4.75 stars which is basically my code for "I REALLY want to ignore the one or two less-than-perfect aspects because I freaking loved it so much I don'4.75 stars which is basically my code for "I REALLY want to ignore the one or two less-than-perfect aspects because I freaking loved it so much I don't even care." ...more
4.5 stars. My favorite in this series so far. It took awhile, but the drama is finally starting to unfold.
Also, this is a love story, I realize that n4.5 stars. My favorite in this series so far. It took awhile, but the drama is finally starting to unfold.
Also, this is a love story, I realize that now. Sure, there are other things at play, but the Bloodlines series (and the Vampire Academy series) are love stories in a vampiric setting. I came into this series thinking this way, and so it doesn't bother me that this is now becoming the Sydney and Adrian chronicles. This is Richelle Mead's style -- and there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, it's kinda my guilty pleasure as well. I mean, I like reading about the sisterly bonds like with Jill and Sydney or with Rose and Lissa, but the romance is the draw. VA was about Rose and Dimitri. Bloodlines is about Sydney and Adrian. What I'm saying is: the love story isn't the subplot; it's the A-plot. If that isn't your thing, you might not enjoy this series or the VA series as much as I do. But if you like living vicariously through unrealistic tales of epic teenage love, then yeah, this is for you....more
Better than Bloodlines was, but it still doesn't have quite the draw of the Vampire Academy series. That said, an enjoyable read, if still a3.5 stars.
Better than Bloodlines was, but it still doesn't have quite the draw of the Vampire Academy series. That said, an enjoyable read, if still a bit boring through a lot of it. The characters are blander than they are in VA, but Adrian is enough to draw me in. I liked Sydney more in this book, too, but still she's not as good a narrator as Rose. ...more
**spoiler alert** Here's the thing, and I'm just going to be blunt:
Alex should have stayed dead.
If he was going to end up alive, he should have come b**spoiler alert** Here's the thing, and I'm just going to be blunt:
Alex should have stayed dead.
If he was going to end up alive, he should have come back sooner, before Lena and the reader had grieved and moved on. As it is, I mourned him greatly, as did Lena, but then something funny happened: the book didn't suffer from his absence. No, in fact, I loved Pandemonium even more than Delirium! The love story was better! Imagine, a focal teen romance in YA where it's the girl who ends up saving the boy! The feminist in me cries for joy at that, showing that the woman can be the stronghold in a relationship, and the man can be the more vulnerable one. (and I'm not talking about the "good girl saves bad boy" tripe because that's a completely different story--she didn't make Julian a better person exactly, just opened his eyes.) I enjoyed Julian as a character for the same reasons I liked Lena in Delirium: they were weak. YA needs more weak characters. I mean, round, well-fleshed out, well-developed characters, but weak people. Too many people think "characters who are weak/vulnerable/flawed/not strong-willed" are the same as "weak characters" but I assure you, this is so false.
The last page ruins the story for me. I moved on, Lena moved on. Bringing him back does what exactly? It just means that the third book is going to be the usual "who will she choose?" love triangle BS. Of course she'll choose Alex because they're soul mates or whatever (vomit), because the first person the heroine falls for in YA is obviously her ONE TRUE LOVE. Don't get me wrong, I liked Alex. And I know readers would have gathered with pitchforks if Alex had stayed dead, but you know what? It would have better served the story if he had.
Pretties delved more into the setting of this series. We get more of a glimpse of just what is going on on the outside, a**spoiler alert** 4.5 stars.
Pretties delved more into the setting of this series. We get more of a glimpse of just what is going on on the outside, and not just the smoke.
I really liked Zane as a new character and I liked that there were new characters; it wasn't simply a return Of the whole cast. As a love interest, I felt it made sense and I think I liked it more than I did Tally and David.
I'm not sure about the ending, if I could say anything bad. It felt a little bit like deus ex machina that it tuned out Tally (and, I'm assuming, other Pretties with enough willpower) could cure herself. I just don't buy that brain legions could be cured without any medical treatment, sorry.
This is a short review. I loved this story, but I'll probably be more thorough when I finish the series. ...more
I say this so you understand why I gave this four stars instead of five, which was my first instinctLet me begin by saying: Shatter Me had its flaws.
I say this so you understand why I gave this four stars instead of five, which was my first instinct upon finishing. My reasoning was that any book I devoured overnight was an automatic five-star book. But after some thought, I decided that this should not be the case, as I realized that perhaps I had more (much more) love for this book than it was worthy of.
And that's okay. Really.
Some books just hit a chord with certain people, so much that it is difficult to recognize imperfections. And I totally get that Shatter Me had plenty of issues with characterization, abuse of metaphors, and flowery cliches. It wasn't even that I didn't notice these things. I just didn't care.
I didn't care because this book had an addictive quality that made it impossible to set down. Everything, the villain, the romance, the rage, the hopeless setting, the freaking passion, I can't exactly explain it. All I know is that I kept wanting more. I needed more. I'm not sure it was entirely healthy, the relationship I had with this book in that 12-hour period.
There are better books out there in this genre. I don't know if this book will have the same effect on someone reading this review as it did on me, so I'm not so sure how I would recommend this. I can't make any promises, but if you want to take a risk...this is the book to take it on. ...more
I enjoyed this book, for the most part. The characters, especially Hampton and Sara and even Blaine, were well-developed. I really liked Hampton, andI enjoyed this book, for the most part. The characters, especially Hampton and Sara and even Blaine, were well-developed. I really liked Hampton, and I loved Sara. I loved the way that the setting was used (it felt a lot like my high school). I liked the high school football backdrop.
Still, though, this book didn't captivate me the way I thought it would. The plot was...well, I didn't find it. There were elements to the story that needed to be better developed--things like Hampton's relationship with his mother. I wanted more scenes exploring that dynamic. There was never any tension there, and so when that story was resolved I didn't feel at all invested in it.
There needs to be more conflict all around in the story. Yeah, there's plenty of internal conflict in Hampton and in Blaine (which we see through Hampton), but that all just builds and builds and the pay-off for the tension is kind of a letdown.
All in all, it's an okay book, and an easy read. The characters are great. The plot elements, however, left a lot to be desired....more
I like Sydney, but I think Rose is a better narrator. Sydney is rather boring in that regard. I think the main issue I have with this book is that itI like Sydney, but I think Rose is a better narrator. Sydney is rather boring in that regard. I think the main issue I have with this book is that it took so long for things to actually happen -- it wasn't until the last 10% of the story that the action really ramped up. That's not really a problem for me -- setting the scene and character development are important factors and action isn't everything. However, Sydney didn't enthrall me as a narrator like Rose did. ...more
Could I, upon reading the first chapter, explain my utter revulsion of the protagonist and her friends?I am at a loss for words.
Where to even begin?
Could I, upon reading the first chapter, explain my utter revulsion of the protagonist and her friends? How on earth could I continue to read a story with such an awful narrator?
Lauren Oliver knows. Boy, does she know!
Because it was the little inclusions of humanity here and there, the signs of vulnerability, that made a part of me -- a very small part at first -- feel pity for Sam, then sympathy, and then, finally, grief.
Tris, let's be real, was a mess. And, let's be even more real, that's why I love her character.
I'm pretty sick of seeing badass heroines--particularly in movies, but also in books--that can curb off trauma in order to continue their badassness unaffected. When you kill, even good people, your friends, when you're betrayed by those you love, when you see your loved ones die violent deaths, you will be grief-stricken and traumatized and suffer psychological breakdowns and I want to see characters become an emotional wreck in those situations. I don't want them to just move on, unchanged. I want them to struggle and suffer and grieve, because I want them to be human. It's why I loved Katniss, and it's why I love Tris.
And this is one of the biggest reasons Insurgent shined for me, but not the only one.
See, unlike Divergent, the action moved forward from the very first page. I didn't have to get through 300 pages of world and character building in order to get to the plot. The plot was unfolding already. We were moving forward. Insurgent was much more action-packed than I remember Divergent being, and for that reason, I rate it higher.
The relationship between Tris and Tobias is strained throughout much of this book, and this is part of the reason I wanted to rate it lower at first. I love this relationship, I do, but in this case the angst and their trials were, I think, an added weight to it all and it just felt so heavy at this point. (view spoiler)[I'm glad he kept her faith in her, but I wish she could have had a little faith in him at the end to tell him her plan. (hide spoiler)]
The ending, too, was a bit choreographed and I wasn't sure. I mean, it works--it makes the entire dystopian landscape make much more sense, but it still seemed like a bit of a letdown. If it hadn't been hinted at so much as being something REALLY HUGE, maybe I wouldn't feel that way. It wasn't bad, it just failed to meet my expectations.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Without question, Blood Red Road is the best book I have read this year and probably better than any book I read in 2011. The entire time I spent readWithout question, Blood Red Road is the best book I have read this year and probably better than any book I read in 2011. The entire time I spent reading, I never wanted to put it down. I lost a fair bit of sleep over it as well!
The book chronicles Saba, a stubborn 18-year-old fighter on a quest to rescue her kidnapped twin brother, Lugh, who fell into the clutches of the evil Tonton and is in grave danger. Saba is accompanied by her nine-year-old sister Emmi, whom Saba has never forgiven for being responsible for their mother's death in childbirth; the rugged Jack, who makes Saba feel things she hasn't before; and a group of women warriors called the Free Hawks, led by Maev.
Through her journey, Saba and her accomplices endure just about everything you could imagine. One pitfall escaped only leads to another. Cage fighting! Flash floods! Giant worms with claws!
Yeah, I can see where people would have problems with some of this. It seems far too coincidental that Saba somehow manages to survive every time by the skin of her teeth, but I don't even care. If I wanted a story that was somehow realistic, I probably wouldn't read a post-apocalyptic wild-west style adventure novel.
And make no mistake, that is exactly what this is. Each time I put this down, I had to pause for a minute I catch my breath. The action didn't stop. One thing you could never call this book is boring.
The characterization is, in a word, perfect. I don't mean Mary Sue perfect, either. Saba, for one, is one of the strongest heroines I have read about, ranking right up there with Katniss Everdeen. By strong, I don't mean her will or physicality--I mean in terms of character development. Saba is a beautifully crafted protagonist who at times irritated the hell out of me (and she was supposed to!) but was always someone I could cheer for.
Emmi... I must admit I was a little skeptical of having a child character in the main cast. Emmi, however, was not the typical annoying brat younger sibling (if anyone's the brat, it's Saba) and her inclusion was welcome. I hated the way Saba treated her and felt that Emmi, in a lot of ways, was a well-developed heroine in her own right.
As for Jack, well, my reaction to most YA romances is meh. I'm okay as long as it isn't the whole story but generally I'm not a fan of the romance itself. This was an exception. Jack was my favorite character in the book; funny, charming, sexy, cocky...a bit like Han Solo (and if you don't know me, you should know that Han Solo is my first love). I loved his interactions with Saba, I loved the cave scene (and everything that led up to it), and basically I felt more invested in Jack and Saba than I have in any other YA love story I can think of.
The writing style took a few pages to get into, but it definitely fit the characters and story that was being told after a while, I got used to it and it didn't take away from the overall experience (it added to it, if anything).
Overall, there is very, very little fault I can find with this book and it delivered in just about every single area: prose, plot, character, dialogue, setting... I cannot say enough about how much I loved it and I can't wait for the series to continue. Five stars. ...more
**spoiler alert** Mockingjay was, in my opinion, the best installment of a beautiful and terrifying story. Everything set up perfectly through The Hun**spoiler alert** Mockingjay was, in my opinion, the best installment of a beautiful and terrifying story. Everything set up perfectly through The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, with THG setting the stage and CF sowing the seeds of rebellion, Mockingjay was where the heart of this story and this message came into play.
There are a lot of messages that come out of this trilogy, many themes to draw from. Suzanne Collins' book flap bio from THG said that she wrote the first book to explore the effect of war and violence on those people who are just coming of age. But why? Look at the world. Who goes to war? Oh, sure, men and women in combat are adults but many times just barely; many put on the uniform with the promise of college tuition paid in exchange (not long ago, near my home, a girl who could not afford college enlisted and now she's back home after losing a foot -- many like her have lost so much more); others go in search of honor or something to give their lives meaning for whatever reason. 18, 19, 20 years old. There's nothing pretty about this.
In Mockingjay, Katniss becomes the face of the rebellion, of the war itself. Except, she's fighting for the good guys, right? Are there any "good guys" in war? (That isn't a slight against troops -- my father and both my grandfather are veterans and I have the utmost respect for those who serve -- but rather an acknowledgment that, in war, violence is inescapable.) Katniss might be fighting to bring down the bad guys in the Capitol and Snow (but is anyone truly a "bad guy" or just people who have been brainwashed through upbringing and the Capitol's propaganda?), but she has doubts. She doesn't trust Coin and District 13 fully despite having given them her allegiance. But she has to believe that fighting for their cause is the only way to build a better world.
She's 17. She's been to the arena twice, where she's murdered other children. People she loves have been killed and/or tortured -- because of her. And yet she's supposed to be strong and resilient and "the face of the cause." And she gives up everything: her best friend, her lover, her sister, her friends and allies, and her very soul. And then everything comes crashing down when she sees the truth of what she's fighting for. Nothing ever changes, right? It would be better for her to die.
But she doesn't die. And the world does change. She still has nightmares. She's still lost mostly everyone she loves. Other stories which feature this type of epic struggle, it ends, and you get the feeling that the characters will, after a period of grief, move on and the trauma will be over and everything's all better. And while I love all of those stories, we know that's BS, right? Katniss will never recover, not fully, which doesn't mean she can never know happiness again. The terror will fade, but it doesn't go away.
Of course, it helps that she hasn't lost everything. She still has two people she loves, who know exactly what she's been through. She lives on, she can have a family without living in fear for her children. When the nightmares come, she can wake in the arms of someone who knows her horror, and he comforts her, and she does the same for him. They protect each other. That's what they do.
Let's talk about the love story. So often in YA stories like this one, the love story is trivialized as a subplot or as something that is irrelevant to the larger themes involved. But the romance, in the end, serves as a glimmer of hope, the joy that Katniss is allowed to have for herself after her world has collapsed around her, and the comfort. They keep each other sane, quite literally, and remind each other of what is real and what is worth fighting for. It is her happy ending, to know that no matter what, she isn't alone.
When I first reviewed this series, I rated all three books quite a while after I had finished Mockingjay for the first time. Somehow I figured that CaWhen I first reviewed this series, I rated all three books quite a while after I had finished Mockingjay for the first time. Somehow I figured that Catching Fire, while still awesome, was my least favorite of the trilogy, only warranting four stars.
And then I read the entire series again in a single weekend and realized the error of my ways.
You see, when I rated Catching Fire all I could really remember specifically about the book was that Katniss and Peeta went into the arena again. I remember feeling dread in that one sentence. I was angry, I was heartbroken, I was scared...all I could do was shake my head and say "This can't be happening!"
Somehow, looking back at that, I must have translated my negative feelings of that moment into negative feelings about the book. I can somewhat understand it, as well, as I remember worrying that this book was just The Hunger Games under a different title. I was wrong, of course. It wasn't repetitive.
The story moved along brilliantly in Catching Fire, which took the events of The Hunger Games and used them to spark a rebellion. What you have in Catching Fire is a transitional phase, from The Hunger Games which was a personal coming-of-age story, to Mockingjay which is about a government uprising. Catching Fire connects the two by establishing the beginnings of the rebellion and of the main characters' attitudes toward fighting back against the Capitol.
While Katniss began The Hunger Games as a passive bystander, wanting only to provide for her family, in this book she grows into the role of civil disobedience set up for her by the end of the events in the first novel.
It isn't only that things are changing around the main cast, but how the main cast -- Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Haymitch and the others -- are changing, how their sense of justice is sparked. Even so, they are hesitant to be part of any rebellion. In the end, this is something that is forced on them, rather than something they choose. But it is, you get the sense, something they would have chosen had they been given the time.
In The Hunger Games, these were scared teenagers who tried to stay out of the way (and grip) of the Capitol. They failed, and now a fire has been started. Catching Fire is all about whether Katniss will rise up and take responsibility for the flames that she has fanned.
While all of this is going on, there is more trauma for Katniss and Peeta and their own relationship begins to blossom, as will as Katniss' confusing feelings for Gale. And while some will say that the love triangle is not as important as the main themes of this story, the romance is still an important part of Katniss' understanding of her future as well as her growth as a character. It isn't something we can ignore. Katniss' feelings for Gale are such that she is willing to take on his pain to protect him, just as she wants to protect Peeta.
But after the Games, the friendship between Katniss and Gale is forever changed. She tries to ignore Peeta, tries to forget all about the Games, but Peeta is the only one who shares that part of her any more. So, while Katniss' love for Gale is as strong as ever, their bond of friendship has weakened somewhat, where before they had all of each other in spirit. Gale represents to Katniss a life without the trauma of the Games, a life before any of it happened. That's the life she wants back. The love triangle is a representation of what Katniss wishes she could have and what she really needs to heal. She needs to face the trauma of what happened to her, and it is Peeta who can help her do that, who can support her through the nightmares and the horrors.
This is why I don't think the romance of the story should be trivialized and set aside as some lesser subplot. Every "subplot" is a thread that weaves the entire story together. Without the romance, this saga would feel much emptier and much more hopeless.
First, let's get one thing straight: all fiction -- all creative works, period -- are derivative in one way or another. Having an original story doesFirst, let's get one thing straight: all fiction -- all creative works, period -- are derivative in one way or another. Having an original story does not mean that nothing about the story has been done before because, let's face it, EVERYTHING has been done before. Not the same way, but if you take a single story element -- a plot line, a character, a setting, whatever -- you'll be able to find that same element in several other stories.
Not to mention, people have similar ideas and concepts. Don't think that you have great ideas that no one else has thought of.
The key to great fiction is not originality, and neither is originality a synonym for creativity. This is why the oft-cited criticism that The Hunger Games is rip-off of Battle Royale is off base. I find it believable that Suzanne Collins' had never even heard of the novel before writing The Hunger Games, as she has supposedly asserted. Basic plots are often similar and I highly doubt Battle Royale was the first of its kind. It is execution that matters.
Now that I've had that spiel, let's talk about the book itself. I just went through a weekend marathon reading of the entire series and so feel I am finally ready to write an adequate review.
And you know what? I'm having a hard time here. It's difficult with books I love because generally in reviews I try to divide up what I like and what I don't like except here there was very little I didn't love. I find it difficult to find something worthwhile to say, but I'll try.
Let's start with Katniss, shall we? Katniss has that "the child who is the parent" dynamic; her entire life is taking care of her family and watching after her little sister. Gale, too. All of Katniss's motivation comes from her feeling of responsibility toward Prim. It's why she must survive. It's why she learned to hunt. It's why she's willing to kill.
And then there's Peeta. Peeta's the youngest, and well, let's just say he doesn't have the "loving family" background Katniss has. Sure, his father is distraught when he is chosen for the Games, but where was his older brother (who could have volunteered for him)? And why is his (implied abusive) mother writing him off from the start?
Oh, Peeta. He's got such a low opinion of his self-worth and he measures his value by how well he can protect Katniss. And Katniss, well, she measures her own value by how well she can provide for Prim. And it's all heart-breaking and caused by a system of oppression that, among other evils, doesn't allow kids to enjoy being kids anymore. There is no adolescent or "in-between" period: you are a child and then you are an adult at 12 when every year you know you could be facing certain death in the arena.
What's frightening is what this book says about us. Hank Green recently did a video blog talking about The Hunger Games and he made a point that is difficult to think about when you read this book and that is: WE'RE the bad guys here. WE'RE the Capitol. We're the ones who look at suffering, maybe feel a tug on our heart strings and then look away and return the comforts of our luxury living.
The thing is: the Capitol citizens watched these games every year and were entertained, they cried when their favorites died, cheered when they won, but they never saw the tributes as actual people. They were more like adorable pets; death was sad, but not worthy of the type of mourning that you'd spare another human being.
Yet, the Capitol citizens, like Effie or Katniss' prep team, they weren't "bad," exactly. They'd grown up in the system, much like indoctrinated children. They didn't want to look upon the horror of the Games, much like we don't want to look upon the horror of, say, war, so instead use the euphemisms of "honor" and "glory" and, here's my favorite, "sacrifice."
Even some in the districts, especially among the Career tributes, buy into that "honor." But the Careers, cruel as they were, were ultimately victims of circumstance, brainwashed by the Capitol as if they were on some divine mission from God. This is one of the few ways I favored the movie over the book -- I felt Cato's death was more chilling, portrayed that he, too, had been a slave.
This is dystopia at its best, and the series only gets better from here....more
There were a lot of things I liked about this book and a few things I didn't like so much. I liked that it had a narrow array of characters, because tThere were a lot of things I liked about this book and a few things I didn't like so much. I liked that it had a narrow array of characters, because there honestly wasn't enough room for otherwise. I liked the plot, I liked the romance, and I liked the struggle between both characters and their parents/parental figures. I liked the characters themselves. Overall, I liked the story.
I didn't like the ending. Scratch that: I was fine with what happened in the end, but I did not think it was handled well. I felt important plot developments became too abrupt and it seemed that the author was in a hurry to get the book finished. Also, and this isn't so much against the book itself as it is a personal preference, I didn't like the overhandedness of the romance. The book is primarily a romance and a fantasy second and it never pretends to be the other way around, so fair's fair. I've got nothing against romance in itself, I just prefer it as a secondary storyline, with few exceptions.
So, final verdict: while there was a lot to LIKE and a little to not like, there wasn't anything I outright LOVED. 3.5 stars (rounded up to four)....more
I'm going to give this 3.5 stars, with the series as a whole getting four stars. Rose grew on me as the series went on, and I think that's because sheI'm going to give this 3.5 stars, with the series as a whole getting four stars. Rose grew on me as the series went on, and I think that's because she grew as a character. I particularly enjoy her relationships with Adrian and Dimitri, but in this book, I felt her connection with Lissa lacking, when that relationship had been so powerful before. It's tough because they didn't really have many scenes together. You can tell how much they care about each other but they don't really interact. Lissa and Rose each had their own personal journeys that brought them into their adult life, and I really enjoyed both of their storylines. All in all, an enjoyable end to a good series....more