**spoiler alert** (( The following is cribbed from a Facebook note I posted shortly after finishing this book back in August. ))
Finished Mockingjay, a...more**spoiler alert** (( The following is cribbed from a Facebook note I posted shortly after finishing this book back in August. ))
Finished Mockingjay, and wasn't all that thrilled with it. Non-spoilery stuff first, then some mild spoilery stuff further on down, to give you time to click away if you're still working on it. I wish FB had spoiler tags. Those are very handy. I will say that I did like a lot of the characters, and some of the back-and-forth between several of them (especially the conversation in the Greenhouse). There are a lot of good germinal ideas, but I think a lot of them weren't fully developed or explored to their fullest extent.
Overall, I was disappointed. The lack of social/historical background as I mentioned in my prior Hunger Games update was a major downside, as well as the Idiot Ball that got liberally passed around and bizarre technological inconsistencies (the bad guys know how to make invisible hovercraft; not like "Predator cloaking" or "chameleon camoflauge" invislble, INVISIBLE invisible, but don't know how to make surface to surface missiles, but somehow both sides have nuclear missles?).
There's next to nothing mentioned about the world outside Panem. Is it a radioactive wasteland, overrun with barbarians and mutants? Are there other countries? How do they feel about this whole Hunger Games thing?
Having the protagonist either fall unconscious constantly, including right before and during significant plot events only to wake up later in a hospital with a morphine (err, I mean 'morphling' drip) in her arm makes for a very blah story. Given that this is YA lit, and the conventions of the kind of book that is being written, I knew Kat wasn't going to die, but I also never felt any real tension or stress.
But especially in the final stretch of the book, one thing that really got to me was the lack of description. Some places were given some detail, like the sterile underground corridors of District 13, but there was no detail or atmosphere given to Capitol. There is no indication as to what the buildings are made out of, what the skyline looks like. Are there neighborhoods? Boroughs? As our heros work their way through the suburbs, is it high-class, low-class, no-class? What to the houses look like? I had to picture it as a vaguely urban landscape, and had to keep mentally adding in things or editing out certain things as the narrative revealed what was and was not there.
They're 'minesweeping' for 'pods', but what do the pods look like? Are they big mysterious orange spheres with traps inside? Or are they magically anything and everything? Given the black wave of tar, I guess it's the latter. And what was with the tar, anyway? And how exactly does one 'sprint' (Yes, that exact word was used) through 3-4 inches of rubbery gel?
And what happened with the nukes, anyway? D13 and the Captiol had this whole "Mutually Assured Destruction" thing going on, but when the rebels start stomping face, nobody in the Capitol even thought about using them? Did Snow and his cronies just shrug? The rebels release the "If we burn you burn" TV spot, was that supposed to be the resolution of that? One of the main reasons for D13 being able to even exist, a major plot thread and possible source of tension, completely ignored.
Speaking of dropped plotlines, Katniss gets a cool ultratech bow that only "responds" to her voice, and only "works" for her. How exactly does that work? Does the string refuse to pull? Or does it lose all tension? Who knows? Who cares? Doesn't matter, because it is literally never an issue at all.(less)
Much like "Mockingjay", "The Death Cure" is a disappointing third chapter in a dystopian YA series. Both fail to explore the setting in any depth, dev...moreMuch like "Mockingjay", "The Death Cure" is a disappointing third chapter in a dystopian YA series. Both fail to explore the setting in any depth, develop the main character beyond a clueless one-dimensional drone that is constantly carrying the Idiot Ball, or explain any of the bizarrely uneven technological advances. Where Panem could manufacture invisible hovercraft yet were somehow unable to devise rudimentary ballistic missile technology, WICKED has teleportation, force fields, nightmarish Lovecraftian sentry robots (the Grievers) and surgical memory manipulation down pat, but has also has gone backwards to the point where they're using tazer-rifle-grenades and the thought of giving groups of guards walkie-talkies has been UNinvented.
At least Thomas didn't pass out nearly as much as Katniss did.(less)
This was the first Tiffany Aching book I read, and of course it had to turn out to be the last one. I was able to follow things without too much diffi...moreThis was the first Tiffany Aching book I read, and of course it had to turn out to be the last one. I was able to follow things without too much difficulty for the most part, although I am certain I would have liked it more if I had read the others before. It gets off to a fairly dark start, and is overall more somber and introspective than a lot of Pratchett's other Discworld books. I've read 2 of the other 3 Tiffany books since then, and this definitely feels like a good 'wrap-up' to her story.(less)
"As a child I looked up to my grandfather. I loved visiting him at his house in the country, spending a weekend during summer helping him with the yar...more"As a child I looked up to my grandfather. I loved visiting him at his house in the country, spending a weekend during summer helping him with the yard and the chickens, and in return he would cook up a grand feast and tell me stories of his adventurous youth. As I nibbled on a piping hot lemoncake he would tell me about his days in the military. He flew fighter jets, even as technology was moving towards drones. The last generation of sky cowboys. He was proud of his exploits, even though he tried to hide it, like the tattoo on his upper bicep. Every time the ace the words 'wild cards' was visible he would pull down his sleeve. I always assumed it was the name of his squadron. Instead of Maverick he was Ace, his wingman was Joker, King, and so on. I wondered if they skipped Queen but I never asked.
My parents went on vacation one summer and so I went to my grandfather's for two weeks. I'd never stayed that long and I thought I could handle it. But I was growing up, fifteen years old, and I started getting restless after four or five days. I'd already explored the house for the umpteenth time, heard all the stories, visited the neighbors... and my grandfather knew it. He knew I liked reading, so he took me into his large library to find a new book. I had just finished The Hobbit and asked about similar books.
"An old book, but a classic," I remember him telling me. "So it's a fantasy you want?"
I nodded in agreement and he lead me over to a bookshelf solely devoted to fantasy. My bad ass fighter jet grandfather, secretly reading books of elves and dwarves? I giggled a little bit at the thought. He had everything. Sword and sorcery, epic fare like the complete Wheel of Time, modern urban fantasy, the works. So of course I went for Lord of the Rings.
"Are you sure? The style is a bit stuffy. Probably not what you're used to." I was not to be deterred. I knew what he meant. My generation has no attention span, no eye for detail, no imaginative mind. Thanks to technology of course, but I digress. I grabbed the books. He shrugged and turned towards the door.
And as I gave the shelf one last look, I saw something. A shelf on the very bottom, boarded up.
"What's in there, grandpa?"
He spun around. "Don't you worry about that. Nothing for a child to know. Let's go have lunch," he said and marched out of the room. I tore my eyes off the forbidden shelf and followed.
My grandfather at this point was starting to become a touch eccentric. It started after my grandmother's suicide a few years earlier. He started drinking more, but never when I was over. Gambling, too, among other things. Joining mysterious groups in the city, where likeminded individuals could talk and rant about whatever it is they had in common. Two weeks was hard for him to be away from all this, I guess. So the weekend came, and he was going to go into town for a few days, don't tell your parents, help yourself to food, here's some money, the neighbors are home next door. I was feeling pretty old so it was no big deal for me. The money sealed the deal as well. And he was gone with a hug and a wink.
It rained and so I read all day. Tried to, at least. I got to Tom Bombadil, if anyone is wondering. I closed the book after trying to get through those damned songs and went into the library. I browsed, looking for something else that piqued my interest, but my mind kept coming back to the same thought. I kneeled down, examined the boarded up shelf, remembered my grandfather's words, and stepped back. Then I got a hammer from the garage.
Inside were four books of different color, neatly arranged on one side of the shelf. The the other side was empty. What was the big deal, I thought. They're just books. I picked up the first one. It was well-worn, ink along the side of the pages, the spine bent. Intrigued, I began to read...
The rest is blurry to me. Three days later my grandfather came home to a quiet house. He found me in the library, those books scattered about. Those glorious books. I remember seeing other things as well. Crows and men made of ice, giants and goats. I was delirious, three days of no sleep and hardly any food and water.
I remember this though: my grandfather bellowing and running to me. He cradled me in his muscular arms, and I could feel the tears wet against my face. His or mine, or both. He told me later I said one thing over and over.
"Are there more? What comes next?"
Clear as day I recall his words back, echoing through the recesses of my shattered young mind.
A whisper: "There's no more. Nothing comes next."
Those words haunt me. Nothing comes next.
I was in an institution for six months and got behind in school and had to retake a year. I'd say I was never the same again, but things more or less straightened themselves out. I'm older now, I have a wife and daughter of my own. I've even read Tolkien and respect his work. But in the back of my mind there is always something gnawing...
My grandfather passed away last month. It brings back memories, both good and bad. I guess that's why I'm writing this. A confession of sorts. Something I need to let off my chest so to speak. On his deathbed he kept telling me he was sorry. I never faulted him for what happened. It was my own action. I suspect he never forgave himself, but maybe that was just the dementia. But he said something else. A week before the end he called out in his sleep, "I never meant for her to be one of us." My family asked who he was talking about, what it meant. He whispered "Victoria" and fell silent for the rest of the afternoon. Victoria was my grandmother's name. The rest of the family suspected that he was regretting marrying her or something. Drama ensued. Was it really a suicide? But I knew better. I saw things in a new light.
In my attic there is a safe, padlocked and with a secure code. I know I should throw away my copies. They bring no happiness into my life. But it's hard to let go. I now know what my grandfather felt and why he never got rid of those damned books. Sometimes when I'm home alone, or when I'm drunk and the family is sleeping, I'll creep up those steps and sit in front of the safe. The code sits at the front of my mind and my fingers itch. But every time I slip back down the stairs and into bed without opening it. I know its dangerous and you might say it's a matter of time before something terrible happens again. My wife reads chic lit mostly, and my daughter's been reading Stephanie Meyer's latest quadralogy. The one with the fucking leprechauns. I'm okay with that.
Because I never want them to become one of us.
One of us."
Originally posted by bigmcgaffney in "The Bad Thread". If you don't know what that means... You don't want to.(less)