An excellent, accessible look at the complexity of conflict in the Congo. I highly, highly recommend it to those who want to look beyond the hopeless...moreAn excellent, accessible look at the complexity of conflict in the Congo. I highly, highly recommend it to those who want to look beyond the hopeless images of violence and superficial 'solutions' proposed by western governments that pervade the current discourse on the Congo, to see what kind of complex web has been weaved there and understand what makes their politics unique.(less)
YEAH - First Reads first win! I'm not quite a top reviewer, but I'll do my best to debrief this baby once I get it in the next 4-6 weeks! Thanks Goodr...moreYEAH - First Reads first win! I'm not quite a top reviewer, but I'll do my best to debrief this baby once I get it in the next 4-6 weeks! Thanks Goodreads!
I think folks need to stop comparing this book to the Hunger Games. It's dangerous
Yes, it has a tough and feisty female protagonist; Yes, it takes place in a world that is somewhat gloomy and dystopian; Yes, there's lots of fighting and gore, and a sexy Mary Sue of a lead male, and a cool enough premise to keep you hooked into the story and wanting to see how it all turned out.
What it wasn't, though, was awesome. And the Hunger Games had awesome in spades.
I feel I should elaborate for the sake of folks who might be reading a lot of the really positive reviews coming out. I should admit now that I do like some young adult dystopian lit, and that's what first attracted me to this book. I usually accept that the language will be a little bit simpler, and maybe some pieces of the story will be more geared toward younger audiences who still get MEGA excited by cute rebellious boys and see turning into a cage fighter as the most horrific fate imaginable (it would suck, I'll admit).
The problem I found with Blood Red Road is that it is TOO simple. Characters seem whittled down so that their development is really thrown in as seasoning rather than the main dish. The aforementioned Mary Sue character of Jack is just too unbelievably smitten with Saba. We're supposed to believe that Saba is growing and changing throughout her experience, but she's still acting like a crazy bitch up until about page 450! The King character is just too bizarre - how could someone who cared so much for his own life seem to squander it so stupidly and leave himself so open to attack? We're supposed to feel empathy for the deaths of some of the other characters (no spoilers here), but we never get to know any of them enough to feel that way.
What was probably most disappointing is how shallow the world feels. There are some nice allusions to a world that once was, and a few little hints about how people have come to be so complacent about their horrifying existence, but the author failed to create a depth of mythology. You might jump in and say "Hey, it's the first of a trilogy! She'll need to withhold material for exposure later." Valid, but the problem is that I really don't have enough questions, enough "why this.."s to prompt the kind of excitement that should come between titles in a series like this! There wasn't enough mystery, and I really feel like Moira missed the mark here, because she could have done amazing things with a character that had never seen the world beyond her own tiny existence (Harry Potter brilliance, anyone?).
With all of this being said, the reason I find the comparison dangerous is related more to reader expectations than anything else. I came into this book after completely loving the vivid, thoughtful world that Collins created in her series, and craving & expecting a similar experience. Those expectations were definitely not met. The world was ruined and gloomy, but dull and not fully realized. The main character was feisty and tough, but frustrating and unrealistic. The fighting was fun and gory, but predictable. Most of all, nothing felt like a surprise. I never felt moved, emotionally or mentally, and to me, being 'moved' is usually a sign of a really awesome read.
Finally, I did rate those book 2 stars and not 1. Why? Because I did have a tough time putting it down here and there, although I never found myself daydreaming about the characters the way I have with the Hunger Games (or Oryx and Crake, or 1984 etc). The messing around with dialect was respectable, and it did have some wickedly strong female characters.
It's a fun and easy read, but the next Hunger Games, it is not.(less)