Book Reviews





The Maze Runner

I got this book free when I pre-ordered The Hunger Games book 3. I didn't read up on it, nor did I think I would ever read it. There's a reason they're giving something away, right?!
Well, despite that thought, I did decide to give it a go. I can't say things really started well...
On the back page is this proud statement:

"Like the Hunger Games? Love this!"

Big words...

This is then followed by a page you should read (35, if you're interested) to incite your appetite in reading further.

It all sounded very authoritative, so I'm stood there thinking "yes, I DO like the Hunger Games... I guess I should flip to page 35 then," whereupon I came across the most cliched 4 paragraphs I think the book could muster. Something like: "And then he realised... He had been there before" closed a chapter. Shock horror! Queue the dramatic drumroll please!
I can't say the melodrama or mystery truly grabbed me at this point. I think it's the amusement that made me flick to page one and see it through 'til the bitter end, just to see if it could get any worse.

Of course, it did.

It's badly written.
(count the number of times "frustrated" and "his head was bursting with questions" are used in the first 4 chapters alone)

Character devices were thrown to the wind by convenient memory loss.

Monsters were ludacris even for monsters.
(just how many parts can one blob of jelly hold? how many times do the properties of these things change? from spiky wheels, to blubber, to gravity defying machine with possessed mechanical limbs, to not being able to see anyone, to being able to see invisible holes.... I could go on.)

Curse words went from slang euphemisms at the beginning to outright "holy crap"s towards the end.

And the all-so-mysterious plot outcome (which was obvious to anyone over the age of 13, thereby cutting out about 2/3rds of the YA target audience) was not a startling revelation, but more of a "FINALLY!" as you realise in 3 more dragged out, un-climatic chapters you could put the book down. (Or give it to a charity shop, as I have done.)

Horrifyingly, this is the first part of a trilogy. No real "bigger picture" answers were ever actually given - apart from allusions to an awful zombie-t-virus type thing involving solar flares.

To be quite honest. I couldn't care less.


*This review contains spoilers*

Well, I was very excited to read this book... I loved The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I couldn't wait to see how it all ended! I even pre-ordered the thing from Amazon and started reading it as soon as it arrived. And now I have finished it. And I am not very happy. And I wish it could have been different...

It wasn't a patch on the other two. The whole atmosphere was different. Katniss was no longer a strong survivor, but a weakened puppet unable to think or do for herself. The love triangle was laborious and even tenuous at times. The Capitol no longer seemed to be such an enemy when it was targeting only one person, for a specific reason - rather than everyone, for fun.
That's not to say the book was awful though. It just wasn't what I personally would have liked the Hunger Games to end with.

I didn't like that Katniss was so passive throughout the book, and I think that's what ultimately let down my expectations. I loved her strong headed-ness and hot temper. It was the reason I compared her to Will from His Dark Materials in a previous post. But this was gone in Mockingjay. As the face of a rebellion, she was actually very limp. I liked that she was uneasy infront of cameras but she has been the leader of her family for years - she can lead! I think what I enjoyed in the Hunger Games for it's flawed characters, I actually ended up resenting in Mockingjay, as I think the author tried to enforce it too much.
Yes, Katniss is traumatised. Yes, she has a lot of responsibilities. Yes, she is only 17. Yes, she has been a catalyst for war - BUT - she is a survivor! And that didn't carry through here.
She made no decisions of her own except to skip classes, and she quickly gave that up for an opportunity to get out of District 13. Even when she shot Coin I'm not sure that was her own decision - what with being addled on morphling and having Snow whispering his conspiricies in her ear.
As for the depressive withdrawal at the end... Did I suddenly pick up the wrong book and end up with Twilight? Her sisters dead - the Katniss from book 1 would go out to right it, not lock herself away. Its the exact thing she hated her mother for doing at the start! *sigh* Some people may say shooting Coin was revenge for Prim. But I think that was more to do with the proposal of a new Hunger Games and for using Gale against her (with the bomb) just the way Snow used Peeta.

Like I said, all a matter of personal "I wanted it this way" taste more than anything else. I like strong female leads!

That aside, other characters were brilliant. Finnick was possibly my favourite character of Mockingjay closely followed by Johanna. I wish there had been more of her!

Just one last point - the end. Generally I thought it was a bit of a cop out. No explanation of how Peeta got better. No explanation for Gale's decision not to return to 12. Katniss seemingly forgetting all about him for a life with Peeta. Children?! ... Its as if book 1 never happened, and if it did, it was a lie :(

A different kind of Desire

God I want one of these. At first, I thought I couldn't get over not having "a book" in my hand. But then I thought about the creaking shelves of my bookcase, curving under the weight of so many volumes! This is the answer to my problems. I want it so much, it's appearing on both blogs. Because I crave it and because I read. So there.

Dear mr Santa, 

I have been very
very good this year...!

The final installment

*Excitement*! My copy of Mockingjay has been sent out to me today!

The Road - update

Hellooo - long time, no writing, but no new books completed yet :( I've been super busy with work and it doesn't look to be settling down for a few weeks more. However, I did find time to watch the film version of The Road.
And... It was one of the best book adaptations I have seen! Of course, it's not got the same "feel" as the book, but if you find you just can't get into the novel's style of writing the dvd is definately worth renting. Almost every event is covered and the story is mostly the same. There are a few embellishments where the book left things open to interpretation, but if you just take it as "one persons opinion" it's very good.

I'm currently trying to find time to finish Catching Fire, then I have a new Phillippa Gregory book to read. So more reviews soon I hope! Annoyingly I've not found one to moan about in a long time.... Eclipse could be calling! Haha... ...ahem.

The Road

If you ever want to feel hungry. Read this book. If you ever spend spare moments wondering how you'd survive an apocalypse. Read this book. If you've ever wanted an insight into father/son bonds. Read this book.

However, if you want a story arc. Don't read this book.

 The Road is different to any other story I've ever read. I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked it up. I'm not even sure why I picked it up as it's very much what I would consider at first glance to be a "man book". (I was wrong on that judgement by the way.) But, I did pick it up, and I was taken on a journey altogether unique in relation to what I've spent time reading before.
The journey here is emotional. A father and son find themselves surviving day to day on nothing, surrounded by nothing, with nothing to look forward to. Therefore, any story there is is very repetitive: find food, guard food, eat food tentitively.
Danger comes and goes without unnecessary confrontation. Small goals achieved are celebrated with a rare can of coke. And the ending comes as a heartbreak even though you see it coming from page 1.

I loved The Road. It is probably going down as one of my favourite books. I thought it was very real in a very unreal situation. The writing was so tense in the characterisation and emotion that I felt that I was there beside the father and son, trekking day to day hoping I would find somewhere safe to rest and perhaps something to eat. The descriptions were so good I pictured everything as if I had already seen it before. I couldn't put it down because I wanted to know what they would come across next: Whether the sick father could still protect his son from the cannibals. Whether the son would overcome his fear and naivety. Whether there really would be anything in the south...

The book was brilliant, but I don't think I would recommend it to everyone. You really have to remove yourself from any expectation of traditional story writing and see the subtle character developments as the main reason for reading. You really have to buy in to the relationship between father and son. I don't think that's necessarily for everyone, but if you're going to try, The Road is very much worth the effort!

(There is a film made of this book. I haven't seen it, but those who have say its very good and true to the book. Maybe worth a look if you're interested but don't fancy reading it!)

The Hunger Games

Only slightly put off by the "The Hunger Games is awesome" - Stephanie Meyer slapped across the front cover, I decided to finally read The Hunger Games after it was recommended to me frequently in forums.

And, wow. I'm glad I did. I really enjoyed this book and read it in 2 days. The character Katniss reminded me a lot of Will in His Dark Materials Trilogy (which, to me, is never a bad thing) and the other supporting characters were believable, flawed and engaging. I even found myself with a slight sympathy for the lecherous, alcoholic Haymitch (!)

The book is a mix of Battle Royale, Big Brother and 1984 - converted for a young adult audience. There's action, tension, romance, friendship, morals and humour. It's pretty much has everything you want from a YA novel. Though, it's also more than a little violent at times - so don't go giving it to you 10 year old sister... It is a fight to the death!

The book's vision of the future is both bleak and amusing at once. Citizens living in Capitol-controlled "Districts" are impoverished and malnourished. People die in the streets from starvation and many work beyond their bodies limitations just for whatever food they can get. Yet beyond the gates of the districts, in the Capitol itself, a media frenzied population of wild-haired, gold-skinned citizens flourish under the Captiol's wealth - but only if they continue in their obedience. It is a world Katniss, from District 12, is thrust into when she enters The Hunger Games in place of her younger sister, Prim.

The Games is an annual "last-one-standing" affair, where 2 children from each District are nominated to enter. The winner is given a life of plenty and enough food for a year for their entire District.
Designed by the Capitol to exploit power over the Districts, and as a constant reminder to deter uprising, all citizens of all districts are made to watch the gruesome televised Games start to finish.

Let the battle begin...

I'm not going to ruin the story or the outcome, because I think you should read it! - but the fact it took me 2 days to read instead of 1 is purely because I had to stop to eat, wash and stretch. (Things I learnt shouldn't be ignored only after the process of having spent 12 hours straight with Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix...)

The Hunger Games is great. So much so that as soon as I had finished the last page, I ordered it's follow-up, Catching Fire... now tempting me from the bookshelf until I finish my current read XD Thanks, forum-ers!

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Reading, Ranting and Raving!

Enjoy! x