If I regard this book as an ADULT dystopian-gothic novel, it's 5 stars hands down.
If I regard this as a YA Dystopian, it's 1 star.
How this book is claIf I regard this book as an ADULT dystopian-gothic novel, it's 5 stars hands down.
If I regard this as a YA Dystopian, it's 1 star.
How this book is classified as YA is beyond me. The themes are decidedly adult and the premise is incredibly disturbing. Dying young, forced marriages, rape, enslavement, teenage pregnancy, and medical experimentation are the central plot points of the story. There is a very sweet, understated romance, but it takes a huge backseat to the tragic relationship of the sister wives and their "husband."
I was definitely drawn into the world the author created and couldn't stop turning pages. I devoured this novel. I was very intrigued by the premise and the execution was perfect. But not once while reading this novel did I think it was suitable for a YA audience. At least not one under the age of 17.
If you're a parent of a teenager, I highly recommend you read this book first and then decide if it's suitable for your child. I could see how this book could be used to discuss the role of women in society, etc., but this is NOT light reading.
I highly recommend this novel to those who have enjoyed novels like The Handmaiden's Tale....more
I'm wasn't too sure what to expect from this book. It was highly recommended by the Bookish Brunette Blog and IWhere do I start? I guess with "WOW!!!"
I'm wasn't too sure what to expect from this book. It was highly recommended by the Bookish Brunette Blog and I was intrigued by the premise. There is a glut of books out there with teenagers with special powers, so I was a little leery. But this novel is something altogether different and refreshing.
I would not define it as a young adult novel, or paranormal romance in any way. I wouldn't call it Urban Fantasy either. Honestly, it reminded me of Stephen King in his heyday. I'm sure people would compare it to the novel CARRIE, but I like this book so much more. It resonated with me in a very deep way, whereas CARRIE never really did.
The lead character's power is terrible and devastating, not only to her own life, but the lives of others. Seeing her suffering and struggling to survive the pitfalls of her life AND high school was quite painful at times. Anyone who has dealt with bullies will sympathize with her immediately. She not only suffers from her gift, but also the isolation caused by it. Her father, though a loving man, is also an alcoholic, so Jenny's life is not ideal in anyway. Her character development was very well done and I enjoyed how she evolved from a girl who tried to disappear from view, to someone who stands up for herself and the people she loves.
Though the villain of the piece is the popular girl in school, she is not a cookie cutter creation. Ashleigh has a power of her own and wields it with cruel intentions while hiding behind the guise of a beautiful, perfect, angelic Christian girl. I knew a few girls just like her growing up, so I found Ashleigh particularly frightening. She so effortlessly plays those around her while using them it is quite disturbing. I liked her as a villain and I never felt her character was a cliche.
Seth, the boy both girls fall for, was a little more difficult for me to connect with at first. But as the book progressed I came to understand why as he broke away from Ashleigh's influence and began to show his true character. Seth suffers from being manipulated by Ashleigh and it alters his personality significantly at times. There is one particular scene where she uses her power to ensnare him that was chilling and disturbing. But Seth does show his true colors and by the end of the book, I really did like his character.
The supporting cast of characters in the book are also well-defined. The description of the town, the school, and the people that surround Jenny was very well done. I was completely engrossed in the narrative and reluctantly put the book aside a few times when I needed to eat, sleep, or take care of my own writing. I finally gave up reading the book in increments and devoured it in one big reading marathon. It was worth it.
Though the book does feature teenagers, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone under 17. There is drug usage, sexual content, and graphic language along with some very intense, violent, and horrific scenes that stole my breath away. This book is a powder keg of vivid imagery, wonderfully drawn out characters, and superb plotting.
Those were the two words that popped into my head when I finished reading EVE. I continue to feel that way now weeks later. This isAbsolutely amazing.
Those were the two words that popped into my head when I finished reading EVE. I continue to feel that way now weeks later. This is one of those books that has haunted me long after I finished.
The world that Eve lives in is incredibly frightening and brutal. It's a misogynistic world where young women are basically breeding stock, young men are raised to be slaves, and one man is king over the remains of humanity. Nothing about Eve's world is nice or comforting, which she soon discovers.
Our protagonist is very naive and not made of very strong stuff. She's been raised to fulfill a certain role in her society and even she doesn't know what it is until the big reveal. Some readers want all their female protagonist to be strong and independent out of the starting gate, but I enjoy seeing a character's evolution into a stronger, wiser person. By the end of the book Eve has evolved, but she's not done learning yet. That much is obvious and this is the first part of a trilogy.
Eve makes some really ridiculous mistakes that cost people their lives. It's not because she's stupid, but because she is naive. She doesn't understand the true brutality of her world. Also, she was always made to feel like she was the smartest girl, so she doesn't understand that in the world outside her school she's actually not that smart at all.
Thankfully, there is no love triangle, though at one point I worried about it. The romance is sweet, but not too overwhelming. That Eve falls for the boy who saves her life doesn't surprise me. Even if someone tells you your whole life that boys are bad, hormones and sexual attraction are hard to go against if you're a teenage girl.
There were some difficult parts for me to read in this book. The animal cruelty/hunting parts and the attempted rape had me squirming.
All and all this is a fantastic book. I recommend it for older teens and adults who enjoy a solid post apocalyptic tale of terror....more
I just finished so I'm a little overwhelmed and trying to gather my thoughts. There were so many thingsWow. Simply wow. Brilliantly done and amazing.
I just finished so I'm a little overwhelmed and trying to gather my thoughts. There were so many things that I absolutely loved about the book. I'm sure I will miss a few in this initial review, so I may come back and add a few more later.
WHAT I LIKED
I asked today on my Facebook wall about kick ass heroines. I was curious to see what sort of responses I would get. Most of the answers described women who were intelligent, snarky, and fighters (in the physical sense). I was a little disappointed by this because Cassia is a very strong female character without being snarky or dependent on her physicality. Cassia is very intelligent and resourceful. She's also loyal, resilient, compassionate, and clever.
As the world falls apart around Cassia, she keeps focused on finding a way to those she loves: Ky, Xander, her family. Through keeping her eyes open, she learns how to become a trader with the Archivist and tries to find a way to pay her way to the people she cares most about. She just doesn't wait around for one of the guys to find her. She doesn't take much at face value. Cassia peers deeply into what is going on around her and ascertains the truth of the matter more often than not and usually before anyone else.
I also like how she stands up for those she loves and doesn't falter in their defense. She also has the compassion and strength to face down those who would hurt those she cares about. I loved her defense of Xander. I also loved when she tried her very best to help him find his happiness.
After reading this novel, I sat back and thought about what makes a truly awesome female character. Cassia's reliance on her intelligence and devotion make her strong in my eyes. I also loved how her expertise as a sorter becomes a vital part of saving everyone from The Plague. Again, intelligence over brawn wins out.
It was such a relief to see her not pining away and waiting for rescue like some heroines in books. She never falters. She keeps resolute in her love of Ky and her determination to do what's best not only for herself and him, but for everyone she cares about.
The Love Story(ies)
I think it's a fallacy to see a triangle among Cassia, Ky and Xander. It seemed very apparent to me from the very first book that Cassia had connected with Ky in a very deep and meaningful way. Their love story was touching and deep. Though Cassia loved Xander as her dear friend, it was obvious that her heart was Ky's. That has never changed throughout all the books.
But beyond that, Xander cares for Ky. Ky cares for Xander. Cassia cares for both of them in different ways. They are bound together with invisible threads. Xander and Ky aren't competitors. They're friends. Though Xander wishes Cassia would love him, he sees clearly that just a mere look between Cassia and Ky is like them touching. Xander is never cruel to either of them and they both love him in return.
I enjoyed Xander and Lei getting to know one another and the eventual outcome of their story. I was also touched by Indie's love of Ky, which she knew was doomed.
In the end, I really liked Cassia and Ky's love story because they were both strong in different ways and pushed each other to greater heights. The love they had was based on mutual interests and not because the other person was so damn hot. I would much rather my nieces read this love story where the boy and girl love each other for who they are, and not because of what they look like.
I really enjoyed the symbolism of three throughout the story. The three friends, the three pills, the three factions, the flower/cure. Over and over again, the symbol of three comes into play.
We see the revolution and plague from three different viewpoints: Cassia, Xander, and Ky. Even how they regard The Rising and The Society is different from one another. I really enjoyed that.
Even the outcomes for their individual families was three very different ones.
The Revolution (and it's success/failure)
I've always been fascinated by bloodless revolutions. The Rising in Reached attempts to be bloodless, but ends up almost destroying everything. At first I wondered at how easily it all went down, but then began suspecting that The Society was once again one steep ahead in the game. Little clues kept getting dropped along the way and sure enough...The Society infiltrated The Rising and basically took it over before the revolution even started. The Society had recognized the "need" for revolution, so they infiltrated The Rising so they would still be in power when it was all said and done. They'd just have a new name, new look, but it would still be The Society. In fact, at the end of the book, we have no idea if the revolution has truly succeeded as the citizens vote for the first time in a free election. The Rising and The Society are both on the ballots, but the third choice, Anomalies/Aberrations, are most likely a long shot. Since The Rising and The Society are virtually the same thing, the revolution may not have changed too much.
I'm very glad we didn't end up with some battle in the streets, blood, warfare and cliche revolution, but something much more insidious and terrifying in the long term.
I loved that there was not just one Pilot, but many. All three main characters were basically The Pilot to each other at some point in the story. There were multiple Pilots scattered throughout the story. I also loved that sometimes the character were their own Pilot. Indie declared herself the Pilot, because she was to herself. I read a review where someone was mad that Cassia wasn't the Pilot. But she WAS. Maybe not declared so by The Rising, but she was The Pilot in so many ways to so many different people.
A wonderful ending to a solid trilogy. Though I wasn't fond of Ky's "voice" in the second book, I liked him more in this one. It was also refreshing to see a series that did not fall into the mainstay tropes dominating YA fiction right now.
I recently purchased Unbound and Other Tales. The second Dr. Pus of the Library of the Living Dead Press announced its publication on his forum, I snaI recently purchased Unbound and Other Tales. The second Dr. Pus of the Library of the Living Dead Press announced its publication on his forum, I snagged a copy.
I am so glad I did. This book is truly awesome. The first story (and the one that takes up most of the pages of the book) is a gruesome, horrific tale that just snags you instantly and keeps you in its evil clutches. I really loved it, despite the nightmares it bestowed upon me.
The rest of the tales are shorter, but just as horrific and intense. "Clowns" made my skin crawl. This is a great companion piece to his other short story collection, Dark Entities. I highly recommend both.
David Dunwoody creates amazing passages of horror. I sincerely feel that the author has elevated himself to a whole new level with this collection. Frankly, he reminds me of the very best of Stephen King....more
I applaud the author for realistically portraying the aftermath of violence. Tris's PTSD is very well done andAbout a 4.5 rating.
A Very Short Review:
I applaud the author for realistically portraying the aftermath of violence. Tris's PTSD is very well done and I love how she cannot just "shake it off." Also, Four/Tobias's trust issues and behavior is an honest representation of someone who has been abused. If these two characters just shrugged off what has occurred so far in their lives, they'd be sociopaths.
The world-building continues to be rudimentary and without any real sort of explanation, though the ending indicates that all will be revealed in the third book. I have deliberately set aside my misgivings on the shallow world-building only because it appears to be a deliberate plot device by the author. That being said, if all is not explained in the third book I'll have to rethink my ratings of the first two book. Much hinges on the world being explained properly.
I have truly enjoyed this trilogy so far and look forward to the third book....more
There are some disturbing themes in this book, but it was very addictive and I could not put it down. It hooked me enough for me to order the rest ofThere are some disturbing themes in this book, but it was very addictive and I could not put it down. It hooked me enough for me to order the rest of the series....more
(Note: Ann Aguirre provided the galley for this book. I LOVE her.)
I love this series. It's been awesome since GRIMSPACE and has only gotten better wit(Note: Ann Aguirre provided the galley for this book. I LOVE her.)
I love this series. It's been awesome since GRIMSPACE and has only gotten better with each installment. I love the world building, the characters, the overall plot, the individual novel plots, the evolution of Jax, and just about everything to do with this series. I have been heavily emotionally invested in Sirantha Jax and her life for a few years now. I was enthralled and saddened with the announcement that ENDGAME would bring the series to an end. It's so hard to let go of such a great character and an amazing world, but I'd rather a series go out on a high note then peter out with a whimper.
I'm keeping this short for now. I may expand it once the book hits the shelves and I've read the series again.
WHAT I LIKED
THE MAIN CHARACTER
We have been living in the mind of Sirantha Jax since the first book. She wasn't always the most likable character at the beginning. She was a wounded person and behaved in ways that really pissed me off more than once. That being said, over the course of the books she grows, evolves, and becomes a much stronger person. In ENDGAME it is clear she has learned to listen to others, to step back and obey orders, to allow other people to do what they need to do, and to embrace her own feelings fully and without regrets. She owns up to her mistakes, but stands her ground when she knows she's right. She's still a kick ass woman, but she has learned to be a much wiser woman.
This especially came into play with March (who I almost liked this time around), and I wanted to cheer when she told him how it is in no uncertain terms. I loved that she took control, called him on his shit, and then waited to see if he'd step up.
I also loved how she interacts with Vel throughout the book. These two have the healthiest and strongest relationship in the entire series. It's been pretty obvious that they are both in the relationship for the long haul. Sirantha Jax will outlive all the people around her except Vel. They are merely at the beginning of a very long life spent together and it was cool to see that acknowledged. Of course, they also struggle with the reality that either one of them could die a violent death and this is played out in the course of the novel. There is one particular moment when...TEARS.
I also loved how Jax steps back and acknowledges Loras's new role as the leader of the resistance on his planet. She is finally over her impetuousness. She realizes that in war, her tendency to spring into action without thought will not help. She doesn't override Loras, but becomes a very good soldier under his command.
Though some characters are not in this book, their lingering presence and impact in Jax's life is acknowledged and cherished. I appreciated that as well.
Ever since the first book, this last story was germinating throughout the series. We finally see the aftermath of Jax's promise to Loras to help him and his people. And it is very messy business. One thing I have always loved about Jax is how she doesn't back down from a promise made. Because of this, she ends up in the heat of battle for a very long time and suffers through some very sad losses.
This book has some great action sequences, but it's also damn bloody at times. So well done.
THE SUPPORTING CAST
I'm a Vel girl. I love him. He's such a great character. His personality has been very well-defined from the first book. He is always there for Jax and never falters. I love that about his character. There are some really great moments with him in this book. Every Vel fan should be more than satisfied.
March is a bitter pill for me. I don't like him. If Jax was my girlfriend, he'd know by my stink eye that I was watching her back. I have always had an issue with March putting everyone else ahead of Jax. He has abandoned her more than once in the past. He's not there for her when she needs him, while she has put herself out for him over and over again. This is finally acknowledged by March himself, which lessened my stink eye just a little. Jax holds March accountable and stands her ground. Basically, March has to finally own up and decide if he's willing to accept Jax on her terms. Of course, he also has to survive a war he never wanted to be a part of.
Zeeka is adorable and I love how this sorta adopted kid of Jax teaches her a lesson or two about life. Sasha, March's adopted son(nephew), shows more personality and spunk in this book. We see the full strength of his abilities. It was impressive!
The ending was perfection. It made me smile. It made me cry just a little bit. I was happy for Jax as she flies off to her next adventure. The series ends at just the right moment and in such a way that we know what the future holds for her. It was the ending I was hoping for.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
Saying goodbye! Oh, wow. This series ending hurts. I'm so going to miss all the characters (not March..hehehehe) and all the excitement. My only consolation is that we can visit this universe again in the Dread Queen series.
IN CLOSING ENDGAME finishes the series on a highest of notes. On a perfect note.
It honestly could end any other way. The ending is AWESOME in its perfection.
ENDGAME brings everything full circle from the tale's beginning in GRIMSPACE. All that was set in motion in that first book has a resolution in ENDGAME.
It's the perfect ending point of this cycle of Jax's long life. I am so glad we shared it with her. I'm going to miss her.
P.S. I tried not to devour this book, but failed. I read the last half in a major reading marathon. Yep. It's THAT good....more
I absolutely loved this book and devoured it within days. First off, the plot is not only realistic (a man trying to get to his family), but full of nI absolutely loved this book and devoured it within days. First off, the plot is not only realistic (a man trying to get to his family), but full of non-stop action, kick ass zombie gore, and fantastic characterization. It was very hard to put this book down and get some sleep at night. I was so hooked it was hard not to keep reading to find out what came next.
Joe McKinney is a real life police officer (he is a homicide detective) and fellow Texan. He brings the flavor of Texas to the novel and gives great insight into the world of a police officer. I also liked the fact that his main character reacted like a normal person to the zombie outbreak. The emotions Eddie is overwhelmed with at times were gut-wrenching. I was really glad that despite his training and desire to survive, the character never devolves into a Rambo-type alpha male with grandiose posturing.
This zombie novel has definitely jumped to the top of my list of personal favorites in the genre.
**spoiler alert** As soon as this book hit my Kindle at 2am in the morning, I was reading. I fell asleep at some point, woke up a few hours later and**spoiler alert** As soon as this book hit my Kindle at 2am in the morning, I was reading. I fell asleep at some point, woke up a few hours later and kept reading until the end. I completely jacked up my sleep schedule, but it was worth it to read the new installment of the Sirantha Jax series. I love this series so much that I actually reread all the books to be ready for this newest installment.
So what do I have to say? This book was perfect. So good in every way. Even the parts with March (I don't like him at all) were well done.
As always, Jax gets herself into trouble and there was plenty of excitement in this novel. I always love the action in this series and this one provides it in spades. I wasn't too sure where this book would head after the ending of the last book and Ann definitely surprised me more than once. She's such a good writer and has a firm grasp on the world and characters she created. Though full of surprises, this book feels the natural progression of the series. In some ways it is very hard to see how much Jax's life changes, but that is the reality of life. Jax has evolved and her decisions have a significant impact on not only her own life and those she loves, but the galaxy. Seeing her cope with the fallout of her choices was hard, but at the same time it showed us how much the character had changed. Honestly, if this had been the last book in the series, I would not have been disappointed.
I'd like to go into specific developments that I enjoyed.
Hit & Dina- It's nice to see a same sex couple make it through some terrible times and remain together. They feel real and their love is touching. I was glad to see how their lives together evolve.
Baby Z - After his terrible death in the first book, it was nice to have the little one back (cloned) and in the mix. I thoroughly enjoyed his reunion with his people and how it affected Jax. I look forward to seeing how he evolves as a character in the next book since he's now a grown up jumper.
March & Jax - It's always been pretty obvious that though Jax and March may love each other (still can't figure out why), they can never quite get it together. A happy ending has never seem to be in their cards. The events in this book make that even more unlikely. March has always had a tendency to put others in front of Jax and he does the same thing in this book. He's just not capable of meeting her on her level. And truth be told, she can't meet him on his. They're very different in what they want out of life and its very clear in this novel how far apart they truly are. I won't lie. I don't like March. I think he's the weaker of the two people and he pulls Jax down and hurts her an awful lot. The progression of their relationship in this book felt very natural and I hope Jax doesn't sacrifice herself in some way in the last book to make him happy.
Vel & Jax - As a huge Vel fan, I loved this book even more because of his presence. Vel has always been very loyal to Jax and once again he is her staunch supporter in everything she does. I love his alien nature and how it evolves in each book. His evolution matches Jax in that they are not quite the same person they started out to be in the first book. Their friendship definitely has deepened into a committed relationship of sorts and in this book the sweetness between them is heart-wrenching. I admit it. I cried. There is a deep love and a lot of honesty between the two characters that surpasses sex and romance. It's really beautiful. The idea of these two flying off together in the last book to chart the beacons makes me smile, but we'll see if that ends up happening in the last book
In closing, this series has not let me down once. Now I have a year to wait for the last installment in this wonderful series. ...more
**spoiler alert** I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Actually, I take that back. I was blown away. I'm not a big YA reader and the few books I h**spoiler alert** I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Actually, I take that back. I was blown away. I'm not a big YA reader and the few books I have read in the genre have been a mixed bag. In the last few weeks I have read two YA books and both have been superb. One was Carrie Ryan's THE DARK AND HOLLOW PLACES, and the other is MATCHED.
I won't lie. The premise for this book sounded somewhat dull and I picked it up because it was on sale and a good friend had expressed interest in reading it. I thought I would just give it to him, but on second thought I decided to give it a try.
After a few chapters, I was hooked. Though the world the protagonist lives in is never fully described (I have no idea what her home looks like, the air trains, etc), the lack of world building in that regard did not deter me from reading on. Since the book is in first person and we are only seeing Cassia's perspective, the perfection of her world in the beginning is quite sterile and remote. She believes fully in the Society and how it fully controls her life and everyone around her. She has complete faith in the system and her personality in the first few chapters reflects this almost drone-like persona.
But that doesn't last long, soon Cassia begins to gain a wider perspective on the world. Though much is made of the fact that when she is Matched with her childhood best friend another boy's face appears instead in her datapod, I felt the real instrument of change was when she read a forbidden poem by Dylan Thomas that her grandfather reveals to her right before his death. I really loved that his poem played such an important part in her awakening.
And Cassia does slowly awaken to how constricting the Society truly is. It unfurls slowly and the tension continually mounts as the story progresses. As she begins to see the truth of the Society and its failings, she becomes aware that her world is not as perfect as she believed it to be. She also recognizes that her own family is not as conformist as she once thought they were. Though her father and grandfather are both Officials, both break the rules. Her Matched partner, Xander, who is her best friend and loves her dearly, has a tendency to do the exact same thing. Her brother is constantly on the verge of getting into trouble and her mother, the one who tries the most to live up to the Society dictates, struggles with her conscience. Cassia slowly evolving into a young woman ready to tear down the Society was definitely the highlight of this book.
Another aspect I truly enjoyed was the subtly of the growing tension in the world around her. One moment that stands out is when the young people are watching a film about their Society and there is footage of "what would happen without the Society." They are shown a massacre of people by ships flying over a town and the audience bursts out laughing because death has been so sanitized for them they think it is ridiculous that people would die in such a gory, dramatic way. That moment held real terror for me. The world around Cassia slowly unravels until she sees clearly the lies the Society has been keeping (including euthanizing all the elderly at 80).
Finally, the romance in this book was very realistic. There is a love triangle, but Cassia loves both boys in very different ways. The childhood friend, Xander, is a fun, charismatic character, while Ky is much more quiet and introspective. Neither are bad boys. Both boys could easily be a good match for Cassia, but in different ways. I loved how she very slowly fell in love with Ky and how they found ways to share their innermost thoughts in creative ways (sketches on a napkin). Though Xander and Cassia have a love born of friendship, Ky and Cassia have a love born of mutual interests and their creativity.
I have read other reviews of this novel and people seem to slam it for not being Twilight or The Hunger Games. I don't think this is very fair because Matched is a much more subtle, internal tale of a young woman breaking free of the programming the Society has instilled in her.
The fact that the Society has created the Match Banquet to pair off the young citizens shows just how much control the Society tries to have over the human heart. Cassia, in the end, proves they cannot control hers. ...more
I was really excited to hear about this short story that takes place before THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH and is from the viewpoint of Sister Tabitha.I was really excited to hear about this short story that takes place before THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH and is from the viewpoint of Sister Tabitha. It is a short story and not a full-length novel, so be warned it is a quick read.
Again, Carrie Ryan is very adept at drawing us into the world where a village stands in the middle of a forest surrounded by a fence and the Unconsecrated (zombies). The world building in this series has always been top notch and once again I was enthralled by the world that Tabitha inhabits.
Tabitha starts off the story as a character you feel compassion for as she struggles to be free of the constraints of the village. She yearns for freedom in the world beyond and for a short period of time finds happiness.
Of course, since Tabitha is doomed to become one of the Sisters protecting the village and the "villain" of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, we know she is doomed to not find the freedom and happiness she yearns for.
Carrie Ryan does a remarkable job with the story and the ending is truly heartbreaking for not only Tabitha, but the reader....more
Be advised that this review is for the entire series of THE HUNGER GAMES. I have broken it down into segments to share my thoughts in a more orderly fBe advised that this review is for the entire series of THE HUNGER GAMES. I have broken it down into segments to share my thoughts in a more orderly fashion (since I tend to ramble).
Be Warned: Spoilers Ahead
THE HUNGER GAMES The first book has an excellent plot and immediately sets a vivid setting for the rest of the series. It is a very well-written, suspenseful and exciting novel that was full of poignant moments, vivid characterization and plenty of action. Though the premise is not a new one (children fighting to the death in a game sanctioned by a government), the delivery is unique. I especially enjoyed the “reality tv show” feel of the preparations for the game and the game itself.
CATCHING FIRE The second book in a series can either strengthen a series or diminish it. CATCHING FIRE builds on the power of the first book and expands the world. Though I was disappointed at first when I realized there would be another Hunger Game in this book, that reaction was short lived once the characters arrived in the new arena. The second book is most likely my favorite in the series. The last line of the book is absolutely chilling. MOCKINGJAY The third book is a beautifully written, spellbinding and extremely difficult to read at times. It not only documents the destruction of the world and the oppressive government, but the destruction of the heroine herself. War is devastating to the psyche of any soldier or civilian caught in the crossfire. Though a piece of me would have liked to see all the characters survive and our heroine immune to the devastation of the war, the author delivers a more realistic and truthful ending. The end of MOCKINGJAY is the honest outcome of all that has come before in the series.
KATNISS Our heroine is flawed from the getgo. Reading over other reviews, people talk about her strength and her ability to kickass, but do not seem to grasp that Katniss is shaped by the horrible events of her life and is often spurred to action because she has no other choice. Katniss is a very angry, bitter, self-reliant, unforgiving, and self-centered young woman and this really does not change throughout the series. She is completely shaped by the terrible world she lives in. Yes, she is strong-willed, rebellious, and physically strong, but she is a very wounded creature who comes from a shattered family where mental illness may run in her genes. I would have loved to hug her a million times over in this series, but I know she would have pushed me away.
Another reviewer complained that Katniss does not have a happy ending, but her sacrifice allows the generation that follows to have a life free of the hunger games.
WHO DOES KATNISS LOVE? When her father dies in the mines and her mother has a severe mental breakdown and disassociates form the world, Katniss has to find a way to feed herself and her sister even though she is very young. Though much is made of the love triangle in the series, the real love of Katniss’ life is her younger sister. Primrose is the one person that Katniss appears to love without reservation and with her whole heart and soul. She loves her younger sister so much she takes her place in The Hunger Games. Throughout the story Primrose is a motivating force for her to stay alive. Prim is also her downfall, for it doesn’t take her enemies long to realize that her sister is her Achilles Heel.
It is the loss of Prim in the last book that topples Katniss into the abyss of mental illness. Since her mother disassociated after the death of her husband, I wasn’t surprised when Katniss followed suit. Prim’s death leads Katniss to assassinate the president of District 13 and also drives the final wedge between her and Gale. In the end, Prim was Katniss’ reason for living and once she is gone, it is very difficult for Katniss to find a way to live again.
THE LOVE TRIANGLE I honestly feel the love triangle was the weakest part of the book. Katniss’ personality is pretty well established as being remote, but the two young men who love her see aspects of her that Katniss is oblivious to. Gale completly understands her and loves her despite her flaws. Peetah sees a more glorified version of her and his gentle personality eventually brings out a softer side. Yet, both young men never fully win her heart (because she only allows her sister to dwell there) and she regards them with suspicion. Katniss rarely allows her guard to fall with either and they are both aware that they will never completely win her.
My favorite of the two young men was Gale. I loved him totally. And if Katniss had never gone to the hunger games he would have been perfect for her. But she did go and ended up the catalyst that spurs a devastating war of independence. Because Gale helped design a trap like the one that killed Prim, Katniss’ personality trait to be unforgiving drives him away. He knows she will never forgive him for possibly creating the means of Prim’s death and she knows the same. Some readers are angry that she doesn’t get to choose between the two young men, but in reality she does. Her own personality creates the wedge that will not allow her to be with Gale. That Gale then chooses to not fight and leaves reveals how well he knows her.
Peetah and Katniss being together in the end was bittersweet in my eyes. Both are so scarred and fractured from all they endured, they really do understand each other in a deep and meaningful way. I don’t really believe Katniss ever really loves either one of the men, but at least she finds some happiness at the end of all the death.
My final thoughts are that THE HUNGER GAMES is one of the best series written in the genre and will have an enduring impact on the literary world. This is no TWILIGHT, but something deeper and more meaningful. This isn’t a series about a love triangle, but about a world gone mad and its final destruction at the hands of the young woman created in its image that eventually transcends all obstacles to become the MOCKINGJAY.