I really enjoyed this book. An interesting premise, gathering notorious literary characters and putting their abilities together, followed up with theI really enjoyed this book. An interesting premise, gathering notorious literary characters and putting their abilities together, followed up with the equally intriguing idea of putting them in famous plot lines (volume two takes place during War of the Worlds). I found the artwork to be quite beautiful and the attention to details lovely.
Enough of the accolades. While overall an awesome book there are some issues, I had a hard time with how they dealt with women. I don't have an issue with Mina Murray being the only leading woman, but she's constantly being attacked and cannot save herself. Isn't she supposed to have some special abilities? Why can't she defend herself? All other victims are either men who are violently killed or women that are sexually assaulted or killed. Doesn't seem quite right, does it?
Anyway, I liked the book, will read the rest of the series, will try and cope with the underlying misogyny. ...more
Let me say first that the world-building in this is miraculous. It's all so natural and well done. The descriptions of the events and settings are soLet me say first that the world-building in this is miraculous. It's all so natural and well done. The descriptions of the events and settings are so detailed that it just sucks you in and takes you to medieval Cornwall. Absolutely brilliant. Juniper's growth is well-paced. She doesn't become some all-knowing white witch overnight, but still struggles with her own insecurities...more
So I figured I'd get on the bandwagon and see what the deal was about the Scott Pilgrim series by Bryan Lee O'Malley. Interesting artwork and plot linSo I figured I'd get on the bandwagon and see what the deal was about the Scott Pilgrim series by Bryan Lee O'Malley. Interesting artwork and plot line. It's set in Toronto which is fantastic, and it has an original main character. Scott Pilgrim is 23, unemployed, getting over a horrible breakup by dating a high school-er, lives off his friend's generosity, and is in a terrible band. Things start looking up when he meets Ramona Flowers, who he must fight for the honor of dating. Which he does, surrounded by crazy friends and a sarcastic sister.
I read the entire thing in half an hour. It was weird. I can see why it's popular, why it would make an awesome movie, but kind of a lame graphic novel. No lie. I think it's mostly because the "original main character" turned out to be kind of a loser: no job, no money, and technically cheating on his 17 year old girlfriend with Ramona Flowers who he's fighting the evil exes for. Oh did I mention that Scott has amazing fighting abilities? Which is his only redeeming quality, that he can fight. Perhaps I need to be sixteen and a boy to really appreciate this one. Or maybe I need to read more of the series to appreciate. But really I'd rather not....more
Colin is a washed-up child prodigy who has just been dumped for the 19th time by a girl named Katherine. Colin was so sure that this time, this KatherColin is a washed-up child prodigy who has just been dumped for the 19th time by a girl named Katherine. Colin was so sure that this time, this Katherine was the one. But now he’s heartbroken, graduated from high school and is convinced he’ll never amount to anything. Ever. Not only is he sure he’s going to die alone, but he’s also sure he’ll never be able to cross from child prodigy to genius. What does it matter if he can anagram any word or phrase in the English language? He’ll never amount to anything. Never, ever, ever.
Of course, there’s only one cure for heart break and despair. A road trip. Colin’s friend Hassan, who is awesome, shows up to drag Colin off the floor of his bedroom for an epic road trip. They road trip along until Colin notices a sign, in Tennessee, claiming that the town on Gutshot contains the grave of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. A girl named Lindsey Lee Wells escorts them to the grave, and it’s on the way there that Colin trips on a molehill, smacks himself in the head and has his eureka moment. He knows what he’ll do that will take him from prodigy to genius. He knows how he’ll leave his mark on the world. Love is graphable. Colin will create a mathematical equation that will show who will break up with whom and approximately how long the relationship will last.
Hassan and Colin work out a deal with Lindsey’s mother, Hollis. In exchange for staying at her place, Hassan and Colin will take oral histories of the workers of the Gutshot textile mill, which Hollis owns. This still leaves Colin plenty of time to work on his Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability. And hijinks ensue.
I love everything John Green has ever written, but this one is absolutely my favorite. It’s so funny, and don’t worry if math isn’t your favorite, it isn’t actually math heavy. If you are into math, there’s an appendix that goes into detail about the equation. It’s a really great book; I would recommend it to anyone. ...more
Zeina Abirached, who wrote the beautiful and poignant A Game for Swallows writes another graphic novel of wartime memories.
In A Game of Swallows, AbirZeina Abirached, who wrote the beautiful and poignant A Game for Swallows writes another graphic novel of wartime memories.
In A Game of Swallows, Abirached tells the story of her time growing up during the civil war in Lebanon. It was more of a tradition telling of her life during that time. In I Remember Beirut, Abirached simply tells things she remembers.
"I remember when there was no electricity or gas, we used kerosene for heating." "I remember traffic jams." "I remember how to fold a paper boat." Each of these memories relates to a larger event or experience Abirached recalls from the time of the war.
It paints a detailed picture of everyday life for a child during this time. It also allows us to see the things that Abirached remembers and considers important as an adult, and in some cases, how they impacted her.
What I've loved about Abirached's graphic novels is that the simple and straightforward way they are told allows them to be appropriate for a middle grade audience. Her graphic novels are an excellent way to help a younger child understand war the effects it has on the children, or to explore how another child's life can be so different from their own.
The illustrations are impactful. Done in black and white, and fitting with the story, simple in detail, the panels and full page illustrations further show the impact these events had on Abirached's life.
I Remember Beirut comes out October 1, 2014. ...more
I quite enjoyed this book. It's a quick read, and though a rather romanticized view of Siena's life, I like the fact that she didn't play down how difI quite enjoyed this book. It's a quick read, and though a rather romanticized view of Siena's life, I like the fact that she didn't play down how difficult the actual life of a dancer is. It was a sweet and somewhat thought-provoking memoir. That's all I have to say about it. Done. ...more
Barbara Gordon, formerly Batgirl but now paralyzed from the waist, down continues to fight crime as Oracle, along with Black Canary. Black Canary falls in to a trap set by Savant, a mentally unstable villain with a grudge against Batman. Oracle finds she has to call on someone she doesn't fully trust - Huntress - if she wants Black Canary back alive.
I really liked it. A lot. I picked this one up because it was written by Gail Simone, and I've been curious to read her superhero stuff. It was great. The women are strong and capable and sassy. They have exciting adventures. They have each other's backs. They take care of themselves and look out for each other. They're smart and funny. Awesome. What's not to love?
The art. Sometimes. Sometimes it was totally fine. Look, it's not a problem if the characters want to dress in fishnets or short-shorts, or if she has prominent breasts. It's really not. A character can choose to dress in a revealing way and still be a strong woman. I don't want people to think I go in for slut shaming. I totally don't. It's how a character that wears those kinds of clothing can be portrayed can be a problem sometimes.
For example, Dinah, who is Black Canary, has quite a few panels where her head has been completely cut out of the picture. There she is, sans head, so that the focus of the picture is her breasts and ass. And it's not subtle about it, at all. Here we have four panels, only one of which we can actually see her face.
And here we have another two where the focus of the picture is her ass.
Huntress comes in to save the day! There she is, all tough and strong. Yes, her costume is pretty revealing. Fine. As she says, she's done a lot of sit-ups and wants to show off her abs. Great. But! Again, there's that picture with her head cut out so that the focus on the image is of her ass in her short-shorts.
Damn it illustrators! Why do you have to go and ruin a perfectly kick-ass comic with your stupid, hypersexulaized illustrations? Stop drawing awesome superwomen in impossibly awkward poses and cutting their fracking heads off! HEADS ARE IMPORTANT! IT'S WHERE THE BRAIN IS! WHICH ALL THESE CHARACTERS MAKE A HABIT OF USING! Grrrr.
So I am torn. Should I add this to out Great Graphic Novels for Girls list? On the one hand, it's totally awesome with great characters and a fun story. On the other hand, the illustrations go out of their way to highlight women's sexual characteristics, and that's not cool at all. ...more
**spoiler alert** Bobby is 16 and a father. He is the soul guardian of his brand new daughter, Feather. Bobby loves Feather so much it scares him. But**spoiler alert** Bobby is 16 and a father. He is the soul guardian of his brand new daughter, Feather. Bobby loves Feather so much it scares him. But his love for her doesn't change the fact that he still a kid that wants to be cared for himself and is completely overwhelmed by Feather's care.
The First Part Last is a very short book. It's a novella, almost, a little over 100 pages. I read it about an hour. It's written on a middle school level. The language is simple and straight forward, but beautiful in its simplicity. Angela Johnson said a lot more in 131 pages than a lot of other authors say in 400. It makes me think some other author's are in desperate need of an editor. I think this has a lot of high school appeal as well. It's easy to read, but high interest.
The First Part Last is unique in several ways. First, there aren't a whole lot teenage pregnancy books that focus on the father, and that focus on the father actually caring for the child after it's born. Bobby and his girlfriend Nia are from middle class families, also not seen as much in teenage pregnancy stories. Bobby and Nia, even after they know about the pregnancy, continue their relationship and clearly care about each other very much. That in particular I was struck by. Bobby and Nia had a very gentle, caring relationship. Most of the books about teenage pregnancy I've read the relationship is bad, or falls apart. In this book, Bobby and Nia love each other, do something super stupid they know was super stupid, and then they deal with it and continue to love each other, and getting married never comes up. Amazing.
Bobby's reaction to being a single father who's still in high school was realistically torn. He loves his baby. He's actually afraid of how much he loves her, and of how much Feather needs him and depends on him. He wants to do what's best for her, care for her and make her happy. But that doesn't change the fact that he's 16, and wants to play basketball with his friends, and hang out, and sleep through the night, and go to school without having to worry. The portrayal of Bobby's emotions was heartfelt and painful.
There were still some flaws in the story.
I really loved this book until the end, when it was revealed why Nia was not in the picture. I was wondering why the whole time, especially seeing what a loving relationship she and Bobby had. Where was she? It turns out she's in a vegetated state because of eclampsia, which is pretty rare and rare not to be caught in its pre-eclampsia stage. I felt let down. It would have made for a far more interesting story if there were a reason Nia had decided not to be involved in the baby's life, and therefore Bobby's. I found the eclampsia route disappointing.
This also raised the question, "Where are Nia's parents?" Bobby keeps the baby, because he can't think of parting with her now with Nia in a coma, and Nia's parents saying how Feather is the only thing they have left of their daughter. If that was the case, why did they not show up at all in Feather's (and therefore Bobby's) life? That seemed very odd. They seemed to have just disappeared. I would have thought they would want to be very involved in Feather's life, or maybe even would have wanted to raise her themselves.
Still beautifully written and a unique perspective. ...more
Faith, Charity, and Hope are three beautiful idiotic sorority girls who happen to also be vicious foul-mouthed assassins for a secret agency that promFaith, Charity, and Hope are three beautiful idiotic sorority girls who happen to also be vicious foul-mouthed assassins for a secret agency that promotes "Better a World Without Genius, Than a World Determined to Conflagration."
I would like to put out for all the world to see that I love Gail Simone. I think she's brilliant, she can do no wrong. Her books always have more depth to them than you expect, and are seriously twisted. I first thought that this would be her attempt to reach out to the young adult group, but I was wrong. So wrong! It's only 88 pages long, but it entertains, disturbs, and makes you think. WHO ELSE CAN DO THAT IN 88 PAGES! There is more violence and swearing packed into this than I saw in Batman: The Killing Joke. And yet it's still exceptional storytelling.
I really enjoyed Lea Hernandez's artwork, it's got a little bit of a manga-vibe to it, but it was totally appropriate for this book. She makes killing adorable.
Let make it clear that this is not for the young or faint of heart. This is pretty hardcore and don't go into it thinking that if you enjoyed Cardcaptor Sakura you're going to like this, because you will definitely not get the same thing from it. Otherwise awesome! ...more
These were short little anecdotes, ranging from one sentence to a storyline spanning several pages. There were never more than three sentences per pagThese were short little anecdotes, ranging from one sentence to a storyline spanning several pages. There were never more than three sentences per page and a sketched picture always accompanied each paragraph. It's weirdly touching and psychological without giving a lot of details or going into a lot of depth. You see glimpses of back-stories, personality conflicts, and the backlash of relationships.
Sarah Jane Dillard has six sisters, older, younger, all with their own passions and interests and minds of their own. Sarah Jane loves nothing more thSarah Jane Dillard has six sisters, older, younger, all with their own passions and interests and minds of their own. Sarah Jane loves nothing more than helping old Aunt Lillian on her isolated farm. Aunt Lillian tells wonderful stories of fairies and magic, which she insists are true, but Sarah Jane doesn't really believe her. Then one day Sarah Jane finds a real fairy, and before she knows it she and all her sisters are drawn into a long-standing war between two fairy clans. Sarah Jane must get them out before they are trapped forever.
Seven Wild Sisters was originally published 2002 and is the 12th book in the Newford series. It's a bit confusing, but it seems like some of the books in the series are being re-released or recycled? In 2013 The Cats of Tanglewood Forest was published (for the first time it looks like) and Seven Wild Sisters is being billed as a companion novel to it. I have not read The Cats of Tanglewood Forest, or any of the other books in the Newford series for that matter, and still liked Seven Wild Sisters a lot. And it made me want to read The Cats of Tanglewood forest so I could know Lillian's story.
While Sarah Jane was the main focus of the story and we learned most about her, I liked that the other sisters weren't just props. They had their own personalities and quirks. Adie is the oldest, and bit of a rebel without a cause. Elsie is fascinated with nature and draws plants and animals. The older twins, Laurel and Bess love music, and the younger twins, Ruth and Grace are mischief makers and practical jokers. They didn't all have big roles to play, but they were all part of the story.
Sarah Jane feels a bit apart from her sisters. She doesn't feel like she has a talent. She's quiet and thoughtful like Elsie, but doesn't have something to focus on. She likes stories, and Aunt Lillian, who isn't actually her aunt, has plenty. She also finds she likes working with her hands. While Sarah Jane is trying to save her sisters from angry fairies, she's finding out the kind of person she is and who she wants to be.
We really only get hints of the world in Seven Wild Sisters. I got a feeling that a lot more about the fairy world was learning in The Cats of Tanglewood Forest. Fairies aren't beautiful and sweet in this world. There are many different kinds of fairies some at war with each other. They all seem to fear and respect the King of Cats, who we hear about but never actually see.
Seven Wild Sisters comes out February 4, 2014....more
It's 1953, and Tommy just wants to hang out with friends, be a cowboy and pretend to fight communists. But then Tommy's older sister Mary Lou is terriIt's 1953, and Tommy just wants to hang out with friends, be a cowboy and pretend to fight communists. But then Tommy's older sister Mary Lou is terribly burned in an accident, and things begin to fall apart. Tommy's mother, who was always moody, has violent outbursts and beats Tommy. Tommy starts bullying other kids at school, and frames a shopkeeper for being a communist. Rumors of communism spread out of control, and Tommy doesn't know what to do to set things right.
This was very well done. The story is about Tommy and his family, but it's all the more powerful for being set against a backdrop of McCarthyism. Tommy doesn't realize the consequences of his actions when he puts a communist newspaper in Mr. McKenzie's store. He's angry and wants to do something mean. It's shocking to him how quickly people turn away from Mr. McKenzie and boycott his store, even when it's made clear it was a prank. Everyone is so afraid of being labeled a communist. Tommy decides to find out who the communist newspaper actually belonged to, thereby finding the real communist and clearing Mr. McKenzie's name. Every time he's ready to accuse someone else, he realizes things were not what they seem to be. It takes a while for Tommy to learn not to make quick accusations, and also, that having different beliefs don't make a person bad.
The story of Tommy's family is a sad one. Today, Tommy's mother would probably be diagnosed with a manic depressive disorder. There are scenes of her staying up all night cleaning or cooking, and then spending days refusing to get up. She could go from sweet to violent in a second, and seemed paranoid about people making fun of her. After Mary Lou is burned and hospitalized, Tommy's mother because more physically violent. His father doesn't know how to deal with it, and rather than protecting his children he stays away from home as much as possible. It falls on Tommy to take care of his two little sisters, and take up Mary Lou's paper route.
Tommy, who has no one to vent his feelings to, turns into a bully at school. In particular he picks on the new boy, Sam, who is Mr. McKenzie's son. Tommy and his friend Eddie are cruel to Sam, making fun of him, tricking him, and getting him into trouble. It was an interesting perspective to see where a bully might come from. It doesn't excuse Tommy's actions, but it was understandable that he might lash out in this way.
Things finally reach a breaking point and Tommy has to make some hard choices. He learns to ask for help and that accepting charity is not a bad thing. There are people around him who can support him.
It sounds like there's a lot going on in this book, and there is, but it all worked together perfectly. Great historical fiction read. ...more
It's 1942 in Berlin, Germany. Wendy has just arrived in Berlin with her newly found mother, Adrie. Wendy's grown up her whole life in America and speaIt's 1942 in Berlin, Germany. Wendy has just arrived in Berlin with her newly found mother, Adrie. Wendy's grown up her whole life in America and speaks no German. As happy as she is to be with Adrie, it is hard for Wendy to transition to being a German girl. The war, which seemed so remote in America, is the focus of everything in Berlin, and many things Wendy doesn't understand. It seems she has two choices. She can close her eyes to what's happening, or she can do something about it.
The Watcher is a companion novel to Shadows on the Sea, which I hadn't read. Wendy was a supporting character in that book, and I guess at the end she disappears with her newly discovered mother to Germany. I went a lot of the book thinking that it was going to turn out that Adrie wasn't actually Wendy's real mother, that it was a trick to get Wendy to Germany because they needed an American girl for some secret task. Adrie works for the German military intelligence unit as a spy. I guess if I'd read the other book I would have know that it was true that Adrie was Wendy's real mother. Although honestly, I think it would have made more sense if my idea had ended up being true.
This book didn't work for me very well. I thought it was confusing and choppy. I didn't think it made sense for Adrie to decided that 1942 was the time to let Wendy know she was her real mother and bring her to Germany. Even if she was completely convinced Germany was going to win the war. Why wouldn't she have waited until after? The story of Wendy's father didn't really make sense. Wendy's father was Jewish and they were married briefly but then her father was jailed and Adrie got a divorce and someone was able to make it look like their marriage had never happened and then Adrie got remarried and his name is the name on Wendy's birth certificate, but then Adrie decided to send her daughter to America to be safe, and also to pretend that she was her aunt and that her sister and her husband were Wendy's parents. Yeah. Confusing. And also, it's Germany. You think a member of the Germany military intelligence unit wouldn't have been carefully investigated and it wouldn't have been found out she was married to a Jew? I don't think so.
So the whole premise I found a bit shaky. I liked that the book focused on a couples aspects of WWII that many people would not have heard about. Wendy ends up volunteering at a Lebensborn Nursery. These were places were children who had been kidnapped from other countries because they had the correct Aryan look were taken to be raised to be good German citizens. Lebensborn also housed the children of unwed German women and German soldiers who had been approved as having German ancestors. The children born were taken from their mothers and were considered to belong to the state. At the nursery, Wendy meets Johanna, a girl who has been assigned to Lebensborn for "reeducation." She is a Jehovah's Witness (Bibelforscher), one of the many groups considered undesirable by the Nazis. All Johanna would have to do would be to sign a piece of paper swearing her loyalty to Hitler and Germany and renouncing her religion, but she refuses to do so.
As Wendy befriends Johanna and realizes that Johanna could be sent off to a concentration camp, or killed, for refusing to renounce her religion, Wendy begins to question whether her plan of ignoring the bad things happening around her is going to be possible. Wendy also becomes friends with a blind young man she meets in the park, whose grandfather knows all about Wendy's real father. Wendy also adopts a German Shepard puppy that couldn't make it as an SS dog.
Wendy decides she must escape from Germany and get back to the United States, and the rest of the book is planning and executing the escape. I didn't find it especially gripping or interesting.
So, thumbs up on looking at aspects of WWII that we don't often see in middle grade books. But the books itself I would pass on.
Frank Einstein is a scientist and an inventor. He's also a kid. Frank is determined to win this year's Midville Science Prize. With the winnings, he'lFrank Einstein is a scientist and an inventor. He's also a kid. Frank is determined to win this year's Midville Science Prize. With the winnings, he'll be able to save his grandfather's Fix It! repair shop. With Frank's invention of two SmartBots, Klink and Klank, he tackles his biggest project of all: an antimatter motor. But Frank, his friend Watson, and the two robots realizes they have bigger problems to worry about than the science fair: Frank's rival kid-scientist Edison has some evil ideas of his own.
I love the idea of these books. A series that teaches scientific concepts! So cool! This first book looked at the concept of matter, the next book will look at energy, and so on it will go through six planned books. Really great idea. And I totally learned things. For example, on the second page, I learned the correct way to calculate distance between seeing lightening and hearing thunder. I always thought the number of seconds between them was the number of miles a way the storm was. Wrong! You have to divide it by five, because there's five seconds between light and sound for every mile. I've been doing it wrong my whole life.
As for the story itself, I wasn't blown away. It was a fine lower-middle grade read. It wasn't quite what I expect from Jon Scieszka, which is really sharp and funny. I mean, it's quite the undertaking, explaining the entire concept of matter while also making a fun story! Future books will probably be smoother. I thought it was perhaps a little clunky, melding the adventure story with the science concepts.
I liked that along with the story there are diagrams of the scientific concepts. You can ignore them if you want, but they definitely helped a visual person like me better understand the concepts Frank was using in his inventions. And aside from the diagrams there were very cute illustrations by Brain Biggs.
I look forward to seeing where the rest of the series goes.
Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor comes out August 19, 2014....more
**spoiler alert** Flannery Culp is starting her senior year. She has seven wonderful friend and one huge crush on Adam Slate. But Adam doesn't seem in**spoiler alert** Flannery Culp is starting her senior year. She has seven wonderful friend and one huge crush on Adam Slate. But Adam doesn't seem interested, Flan's science teacher is harassing her, she's constantly cutting school, drinking absinthe...and Adam Slate is going to be killed on October 31st. And one of the Basic Eight is going to do it.
It was certainly interesting to read. It does not take the reader very long to figure out we're dealing with an unreliable narrator. At the beginning, Flan explains that she's rewriting her journal for publication. But the past and present get mixed together. Flan is clearly adding things in after the fact, sometimes it seems like something is part of the "original" journal but there's no way she could have know it at the time. She also admits to adding things in to "introduce" characters and the like. So there's no way to tell what's from the past when she was actually experiencing these things, and what's been added in later.
Flan also seems to mix things up sometimes, but again, we don't know if she's mixing things up now or if she was mixing things up then. There's no way to tell.
Sorry, there's no way to talk about this next part without giving away the dramatic twist at the end. Natasha, beautiful, strong Natasha who Flan was closest too above all others, was in fact all in her head. Natasha doesn't exist. This reveal, however, didn't come with the "OH" you might have expected. It was more of a "huh." You know in The Sixth Sense at the end of the movie when you suddenly realize he's been dead all along? And you go back and see that, whoa, he didn't actually interact with anyone else? The clues were there the whole time! If only we had seen! It wasn't like that. Because all the other characters interacted with Natasha. They called her by name. So there wasn't any clever set up that was there to point to Natasha not being real. Not really.
There were some clues. As things got worse and worse, Natasha showed up less and less often. There were some mentions of some saying "us two" when Natasha was suppose to be there as well. But you didn't get to have that moment of "OH" because it hadn't been set up that way. So it was kind of anti climatic, I found. It was just, "Huh. Guess she's crazy." It wasn't clear if that meant that everything that Natasha had done Flan had actually done, or if it was all totally made up. Since this is all coming from Flan's journal, we have no way of knowing. She could have invented anything she wanted and we only have her word to go on.
The book ended suddenly after the reveal. We don't really know what happened. Where's Flan? Jail? A hospital? Where are the others? The assisted a murder, there's no way they could have just gotten off. The only thing we know about any of them is that Kate is "serving a four year sentence at Yale." That's odd.
Although I found the book interesting, and did what to know what happened, it took me a while to get through it. It just wasn't a page-turner for me. Definitely a good read though. Read it for the unique framing device if nothing else....more
I listened to this one audiobook, it had a rather slow start. I also got extremely annoyed by the reader. He didn't have a strong ability to stick witI listened to this one audiobook, it had a rather slow start. I also got extremely annoyed by the reader. He didn't have a strong ability to stick with a voice for a character. They all ended up being either his normal voice or kind of a high pitched misty sort of voice that was supposed to represent bats, cockroaches, and almost all girls. He also didn't have a great sense of timing or inflection. It made it really difficult to get into the book and care for the characters. I even found the two year old to be obnoxious. But I'm assuming that a lot of this is more based off a dislike of the reader's interpretation of the book rather than the book itself. Or at least a majority of it.
Suzanne Collins is also the author of the Hunger Games series, you knew you recognized her name didn't you? You can totally see how this book would eventually lead her to create the world and plot of the young adult series. This is a dark book, it has a lot of serious themes that she deals rather well with given this is a middle-grade book. The action was gritty and violent, just bordering on too much for someone below the age of eleven or twelve. I loved the character of Ripred, so jaded and sarcastic. He was a much needed voice of reason, even when it was overly blunt. I also got rather attached to the cockroaches, even though the visual of six foot long cockroaches made me want to puke in my car. One thing I love about Suzanne Collins is the fact that her imagery is so vivid, you can always picture the setting clearly. At least I can. I'm always transported by her words, even when I'd rather not be like when the group of heroes is located in a nest of spiders. Gross.
Here are the detractors. I got rather annoyed by Gregor's inability to stop and think things through... but let's be honest he's an eleven year old with an abandonment complex and more responsibilities than most adults. The book was intensely slow at the beginning, Lots and lots of exposition that I didn't want at the time, and still think could've been tightened up and made more concise. But again, I have to make the excuse that she is setting up a world for a five book series so lots and lots of details are needed?
I enjoyed this for the most part. I'm hoping to read the next one soon and enjoy it more without the bad reader. We'll see how it goes. What I think is more interesting is the fact that you can see the progression from this middle-grade series to the young adult series and how Suzanne Collins has developed as a writer. ...more