**spoiler alert** Where to begin? This book was a mixed bag in a lot of ways, and I end up hating many parts of it, but admiring Collins for what I in**spoiler alert** Where to begin? This book was a mixed bag in a lot of ways, and I end up hating many parts of it, but admiring Collins for what I interpreted as brave choices.
The Good stuff: The World Building It's short list but here it is:
- Collins did not pull her punches at all. She wanted to show the horrid results of The Hunger Games and war, and she followed all the way through with Katniss' decent into self-loathing
- What has always interested me, moreso than Katniss' story, was the larger story of the Districts vs the Capitol. I was mostly on the edge of my seat trying to figure out how the Districts planned on winning the war, and how deceptive Coin was manipulating everything.
- I found all the side character's story much more compelling than Katniss': Finnick's, Peeta's, Annie's, Prim's, Gale's. Felt Haymitch got the shaft though. Really wished we had more development on his part.
- I liked that Collins mostly chose a somber and bleak ending. I feel that was a brave choice in a Teen Lit book, although I think the way she went about it was really frustrating. Which leads me to...
The Bad Stuff: Pretty much what everyone else thought
So, while I praise Collins for her pacing which leaves the reader wanting more, I can't believe the route she took.
- Like Catching Fire, this book treads deeply into Harry Potter "Order of the Phoenix" territory, in which we have to trudge through the main character's self-pity and distrust of all characters. Katniss makes herself very unlikable throughout the series, and you hope she realizes it and bucks up. It makes sense, given her situation, but it makes for a depressing read, and especially frustrating given the help her friends try to provide her. I realized partway through that Katniss made hardly any friends through her own doing. They all flocked to her instead. But for what reason, other than her being a totem for the war?
- The most frustrating part of the story was how useless the side quest Katniss took her "All-Star" team on. I felt that this was going to be her moment to become the leader, and develop into the strong character adversity was supposed to create. Then she arrives at the middle of the Capitol (view spoiler)[with the Rebellion already there (hide spoiler)], so what the heck was the point of the side quest if she ended up meeting them there? Then she (view spoiler)[ doesn't end up killing Snow then and there and instead ends up blown up and knocked out for the rest of the invasion (hide spoiler)]. How passive of a main character is that?
- And this is something that boggles my mind about the people who touted Katniss as a better character than the protagonist of the other incredibly popular teen fiction book, Bella of Twilight. Bella's main fault, other than being incredibly bland, was that she was an incredibly passive character in her books. Everything happened around her, and she really initiated nothing.
I came into this on the recommendations of friends, thinking that Katniss would be a heroic savior who takes control of her destiny, unlike Bella. She's only slightly more active in her role. And mostly, when she was active, she made stupid and selfish decisions that got others killed or hurt. Major plot points (view spoiler)[(Namely, the end of the Capitol invasion, and her own trial) (hide spoiler)] had her in a completely inactive role. How frustrating is that?
But what if... But what if all the stuff that most fans hated was a deliberate choice on Collins part?
The author was obviously trying to paint the war as a horrible, bleak thing that didn't have a clean ending. I understand a lot of people wished some characters stayed alive, but I think to lose a lot of big characters (view spoiler)[(especially Prim) (hide spoiler)] was essential to breaking Katniss down as far as they did.
What if Katniss was never meant to be this big hero? This idea is almost telegraphed from the first book. Some reviewers of the movie had complained that Katniss almost never killed despite the premise of a big battle, but the point was that Katniss was never meant to be a killer or triumphant winner. She was a young girl thrust in a situation bigger than herself, and she only was surviving. She was not meant to be this big hero.
So in the end, while we expected her to take up her bow and arrow and rip through the Capitol, she was still the same Katniss. She was never meant to be some big shot, ultimate soldier. Just a young, misguided girl who found herself in a situation she did not know how to handle. Maybe that was the whole point, that it was about her trauma and not about the killing of Snow.
Maybe the war was only a background to her development emotionally. It was said many times that she was only essential to the war as a mouthpiece, not a soldier. Why would we expect her to be invincible at the end, when she spent only a week training? Why should she be rewarded for ignoring all the training D13 tried to provide her?
If we are to believe this is what she meant, I feel Collins might have made a very brave and deliberate choice in teaching her lesson of war and our ultimate role in it. The problem is that she sacrificed a satisfying story in order to teach that lesson. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I guess I've been reading so many books aiming at wit and clever prose that this didn't excite me as much as it did other readers. I also realize thatI guess I've been reading so many books aiming at wit and clever prose that this didn't excite me as much as it did other readers. I also realize that the book isn't aimed at me, as it was written for the young female reader, with the love triangle stuff. I don't mind romance in my action books, but focused a little more on that stuff that I cared to enjoy.
What Collins doesn't have a knack for in description or subtlety (she's extremely straightforward), she makes up for in plotting out some good action scenes, and building an interesting near-future world. Her characters are mostly likable, and the archtypes are fairly recognizable.
I do enjoy the table-turning role of Peeta being heavily dependent and infatuated with Katniss. It's a huge departure from the debilitating portrayal of young women in Twilight.
I guess I'm sounding really critical, but I really enjoyed the book despite my issues with it....more
This was a quick read and my introduction to Nick Hornby. Never seen the movie, by the way.
The best thing about this book was its true-to-life observaThis was a quick read and my introduction to Nick Hornby. Never seen the movie, by the way.
The best thing about this book was its true-to-life observations about relationships. Hornby really has a way of pointing out all of the things you think about in a break up, and making you laugh about it.
At times, the protagonist can get a grating and whiny, which makes him annoying. He also seems to want to have his cake and eat it, too. For example, and ***SPOILER ALERT*** He wants to get back with his ex but immediately switches tracks whenever he sees a pretty girl***SPOILER OVER****, which may seem self-centered. He also refuses to move on with his life, and you want him to just get over his ex. But maybe that kind of stuff becomes hard to read because deep down we know we've felt that way at some time in our life. I guess that's the point. He seems like a reflection of us at our most self-absorbed moments, except he's that way 24 hours a day. It can get tiring.
If I could, I'd give it 3 star just because I thought Hornby's writing was superb despite the protagonist....more
This is just one of the groundbreaking books put out by the now defunct Milestone Comics publisher, which strove to not only increase the diversity inThis is just one of the groundbreaking books put out by the now defunct Milestone Comics publisher, which strove to not only increase the diversity in color and sexuality of its characters, but tell stories about very well rounded characters and deal with very true to life issues.
I can't speak for the paperback in question, but I've read all of the Hardware series. While it starts off looking like a "Angry Black Man" series where a guy gets cheated out of his successes by his white superior, it really takes an interesting and breathtaking turn midseries and really drew me into it.
You just have to read up through Alva's Revenge to really see where the book goes....more
Loved this book. It was my introduction to Hickman. He's all about the BIG IDEA. Hickman has taken the Fantastic Four and really played up their ScienLoved this book. It was my introduction to Hickman. He's all about the BIG IDEA. Hickman has taken the Fantastic Four and really played up their Science Fiction origins.
The idea in this one? Instead of treating the symptoms of the world through superhero-ing, Reed Richards sets out to take every single problem in the universe and SOLVE EVERYTHING. Such a simple concept turned into a great idea. I'd say more but I wouldn't want to spoil the surprises.
Great great story, and I can't wait to read more....more
Classic. Hilarious. Douglas Adams' observation on life and the absurdities of the fictional universe was fun the whole way through. It's Terry PratcheClassic. Hilarious. Douglas Adams' observation on life and the absurdities of the fictional universe was fun the whole way through. It's Terry Pratchett in space. Or is Terry Pratchett Douglas Adams' in Middle Earth? I don't know.
All I know is I need to make sure I always know where my towel is....more
**spoiler alert** Rowling hits the right emotional beats for a finale: the culmination of romantic relationships, the test of friendships, the revelat**spoiler alert** Rowling hits the right emotional beats for a finale: the culmination of romantic relationships, the test of friendships, the revelation of series-long secret back stories, the requisite deaths of beloved characters, and of course the triumph and growth of our lightning-scarred hero. She also does a great job with nostalgic callbacks to places and moments we've enjoyed over the course of the series.
By staying out of Hogwarts for most of the book, Rowling gives herself more room to play with, and allows herself to get away from the formulaic school tropes that she structured for herself. Unfortunately, Harry and company also spend a whole lot of time fretting about where to go next that some of the beginning and middle sections of the book tend to drag.
Sprinkled here and there during Harry's final quest are moments of inventiveness (like the Underground Radio Station, I loved that) and excitement (the run-in with Snatchers), but it was the time we spent in Harry's angst-filled head that plagued Order of the Phoenix which really bogged down the first half of the book. There are times he annoyed me so much I groaned out loud at the book. Rowling also played the uncertain hero card for so long throughout the series, that it started becoming old hat by Year 7. It was no help to have an incredible can-do-little-wrong-knows-almost-everything friend in Hermione to contrast him with. I found myself wondering at times if Harry was really meant to be the hero of the book.
Finally, a hero emerges But Harry pulls a complete 180 about 3 quarters of the way through the book. He finally grows some balls, takes an active role as savior, and moves with purpose as he begins his march to war. I only wished that he did this about a book and a half ago. I have to admit that - though it took much too long to happen - it was satisfying to see Harry fulfill his role as hero. He also showed a lot of selflessness in those final scenes, which is also a turnaround from some of the crap he was pulling earlier.
The Final Battle The final battle was almost everything I had hoped for. There were big set scenes filled with giants, magical summons, and last minute escapes. There is sacrifice, there is heroism, and there are deaths that you think are coming but never do. But the one big problem that I had with the final battle is the problem I've had with all of the Harry Potter books: Rowling spends the end of all of her books with long exposition explaining the secrets of book's plot, and in this case some major backstories spanning the entire series. (view spoiler)[Furthermore, at one point she actually does this in the middle of battle! Which she pulls off by having Voldemort practically call a 1 hour break! (hide spoiler)] That is a pretty lame plot device, if you ask me. She also does a mini explanation during the final showdown! It wouldn't be so bad, if that explanation wasn't so long and convoluted. And, yet, when it was all over, I was satisfied emotionally and felt it ended where it needed to end. I even enjoyed the little epilogue. Despite my gripes with the book, I felt a big rush completing the series and was glad that I stuck it through.
Below are some quick highs and lows (Very Spoilery):(view spoiler)[ The Highs - The relationship between Hermoine and Ron feels real, and never changes despite their newfound romantic relationship. It is a natural extension of their series-long connection.
- I dig Ron finally gets his shining moment with the Gryffindor sword. His doubts are also all confronted and defeated here, in a moment which is akin to one of my favorite Buffy episodes “The Zeppo”, where the powerless Xander also gets his moment to shine.
- The same goes for the growth of Neville Longbottom. I love that he got the final swing of the Gryffindor sword.
- I loved the kiss in Ginny's room. It was perfect.
- The moment with Dudley Dursley was probably my favorite surprise of this book, as was his mother almost showing some sign of affection or gratitude. It gave an extra dimension to the caricatures that they were.
- Luna Lovegood's wall of friends is adorable
- I liked how Harry has became an inspiration to the Wizarding community. And the belief that they have in him.
- My favorite callback? His final farewell to the cupboard where we first met Harry.
The Lows: All of which happens to be about Harry's immaturity - Seven years and all you've really shown that you're incredible at is Defense against the Dark Arts? That don't cut it for an Auror buddy.
- It is especially grating that Harry actually believes the tripe that Rita Skeeter writes about Dumbledore, having already had his own problems with her lying articles for an ENTIRE YEAR. It's as if he has never heard of “two sides to every story.” You'd think that after calling himself "Dumbledore's man, through and through" several times in Book 6, that he'd give his mentor the benefit of the doubt.
- Harry feels so entitled to Dumbledore's personal history, that he forgot that earlier in the story he blamed himself. Remember being mad at yourself for not asking Dumbledore about his life?
- Harry's obsession with seeing his parents grave in Godric's Hollow while THERE IS A WAR GOING ON is one of the most selfish acts ever. Every moment is dire when at any time, another person could die.
- ...and for 3 years running he decides not to spend time learning Occlumency, despite knowing that it's dangerous not to have done so and almost got him and his friends killed. (hide spoiler)] ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Superheroes from the '40s waking up in the the current Marvel continuity. It's been done before with Captain America, except this time it's a lot moreSuperheroes from the '40s waking up in the the current Marvel continuity. It's been done before with Captain America, except this time it's a lot more "real". From the eyes of the Phantom Reporter, we get to see what it might be like to wake up in a new world that nobody expected. The way JMS plays all the personalities off each other and the world are so nuanced and beautiful that this book really could become a modern graphic classic....more
Hoo boy. A book about a Library detective tracking down book thieves. If the techniques and facts all used here are true, Jason Shiga is a freakin' geHoo boy. A book about a Library detective tracking down book thieves. If the techniques and facts all used here are true, Jason Shiga is a freakin' genius. The book blows CSI out of the water with all its technical know-how. Unfortunately, all the talky-talk and dense info sometimes went over my head. Shiga really flexed a ton of forensic/book/library brains here. As a result, I fell asleep a couple of times, but it still was a good book....more
I love the concept of Blank Panther. He's the bad ass king of an African nation so advanced they've found the cure to cancer. He's so adept at fightinI love the concept of Blank Panther. He's the bad ass king of an African nation so advanced they've found the cure to cancer. He's so adept at fighting, he could take Captain America. He's a genius military strategist, benevolent leader, and he's intelligent. He's an awesome character if you're looking for a positive Black role model in the comic book medium.
So why didn't I like the book? One name: Reginald Hudlin. The writer of "classics" such as House Party and Boomerang. While I appreciate those movies from my childhood, it's really not an impressive resume for writing comics.
Hudlin's dialogue is less than mediocre. There is no wit there. It just feels juvenile, clunky. I groaned at the opening scene, worried about what was to come:
"Stay cool, stay cool" "Hold your ground, running will only make it worse." "Oh, it's getting worse--" (Thousands of spears flying in the air) "Kiss my butt, Wakan--"
"Stay cool"? "Kiss my butt"? Did I forget to mention that this dialogue was from 5th century African tribesmen? At first, I tried to rationalize it as just rough translations of what had been said in native language. I wouldn't even accept this if it was said in English.
Even worse, Black Panther really doesn't come off as a bad ass in this book. Read Jason Aaron's current mini "See Wakanda and Die" and you'll see just how monumental this king can be. Hudlin's book tends to tell us through exposition that Black Panther can do this, and he can do that. It's like he's just telling us how awesome he thinks BP is, but he can't show it to us. We need some bad ass lines. We need him to stand up against the unbeatable odds and triumph! Ugh.
And don't get me started on Hudlin's take on racial issues. Black Panther is defined in this book by his blackness. And that's what gets to me. We get it, Hudlin, BP is Black. And he's awesome. He's an awesome Black guy. But stop hitting us over the head with it. He is more than Black. He is a king, a father, a leader, a fighter, a diplomat, and hero. Show us he's a great CHARACTER regardless of his ethnicity. Then we'll see, without being told explicitly, that he's one of the greatest superheroes the Marvel U has seen, Black, White, Asian, Latino, Kree, or Skrull.
What saddens me more is that this is going to be the basis of BET's cartoon. By the way, the animation is pretty crappy. I was really hoping for fresh material. From what I hear, Christopher Priest's run was much better, and I look forward to picking those up. I'm hoping Jason Aaron gets a full-time gig on the book now too. I originally gave this book two stars, but I think I was just being kind because I like BP as a character. Sorry Hudlin, but I can't like this book....more
The book is about the secret origin of Captain America. His powers come from an experiment applied to him during World War 2, and it only worked perfeThe book is about the secret origin of Captain America. His powers come from an experiment applied to him during World War 2, and it only worked perfectly on Steve Rogers. Of course, there had to be lab rats before it was used on him. In comes Robert Morales' tale of the African-American test subjects that went through experiments before Steve benefitted from them.
While the concept is absolutely brilliant, the execution left a lot to wish for. There's a whole lot of filler, and a whole lot of nothing in the middle. But the ending is still touching and poignant. As for the art, while I respect Kyle Baker, the seriousness of the subject doesn't really go well with his cartoony style....more