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Book Review #17: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

“Winning means fame and fortune. Losing means certain death. The Hunger Games have begun…

In the ruins of a  place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

May the odds be ever in your favour.”

(Warning: This review may contain spoilers to the book and series and a rant that may offend. Viewer discretion is advised.)

Just for clarification, this is my second time reading this book, first being in 2009, when I was in Grade Eight. The Hunger Games was one of those novels that stuck in my head immensely, and one I could not put down, nor could it ever prevent me from not being interested.

Katniss Everdeen is one of those strong female protagonists that you, unfortunately, don’t find every day, without possibly seeing a ‘Mary Sue’ or a perfect character/without faults. I almost thought Katniss was a ‘Mary Sue’ before I realized, she does have faults. Such as still making mistakes during the game, not knowing much about wound care, squeamishness about blood and her temper. She was kind of an Itch that starts with a B to Peeta at certain points.

Which brings me to my next point, Peeta. My first reaction to him was “Peeta, really? Packing on the puns there, huh?” (Peeta, Pita, get it?), being the baker’s son and all, I think that name was given on purpose. I first pictured him as a more pudgy kind of guy, and I have to admit, I didn’t like him at first. But he eventually grew on me, with his crush on Katniss, the way he risked being beaten for her. Although, it frustrated me that he seemed so frail and fragile during the game, even though he was wounded. Clouded and oblivious to a crush and not knowing the dangers around him. Besides my own frustrations about him, I still loved him as a character, even though it felt like he couldn’t do things for himself.

And what about Gale, you ask? Gale. Well, Gale is a toughie. But basically, my beef with him is that I didn’t really care for him. He didn’t appear much in the book, even though Katniss dwelled on him throughout her interactions with Peeta, (which kind of irked me because she can’t accept the fact that she favors Gale more than Peeta), there wasn’t enough of him in it, or true heartfelt back story to make me feel anything for him like I feel with Peeta. (Yes! I have emotional connections with fictional characters, okay?) I still accept him as important, because he played a large role in Katniss’s life.

Besides my emotional frustrations over the characters (I’m not done yet talking about them) the plot overall was solid. The author, Suzanne Collins says her inspiration to write The Hunger Games came when she was surfing channels on television and saw people competing on a reality show on one and footage from an invasion of Iraq, she says these two blended together and that’s where she got the idea of the games. This idea is amazing and powerful, the way she wrote it was perfect and made me feel an emotional connection with each character, feeling as if I was going through the twists and turns of the Hunger Games itself. Each chapter pulled you in further and further, making you want to know more about this futuristic world.

Overall, this book, while not fit for everyone, is a great read regardless of tastes. I would recommend it, purely for the sake of this good book, breaking the light and fluffy romance boundaries of YA fiction.

My Rating

Click Here for my review of Catching Fire!

Now for my rant…

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Book Review #16: Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones

“Blink, man, what were you thinking? Sneaking into the hotel for a hot breakfast-hot scraps of someone else’s breakfast, really. Couldn’t you just feel that it was a wrong place/wrong time scenario? Even before you heard the banging and saw those dudes in suits jet it out of room 1616? Now you’re not only a witness to a crime: you’re linked to it, thanks to the smartphone you were stupid enough to jack from the room.

And then there’s Caution. As in ‘Caution: Contents under pressure.’ She’s also on the run, from a skeezy drug-dealer boyfriend and from a nightmare in her past that won’t let her go. The last thing she needs right now is some skinny-ass street punk spouting crazy conspiracy theories, but something about Blink tugs at her heart-a heart she thought deserved not to feel.

Charged with suspense and intrigue, this taut novel follows two compelling characters as they forge a fated, tender partnership.”

To be honest here, I seriously could not put this book down unless there was something I had to do. The beginning although, it caught me off guard because the character’s vernacular was difficult to read at first and gave me a headache to read between the lines.

You get used to Blink’s and Caution’s mixed up style of thoughts after a while and you feel as if your following real teenagers who have spent more than a year not knowing where their next meal is coming from. Wynne-Jones captured their teenage thoughts perfectly and slipped in a few flashbacks to fill in some missing pieces to each character’s development.

This novel was an amazing and suspenseful read, and made it even better that it was set in Canada and written by a Canadian author. I thoroughly enjoyed my time reading this book, always anxious to turn the next page and to find out what becomes of the hijinks the characters get themselves mixed up in.

The use of second person for Blink’s chapters was also interesting, I guess it made you more invested in his character. In Caution’s chapters, it seemed she was mostly referred to as “She”, could it represent the loss of her identity? Maybe.

There were a few loose threads not tied up at the end (did Blink’s mother finally break it off with his abusive Stepdaddy? Did Blink ever find his father, Ginger again?), but the happy ending was enjoyable.

My Rating

Book Review #15: The Help by Kathyrn Sockett

Three ordinary women are about to take an extraordinary step…

“Aibileen is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, raising her seventeenth white child. She’s always taken orders quietly, but lately it leaves her with a bitterness she can no longer bite back. Her friend Minny has certainly never held her tongue, or held onto a job for very long, but now she’s working for a newcomer with secrets that leave her speechless. And white socialite Skeeter has just returned from college with ambition and a degree but, to her mother’s lament, no husband. Normally Skeeter would find solace in Constantine, the beloved maid who raised her, but Costantine has inexplicably disappeared.

Together, these seemingly different women join to work on a project that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town-to write, in secret, a tell-all book about what it’s really like to work as a black maid in the white homes of the south. Despite the terrible risks they will have to take, and the sometimes humorous boundaries they will have to cross, these three women unite with one intention: hope for a better day.”

If I could say only one word about this book, I would say ‘Powerful’. This book truly lives up to that word. The books starts off slow, possibly because of the introduction to the various characters and places.

It was pretty much never a dull moment in this book, whether the good or the bad happened, it always kept up the suspense of reading on. I could never pick and choose which character I favoured more than another, but I absolutely loathed Miss Hilly Hillbrook and wanted to punch her in the face.

I will compare this book to “To Kill A Mockingbird” if i have to, because this novel shows similar themes to it. Prejudice and extreme discrimination to the African American community, law enforcement who won’t hesitate to place a black person in jail, whether they committed a crime or not. This novel is just as powerful as that classic.

After a whole bunch of supernatural novels, this book was a wonderful break from it all because it was real and the story could have been non-fiction. I enjoyed the history and the plot a lot. You truly begin to root and care for the characters as the story goes on and they develop.

Overall, if you read “To Kill A Mockingbird”, you need to read this book. Even if you have not read it, you need to read this book.

My Rating

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