Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Catching Fire & Mockingjay- Reviews

First of all, my computer did an automatic shut down in the middle of typing this post. Thanks to Blogger’s auto save feature, I didn’t lose everything, but I did lose a good bit.  Oh well, that’s life. On we go…take 2.

4 Stars for both

Because I read these books so quickly and so close together, it is somewhat hard to keep them separate in my head. And so much of how I feel and want to say applies to the whole series. So for the first time ever, I'm doing a joint review. I'm going to try my best to separate them as best as I can though.

For me, Katniss has trouble with her emotions coming out—or not coming out in this case. It makes sense considering how much she has already been through at the beginning of Hunger Games and how much she has yet to go through. But it almost seems like consciously or unconsciously, most every decision she makes in respect to her relationships with Gale and Peeta are made to rebel against the Capitol. Gale is pretty open about where he stands at the beginning of the Hunger Games, but Katniss doesn’t return those feelings. Then Katniss and Peeta decide to pursue the strategy of presenting themselves as a couple to the Capitol. In the first Games, Katniss and Peeta have these interactions that neither Katniss nor the reader knows how real and how deep those interactions go—or again, don’t go. Katniss achieves the rebellion she seeks—again consciously or unconsciously—with the show of her relationship with Peeta. But as soon as the games are over and the Capitol isn’t watching their every move, Katniss backs away. But the Capitol isn’t done with Katniss and Peeta. The Capitol wants more of the lovely couple. And it is my belief that Katniss returns to Gale because the Capitol demands so much of her relationship with Peeta. In essence, taking her choice away. I think that’s what she rebels against the most. And so, on and on it goes. When the Capitol calls for Katniss and Peeta, she reverts to Gale. But when the Capitol gives her release and freedom to pursue Gale, she changes her focus back to Peeta. It is obvious that she doesn’t spend a ton of time focusing on figuring out her emotions and how she feels. But who can blame her with all that she’s been through?

Mockingjay had a different feel to me than the other two books. It focuses on the war between the Capitol and the Rebels rather than the Games. Although, I suppose the war itself is really just a multiplied form of the Games. Especially because both the Capitol and the Rebels are trying to manipulate Katniss into being who they need her to be and behaving how they need her to behave. Seriously these books—this entire series—was majorly stressful to read. I was paranoid throughout the whole series, but especially through Mockingjay. I wanted to know which characters survive and which characters we lose—due to the nature of war, we can’t save everyone. Some must die to protect the masses. I really felt like the series ended exactly the way it needed to end. And that’s as much as I’ll say about that. One final comment about Mockingjay, there were parts in this book that I found hard to follow. I didn’t really experience this in the other two books, but multiple times in Mockingjay, I had to stop, say “What just happened?” back up, and re-read. I don’t enjoy that. It messes up my rhythm.

Anyway, really good, exciting series. Can’t wait to see it in theaters in March 2012.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Hunger Games - Review

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, # 1)

By: Suzanne Collins

Published: September 14th 2008 by Scholastic Press

374 pages

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Source: Personal Kindle Library

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Goodreads description--Katniss, 16, takes her sister's place in the televised annual Hunger Games, competing against Peeta, the boy who gave them bread to survive after their father died. The cruel Capitol forces each of 12 districts to submit a boy and girl 12-18, to fight to the death. Only one can survive and be rewarded. President Snow manipulates behind the scenes.
In my last post, my review on Clash of Kings, I mentioned that I was reading the Hunger Games next because I wanted something to blow through really quickly. And that, that I did. And Catching Fire too! 5 Stars for this book.

This series is right up there for me with Harry Potter and the Vampire Academy--I hesitate to compare any thing to these series because they're so phenominal and different in their own rights, but it is the best comparison I can think of at the moment--because Suzanne Collins has created this whole new world. New rules, new beliefs, new fears, new...well I could go on, but I'll stop.

Several of my friends read this series before me, and I have to be honest and say that I really hate when my friends read books before me. It is not because I want to be first, but they build it up, or tear it down--there's nothing wrong with that, it is what I do myself in this very blog--but it taints my view of the book before I even begin. They told me not to get attached to any of the characters because you never know which ones will survive and which ones will be killed off. And while this is true, I wish I hadn't know it before hand. Which totally stinks because I just shared it with you. It is just that because of this, I truly have been expecting everyone to die. And therefore none of the plot twists (no matter if it included a death or was just an unexpected event) have really caught me all that off guard. And that just kind of sucks. I enjoy the twists and unexpected events. I enjoy the not knowing. It is the experience of reading, of exploring, of adventure. It's why when my friends get to a good part in a book that I've read before them and they come to me begging me to tell them what happens that I just can't bring myself to do it. I'd rather tell you how a book makes me feel rather than what happened during it. That is for you to explore and find out for yourselves.

That being said, the Hunger Games made me experience and feel alot. I always begin a book on the lookout for who the protagonist is either already in love with or going to fall in love with. I have reasons I feel strongly about that have caused me to rule out various characters in all books that I read and characters to pick out as that very person, and it is no different for this one. After finishing Catching Fire, I'm still holding out hope for who I think that person is. But Katniss goes through so much in this book that you feel yourself. Fear is one of the biggest emotions and themes throughout the majority of this book. It's that fear that drives you forward, to keep reading at an increased and accelerated pace. There's also sadness, a need to protect those she loves, a need she can't always meet. And there are these very essential human moments in such a terrible Game created to keep the citizens of this world in check. Moments that I wont describe because of my feelings toward the experience. It just shows that even though the world that we live in verses the characters that we read about may be very different, basic humanity remains very much the same.

As I said, 5 Stars. This book easily kept my attention. Kept me reading--quickly. So much so that I started Catching Fire before I even really knew that the Hunger Games was finished. Look out for my review on Catching Fire next.

*Updated: September 6, 2013

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Clash of Kings - Review

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, # 2)

By: George R R Martin

Published: first published February 1999

761 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Adult

Source: Personal Kindle Library

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | )

Goodreads description--Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who held sway over an age of enforced peace are dead...victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky—a comet the color of blood and flame—six factions struggle for control of a divided land. Eddard’s son Robb has declared himself King in the North. In the south, Joffrey, the heir apparent, rules in name only, victim of the scheming courtiers who teem over King’s Landing. Robert’s two brothers each seek their own dominion, while a disfavored house turns once more to conquest. And a continent away, an exiled queen, the Mother of Dragons, risks everything to lead her precious brood across a hard hot desert to win back the crown that is rightfully hers.

A Clash of Kings transports us into a magnificent, forgotten land of revelry and revenge, wizardry and wartime. It is a tale in which maidens cavort with madmen, brother plots against brother, and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside.

Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, the price of glory may be measured in blood. And the spoils of victory may just go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel...and the coldest hearts. For when rulers clash, all of the land feels the tremors.

Audacious, inventive, brilliantly imagined, A Clash of Kings is a novel of dazzling beauty and boundless enchantment—a tale of pure excitement you will never forget.

Wow...first post I've had in over a month. This book was a big undertaking. (4 Stars by the way.) It wasn't so much that the book was long--although it was--but it was just easy to take breaks. Don't get me wrong, it was good, and it held my interest, and just like A Game of Thrones there were plenty of twists throughout the book, but periodically you'd come to a narrator that was just easy to put down.

The addition of Theon made sense, and you understand his character...and possibly even feel sorry for him. But by the end of the book, he's easy to hate. Bran...I struggled through his storyline some, but the further you get into the story the more it fits in with everything else that's going on and the more intriguing it becomes. We really get to see how brilliant Tyrion is throughout this book. He's playing this game with his sister, the realm, and the other self-proclaimed kings like nobody's business. Possibly one of the smartest characters of all, and definitely the wittiest. Jon's storyline was actually a struggle for me in the beginning as well. Even though he's one of my favorite characters, but my how the tables turn at the very end for him. Good stuff. Catelyn...I'm not sure what can be said about her. She's got so much on her shoulders and has been through so much. She's one of my favorite characters as well. The addition of Davos, though he doesn't have many chapters, is brilliant to me instead of George RR Martin writing through Stannis's perspective, yet we still get an inside story on what's going on with that camp. Dany doesn't have many chapters in this book, but I'm excited about where she seems to be heading. And finally (I think), Arya. Possibly my favorite storyline of this book. Arya's got all kinds of adventures presented to her in this book. I can't wait to see what happens next.

The supernatural aspects of this story shine through in this book more than the previous book in this series. This is another facet that I'm waiting to see how it all plays out through the entire series. Dany of course seems surrounded by the supernatural. But Davos/Stannis and the addition of the Red Lady, Bran and Summer, Jon and the wildlings/eagle, Arya and Jaqen H'ghar. I'm sure there's more.

Exciting things. Looking forward to the twists and turns to come in book 3, but I have to take a break from the series. I need to read something that I can blow through really fast and knock out some books quickly.

*Updated: September 6, 2013