I saw this book on the shelves of several gift shops last month when I was at Walt Disney World. Being a huge fan of Disney, I thought the premise ofI saw this book on the shelves of several gift shops last month when I was at Walt Disney World. Being a huge fan of Disney, I thought the premise of the book sounded interesting. The basic idea is that a group of kids ends up battling fictional Disney characters who have come to life in the parks and are trying to "take over."
The basic premise, as I say, is interesting, and parts of the book were fun to read. It's a young adult novel, so I did not expect Jane Austen quality writing. However, I found the quality of the writing rather disappointing, and the reactions of the characters completely unbelievable. Several of the more critical reviews have complained about this sort of thing -- that the characters aren't particularly well-drawn, and I agree with that criticism. One problem is that the author only gave the four co-stars of Finn (the main character) a single obvious trait that was supposed to make him or her unique, and this made them seem utterly fake -- no real person is that simplistic. A second problem is that the traits are rather trite, such as Charlene being the easily-scared, panicky girl who screams a lot. But worse than this was the author's violation of the "show don't tell" principle. Pearson spends too much time telling us what the traits are, and not enough time showing us.
But the shallow characterization would be less of a problem if the story were in any way believable. Now, don't get me wrong; I knew this was a fantasy story going in, and I went into it perfectly prepared to accept that the characters of Disney World were going to come to life. But that's not the part I find unbelievable. What I find unbelievable are the reactions of the characters in the story. The five main kids, for example, going to bed at 8 PM at the age of 13-14 years old. No kid that age goes to bed so early. And although their parents question the kids' strange behavior, those parts of the novel are brief and half-hearted -- almost as if an editor told Pearson "Why haven't the parents said something by now?" and he threw in a couple of lines to mollify the person.
The kids' interactions with each other are also very unrealistic. When Amanda, who's not one of the "Disney five" special kids, inserts herself into the investigation, the other characters question it, but again, it's only half-hearted. They trust when they should not trust, and their ideas for how to solve problems seem to pop into their heads in a completely unbelievable way.
The sad part is that the basic premise of the book and the ideas for the plot are quite good. I don't mind that the kids can do super-special things by "just believing" -- that's the whole premise of Disney World. But the kids should have had to go on a real journey of discovery here, and instead they just blunder onto the key points and then "own" them as if it all makes sense. In a later novel, I'd buy it, but this is like the first book of the Harry Potter novels. The characters are being introduced to a new world with new rules, just like the reader, but they don't act the way they should in those circumstances. Everything was so rushed that the characters all just accept whatever outlandish things they are told, with, as I say, only the most half-hearted of objections.
This is a story that could have been great, especially for a Disney buff like me. Instead it was merely mediocre, and I don't see myself caring enough about the main characters to bother reading the rest of the series....more
Every time I re-read the Harry Potter series, I both long and dread to read this novel. Each time I get to it, I read the thing in about 3 days, devouEvery time I re-read the Harry Potter series, I both long and dread to read this novel. Each time I get to it, I read the thing in about 3 days, devouring it much as I had devour the rest of the series. The very first time I read the book, I had a few worries. First, there was a rumor that JK Rowling was going to kill off Harry Potter to prevent anyone else from writing spin-off books about him. I thought this sounded strange, as she could easily just sue anyone who did this without her permission — she owns the character. So I wasn’t really all that worried on this score, but I was mildly concerned. Second, at the end of book 6, we know of four remaining dark objects of Lord Voldemort, all of which must be destroyed or else he will always be able to resurrect himself. Given that it took pretty much the entirety of book 6 to find just one dark object, I was rather concerned that she might “rush” things. Finally, given Harry’s declaration at the end of book 6 that he would not be returning to Hogwarts, I was concerned about what the book would be like without the setting of the school year, classes, OWLs, NEWTs, and the like.
I will not give any spoilers here, so I won’t say whether Harry lives or dies at the end, but I was glad to see that the Horcrux plot went reasonably well (one of the four seemed rushed to me, but the rest did not), and the lack of a Hogwarts scholastic cycle actually worked in the book’s favor, making things seem more urgent and somehow more “real” than in the earlier books. In a sense the earlier stories have been “academic” — if Harry screws up he can blow things on a certain level, but he world’s not going to come to an end. This time, they are outside of school, in the real world, and it’s not academic anymore. These are not lessons, and the former Hogwarts students are going to have to save the real world this time, not just the Hogwarts school or fellow students.
In the end Rowling turned out a very surprising conclusion to her story. Yes as I said, a few spots did seem rushed, but the climax of the book was incredibly well done, and intensely satisfying. I actually cried out “Yes!” a few times when something good happened. (I won’t say what things, but you probably would not be able to guess what I am talking about before reading book 7 — it’s none of the obvious ones.) She managed to pull some real surprises out of the Sorting Hat for the ending, and it kept me turning pages like no novel I can remember, including all its predecessors (and that’s saying something!).
I will say that, although picking a favorite Harry Potter novel is like asking someone to choose a favorite son or daughter, I think book 4, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, is still probably my favorite of the Harry novels — I just love the other wizarding schools and the tri-wizard tournament. That book also marks the start of S.P.E.W., which is ignored in the movies but is a very enjoyable aspect of Hermione’s personality and relationship with her fellow students and witches/wizards. I think book 7 might be my second-favorite of the series, however, surpassing both book 1 (which I love for its novelty and quick pacing), and book 5 (which I love for Dolores Umbridge, the DA, and the introduction of Luna Lovegood).
In the end, the whole series was simply a delight. Yes, they are "young adult" novels, and I'm no young adult; but so are many of my other favorite stories — The Hobbit, the Chronicles of Narnia, the Three Investigators (now I am dating myself!), and so on. And Rowling, like Tolkien and Lewis before her, proves that you don’t have to write down to children to build a good tale for children to read…. and that if you don’t, then adults can enjoy them too.
If you have read the Harry Potter books but haven’t got book 7 yet, perhaps due to lack of time or fear that it won’t “live up to expectations” — get it. It’s worth making the time to read, and it will live up to your expectations, and probably exceed most of them.
If you have never read the Harry Potter series, I recommend reading them, now that they are all complete. You will lose some of the experience, in the sense that there’s no longer a chance to enjoy the anticipation of waiting months or years for the next book to come out. There is something fun about that anticipation (it was the same with the Star Wars movies). But you will be able to read them all at once, and see the whole picture immediately, and there’s probably something to be said for that as well....more
As with the first novel of the series, Catching Fire, book 2 of the "Hunger Games" series, is a well-written, engaging novel. Collins has written a reAs with the first novel of the series, Catching Fire, book 2 of the "Hunger Games" series, is a well-written, engaging novel. Collins has written a real page-turner. I could not stop reading this book, which is why it took me about 3 days to get through it.
As before, the main character is Katniss Everdeen, now one of the co-champions of the 74th Hunger Games. The book opens with her living in Victor's Village, the best area of town in District 12, along with her mother and sister, and with her co-champion Peeta as a neighbor. At first, things seem tranquil, but soon Katniss is paid a visit by the President, and discovers that he's very angry with her. Her trick with the poison berries during the Hunger Games, which resulted in the first ever tie for first place, has sparked discontent in the districts, and was seen by many as an act of defiance against the ruling Capitol and the president. He tells her that he will only refrain from punishing her and everyone she loves if she convinces him in no uncertain terms that the berry gambit was for love, rather than rebellion.
And so Katniss begins a whirlwind tour with Peeta, trying desperately to convince everyone that she's not a rabble-rouser but just a teenager in love. Will her act be successful? If not, what happens to her family, to her beloved District 12, and to her friends? And what will happen when the next Hunger Games arrive, which this time will be the 75th, a special anniversary Games called the "Quell?" Who will be chosen from District 12, and how will Katniss respond as a mentor?
These and other questions arise early in the book, and as you learn the answers, more questions come. Collins springs one surprise after another on you, and there truly is no predicting the ending of this novel. It was a great read and I can't wait to get started on the final book.
As with the first novel, I question the general consensus that this is a "young adult" novel. Again, it is written on a level easily comprehensible by anyone aged 10 and up, but the themes and many of the descriptions of violence and death are, in my view, not appropriate for young readers. Parents should definitely screen this book before letting anyone under 15 or 16 years of age read it....more
This is the third and final book of the Hunger Games series. It follows the continuing story of Katniss as the rebels of District 13 attempt to uniteThis is the third and final book of the Hunger Games series. It follows the continuing story of Katniss as the rebels of District 13 attempt to unite the Districts and take the fight to the Capitol.
I enjoyed this final book, and thoroughly enjoyed the series. However, I was a little disappointed in the last half of this novel. It felt almost like Collins got to the area nearing the climax and then couldn't figure out how she wanted to end it. The final scenes also felt rushed, almost like she either had a page limit or a time limit and tried to squeeze too much into the story.
As with the other novels, this one is generally well-written and enjoyable, although I don't think it's anywhere near as good as the first two. Also, once again the violence and bloodshed are very graphic for what's usually considered a "young adult" book, and I would recommend parents screening it before allowing tweens to read it....more
The Book of the Dun Cow is one of my all-time favorite novels. Since it came out over 30 years ago, I have probably read it about half a dozen times.The Book of the Dun Cow is one of my all-time favorite novels. Since it came out over 30 years ago, I have probably read it about half a dozen times. It was first introduced to me by my fifth grade teacher, who recommended it to my entire class.
This novel is a fantasy story written from the perspective of talking animals. The main character is Chauntecleer, a proud rooster who rules a Coop and the surrounding areas. As Lord of the land, it is his responsibility to care for his animals and keep order. He meets a sad dog named Mundo Cani early in the story, and they become friends.
What Chauntecleer doesn't know is that there is evil about to invade his land. The world, populated only by animals, is actually a prison of an evil being known as Wyrm. And Wyrm wants out of his prison. Wyrm uses an old rooster from an adjacent land to hatch a plot that will skill off the animals who are the Keepers of his prison, and free him to wreak havoc on the universe.
This story is wonderfully creative, and has many funny, sad, and touching moments. I have always had a deep affection for the main characters -- Chauntecleer, Mundo Cani, Pertelote the hen, the Pins (Ten, Five, and One), Lord Russel the Fox of Good Sense, and John Wesley Weasel. Walt Wangerin infuses the characters with great personality and humanity, that one is immediately drawn into the story and falls in love with them. The story has wonderful imagery and the descriptions are evocative. But most of all, it is just a great deal of fun to read.
This is an enjoyable fantasy novel in the greatest tradition of The Hobbit and the first Harry Potter novel. Interesting without being overly complex; thought-provoking; original without being crushed under the weight of to much "made-up world" baggage. I've not read many books more than once, and hardly any more than twice. But The Book of the Dun Cow is one of those I can read over, and over again, and enjoy it as much each time as I did the first time.
I gave this book 5 stars, but it's really in a select company that deserves six. It truly is a great work of fiction....more
This is a lovely book and the story was very cute, as I expected it would be from having seen the movie. It explained a few things better than the movThis is a lovely book and the story was very cute, as I expected it would be from having seen the movie. It explained a few things better than the movie, but I actually thought the movie dialog was better than that of the book....more
I had never heard of this book until a few months ago, when I first saw the preview for the movie. The preview made the movie look interesting, and II had never heard of this book until a few months ago, when I first saw the preview for the movie. The preview made the movie look interesting, and I considered going to see it, until I discovered that it was based on a popular young-adult novel. Because books are almost always far better than the movies based on them, I decided that I would hold off on the movie until I had a chance to finish the book.
I'm glad I did. Although I still haven't seen the movie, the book was quite good. It's set in a fictional, future world where wars have re-made the continent, and a new country, "Pandem," has risen from the ashes. The Capitol, which seems to be roughly where the Denver of today stands, is surrounded by twelve districts, each of which supplies it with certain raw materials. The districts once rebelled against the Capitol, and after putting down the rebellion, the Capitol has kept the districts firmly under its boot. To reinforce its superiority, the Capitol has an annual event, which is like a very extreme form of today's TV show "Survivor," and each district is forced to randomly select one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate. This event, called the Hunger Games, involves the contestants killing each other until only one remains.
The book opens on the day of the Reaping ceremony, where the boy and girl "tributes" are chosen. Katniss Everdeen, the narrator and main character, has put her name down multiple times to help her family get food and supplies over the years. There is a large danger that she will be chosen. However, instead, her younger sister, Primrose, who is only twelve and whose name has only been put down once, is randomly selected. By the tradition of the Games, someone can step forward to take a tribute's place, and so Katniss does this.
For the rest of the novel, we follow Katniss through the preparation and finally the Games themselves. The story is gripping and suspenseful. Katniss was a hunter and herb gatherer back in District 12, so she has skills that help her to survive in the wilderness during the Games. Along the way, she even befriends one or two of her fellow contestants, even though they both know this cannot last forever, since there can be only one survivor of the Games.
I found this book to be interesting and engaging. There are several memorable characters, although by its nature the book primarily focuses on just one, Katniss. She's alone for much of it, and this adds to the suspense -- you never know where the other contestants are or when they will show up to try and kill her. Collins does a good job of making you care about Katniss, which keeps you turning pages to find out what will happen to her.
Collins is a good writer. The characters are believable, and the world is interesting and well-described. I've already downloaded the second book to my Nook and will be starting it later today or tomorrow. If you enjoy "grim future" science fiction or just plain adventure stories, I would suggest giving this book a try.
One final note: I'm not 100% sure about the "young adult" classification of this novel. The writing is certainly appropriate in terms of its difficulty -- it's easy to read, the way a Harry Potter novel would be. But Collins is fairly graphic in her descriptions of violence, and the premise of kids killing each other, sometimes quite ruthlessly. I recommend parents give this a read before giving it to anyone under 15 or so....more