I was barely able to put this book down for a second after the first few pages got me completely hooked. Suzanne Collins narrative here has an immediaI was barely able to put this book down for a second after the first few pages got me completely hooked. Suzanne Collins narrative here has an immediacy to it that, when combined with the very dramatic life-or-death plot, is incredibly compelling. It's entertaining, and incredibly disturbing all at once.
In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch.
When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker (who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough), will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives. Collins's characters are completely realistic and sympathetic as they form alliances and friendships in the face of overwhelming odds; the plot is tense, dramatic, and engrossing.
So many topics are touched upon; a nation filled with so many poor and a handful of very rich, the use of fear to govern, Big Brother watching every move, even the issue of our addiction to "reality tv" and questioning how real it is. To have a female character that uses her brains to survive, without losing her humanity, is a great achievement, although the games and deaths are very, very brutal.
This book is very well written, the scenes sharp and crisp, the world believable and detailed. The characters become real as you read. You reach the end and are left hungry for more, which is what you will get as this is book one in a trilogy. The only drawback in my opinion is the lack of a map. I keep hoping for a map of Panem, with the 12 districts, the mysterious destroyed 13th district and the wilderness areas between them. Maybe this can be part of a companion book to this trilogy?
There is action, romance, deception, humans hunting humans, surgically altered stylists (reminiscent of Westerfeld's "Uglies"), genetically enhanced mutants, a cruel totalitarian government, and a unspoken mandatory creed to treat the entire event as if it were a holiday.
"There were a hundred and forty-two staircases at Hogwarts: wide, sweeping ones; narrow, rickety ones; some that led somewhere different on a Friday;"There were a hundred and forty-two staircases at Hogwarts: wide, sweeping ones; narrow, rickety ones; some that led somewhere different on a Friday; some with a vanishing step halfway up that you had to remember to jump. Then there were doors that wouldn't open unless you asked politely, or tickled them in exactly the right places, and doors that weren't really doors at all, but solid walls just pretending. It was also very hard to remember where anything was, because it all seemed to move around a lot. The people in the portraits kept going to visit each other, and Harry was sure the coats of armor could walk."
Honestly, I don't know anybody who'd refuse to even entertain the thought of attending a school for wizards. Yes, the experience itself may be daunting and scary but really, most of us would welcome an opportunity to escape the mundane world and enter one of the fantastical. And such is what "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" is: an introduction to world that you could never have imagine may possibly exist.
I've already lost count as to how many times I've re-read the Harry Potter series. The plot and characters are well known and described in many reviews, so I will not address them. I don't even think I need to convince anybody to read these books and/or watch the movies. Harry Potter and the magical world that J.K. Rowling has creating (Leaky Cauldron, Diagon Alley, Hogwarts) in the first book alone have already become household names the world over that you have to be living under a rock if you haven't been aware of this phenomenon. "Welcome," said Hagrid, "to Diagon Alley." Harry wished he had eight more eyes. He turned his head in every direction as they walked up the street., trying to look at everything at once: the shops, the things outside them, the people doing their shopping. There were shops selling robes, shops selling telescopes and strange silver instruments Harry had never seen before, tottering piles of spell books, quills, and rolls of parchment, potion bottles, globes of the moon...
I believe that I maybe counted as one of the millions of readers worldwide who wished something better for Harry Potter, especially being made aware of the miserable treatment done to him by his Muggle relatives. I too wish to know the contents of the mysterious letters which were detailedly addressed to the exact location of Harry. I cheered when Hagrid finally got a hold of Harry and conveyed to him the message that he'll be attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry that coming term. "Harry had never even imagined such a strange and splendid place. It was lit by thousands and thousands of candles that were floating in midair over four long tables, where the rest of the students were sitting."
I was looking forward as well to the process of selecting a wizard's wand and what exactly it is that aids magic: "Every Ollivander wand has a core of a powerful magical substance, Mr. Potter. We use unicorn hairs, phoenix tail feathers, and the heartstrings of dragons. No two Ollivander wans are the same, just as no two unicorns, dragons, or phoenixes are quite the same. And of course, you will never get such good results with another wizard's wand."
Instead of retelling the plot of which most people are already familiar with, I'd like to post here my favorite scenes and quotes from the book itself. One treat was finding out the type of delicious treats available to those who travel aboard the Hogwarts Express: "What she did have were Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, Droobles Best Blowing Gum, Chocolate Frogs, Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, Licorice Wands, and a number of other strange things Harry had never seen in his life."
I didn't expect the fast and true friendship that would form between Harry, Hermione and Ron. Early on we've managed to catch glimpses of the personalities of the two boys but of Hermione, I snickered: "I hope you're pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed -- or worse, expelled."
One item (aside from a witch's wand) that I'd like to have is most probably Harry's Invisibility Cloak. Just think of the possibilities! And yes, I wouldn't pass up the chance to stand in front of the Mirror of Erised: "I show not your face but your heart's desire." No matter what Dumbledore may say that: "It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts."
The best laugh out loud moment of the entire book would be: "Devil's Snare, Devil's Snare...what did Professor Sprout say? -- it likes the dark and the damp --" "So light sa fire!" Harry choked. "Yes -- of course -- but there's no wood!" Hermione cried, wringing her hands. "Have you done mad?" Ron bellowed. "Are you a witch or not?"
But what would make one continue reading and ultimately finishing the Harry Potter series? It's because, like Harry and the rest of the magical world, we all want to know what exactly happened that night when Voldemort tried to kill the Potter family. How was it possible that Harry, as a mere baby at the time, survived? Would the friendship between Harry, Ron & Hermione survive the test of being constantly thrust into the limelight fraught with dangers? Why does Prof. Snape hate Harry so much, that you couldn't help tagging him as the one trying to steal the Sorcerer's Stone all this time? "The truth." Dumbledore sighed. "It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should be treated with great caution."
Title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Author J.K. Rowling Reviewed By Purplycookie...more
Quite enjoyable in its audio book format wherein Jerusha Abbott has grown up in the John Grier Home for orphans. As the oldest, she is in charge of thQuite enjoyable in its audio book format wherein Jerusha Abbott has grown up in the John Grier Home for orphans. As the oldest, she is in charge of the younger children. An anonymous benefactor on the Board, "Mr. Smith," decides to send her to college, as long as she writes to him faithfully detailing her education. Originally published in 1912, Jean Webster's coming-of-age tale continues to be relevant to young women today. While some experiences and circumstances are dated, the emotions and life situations of Judy are timeless. Judy is an outspoken woman in a time when women didn't even have the right to vote; she is a socialist, a reformer, and an author.
Through a series of letters Jerusha writes to "Daddy-Long-Legs," a relationship filled with affection and respect develops, even though she is the only correspondent throughout the years. She calls him "Daddy-Long-Legs" because she saw his tall shadow as he left the building. The writing is entertaining, intelligent and always realistic. That is exactly how a person in their late teens to early twenties writes and it is so refreshing to read an author who knows what she is talking about on the subject.
Although the narrative unfolds slowly, the language is sophisticated, highly descriptive, and witty. This tale will appeal to listeners who revel in rich, detailed imagery to present a character wholly believable and likable.
Here are a couple of quotes from the book that I loved:
"Half of the time I don't know what they're talking about; their jokes seem to relate to a past that everyone but me has shared. I'm a foreigner in the world and I don't understand the language." This is the realization of Judy upon stumbling into the college world and leaving her orphan home behind.
"It isn't the big troubles in life that require character. Anybody can rise to a crisis and face a crushing tragedy with courage, but to meet the petty hazards of the day with a laugh--I really think that requires spirit."
"It's different with me than with other girls. They can take things naturally from people. They have fathers and brothers and aunts and uncles; but I can't pretend to be on such relations with anyone. I like to pretend that you belong to me, just to play with the idea, but of course I know you don't. I'm alone, really--with my back to the wall fighting the world--and I get sort of gaspy when I think about it."
"I'm going to enjoy every second, and I'm going to know I'm enjoying it while I'm enjoying it. Most people don't live; they just race. They are trying to reach some goal far away on the horizon, and in the heat of the going they get so breathless and panting that they lose sight of the beautiful, tranquil country they are passing through; and then the first thing they know, they are old and worn out, and it doesn't make any difference whether they've reached the goal or not."
The ending is marvelous with a great little twist. I think this book is great for girls 8-80 years old and am sorry I did not read it sooner.
Title Daddy-Long-Legs Author Jean Webster Reviewed By Purplycookie...more