I would never get into reading something like that. But I figured since the TV show is coming out soon, I love zombies/horror/apocalyptic books and movies, what better way to branch out of my reading comfort than to about things I usually enjoy. And I must say that it was far from a mistake because I loved the first volume of The Walking Dead.
Zombie fan that I am, I had assumed that the only thing I would like about The Walking Dead would be, you know, the zombies. However, while I liked the zombies, I was completely enthralled by the characters and the whole dire situation that they were in. I was also very into the drama of their lives: the love triangles, the spats between the non-judgmental with the actual judgemental, etc., etc. The way humanity was portrayed just seemed very real to me. In times of crisis, people's true colors come out whether those colors happen to be pleasant or not (and most times they aren't pleasant). There was no sugar-coating of the human spirit. It was what it was.
Like I've mentioned before, I've never read a comic book before so I'm not sure what's considered to be "good" comic book art and "bad" comic book art. The illustrations seemed pretty well done to me (Sure, I confused Rick and Shane a couple of times until I remembered "Okay, Shane is the bulky one with the scowl permanently attached to his face and Rick is the string bean one with the heroic facial expressions"). The zombies seemed zombie like and brutal (of course not as they look on TV or movies but still pretty damn good).
It did take me a few pages to follow who was saying what (the bubbles got a bit confusing for a minute) and to get used to the comic book format in general. But it wasn't too bad for a complete and total newbie like me. And I did laugh when the zombies "Ugh"-ed and "Glak"-ed since apparently that's all the zombie vocabulary requires; in fact it's practically a staple.
So, I did love The Walking Dead. It was brutal and gory but most importantly it had heart. It's about a man trying to protect his family. That was heartwarming. In the interest of full disclosure, I am going to say that this comic book did make me cry, not only once, but twice. This was just very entertaining and really great. I have Volume 2 waiting for me and I've already put volumes 3 and 4 on hold from my library. Yay! for me finding a new form of reading. Can't wait to seek out more comics/graphic novels. ...more
Okay, so I absolutely loved The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye. It was my first graphic novel (so I think that pretty much guarantees that it's alOkay, so I absolutely loved The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye. It was my first graphic novel (so I think that pretty much guarantees that it's always going to be memorable) and it was just amazing! While I did like Volume 2, I don't think it compares to the pure awesomeness that is Volume 1.
First things first: the plot. It was basically the same as the first one. I don't really have a problem with that (now anyway) as the plot is just so enjoyable. However, the whole pairing off, as another reviewer mentioned, did make Miles Behind Us seem more soap-operaish than the first one. It's just very unrealistic (I know that it's sort of a "Duh!" that a zombie graphic novel would be a bit unrealistic, but still) that people would be feeling particularly amorous while running from zombies. I know if I were in that situation, I would never be in the mood, being busy running for my life and all.
Another thing that I noticed was that the artwork was different. I didn't really pay attention to who the illustrators were for the first one or for this one, but I kept thinking that something about the drawings was a bit off compared to Volume 1. Firstly, all of the women (with exception of Lori and the later newcomers) look the same. I kept confusing them. There just wasn't a lot of attention to detail. The drawings here were more dark and gritty (which I guess isn't too bad considering the subject matter was dark and gritty) and just weren't as great as the first volume. So when I (finally!) noticed that there were two different illustrators, I thought "That's what was bothering me!"
Other than those minor flaws, I still enjoyed Miles Behind Us. The characters are still all in despair and still have to battle with their own humanity (and I love crap like that) and of course there is still all of the zombie goodness that zombie books/comics/films need. So I thought this was still good, just not as great as the first one. However, I am still looking forward to picking up volumes 3 and 4 (they're waiting for me at the library along with Y: The Last Man Vol. 1: Unmanned) and to watching the AMC show....more
I've read more than my share of young-adult fiction. I've read more than my fair share of apocalyptic fiction. I've read my share of zombie fiction. NI've read more than my share of young-adult fiction. I've read more than my fair share of apocalyptic fiction. I've read my share of zombie fiction. Needless to say, I enjoy these genres. So I expected Ashes to be amazing like the other two zombie young-adult apocalyptic novels I've read. While Ashes was good, I didn't find it amazing and I felt that it was sort of lacking compared to other zombie novels, particularly The Forest of Hands and Teeth and Rot & Ruin.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth had an annoying main character (Seriously. I wouldn't have cared one bit if Mary was killed by a zombie), but what it lacked in favorable characters, it made up for with the creepy atmosphere surrounding the novel. The Forest of Hands and Teeth wasn't all blood and gore, but rather took the time to create a bleak, grim, spooky atmosphere which I loved. Now, Rot & Ruin while not incredibly creepy was action-packed every step of the way. Plus, the relationship with the brothers brought heartwarming tingles which I also loved. Ashes doesn't have either one nor the other. Yes, it is one hell of a page-turner and yes you didn't immensely dislike the main character enough to actually want her to get eaten by zombies, but it wasn't terribly creepy. I also didn't get heartwarming tingles from any of the relationships. For one, the main character is worried about Ellie (the 8 year old she supposedly considers family after the apocalypse) for all of 20 minutes (I exaggerate a bit) when she's nowhere in sight, yet endlessly worries for Tom...right up until a younger, viable guy shows up. Huh, the main character is sort of unlikeable... Although, I did like that she was fiercely independent and did hold her own without waiting for a guy rescue her. No damsels in distress here. But thinking about it now, what Ashes has going for it is really the fact that it's a page-turner and maybe some of the unanswered questions that crop up towards the end of the book.
Speaking about the end of the book, another thing that bothered me was Part Four of Ashes. It did not mesh well with the first three parts. It was all so disconnected that I started thinking that Part Four would probably have fit better in Book 2 even though I have no idea what Book 2 is supposed to be about. That's how unrelated it was to the first three parts...that it would fit better into an unknown book than it did in the book it popped up in. The writing in Ashes was pretty damn good, but again, Part Four just seems...off. Sure, Part Four is off in the fiction sense (much to my delight), but I'm pretty sure the author didn't want it to seem off in the writing sense. Yet it did.
So all in all, I found Ashes to be okay. Some parts were really good, but other parts of it just seemed inconsistent. Pick Ashes up if you want a semi-good zombie young adult fiction novel. Pick up The Forest of Hands and Teeth or Rot and Ruin if you want AMAZING zombie young adult fiction novels. Regardless of my problems with Ashes, there's a pretty big chance that I'll read the whole series because the premise (particularly the way Ashes ended) intrigues me to no end. But I say, pick it up at the library if you desperately want to read it. ...more
When I started Dark Inside, I thought it was going to be exactly like other dystopian YA novels. Not that I don't like dystopian YA novels, I love theWhen I started Dark Inside, I thought it was going to be exactly like other dystopian YA novels. Not that I don't like dystopian YA novels, I love them. But there are so many of them coming out that most of them start to blend together and they then become average. Needless to say, Dark Inside was not your average Dystopian YA novel. In fact, I found it to be an extremely unique (and, not to mention, terrifying) way for the world to end.
Dark Inside doesn't have zombies (much to my initial disappointment), it doesn't have vampires (much to my relief cause the last thing the world needs is ANOTHER series like Twilight), it doesn't have this supernatural being inflicting damage and inciting evil. What it does have are terrifying people that USED to be normal, but just aren't anymore. They now have a thirst to kill (as cliche as it sounds) and are generally very, very bad. So, how do these baggers (as they're referred to in Dark Inside) differ from zombies, you ask? Well, they look, sound, and think like normal people (or normal "psychotic" people anyway). Let's face it, you're not going to walk into the street and mistake a zombie for a "normal" person. But with the baggers, most of the time, you don't know they're actually infected until you start feeling their rage, which is when they're a second or too away from killing you (and probably too late by that point). So, points to Dark Inside for originality.
Points also go to Dark Inside for intriguing characters. I never once confused any of the characters with one another. And it's sometimes hard for me to keep up when a book has multiple POVs. But with Dark Inside it wasn't. The characters were all very different from each other. They all had their own personality and were, much to my relief, not stereotypes as I had assumed they would first be since you had all the types there. For example, you had the athlete, the small-town girl, the creative characters, etc., etc., but again, their personalities didn't fall into that one type. Also, I didn't really dislike any of the characters (not even any of the supporting characters). Sure, I found Aries annoying sometimes with being exta focused on Daniel despite the fact that they were, oh that's right, in MORTAL DANGER (cause in the words of Piper Halliwell "Demons now...drooling later"), but she got a little better as the story went on. But again, yeah, the characters were likeable most of the time and not without flaws.
So, I highly (do you hear me? HIGHLY) recommend Dark Inside. It was scary as hell, enthralling, captivating, amazing, well-written and just all around made of awesome. Oooh and something extra special about Dark Inside, it isn't one of those beginning books where you can sort of feel that it was just a filler until the second book comes along. This book is WHOLE. That being said, I absolutely CANNOT wait for the next installment. Fall 2012 cannot come fast enough. Pick up Dark Inside....more