An insightful and engaging exposition of how political and economic factors — not changing American tastes or needs — were the driving forces behind t...moreAn insightful and engaging exposition of how political and economic factors — not changing American tastes or needs — were the driving forces behind the rise of the SUV. A particularly good read if you want to know more about how environmental regulations are resisted by corporate interests. Of course, the information is a little old now, but it remains instructive for similar debates that are happening today.(less)
When I began The Hunger Games, I was encouraged by the sudden rush of detail about Panem. It seemed that Collins had spent time thinking through her w...moreWhen I began The Hunger Games, I was encouraged by the sudden rush of detail about Panem. It seemed that Collins had spent time thinking through her world carefully, creating detailed histories for each character and each region. I got the sense, as one does when you read the Harry Potter books, that the author knows much more than she'll ever put down on the page.
Unlike Rowling, however, who regularly rewarded her diligent readers with revelations and layers of new insight into the characters and places we already knew, Collins seems content to just move forward. It's a shame, because the first several chapters do the exposition so artfully; I never feel — as I so often do when reading "popular" literature — like I'm being beaten over the head with a bit of character background because the author doesn't know where else to put it. Every explanatory aside seems like it belongs. The language flows easily, and the story progresses so quickly that it's a page-turner from the get-go.
But by the time the games start, we have mostly stopped learning anything new about the world in which these characters live. The bulk of the book is just action in the wilderness, which, I suppose, is why it lends itself so well to a film adaptation. I saw the film, by the way, before I was done with the book, and although I think the book has more dramatic weight, the movie actually tells us more about the world of Panem. A particularly poignant scene in the movie (the short segment about District 11) which felt like a particularly severe abridgment of the book was, in fact, an addition! The book had no such scene. I wish it did. I wanted to leave Katniss's head for a while to get a different perspective.
I hear that the second and third books in this series answer a lot of questions I have about Collins' fictional world, but I also hear that those books aren't as good as this one.
So should you read this? Perhaps, if you only want to be entertained. It's a good novel for that. I just tend to expect that dystopian fiction will contain some cautionary tale linking the imaginary world to elements of our own, and although Collins hints at that connection, she doesn't really go anywhere with it. I don't feel like I've learned anything about the human condition. And that's kind of a letdown.(less)
undefined and NaN are not constants. They are global variables, and you can change their values. That should not be possible, and yet it is. Don't do it.
Chapter 5, on Inheritance, was the most helpful in terms of understanding how to write large applications in a way that provides most of the niceties (clean syntax, encapsulation, etc.) that we've come to expect from high-level languages.
I also found the overall organization to be a little strange. The appendices take up nearly a third of the book, and provide some of the most illuminating surprises (including the quotation above), yet — they are appendices. Meanwhile, what appears to be a normal programming book (a narrative littered with code examples) becomes a method reference in Chapter 8 and switches to big-picture prose for the final two chapters.
So: read chapters 1 through 5, plus appendices A and B. Skim the rest, or keep it handy as a reference.(less)
(3.5 stars) The introduction mentions that the original publisher was leery of all the restless shuttling between coasts that makes up the bulk of thi...more(3.5 stars) The introduction mentions that the original publisher was leery of all the restless shuttling between coasts that makes up the bulk of this book. They thought readers would tire of it, and I did — a little. I also didn't care for the handful of beat philosophy all-nighters between Sal, Dean, and Carlo that were littered throughout the story. That's process, and though some might care about process, I don't — or at least I didn't care for the hoo-ha-zipp-wow-crazy way that Kerouac described it.
I did care for the product of that process. Kerouac, through Sal, shares some of the most beautifully elegiac reflections on the American experience that I've ever read. A lot has changed in fifty years; this sort of trip would not be possible today, or at least it would have to involve a lot less hitchhiking. But it's surprising how many of the people he encounters on the road are types I recognize among my own friends.
I guess it reveals my own biases that the part of the book I liked best was when Sal stopped moving and forgot about Dean for a while. I forget the word he used, but he kept talking about the road as if it were a bug that gets into him. I think he knew on some level that it wasn't good for him, and that he'd be happier if he left it alone. But the allure of movement and of Dean's hoo-ha-zipp-wow-craziness was always too powerful for him to resist. It sounds like a thousand sad, true stories of ho-hum people leaving their ho-hum lovers for flaming fireballs (sexy blondes, globetrotting young businessmen, etc.), only to find themselves more ho-hum than ever when their fireballs burned out. And in that sense, the book rings true.(less)