The Hunger Games is the first of three books which tell the story of Panam, the country that was formedREVIEWED by Louise for Between the Covers blog:
The Hunger Games is the first of three books which tell the story of Panam, the country that was formed in what was once North America. The series' main characters are Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl, and Peeta Mellark, both from District 12. We are introduced to Katniss immediately as the books are told from her point of view, and I admit I found her hard to like at first. She comes across as distant and cold, almost harsh. But I got over this quickly. The world in which Katniss lives is one that is very different from anything I had ever imagined. In truth, the premise of these books still blows my mind.
The 'Hunger Games' are just that... an annual event. An annual history lesson. Each year the twelve districts that comprise Panam must select two tributes, a boy and a girl, to participate in the Hunger Games. Children ages twelve to eighteen make up the tribute pool, and the twenty-four children selected must battle each other in the games. The winner will live a life of ease back home, and their district will receive additional food for the next year. The losers... die. The children are forced to fight to the death, serving as an annual reminder of what happens when you defy the Capitol.
But all games have rules, and rules are meant to be broken. Katniss and Peeta band together and plan a course through the Hunger Games which rocks the Capitol... and reverberates throughout all of Panam.
BtCers, you know my thoughts on character development, so I will spare you that line this time. As I said, my initial reaction to Katniss was that she was emotionless. In reality, she feels and cares very deeply, but the world she lives in is harsh and softness is for the weak... and the weak die. Katniss is the ultimate pragmatist. She is strong and smart and loyal. And she would do anything for her family. As I read I came to realize that the dispassionate tone I felt Katniss had was actually a very effective way to tell the story. From the main characters to the secondary ones... especially Effie, Haymitch and Cinna... Collins gave her characters depth and made them real. Every person you are introduced to in the book is relevant, their time on the page has meaning. Collins' writing is clear and concise, allowing you to take in the extensive history as well as the descriptions of the various locations and events easily.
Peeta took me a little longer to figure out. He seems so much softer and kinder than Katniss that it is almost disquieting. I worried he would not be her equal. I was wrong. My apologies to any #TeamGale followers, but I am firmly #TeamPeeta. I think he is truly Katniss' perfect compliment, each encouraging the other, challenging the other, and bringing out the best in the other. Peeta is also clever, loyal and self-sacrificing, and seeing Katniss through his eyes is like putting on kaleidoscope glasses... he sees her in a way no one else does.
The Hunger Games was my first dystopian novel and it set such a high standard for all that followed. This young adult novel is very intelligently written and would be enjoyed by older teens and adults, alike. The premise, while horrifying, captures your attention immediately. The characters hold your interest and make you feel compassion for them, the story flows quickly, the action pulling you in and forcing you to hold your breath until the end.
In case you missed it in reading this review, I loved this book... love the entire series. I have passed it on to my two oldest minions, and they are diehard HG fans, as well. Due to the graphic nature of the Games, I do not recommend this book for children under 14, but each parent must make that assessment for themselves.
Okay... full disclosure. I have really wanted to read this book since it came out. The blurb drew me in and never let go. But life kept interfering, and I didn't manage to read it until now. And I am so glad I didn’t give up on it.
Cassia Reyes lives in a world where the Society makes all the decisions for her... What she will wear, what she will eat, what she will learn, what her job will be, where she will live and who she will marry. She has never questioned these rules, recognizing that the Society knows what is best for her, that they have learned from the mistakes of previous Societies. She has been happy and content with her life, secure in the knowledge that the Society’s methods ensure the citizens live a full, healthy and useful life. Until the events following her Matching ceremony.
Surprised yet pleased to find herself matched with her best friend, Xander, Cassia sees their pairing as further proof that the Society knows what is best. After all, she and Xander already know each other so well, and they may not have to move away from their families. Counting herself the fortunate to benefit from the Society’s planning, Cassia looks at the microcard she received at the ceremony and sees something that turns her perfectly ordered life upside down... a face other than Xander’s reflected as her match.
Dudes! *shakes head and throws hands up in air* Unlike Cassia, who is content to believe what she is told, I had so many questions while reading this book. My inner rebel was WTSnot-ing every five minutes! Why did the Society destroy all but 100 each of the songs, paintings, poems and books? What kind of world is it that such commonplace things as someone having a scrape and seeing an unfamiliar face is shocking? What are the different pills for? Why can't they share food? Why are they allowed to learn only what they need to know for their specific trade? Why does no one know how to write? *pulls hair and waits for answers*
These questions and more are presented as Condie takes us through this first book of Cassia’s story. With each turn of the page we see Cassia transform. We see her interact with her family, that unit so solid and perfect at first glance, that proves to be truly strong but with much more depth than we were initially led to believe. We see Cassia’s relationship with Xander begin to change, the shift to a couple begin to develop. Condie paints a picture that is a little too platonic for me to fully believe, but she had my mind so entangled with all the questions she raised, the lack of raging teenage hormones between Cassia and Xander almost went unnoticed by me. We see Cassia begin to notice Ky Markham, her second match, and the relationship that grows almost unintentionally between them. (I will say that I felt there was more heat between Ky and Cassia than between her and Xander.)
Matched is the first of three books planned in this series, and ends with a cliffhanger that will have you wanting to call the author up at home... or maybe hit her up on twitter so she doesn’t get a restraining order against you... and ask her what’s happening next. Condie’s clear, concise style worked very well for this story, as there was so much information given. Maybe I am reading too much into it, but it was as if Condie channeled the Society and wrote the book in the clinical method which would have been appropriate to the world she created.
As I said, it took me forever to do it, but I am very glad I finally read Matched. I enjoyed the characters, am incredibly intrigued by the world Condie has made, and am bounce in my seat curious to know what happens next. I love reading books that make me think, love it when I am presented with an idea that challenges what I think. It is a special kind of high when a book takes me that far outside myself. #MyDrugOfChoice Matched is one of those books, for me.
REVIEWED by Christin for Between the Covers blog on 12/20/10:
Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
These are the words that haunt Cassia, that start to turn her world upside down. She has always been content with the Society, content to follow their plans and rules, grateful for the benefits and security the Society offers. But when she sees a second Match on her microcard, and her grandfather gives her powerful, forbidden words of long-lost poems, all of that begins to change.
Cassia is a sorter by nature (and perhaps by choice of the Society) - she is quick to recognize patterns and/or inconsistencies in data and draw conclusions. Once she gives herself permission to wonder, she starts to question the beliefs that she's held all her life. She begins to wonder what it would be like to have a choice.
Condie's writing style is clear and simple, and that definitely works with this story. The reader is quickly drawn into Cassia's world, learning, questioning, and growing along with her. Cassia's emotions definitely transferred from the page, making me want to rage, run, cry, and savor with her. In addition, I enjoyed learning about all of the characters, who all had their own unique traits and talents despite the Society's attempts to equalize everyone and everything.
And then there's the love triangle between Cassia, Xander, and Ky. I have to say that the development of these relationships seemed a little unbelievable, though I'm not sure whether that was because the descriptions were so very chaste or because of the context in which these relationships had to develop. Nevertheless, I'll be very curious to see how this plays out in the next books - for Cassia, it will definitely be a choice between more than just two people she loves.
The ending of Matched definitely left me wanting more. I will be impatiently waiting for Crossed, the sequel!
I’m going to pause for a moment and get something out of my system so that I may continue this review iREVIEWED by Louise for Between the Covers blog:
I’m going to pause for a moment and get something out of my system so that I may continue this review in a professional manner.
*insert BDB fan girl scream HERE*
Okay... All better.
The Black Dagger Brotherhood is a Paranormal Romance / Urban Fantasy series about vampires. But, not just any vampires. *shakes head* No, this series is about warrior vampires.
I stumbled upon this series years ago... only Dark Lover and Lover Eternal were out at the time... by recommendation of my trusty B&N bookseller. She was right, I love them.
J.R. Ward keeps much of the known mythology for her vamps... they turn to crispy critters in sunlight, drink blood, are super fast and strong. But she changes it up enough to keep it from being boring. The vamps these books focus on are selectively bred to be the strongest and smartest of their kind, and are intended to serve as the defenders of the vampire race.
Dark Lover is the first in Ward’s BDB series, and tells the story of Wrath, son of Wrath, the heir to the throne, the last pure bred vampire, and the King who will not rule. As many who follow my personal account on twitter know, I had a hard time getting into this book, and if I hadn’t already purchased Lover Eternal when I bought Dark Lover, I probably would’ve stopped after reading DL.
I would have missed out.
There is much about this book that I love: Wrath’s HEA (Happily Ever After) Beth, is made of win. She’s funny, intelligent, strong and takes no crap from Wrath. The other Brothers... Darius, Tohrment, Vishous, Zsadist *dreamy sigh* and Phury... are all excellent and interesting characters. Beth’s friend, a cop named Butch, is fun to watch as he finds himself smack in the middle of a group of linebacker sized vamps. And I absolutely adore Fritz.
I’ve said it before, and I’m going to say it again… character development, character development, character development. This is a make or break for me in a book, and these characters are truly excellent. Even when dealing with the secondary characters (in this book) such as Havers and Marissa, Ward did a good job in developing them and bringing them off the page.
The only downside for me in this book was Wrath himself. I had a very hard time coming to like him. In actuality it wasn’t until later, in Lover Awakened, that I began to “love” Wrath like I do the other Brothers. He’s very aloof, as a king would be, and very cold. He’s set himself apart and that isolation made it hard for me to relate to him. Even once he fell in love with Beth, I still didn’t feel him open up.
Having said that, Wrath is a male of worth from the start, and he shows his worthiness to rule the vampire race throughout this book and the series.
On my first read I didn’t love this book and would have set it aside. Having now read the entire series too many times to publicly admit, I can say I do enjoy this book… the writing is quick and sharp, the dialogue flows, there is much smart ass and guy type BSing, which is fun to watch.
There is also romance and some smoking hot sex. You will never look at peaches the same after reading this book. In fact seeing them in the market might inspire hot flashes. *winks*
Overall, a very good read, especially if you go into it with the knowledge that the series only gets better.