I read a lot of books about babysitting clubs in Connecticut and blond twins in California as a pre-teen, but the Young Astronauts series was so muchI read a lot of books about babysitting clubs in Connecticut and blond twins in California as a pre-teen, but the Young Astronauts series was so much better. Why daydream about going on a date to the mall with some bland athlete named Todd, when I could fantasize about going on a space travel adventure with a bunch of hot foreign brainiacs?
The Young Astronaut series, which seems to have been the product of some semi-government coalition (lots of mentioning of Barbara Bush on the cover), is about a UN project to colonize Mars. It's going to take a long time so there's a need for hundreds of teenage astronauts. Hundreds of teenage astronauts! I couldn't think of anything more appealing when I was 11. There were Americans Nathan and Lani, a skate rat and a juvenile delinquent, respectively; sullen German engineering whiz Karl; Soviet heartthrob Sergei; Japanese metalhead Gen; farmer Alice from New Zealand, and math prodigy and rich babe Noemi from Venezuela. In this first volume, we meet the team and their nemesis, as they gather at NASA in Houston for the first round of their training.
Rereading as an adult reveals this series to be pretty shoddily written, but compelling in its own way....more
**spoiler alert** Well, this was a real page turner, but an emotionless one. Suzanne Collins just didn't seem to get which characters were compelling**spoiler alert** Well, this was a real page turner, but an emotionless one. Suzanne Collins just didn't seem to get which characters were compelling and which deaths were emotional (Cinna, Finnick) and which characters never really go anywhere or evoke any feelings (sorry, Prim, we barely knew you.) I guess she got Boggs death right, that one really hurt! He was a funny revolutionary, and no one is funny in this book! And there was no Cinna backstory, which is bullshit. He was the most fascinating character in this entire series. (AND HE'S GOING TO BE PLAYED BY LENNY KRAVITZ IN THE MOVIE?!??!!!???!)
The best part about this book was the "revolutions are complicated, sometimes no one is really a good guy, and can unequivocally 'good' people win wars?" theme. Katniss is always freaking out about how terrible she is, but she's not really doing anything about it, either. Maybe because she's not actually so terrible, just a 17 year old, and also, she did the right thing at the end of the book. The worst part was the boring-ass love triangle, although the bonding scene between Peeta and Gale was sort of cute.
Oh, and I was on Team Peeta the entire series. In the first part of the series, Gale just seems like that dude that's all "we are just friends, you are not even that cute" and then someone else likes you and all of a sudden he's all "hey! I knew you first!" and, you know, fuck that dude. In the later part of the series, Gale is like that radical dude that hates complexity, moral ambiguity and your feelings, because all of those things are inconvenient for The Revolution, and fuck that dude, too. Peeta Mellark, you dreamy baker, froster of fantasies, call me!...more
Adolescence feels like a bloodbath to the death, so it makes complete sense that a book about an actual teenage bloodbath to the death would be so popAdolescence feels like a bloodbath to the death, so it makes complete sense that a book about an actual teenage bloodbath to the death would be so popular.
I was curious to read this trilogy since its basic plot premise- that a totalitarian government forces young people to fight to the death in an entertainment spectacle designed to keep the rest of the population under control- is so similar to the plot of Battle Royale, the Japanese novel that became a manga that became a movie. I've only seen the movie version of Battle Royale, and its about as hilarious and witty a take on teenagers murdering each other that one could ho
In Battle Royale, the government selects one extra-bad middle school class every year to go fight on an island, while in the Hunger Games, two young residents from each of the 12 districts of the country of Panem are selected to go fight in an arena in the Capital. In both stories, the games are televised entertainment for the population, and the victors become huge stars. So, both Battle Royale and Hunger Games really try to hammer home the point that reality tv + politics of spectacle + violence as entertainment = bad bad bad. But similarities end there, for the most part.
Hunger Games is much darker than Battle Royale. At least the movie version. The heroine is from what was once Appalachia, and hey, people are still really broke and exploited coal miners! Everyone in Panem is really broke and exploited, except for residents of the Capital, which is some pumped up version of LA. LOS ANGELES WINS THE GIANT WAR?! IN WHAT ALTERNATE UNIVERSE?!?! Allegedly because they were protected by the Rockies or some shit, but I'm not really buying that California would win a huge civil war. Sorry, West Coast. Anyways, the book makes a lot about the ridiculous accents of Capital residents, and I assumed they all talked like Valley Girls, even the politicians. Its clear in the Hunger Games that the Games are a fucked up plot by an evil government, whereas in Battle Royale, the plot is framed as "kids got really bad, so the government had to do something drastic." Basically, the Hunger Games trilogy is clearly gearing up for a revolution, and no such spark in Battle Royale. Which makes Battle Royale more depressing to me in the end, even though its much funnier. ...more
Los Angeles! Is where this cute little fable takes place. An extra-kitsch fantasy LA where everyone looks like 1950s movie stars, drives 1950s ChevrolLos Angeles! Is where this cute little fable takes place. An extra-kitsch fantasy LA where everyone looks like 1950s movie stars, drives 1950s Chevrolets, and lives in adorable pink cottages in the hills. Weetzie Bat is a young lass who wears vintage prom dresses to high school and is a weirdo. She meets some boys and has some adventures with them, and by adventures, I mean babies. Sassy Magazine told everyone to read it in the early 90s (every single one of my goodreads reviews is actually about the early 90s), but I failed to do so, though I assiduously followed that magazine's cultural advice. I probably would not have liked this book when I was 13. The childlike, treacly style of the writing and sun-drenched LA setting might have been to cutesy-poo for my goth adolescent soul, even though there is quote/unquote Mature Content just underneath the sugarcoated surface. Doin' it! Homosexuals humpin' and lovin' other homosexuals! Drugs! AIDS! Losing the ones you love! etc.
Reading it this summer, after having spent a couple of days feeling like an alien in Southern California, Weetzie Bat struck me as some kind of commentary on the eternal desire for and ultimate impossibility of LA and New York every really understanding each other. Weetzie's dad is a New York film dude who meets, marries, and makes a baby with an LA starlet, but their relationship falls apart, and Mama and Papa Bat hole up in their respective cities to embody every possible coastal stereotype. Everyone in LA is involved with movies and everyone in New York eats bagels all the time. They are intrigued by each other but ultimately cannot coexist, because LA is too sunny for New York people, and New York is too gritty and grey for LA people. I suppose this book is about other stuff, too, like how everyone should be able to make families with the people they love, even/especially if that family is you, your gay best friend and his lover, the baby they impregnate you with, your boyfriend, the baby your boyfriend spawned with a witch, and a dog named Pee Wee.
This book was a fun way to spend 45 minutes but I am not sure I will bother to seek out subsequent books from this series, although I will certainly read them if they are in a waiting room somewhere.
I did not read this book as a child, although I certainly watched the movie a lot and took to wearing a necklace on my head in an attempt to look moreI did not read this book as a child, although I certainly watched the movie a lot and took to wearing a necklace on my head in an attempt to look more like the Childlike Empress, who had a very beautiful pearl teardrop hanging atop her forehead.
Of course, the book is better. I love all books that are parables about the importance of using your imagination. It's so meta. Also, just very great fantasy storytelling. Good for graduate students who need to remember that reading is thrilling and joyous, not just piles of words and thoughts to get through. ...more
**spoiler alert** I should've just read the last 90 pages of the book. Instead I read the first 279 and after that I didn't care if the army of baby v**spoiler alert** I should've just read the last 90 pages of the book. Instead I read the first 279 and after that I didn't care if the army of baby vampires ate all the lumberjacks or not. ...more