Tag Archives: Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Scholastic: paperback published 2011: 458 pages

May the odds be ever in your favour.

“If we burn, you burn with us”

Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But she’s still not safe. A revolution is unfolding, and everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans – everyone except Katniss.

And yet she must play the most vital part in the final battle. Katniss must become their Mockingjay – the symbol of rebellion – no matter what the personal cost. Continue reading

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The Snow Child

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Headline Review: paperback published 2012: 404 pages

November, 1920.

Jack and Mabel have staked everything on making a fresh start for themselves in a homestead ‘at the world’s edge’ in the raw Alaskan wilderness. But as the days grow shorter, Jack is losing his battle to clear the land, and Mabel can no longer contain her grief for the baby she lost many years before.

The evening the first snow falls, their mood unaccountably changes. In a moment of tenderness, the two are surprised to find themselves building a snowman – or rather a snow girl – together. The next morning, all trace of her has disappeared, and Jack can;t quite shake the notion that he glimpsed a small figure – a child? – running through the spruce trees in the dawn light. And how to explain the little but very human tracks Mabel finds at the edge of their property? Continue reading

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Catching Fire

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Scholastic: Paperback published 2011: 472 pages

Katniss Everdeen survived the Hunger Game. Now the Capitol wants revenge.

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are still alive. Katniss should be relieved, but now there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

As the nation watches Katniss and Peeta, the stakes are higher than ever. One false move and the consequences will be unimaginable.

 

 

I had to read something light after the trauma of finishing the last book from A Song of Ice and Fire. [On that note, apparently Mr R.R Martin is writing “at a good pace” which means, with his track record, we can expect his next book in 2015 – which is A LONG TIME… oh the horror]

The Hunger Games trilogy is a teenage fiction series, the first book of which – The Hunger Games – has been made into a film. A lot of it rings true with Twilight; the love triangle, the girl who doesn’t think much of herself but everyone loves her, the fact that our heroine is the catalyst for everything (i.e. Mary-Sue – and not the endearing type). If you can get past the egocentric-yet-adorably-flawed main character, these books are what could be described as a “ripping yarn”.

I read it in about 2 days, purely because it is deeply entertaining and very easy to read (so you don’t feel exhausted at the end of the chapter, which can happen). I will definitely read the third and final book, purely because I need to know what happens to Kat, Gale, Peeta and the team. My criticism (apart from the deeply irritating main character) is that there isn’t enough time in the arena for my liking – the build up is over half the book and then the arena is a short, sharp blast of brutality, and that’s it.

I think the beauty and creativity of the story from the first book was the arena scenes, and I wonder if Suzanne Collins has missed a trick here. I’m not very interested in the angst-ridden navel-gazing that all these teen books seem to be about nowadays… gone are the stories of mystery-solving and animal-rescuing of my formative years, now it’s all gooey eyes and brooding skinny boys who haven’t seen enough sunlight, and torturous and awkward love triangles that actually make very little sense. I think there should be more originality in these characters – forget the love story, show a character who does it all by herself for once. There is honestly not that much angst in the world.

Other than that, I think this is a nice, simple read that keeps me occupied for a couple of evenings.

Rating: 6/10

Next book: The wonderful Ana has promised me her copy of Blood Meridian, but until I get off my backside and give her my address to post it to, I will make do with Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. I’ve often been told to give Robin Hobb a try – she’s a fantasy-writing big-hitter, and a lot of fantasy fans who cut their teeth on the likes of Pratchett, Tolkien and Brooks (though I never liked the latter) rate Hobb amongst the better writers. Assassin’s Apprentice is the first in the Farseer trilogy… and the first of countless trilogies, so it’s a good place to start.

P.S. I also realised that I never posted my review of A Dance with Dragons: Dreams and Dust. I promise one to follow!

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The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Scholastic: paperback published 2011: 454 pages

MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOUR

Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

In a darek vision of the near future, twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live TV show called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

The Hunger Games came to my attention when I realised it was being turned into a film (as derogatory as I am about adaptations, they do wonders for the profile of the book). I also noticed that they were doing “grown up” covers instead of the garish Young Adult covers that are so off-putting when an adult wants to read them in public. So I gave it a go!

I can see why it’s been made in to a film. The novel itself is very visual and reads very much scene-by-scene. My issue came when I realised that I didn’t particularly like the main character –annoyingly, she’s good at everything, and also a bit selfish (which doesn’t make sense as she “sacrifices” herself for her little sister at the beginning). The premise of the story is this: there are twelve districts that every year have to donate a boy and a girl to something called the Hunger Games– where they battle to the death in front of TV cameras. Think Battle Royale crossed with Big Brother and throw in some Lord of the Flies for good measure and you pretty much get the idea. This is, in fact, a BRILLIANT idea for a book. I mean, check out the Peril, the Character Development, the Story Arc. Here’s where it goes wrong… you get a main character who technically you should like, but you simply can’t bring yourself to do it. There’s an awful lot of time discussing what animal she’s hunting or food she’s eating or how quiet she is, or how good with a bow and arrow she is, or how she’s rescuing people all the time. There’s very little emotion – and when there is, it feels very false.

I really enjoyed the book from the viewpoint that a Battle to the Death is the height of TV viewing. You could go in to the philosophical debate of how close we are to this in reality (but Charlie Brooker already did that with his Black Mirror series on the BBC). I didn’t enjoy it because actually, I didn’t really want Kat to win. I got to the end of the book, and even though I wanted to read the two sequels because the writing is good and the premise of the story is great and it could do so well, I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear about how wonderful Kat is – when really, she’s a bit of a cow.

Young Adult fiction is a guaranteed entertaining read (unless you go for an angst-and-drama Twilight rip-off). I still go back to Junk and other teen favourites. Philip Pullman’s trilogy was YA, and The Book Thief was produced as YA too. That’s why I always throw in a YA book to my reading list every now and then –the entertainment factor is often even better than adult fiction. As for The Hunger Games? I hope Kat is nicer in the film.

Rating: 5/10

Next book: I am getting told to read lots of books lately, and as I wait for The Orphan’s Tales to turn up (thanks Lunameth), I’m following the guidance of Stacey B. Stacey B works for We Love this Book, and tweeted about how much she enjoyed The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber the other day. As it was on my shelf, I’ve picked it up. The narrative is second-person present, which I’m not used to, so I’m having to quickly learn!

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A Spell of Winter

A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore

Penguin Fiction: paperback published 2007: 313 pages

Catherine and her brother, Rob, don’t know why they have been abandoned by their parents. Incarcerated in the enormous country house of their grandfather – ‘the man from nowhere’ – they create a refuge against their family’s dark secrets, and against the outside world as it moves towards the First World War. As time passes, their sibling love deepens and crosses into forbidden territory. But they are not as alone in the house as they believe…

 

Did I mention that Helen Dunmore is my favourite author? No? Well, she’s my favourite author. She began her writing career as a poet, and then went on to short stories and novels (both adult and children’s). And it shows in her writing – each novel I have read is almost lyrical, and when describing Dunmore, I prefer the term “wordsmith” rather than “novelist”… it seems to fit her poetic descriptions and way of writing.

And A Spell of Winter is no different. I found the blurb didn’t really match the story – the First World War, though featuring, isn’t as heavily implicated as much as the blurb suggests, and the grandfather is rarely referred to as “the man from nowhere” at all. But the story is beautiful nonetheless. Cathy gives a dreamy narrative, tinged with grief and also a sense of dissociation, which is a peculiar mix at first, but you soon become familiar with her voice and learn to roll with it. Dunmore’s novels are very character-heavy as opposed to plot-driven, so if you like lots of action, her writing is definitely not for you. I will admit, however, that this novel is not my favourite of hers (Talking to the Dead is, though her children’s Ingo series is pretty close). Cathy is not overly likeable, and neither are any of the other characters, so I found it hard to relate to anyone. The story is beautiful in that you hope for the best, but like real life, it doesn’t always happen that way. It’s hard to review this book properly, because it’s so dreamlike, it’s hard to describe. The best bit – by far – was Dunmore’s descriptions of the seasons. When she talks about the winter, you feel cold to your bones, and when she describes the roses in the summer you can smell them and feel the heat on your skin.

Rating: 8/10

Next book: I’ve chosen The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – a Young Adult novel – because there’s a film of it coming up, and they’ve FINALLY done an “adult-suitable” cover. Also, I figure it could be a quick read.

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Story Cubes

Tuesday was Tea with Bits Day. We did the usual – meet in Caffè Nero in Waterstones and put the world to rights, and then spend the next hour browsing to our hearts’ content. I had a couple of books in mind that I wanted to get: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (in the posh new cover, not the teen one) and Ulysses by James Joyce (after a long discussion with E at work, who happens to be a bit of a Joycian). Well, I failed on the first point, but managed to nab a copy of Ulysses and also a copy of The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore – because after my last post I was too overwhelmingly excited to wait. Standing at the till – waving loyalty card and stamp card and money at the bookseller with too much enthusiasm – I noticed THESE little bad boys. Have you ever had those decision dice that you rolled to decide what to do (“homework”, “eat”, “sleep” etc.)? These are almost the same – dice with little images on that help you decide what to write a story about. You simply start with Once Upon a Time and use the upward facing pictures for the rest.

Okay, so they’re a daft little game to pass the time (and procrastinate) and I’m pretty sure most of the stories I can come up with are surreal humour pieces, but I really fell in love with them. Just think of the possibilities!

So I’m starting a blog game… Each week I will roll the dice and write up the short story for all to see. However, before that begins, I thought I’d let you lot have a go.

Here’s what the dice have given you today!

Keyhole
Beetle
Footprint
Arrow
Crescent moon
Castle
World
Clock
Shooting star

Let me know what you come up with – I will be posting my own short story from this soon.

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