This was the best YA book I have read to date: strong plot, strong characters and a strong emotion throughout the whole book.
The idea is fresh for a...moreThis was the best YA book I have read to date: strong plot, strong characters and a strong emotion throughout the whole book.
The idea is fresh for a YA book, although it's been hinted at in many different novels and films. The whole "winning by losing" thing makes me remember 'The Lottery', a short story I had to read when I was 12 and I still haven't forgotten.
Collins has taken world elements from so many different novels it almost staggers me (but I suppose that is what a good author does). Right off the bat I have to think of Brave New World, Orwell's 1984, A Clockwork Orange, Equilibrium (notice how they are all dystopian) although I'm sure that there are many others. She has managed to take all these elements and blend them in such a way that her world could actually be real: the contempt, the pride of the Capitol, the stringent society life, the way people just need to act out and last of all two hero's, though unlikely, do seem like they can go on in the next book to bring down the horrid dystopian lifestyle.(less)
Okay, Catching Fire was the strangest of all the trilogy.
The Hunger Games focused on the actual build up of the world, the characters and how it all...moreOkay, Catching Fire was the strangest of all the trilogy.
The Hunger Games focused on the actual build up of the world, the characters and how it all takes place in the arena in the short-term.
Mockingjay focuses on more of a world-view and long-term plans.
Catching Fire seems to sort of be stuck in between, for me. As though Collins had to fill in the space in between the other two books to make the plot line fill out a bit.
But, I did enjoy it (as you can see from my rating). Mainly because we learn a lot more about the world, especially how evil the president is. As a filler book I did enjoy it, although the 75th Hunger Games freaked me out a lot!(less)
Finally the last book in the saga... many plot twists, some unexpected, others not so much. The good guys win, the bad guys die, and perhaps there is...moreFinally the last book in the saga... many plot twists, some unexpected, others not so much. The good guys win, the bad guys die, and perhaps there is a better world for all involved.(less)
I have to say, I finished this book on a jarring note. Shusterman should have extended the "HEA" part a bit more so that his readers would get over th...moreI have to say, I finished this book on a jarring note. Shusterman should have extended the "HEA" part a bit more so that his readers would get over the sick craziness that is unwinding. I couldn't get it out of my mind, and at this time I never want to read the book again.
The novel does redeem itself, though, in that there is a HEA ending, and a positive look into the future. (Of course, something that was to be expected from the very beginning of the story. Why pick three main characters who have to face so much adversity and then just kill them off?)
The kids didn't act much like kids, although I suppose that is in part due to the problems that they face; it forces them to grow up a lot faster. Still, I felt that the characters could have been deeper: Risa was the tough-exterior, soft-interior girl, Conner the bad boy who really only wants to help people and Lew the confused but angry kid. It's so predictable it made my teeth hurt.
Also, I hated the fact that most of the book was written in present tense, which changed depending on the chapter. If the chapter was labeled Conner it was from his perspective, in present tense, BUT NOT in first person. This really killed my concentration abilities on the book, every time I read a sentence set in present tense, I also expected the first person, but it was always in third. It was jarring and led me to really dislike reading.
The only thing I really enjoyed was the world view and plot line. If a bit peculiar (abortion is a big subject in the world today, but it will never become THE subject which the whole world will fight about with two big armies) there is always the slightest possibility that it could happen. It doesn't need to be abortion rights, perhaps if this science of using the whole body of an organ donor actually existed, perhaps such laws would also come in to play.
Still, the whole thing makes me sick. I am glad the the main characters managed to survive, but I didn't like the book enough that I want to keep reading in the series. I felt nauseous many times at the thought of what "responsible adults" were doing to kids, their own children even, and the amount of brainwashing taking place just made me glad that it isn't in my world today. Perhaps it out there in our world, but at least I don't need to know about it.(less)
Okay, so I finally got up the courage to finish this super long novel! (837 pages as pdf, if it were published that's like, what, 1500 pages? More?)
Th...moreOkay, so I finally got up the courage to finish this super long novel! (837 pages as pdf, if it were published that's like, what, 1500 pages? More?)
This is a free ebook that can be found on the link from the book page.
Quick summary: Sin is a dangerous psychopath who just so happens to be trained as an assassin. He's spent the last year locked up in a tiny box and now he has been released for a new mission. For this task, he needs a partner, but since he's killed all his last three partners, The Agency is not so keen on assigning him just anyone.
Enter Boyd: emotionally scarred after the death of his father, and then of his best friend and one true love, who was murdered right in front of his eyes. All he has left is a mother who doesn't care for him. She asks him to come in to The Agency for a job interview though. He is accepted.
Thus starts Boyd's and Sin's partnership, which at times is the worst thing either of them both imagined, but at other times the best partnership either of them have ever had.
My opinion: I gave this book 5 stars because it was overall just wonderful. There are a few flaws in it, though, which I will talk about more further on.
First off, I couldn't help but compare this novel often with the stories set in The Administration (see: Mind Fuck) series by Manna Francis. They are both set in a future sci-fi world after a large scale "world war three" which created a dystopian society in which the books are primarily set.
I disliked some of the nuances of this dystopian world, though. Not because they were distasteful, but rather because they weren't detailed enough. I just don't know enough about the world to picture it. But perhaps this is better explained in the squeal to this novel.
Secondly, I loved the characters. They were all realistic and understandable, for the most part. At first I really couldn't put Boyd or Sin into predictable categories, which, I suppose, was part of the plan of the authors. I loved some of the character descriptions, which made it very easy to visualize how they looked like (especially Sin, when he is first described!)
Thirdly, the writing style bugged me. Sometimes more often than others. Mostly this was due to the fact that the book at times read more like a manga than a novel ought to. For instance, cut scenes, or scenes where you just KNOW they were written more on how they were visualized rather on what action is going on. This was often times unsettling, although if you prefer manga style, then maybe you ought to read this book. (This is probably influence from the culture of the authors, but I have no proof.)
When it came to writing style in an action scene then I totally lost the overview. I wasn't sure how we got from point A to point B because the details weren't written as clearly as the emotional ground covered within a characters soul.
Fourthly, for the most part the book is very wordy. That means there is a lot of analysis of thoughts, emotions, feelings, situations, what-ifs, etc. That also means when it does come down to an action scene that the writing is rather skimpy. And that most dialogue is more like monologue followed by monologue of the other character, rather than two people conversing.
Fifthly, I loved the plot. Although it felt like it took 400 pages to actually get into the story, by the time Sin and Boyd made it to Mexico I had a pretty good grasp on the characters and their situations. Without all the former missions that they had to complete, the story would definitely have been lacking.
Overall, I feel that the story could have been cut into parts (which probably will be if it ever gets published) to make clear-cut lines between the different segments. But, as thing stand, the story is very well written (though annoying in structure at times), has wonderful characters, a thought-out interwoven plot and is set in a realistic setting. (less)
I think I might have learned a lot more from this book than I realize.
It's dystopian (synonymous with morbid and painful) but usually it's exactly th...moreI think I might have learned a lot more from this book than I realize.
It's dystopian (synonymous with morbid and painful) but usually it's exactly this genre that teaches us the most about all that is dark and dead with in ourselves.
I think this is the perfect book to have a group discussion on, be it in real life or online. It is so much deeper than just the pages. I'll try to explain.
Firstly, what King focuses on isn't the qualms of society (1984, Brave New World) and not specifically on the main character and his/her struggle for life (The Hunger Games Trilogy, Unwind) and yet, without much of a focus on anything in particular, his novel is darker than The Lottery. How does King achieve this? Possibly by having a main character who is seen by everyone in the book as a hero, but displayed to us as a normal human who cares on a personal level about the world, but doesn't mind seeing through the threads of the tapestry either.
I'm not making much sense here. Let me try again: Garraty is hailed all along the long walk by all the spectators. The schadenfreudic spectators who turn into the Crowd, which only has an eye and a roaring mouth. He focuses on his girlfriend and his mother as his goal but we never know why he chose to even join the Walk. Why any of the thousands of boys across the US choose to do the Walk. Why any normal, sane, humans would even go out to watch the Walk. This is different from almost every other dystopian novel (even in The Giver we learn some of the history of the society).
The only fragments we ever learn about the society in here is that there was a "Change" and before that there were millionaires and libraries and no Walks. Also, the Walk has been going on for 17 years. Everything else focuses on the boys, the walk, their malnutrition, their deaths. It was so disturbing, some of the scenes, but because of them, perhaps I can personally now complete my own Long Walk, where ever that leads.
It's a great book to read, anyway. Although I did a horrid job of trying to explain what I may have learned from it.(less)
With that stars a record keeping trail that knows no bounds. So what if you are checking out the Anarchist's C...moreINSERT CARD. ENTER YOUR SECRET NUMBER....
With that stars a record keeping trail that knows no bounds. So what if you are checking out the Anarchist's Cookbook, buying pet food, and not going to see your doctor regularly. That doesn't make you a terrorist.
Although, it does once all these agency's start talking to the Sheriff's department!
Jack C. Haldeman II wrote a short, satirical piece on what our future might look like if I work outside the bounds of society, and our "card" is tracking us. Innocent research for a book is no more!(less)
Hmm, just finished and I have to say that it wasn't as exciting as the movie, Soylent Green. The framework for the movie is there, but the film took t...moreHmm, just finished and I have to say that it wasn't as exciting as the movie, Soylent Green. The framework for the movie is there, but the film took the whole plot to another level and created the famous tag line "soylent green is people".
Other than that, the book was actually an amusing sci-fi mystery read. Andy is a cop sent to find the killer of a high profile murder. While he is searching for the suspect (who is in hiding) we learn all about his life in the "modern" world: overpopulated, overused and dying.
Although wrought with political messages (especially that of planned parenthood) there are some valid points about overpopulation and using the earth as our own private wasteland that hit home. Especially since the messages come through the mouths of the characters.
One of the most schadenfreudliche amusing things in the book was how ineffective the people were when it came to government. A birth control bill was in congress for 35 years. People riot and protest and march but nothing changes. It really shows how ineffectual these types of protests are.
As most dystopian novels, this book also showed how the world might end up if we don't do something to change it right now. And although I have no idea what I can do to change, perhaps if I start small there can be more change created than otherwise.
The book ended on the cheering note of "344 Million Citizens in These Great United States. Happy New Year!" (less)
This book is an odd forerunner of Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card (that's the second in the Ender Saga) and the James Cameron film, Avatar. I...moreThis book is an odd forerunner of Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card (that's the second in the Ender Saga) and the James Cameron film, Avatar. It mixes such odd things that we associate with sci-fi as space travel, ansible communication, taking over forest-worlds for human purposes, killing off natives, etc.
It seems to be that both Card and Cameron read this before creating their master works, and if that is the case it's a huge tribute to Le Guin (although they never mentioned her, so meh). As one of the first books by this author, I don't think was the best one to pick. This was a BOM read for the SciFi & Fantasy Group, though, so not much choice in the first book from this author!
This book was written around 40 years ago, so when I say that there are a lot of environmentalism and people-conscious ideas thrown at the reader, don't take it the wrong way! I would think that Le Guin was one of the first authors who tackled this really controversial topic and it is still relevant today.
Otherwise, though, the characters were interesting, if a bit too cliche, and the plot moved forward pretty fast (it was a very short book after all) without any moments of "I'm bored, but I'll keep reading to see if it gets any better".
Overall 4 stars because it seemed a bit dated. Still, it was well written.(less)
This book felt to me like Lauren Oliver *really* loved The Hunger Games Trilogy so much that she wanted to write her own story like it, but not like i...moreThis book felt to me like Lauren Oliver *really* loved The Hunger Games Trilogy so much that she wanted to write her own story like it, but not like it. Mix in a bit of The Giver and a bit of a few other dystopian novels and you've got the world set of Delirium.
In Delirium, love is a disease, commonly known as Amor Deliria Nervosa. Every human is in constant fear of getting 'sick'. Scientists have found a 'cure', but it can only be administered once a person reaches 18 years of age (convienant for all those love-sick teenagers, eh?). The whole entire United States is built up around this disease, including all history books, government agencies and every-day life.
Okay, if you didn't get that I was slightly disguisted with this concept, know it now. But I can accept it to enjoy the story. This is suposed to be the first of a trilogy (again: Hunger Games) so I expected this book to be slow, somewhat annoying, lots of build up which doesn't go much of anywhere, and a whole bunch of "main character figures out that world isn't perfect". Glad to know that my expectations were met.
Sadly, there wasn't much more to it. Lena ends up getting 'sick' (of course), goes through the denial phase, realizes that she isn't really sick, that everyone else in her town is, then there's the big "let's run away together into the Wilds" scene. Completely predictable.
The only thing that made this book even interesting were the side-stories. Lena as a main character was almost like Bella (from Twilight, of course) as a main character: there's not much to her, and she realizes that since her self-esteem is at about 100 below sea level. Her best friend is the gorgeous, popular, much-loved Hana. Hana's story and life were more interesting than Lena's; definitely. I hoped for so much more detail there, but all we got was a line or two every so often.
Lena's mother killed herself when she was 6 and she went to go live with her aunt and uncle. Their stories are all more interesting than Lena's.
All that is interesting about Lena is that she goes throught the expected "what, my world isn't perfect like how everyone has been telling me since I was six?!?!" phase, which gets old. I was also annoyed with how the world was built up... there wasn't much to it at all. For the most part she could have been living in a regular city, instead of a high-security prison-camp sugar-coated place. If sneaking out after curfew was that possible, why are the kids so scared?
I've also heard it stated that Lauren Oliver's writing is beautiful. I'm not sure if I'd use that adjective. I found it more interesting in Before I Fall than in this book. Here it was acceptable, but nothing outstanding.
Most of the book felt gleaned from other books. Yes, that is how most authors write, but do you really need to do it so transparently, Ms Oliver? So typical... love at first sight, I'll die without out, lets run away together... everyone is set against us... ugh.
I think that there was a lot of potential to make a wonderful story about the sanctity and beauty that is love here, but it just failed. That said, I might just end up reading the next book in the series, just because I want to know what happens next. I feel like the next book will be a lot faster paced, have more interesting characters, and will break free from the mold a bit more. So, I'm looking forward to Pandemonium!(less)
When going into a dystopian-themed novel, you're always aware of what's going down: there's a government in control, almost in too much control, of it...moreWhen going into a dystopian-themed novel, you're always aware of what's going down: there's a government in control, almost in too much control, of its people. There is too much regulation, for "your own safety". Rules put in place meant to "protect you from [evil bad people]". And then there is always a crisis: someone tries to take down the corrupt system, or the system falls apart naturally... either way, there is always someone out to fight Big Brother (to borrow from 1984).
Super Sad True Love Story isn't all that different. We have Leonard and Eunice as our two main characters who tell us their stories via the former's diary and the latter's GlobalTeens messages. In this day and age everyone has an äppärät on which to not only communicate on, but which essentially is their whole life. You think that today's people are too into their iPhones? Well, when all systems crash, and people can't connect on their äppärät's anymore, some of the people commit suicide. It's not just about being connected and getting the latest information, buying the latest merchandise or staying in contact with friends. To the people of this world it's mostly about getting ranked (essentially anyone with an äppärät has an account at GlobalTeens, where they get Fuckability rankings (the higher, the cooler you are) and other such "coolness" ratings).
One thing that Shteyngart really showed me was how freaking iPhone obsessed I may have become in these last years. It's not quite an äppärät, but it's not far from it either.
Anyway, the story: we don't actually get told a story, instead we get insights into Leonard's and Eunice's lives. His Jewish/Russian heritage mixed with his New York job at a company that promises eternal life. Her Korean history mixed up with physical abuse from her father and her inability to do anything to make herself happy.
I hated them both as characters at first. I didn't understand what was so cool, so good, about them. And there really is nothing all that special about them, other than the fact that they had a relationship, talked about it, and lived through one of the most pivotal times of their history. But then, slowly, their characters and personalities grew on me. I still don't like them as people... I'd never hang out with them, that's for sure, but somehow, something about them endeared them to me. Perhaps I just started caring, is all.
Another thing about dystopian books is how they like to teach us a lesson. I suppose you could say that George Orwell started it all with 1984, back when he was trying to tell people in 1948 what will happen in only a few short decades if they continue to proceed the way they do. There were a lot of lessons to be learned in this novel... but I feel like the real lesson was that everything changes, nature will always reclaim it's own and that although love can hurt, it still is beneficial to experience it!(less)
It has been a long time since I found a book well worth dropping everything else, just to read it. Even sleep. Especially sleep, I might add! I read t...moreIt has been a long time since I found a book well worth dropping everything else, just to read it. Even sleep. Especially sleep, I might add! I read this whole book in under 7 hours, which for it's size is saying something! (For those of you who are curious, the last book that I can recall that I wanted to immerse myself into this much was The Night Circus.)
I'll try and address all the many things that went through my mind while reading this amazing novel, but I doubt I'll recall them all.
First off, the book had flaws. One of the most annoying ones was that the kids were all around 20 years of age, and yet spoke, acted and generally behaved as though they were between the ages of 14 and 16. Now, this is easily explained away by saying that it's a future-society and such mental regression is probably very likely. Anyway, it bothered me, but most of the time I hardly noticed.
Next, this novel is fucking amazing. It combines something like a billion different movies, tv shows and novels into a masterpiece. The ones that my mind kept referring to were Gamer (2009), The Bourne Identity (2002) and , Wargames, the game Kingdom of Loathing, , , plus about a million others I can't remember right now. Suffice to say, Cline was a genius in writing this book... he managed to combine a futuristic world and the 80's decade while wrapping the whole thing up in a race with enough geek flair tossed in to even make it exciting for me, someone who was born at the end of the 80's (and yet still managed to "get" a lot of the references!)
I have no idea how long the author spent hiding his own Easter eggs into this book (I bet that there are many, but I really do not have the stamina to search them all out!) and I most certainly enjoyed a lot of the little bits of "trivia" tossed out at the reader. (In fact, I squealed and probably had a bit of a geek-gasm each time I got a quote, scene or just an off-comment xD)
For anyone who has a passing interest in SciFi&Fantasy novels, old arcade games (or just computer games in general), the 80's genre, the development of computers, futuristic life, or just about anything mentioned in this book, then you might want to find a copy of Ready Player One. It'll definitely be worth your while!
P.S. I really wish NetHack had been mentioned in the text-based adventure games section. Seriously.(less)