I am really not a fan of this series thus far and Cooper will have to have done a lot to get me to even like it. In this fourth installment of The DarI am really not a fan of this series thus far and Cooper will have to have done a lot to get me to even like it. In this fourth installment of The Dark is Rising series, Will Stanton heads to Wales after surviving a life-threatening illness so he can recover his strength. Of course, a quest is built in, and with the help of a mysterious young boy, Will works to awaken the Sleepers as the ultimate battle with the Dark draws near.
I think one of the biggest things that drives me crazy about this series is the amount of explanation that is left out or just thrown at you in one big mass. For instance, in Will's first quest, he has to go through a series of "tests," and Cooper hints that if he wasn't an Old One things could be much worse, but there's no sense of discovery here as there was in Over Sea, Under Stone, the first book in the series which I'm starting to think was the best. As I finished the last page I was again left with a sense of wondering what just happened. It was thrown together and there's no sense of closure whatsoever. I'll be glad to be done with the series and highly doubt that I'll recommend it to any young readers....more
I first heard about this series when I was teaching middle school. I had many students that read and enjoyed it, so I thought it would be worth a readI first heard about this series when I was teaching middle school. I had many students that read and enjoyed it, so I thought it would be worth a read, even though I'm no longer teaching. I was a little apprehensive that I would find something similar to the Boxcar Children books, which I tired of early when I was a young reader. I was happy to find a fast-paced, serious adventure that kept me reading and made me interested in reading more of the series to see how everything is connected.
The Drew children are vacationing with their parents in the Cornish seaside. A family friend, Great-Uncle Merry, has invited them to stay with him in a house he has rented. In a scene that reminded me of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the children are confined on a rainy day and set out to explore the house. They find a manuscript that turns out to be a very valuable clue to finding a grail that is important in an age-old battle between good and evil, and they are quickly drawn into danger as they seek the grail.
Although I found this book in the children's section of the library, I did not find that Cooper withheld a sense of danger. To be sure, I never felt that there was mortal danger for the children, but there is a very real sense that no one is quite trustworthy, no matter how nice they appear. Perhaps that can help children learn an early lesson in not trusting strangers or even people that are acquaintances. I suppose that the only reason that I gave the book 3 stars was that I found the book rather unremarkable. In a world of really excellent children's literature, it's hard for a book that's easily 50 years old to compete. As I said earlier, though, I'm interested in seeing where the story goes and will continue the series....more
For some reason, I wanted to read this book again, so I did and was able to finish it rather quickly. I still enjoy the story and the world that McKinFor some reason, I wanted to read this book again, so I did and was able to finish it rather quickly. I still enjoy the story and the world that McKinley created, but I found myself laughing sometimes at juvenile situations and how predictable it is. I guess that's what makes it a great YA fiction, though. ...more
Okay, here comes the not-so-great review of a book that so many people seem to really like. So, as I was reading this book, a two-word phrase kept popOkay, here comes the not-so-great review of a book that so many people seem to really like. So, as I was reading this book, a two-word phrase kept popping into my mind: dystopian lite. How, you ask, can I say that about a book whose whole premise is a battle to the death between a group of young people for food? Good question. I'm asking myself the same thing after having finished. How could Collins have messed that up so spectacularly? Perhaps writing this will bring me some answers.
First, Collins chose to write a book that comes after a long line of fine literature with similar concepts. I thought often of Lois Lowry's series which includes The Giver. I thought of of The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. Wishes of 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 also drifted through often. In these fine (in my opinion) works, the authors plunge you into a world that is foreign and yet familiar in some ways, worlds filled with the horrible realities of human nature gone awry. Perhaps that's the first reason that Collins fails in her attempt. The world of Panem and all of its districts are not brought to life in her writing. We get no sense of normal community life or what may have led to the good ol' US of A descending to such a place that brings a tradition of the Hunger Games.
Another huge failing is in her characters. I felt no connection whatsoever with any of them, and didn't feel that I was able to get to know them well. It's not impossible to bring a connection when using the first-person narrative, but Collins' use of it didn't even give me a good understanding of her narrator, Katniss. To be honest, I was hoping that Katniss would die to make it a little more interesting and put a twist on it, but no dice there. Not when you want to write a trilogy.
The final main failing that I see is in Collins' writing overall, particularly in creating a mood. I have read short stories that do a better job of establishing a feeling of dread. One in particular that came to my mind was The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell. I can still remember this story that I read in the 9th grade about a madman who brings people to his island for his hunting pleasure and the horror I felt in reading about a man who had no problems with killing other humans for sport. Perhaps Collins should have taken some notes from even Lemony Snicket who wrote The Series of Unfortunate Events. I only read one of those books and was turned off by how dark it was. Recently, just before I started the book in fact, someone mentioned to me that they felt that The Hunger Games was dark. Uh, no. Again, I expected to feel horrified by what I would read. These are kids forced to kill each other for crying out loud. But Collins figured out some way to sanitize it and make me feel like an emotionless observer. Maybe that makes me like the residents of The Capitol, but there it is.
As a former teacher, I'm saddened by a lot of popular young adult literature and am always glad to find a gem. Young adults are smart. They need to be challenged, need to be forced to ask themselves tough questions. All that great literature that I mentioned earlier does just that. Those books make you think, make you want to do something so that our society doesn't descend into that kind of world. Collins had a huge opportunity here and squandered it on quick action sequences and a flimsy love story. Too bad for her readers....more
I suppose I may have read this book a bit too fast to appreciate it as much as Maurice Sendak does. He wrote the intro to this book about a boy, Milo,I suppose I may have read this book a bit too fast to appreciate it as much as Maurice Sendak does. He wrote the intro to this book about a boy, Milo, who doesn't seem to have an appreciation for the world he lives in. He's constantly bored and never completes things. Enter the phantom tollbooth, which arrives in a box that appears in his room one day. After a quick assembly and reading the accompanying note, Milo is transported to a different world where puns abound and lessons are learned through a great adventure.
I am a fan of Piers Anthony's work and I'm not sure who came first, but I can see definite parallels between these two authors. They like to expose English words to appropriate ridicule (it only make sense that if we use the phrase "eat ones words," we should be feasting regularly) and have main characters that learn life lessons after an extraordinary adventure. Overall I would recommend this book as a great choice for young readers (around 10 and up)....more