I don't know anyone who has read this book who has given it less than 5 stars. I also don't have much to say that hasn't already been said. It's a fla...moreI don't know anyone who has read this book who has given it less than 5 stars. I also don't have much to say that hasn't already been said. It's a flawlessly written, well-thought out book. It is the single wittiest book I have read and there are very few books out there that can compete that aren't written by these two authors. It is, as I have predicted at the start of reading this, now one of my all-time favorite books. I would definitely recommend it to people I know who have good taste in literature and would like a good laugh (or ten). I'm sorry it took me a year to read this—the only real thing I would have regretted is never having read it at all.(less)
PROS: - Engaging. - Fast-paced. - Brilliant world-building. - Brilliant storytelling. - Great commentary on society, exploitation, capitalism, and current...morePROS: - Engaging. - Fast-paced. - Brilliant world-building. - Brilliant storytelling. - Great commentary on society, exploitation, capitalism, and current-day social issues. - Good blend of Greek mythology (minotaur), modern day, and Battle Royale. - Like watching a good action/sci-fi film.
CONS: - Cliffhanger in the end. I love cliffhangers if the story continues but I had to find a con and this is the only "flaw" I could find in the book.
COMMENTS: I don't think very many people enjoy reading about children fighting each other, much less to the death. Let me tell you now: this book is not meant to appease anyone's comfort. You are 100% guaranteed to feel uncomfortable at one point or another unless you're a sadist.
The book is a well thought out commentary on how ignorant and desensitized humanity has become what with the way they glue themselves to the television screens, watching mindless "reality" television shows. It's calling people out on the exploitation and it's supposed to make people realize the horror of using other people's pain for their own entertainment, reality or not, child or adult. There are shows where kids are being exploited because their parents have them pit against each other to win $50 grand (I Know My Kids [sic] A Star). Or the show where 40 children compete against each other to win $10-50 grand (Kid Nation).
Not only that, I love how Collins manages to make it clear that if the cosmetic "beauty" industry continues the path they're on, society morals and ethics will follow suit. If people are unhappy with their skin tone, they can turn it neon green. If people are unhappy with the way their skin feels, they can make their skin satiny with advanced plastic surgery. If people want to draw attention to themselves and a tux isn't enough, add fire. The author makes people realize how much our society cares about the way people look instead of caring about the way people are. The world has replaced character-building with an image-obsessed business (as it is today). You see that throughout the book.
I cannot fully express how happy I am to finally see a solid, independent and intelligent female character (who is a person of color!!!) take the lead in a bestseller, especially in the Young Adult genre. Today, there are plenty of white male leads for young men to look up to: Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, Eragon, and Percy Jackson to name a few. Where will you find a woman of color lead whose mission isn't to look for love? Not a whole lot of places to look. I love how Katniss is willing to sacrifice herself for her family and how she isn't willing to sacrifice all of herself for the sake of the government. At least, not without consequences. She's willful but she isn't without flaws. Katniss is a good person to look up to and young adults could learn a lot from her, especially young women.
Besides the incredible societal ties to our world, Panem's world-building is absolutely incredible. Goods from poor states are sent to The Capitol which are sold for profit and to benefit the people in The Capitol. If a laborer "steals", they pay a high price. What most people don't understand is that this is actually happening today, right now. Coca Cola, Starbucks, Marlboro, your clothes, your tea—it's being harvested by children and families in fields and people die in those fields. And when they get home, they get terrorized and tortured by similar police officers that you read about in THG. With this book, there's an excellent commentary about exploitation of labor that's Marxist-like in narrative. It brings to light the issues happening today that not enough people know about.
For this, I love dystopian novels and I love how realistic this novel feels. I haven't been able to hang on to every word since Harry Potter. The writing is great and the storytelling is captivating. Collins did what she set out to do and executed it with success. I'm glad she continued with sequels and that this series won't be ten books long. I thank the author for gifting us with this series and can't wait to see how Katniss outsmarts The Capitol in Catching Fire.
JAN 2014 EDIT: I was extremely disappointed with the film. They failed to illustrate the desensitization the way Collins has and trivialized it into a film about teen romance. I asked my friends and peers what they thought about it and they said they didn't even know that The Games were being filmed and broadcasted on television after I'd explained why The Games existed and what it entailed. Not only that, KATNISS. IS NOT. WHITE. HOLY SHIT. And NOBODY understood where The Capitol got their shit and who was being oppressed for it and JUST HOW BAD CORPORATE EXPLOITATION REALLY IS. I just can't. (less)
CONS: → Repetition, repetition, repetition! → Poor sentence structure. → Odd character development. → Poor plot direction; lack of fluidity. → Jack is a jackass (pun intended), Lou used to be fat and is now attractive because she's skinny, and everyone is a gorgeous, shallow movie star. → Horribly cliched and unbelievable compared to her other works. → Stick to reading the back of the book; it's better than the actual novel anyway.
COMMENTS: I haven't read very many compared to other people but I love Meg Cabot's works. She is one of the best at the craft in the genre. It's her genre. However, this book fell short in terms of writing style. Before I get flamed, know that it's not because of the genre change in that it becomes more action-packed and more mystery-filled. No, that's not the case at all. Cabot's Size 12 Is Not Fat series, even though I've only finished the first book, was delicious to gobble up and it's become a favorite of mine. This one, I'm sad to say, was far from that.
I now understand why it's easier for Cabot to write in email/text/diary format. Like I said before, she did well with The Heather Wells series and it wasn't written like so. Was it necessary to keep reminding the reader that Jack Townsend was handsome? Or that he was an action-adventure movie megastar? Or that he ad-libbed a line in Lou Calabrese's movie? Or that Lou and Jack's exes ran off together? Or that Lou wrote a screenplay for her ex? Or that they each won an Academy Award? Or that Jack was in this movie and that movie? All of these weren't repeated just two or three times. Oh no. It had to have been at least fifty times from start to finish. Each. I can flip to almost any page and you can bet there would be something about the aforementioned, if not on that page, then definitely the next. We get it! Lou looks like a brown-eyed Karen Gillan and Jack looks like a blue-eyed Hugh Jackman. These are the images of them I have ingrained into my brain because Cabot wouldn't stop reminding the reader that Lou has tufts of red hair and long legs and that Jack has a rugged look and a nice ass (along with other features for both). But even that couldn't save it because it was so irritating. I resisted the urge to throw the book across the room because it was so repetitive.
I also felt like the characters were sometimes flat, especially the minor characters. Vicky was supposed to be Lou's best friend but it didn't feel that way. As the reader, her behavior and attitude read to me like she didn't care about Lou nor her well-being at all. Hell, Tim Lord's kid and Frank's kid had more personality than 90% of the other characters did. And they only showed up once. The more major characters would ask themselves the most ridiculous questions that a 6-year-old could answer and then start rambling. If there's anything I hate more, it's needless rambling in books. Rambling combined with repetition just made it seem, to me, like the author had nothing else to talk about. Including the repetition, there was a lot of sentence interruption. I don't know the formal term for it. An example: "'If we get out of this alive,' [/LONG RAMBLING], 'I am going to kill you myself.'" There were A LOT of these and unnecessarily so. The dialogue could have been written as one and it would have been fine. It felt like someone or something was constantly disrupting the character's thought process.
I mentioned that Jack was a jackass (which will be explained in a sec). I also hate that Lou used to be a fat girl and is now an attractive, skinny woman and how Cabot reminded the reader that fat is unattractive. Uh, hello? Heather Wells is calling. She wants her story plot back. I'm glad Cabot wrote her Heather Wells series. Maybe she thinks differently about plus-size women but she did very wrong with Lou and her insecurity about body image. You can read the rest of my thoughts on Jack and Lou here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...
There were also perspective changes. I love perspective changes when they're done right. Usually, there's a pattern of some sort and some indication that there will be perspective changes. There was NONE with this book. I was extremely confused when the perspective changed the next chapter, I had to go back and read the beginning of the second chapter several times. Where it says "script" and it has an image of a stack of papers, they should have done that when it changed to Lou's perspective because she's a screenwriter and use other clip art to indicate it had changed to another character's point of view. In the middle of the book, it was as if Cabot had forgotten she had written it in other characters' point of view. At one point, it was all Lou's perspective, then one chapter of Jack's perspective, and a random perspective from the detective, and then back to Lou for the next five chapters. It was a very poor way of shifting perspectives.
I also felt like Cabot had completely forgotten there was an actual mystery plot afoot (lol I always wanted to say that XD). She kept dabbling on the characters' romances (even the minor characters) and it came to the point where there were fewer puzzle pieces to put together about the attempted murder as the reader gets closer and closer to the end. It was as if she'd forgotten someone was trying to kill Jack, suddenly remembered, and then plugged in a random explosion/gunfire here and there to remind the reader that someone was trying to kill him only to repeat the process all over again. I wish there was better flow with this.
To conclude, the premise was great and the sex was great. I wish the sex weren't so censored but American evangelicals would troll her for it because they're still puritanical. Still think she should have written it all out anyway. It is an adult novel. Oh well! Like I said, those two were great but the writing style really needed working on. I also hate how Lou's badassness was reduced to jelly in the end. I felt like Lou became a completely different person and that there was no more chemistry between she and Jack, especially because the build-up for the end was one of the cheesiest things I had ever read. I wanted to see some witty sarcasm from Lou and there was nothing which was really disappointing.
All in all, I'd only recommend you read it if you love Meg Cabot and plan on reading all her works. I understand she was writing a lot while she wrote this, what with several series like The Princess Diaries, Shadowland, When Lightning Strikes, All-American Girl, and several other novels in the works. She Went All the Way seemed like more of a great idea she had to jot down before she forgot rather than an actual book. There was so much Cabot could have done with this and it was all shot to hell. This novel would probably do well as a film adaptation because you can't see the character's erratic and annoyingly repetitive thought processes. Otherwise, I strongly recommend her Heather Wells series if you want a light, mystery-crime-action novel speckled with romance and humor.
/tl;dr - read her Heather Wells series instead; 1 star for good sex scenes and for a great premise.(less)