Because it has been so popular, I went into this book feeling like the last person on earth to read it. Now I know it's going to be read by many more...moreBecause it has been so popular, I went into this book feeling like the last person on earth to read it. Now I know it's going to be read by many more people for many years to come.
It's hard to review it without giving away the plot, so I'll just say that the character development, the pacing, the emotion, the world-building, the plot twists, the sci-fi atmosphere, and the action: it's all here in spades.
My only complaint about this book is a complaint against YA in general. This book features yet another heroine who is smart, beautiful, and capable, but who has absolutely no idea that she is smart, beautiful, and capable. I'm tired of reading about a heroine who thinks the hero can't possibly love her, that he's just crazy or pretending. Do authors think that giving the heroine at least some sense of her own abilities will make her seem arrogant? That to be a "good" girl, the heroine has to be completely unaware of romantic feelings and only experience them herself when some guy makes it impossible not to? There's some strange madonna complex at work here that doesn't reflect the truth of adolescent girlhood, and it's very frustrating to me. Besides, I felt the love story didn't add half as much emotion as Katniss's sisterly attachment to Rue.
Nevertheless, this book is powerful and fantastic. I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel!
Suzanne Collins delivers again! While not as fast-paced as , Catching Fire expands the series premise to encompass a broader playing field. By placin...moreSuzanne Collins delivers again! While not as fast-paced as , Catching Fire expands the series premise to encompass a broader playing field. By placing her out of her depth in a web of intrigue for most of the book, then pitting her against veteran Game victors, Collins rewinds Katniss from capable warrior to imperiled heroine without negating any of her personal growth from the first volume. Although Catching Fire does not deliver the same level of battle action as its predecessor, tension runs exquisitely high, between the Districts and the Capital, between Katniss and the highest levels of government, and between Katniss and her two would-be suitors.
Catching Fire also functions as the middle book in a trilogy often does: as a setup for the final installment. However, it rarely suffers from the drag and bloat common to middle books, and even returns to the heart-stopping thrills of The Hunger Games in the final quarter of the book.
I was slightly disappointed that the Games made up such a small portion of this book. I would guess that Collins didn't want to recycle too heavily, but that part of the story felt like it was tacked on, and the combat and strategy rushed in order to get back to the real story.
The style ending will leave the reader desperate to lay hands on , which will be jaw-dropping if it lives up to the promise of the first two novels.
The good: Plot twists and out-of-nowhere deaths everywhere keep you guessing. Collins does an impressive amount of physical and psychological damage t...moreThe good: Plot twists and out-of-nowhere deaths everywhere keep you guessing. Collins does an impressive amount of physical and psychological damage to Katniss, far more than in or . The change in her character over the course of the series is amazing. There's a war between the districts and the Capitol, of course, which brings plenty of fear and tension to the party. We finally get closure on the Katniss-Gale-Peeta love triangle without it consuming the plot, and we finally get some characterization of Prim beyond "Katniss's cute sister that she'd give her life for." Actually, many minor characters are more deeply developed. Collins isn't afraid to introduce huge, character-changing plot twists, isn't afraid to completely destroy a character's life and then gracefully follow the effects.
The bad: Katniss spends most of the book as a figurehead for the anti-Capitol rebellion, which keeps her fairly passive. Life in District 13 is also very structured, and her only rule-breaking for a long stretch of time involves finding custodial closets to nap in. Instead of becoming stronger and turning situations to her advantage as she did in the previous two books, Katniss is torn apart physically, mentally, and emotionally, but never really put back together. The resolution of the love triangle is also a bit lackluster, though I was satisfied with the outcome. Overall, the book lacks the tremendous energy and fighting spirit of , and so does Katniss. I feel that Collins tried to do too much, and perhaps another 100 pages or a more character-driven plot could have saved the day.
Overall: You have to read it if you read the first two, which you have to read or you're just missing out. While the book contains a huge dose of pain, it's a product of the larger story. It ends the only way it really can. This story was not a happy one, and a truly happy ending would have been a lie.(less)
Summary: Stay with me, here. Partly inspired by the inception of WWI, this book is about a sort-of heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary who goes on t...moreSummary: Stay with me, here. Partly inspired by the inception of WWI, this book is about a sort-of heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary who goes on the run in a battle machine after his parents are assassinated, a British girl who dresses as a boy so she can pilot airships (which are actually genetically engineered monsters that fly, because in this reality, Darwin discovered bioengineering), the start of a war, and some mysterious eggs.
Verdict: What a gas-bag!
Yay!: The concept is interesting, exciting, and well-explained. A couple of the side characters are interesting. The book is nice and thick, and fast readers might appreciate its substance in that way.
Nay!: Leviathan is as bloated and lumbering as the live airship that gives the book its title (and this is coming from a fan of the author.) While the bioengineered creature premise is extremely cool, it never gets off the ground and becomes an integral part of the plot. I hope that changes in the sequel (this is the first in a series). Meanwhile, this reader was left wondering how this book wound up getting sold as YA. Apart from a few references to the heroine's breasts, the subject matter could easily work as mid-grade. The hero and heroine, who are supposed to be teenagers, have the maturity of ten- or twelve-year-olds instead. You would expect a scrappy girl from the streets and a teenage prince to be less naive, but alas. Also, can we please stop writing books about girls who dress as boys because only boys are allowed to do boy things? This is a parallel, imaginary universe. There's no reason not to have the biologically sensible Darwinists allow females to enlist in their air corps. Having Deryn dress as a boy is just a gimmick to add interest to her story, which would already be interesting enough if she weren't so darned annoying. Every other sentence out of her mouth contains either "bloody" or "barking spiders!" Get a new exclamatory phrase already! Mix it up! Where I am from, "barking spiders" is a joke elementary age boys make when they pass gas audibly. One can imagine my initial confusion about the heroine's gastric system...
In conclusion: I don't care about the plot, the characters or the series. I REALLY want to know what was in the eggs....but that's what Google is for. (less)
Summary: Lena lives in a future United States in which it's been decided that love is a fatal disease. Everyone has an operation at age 18 that render...moreSummary: Lena lives in a future United States in which it's been decided that love is a fatal disease. Everyone has an operation at age 18 that renders them incapable of love, and then they are paired up with a spouse and told how many children they should have. Lena can't wait for her operation, but her friend Hana is having second thoughts and mixing with a dangerous crowd. Lena is terrified for Hana, until she meets handsome Alex and begins to question everything she's ever thought was right and safe.
Verdict: Cardboard + treacle = book. Move over, vampires/werewolves/fairies, a new shallow romance subgenre has come to town!
Positive: Well, for people who thought Uglies was too bitter and not enough sweet, or that Hunger Games was too bloody and unsettling without enough tongue action, this could be a great change of pace. It's not just dystopia, it's dystopian romance, with all the emphasis on the romance.
Negative: Hugely disappointing! The premise makes no sense. Numbing everyone's emotions like in The Giver? That would create a more peaceful society. Luring everyone into a lobotomy with the promise of physical perfection like in Uglies? That would also do it. But taking away one positive emotion and leaving all the others like anger and hate? That's something a Bond villain would threaten to do unless the UN paid him off. Dystopian novels work best when the dystopian characteristics are things that could logically result from current society.
Speaking of society, this book suffers from a serious world-building deficit. Apparently American society hasn't changed, except no one drives very much because oil is so scarce. So...how is the country still running? How are these deliveries of livestock that are mentioned early on accomplished? You can't move a stock truck without oil and gas! There's none of that funky technology usually associated with this genre. The backstory is paper-thin.
The love story isn't exactly detailed and believable, either. Lena meets Alex, decides he's cute and nice, and then suddenly she's willing to risk her life to be with him. I guess that's understandable, since she's been segregated from boys her entire life. Obviously her hormones are going to latch onto the first attractive male she ever meets. Ever. She's an uber-virgin! But her character and his are so shallow, there's no chemistry.
Also, the book needed to lose 150-200 pages. I got really tired of the long distance runs with the best friend and the endless reflecting and angsting. I didn't feel that the plot picked up until page 300. The fact that I kept going is a huge testament to how much I don't want to do my research paper.
Concept: A Plot: B- Character Development: B Writing: B- Pacing: B+ Ending: A+ Cover Art: A+
If you've read one dystopian novel where the main character is s...moreConcept: A Plot: B- Character Development: B Writing: B- Pacing: B+ Ending: A+ Cover Art: A+
If you've read one dystopian novel where the main character is slowly figuring out what's wrong with his/her screwed up world with the help of an outsider, you've read them all. This book offers few surprises. The only thing setting it apart from the slew of YA dystopians glutting the market is that it's set in space, but actually, that saved it for me. Trapping your characters on a space ship with a dangerous tyrant, a genetically engineered populace who worship him, and a murderer running loose does create a suspenseful atmosphere and helps the reader spend more time worrying about how the heroes will survive and less time thinking, "Geez, I've heard all this before."
The science end of the science fiction is underdeveloped. Usually I don't like a lot of technical jargon, but here it seemed like a few things didn't make sense. For instance, after Amy is thawed, they don't want to refreeze her because it could kill her. Apparently your cells get damaged in the freezing process and redoing it is dangerous. But don't we constantly grow new cells? Right? So what's to stop them from giving her time to heal up and refreezing her in a couple years? I feel like if the frozen people were in charge of a project as huge as colonizing a new planet, the backers would have wanted assurances they'd get there safely, like a backup in case someone got thawed early. There are a few other instances of this, like this book could have been longer and more detailed but instead, someone said, "Well, it's just marketed to teens. It needs to be short and have making out, and everything else is secondary."
But, I liked it enough that I will read the next one. While I figured everything out as far as what had happened to create the civilization, who was the murderer, etc, there was one small, nasty surprise at the end that I did NOT see coming. Hopefully the next book will have its feet under it from the get-go.(less)