Book Review #35: The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

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 Matteo Alacran was not born ; he was harvested. His DNA came from El Patron, lord of a country called Opium–a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matt’s first cell split and divided inside a petri dish. Then he was placed in the womb of a cow, where he continued the miraculous from embryo to fetus to baby. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster–except for El Patron. El Patron loves Matt as he loves himself, because Matt is himself.

As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by sinister cast of characters, including El Patron’s power-hungry family, and he is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards. Escape is the only chance Matt has to survive. But escape from the Alacran Estate is no guarantee of freedom, because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn’t even expect.

This book reminded me (although I have not read it in full) a bit of The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. It is similar in many ways, although this novel was vastly different.

My initial thought when I picked up this book was that it was Dystopian. I was definitely right about that. When you first open the book, you are taken a bit slightly off-guard at the table of contents, which revealed that you were going to be reading the entire childhood of this boy. Next is a list of characters, and an Alacaran family history. In my opinion, those additions to the book didn’t really seem necessary as I could easily follow what was going on, and who the characters were.

Honestly, I really liked this book. Matt is a character that you fall in love with; he is genuinely a good person, thrust into some awful situations. You are watching this boy grow up, and it is really entertaining. I’m not going to reveal too much of what happens in this book, to keep this review spoiler-free. I will say that the twists and turns this book had were very well done, you could hardly expect them coming. The setting and secondary characters in this novel are very well developed. Nothing seemed sort of “out there” as some dystopian books have done in the past. My only gripes with this novel are that some of the excitement and tenseness dropped off about two thirds into the tome, which wasn’t by much, however it is still noticeable.

The idea of Matt as a clone, and how he was treated because of it made him into the character he is by the end of the novel. Clones were treated as less than human; as monsters. As Matt grappled with this concept, you could see his inner most confusion with the idea of what it means to be human and to have a soul.

The House of the Scorpion is a must-read for anyone who enjoys the literary struggle of the concept of humanity.

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My Rating
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Book Review #19: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

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“My name is Katniss Everdeen. Why am I not dead. I should be dead.”

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Qwell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans-except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay-no matter what the personal cost.

{Caution: May be spoilers to certain details of the book, so if you have not read the book yet, read only the first five paragraphs}

Hey everyone! Things have been crazy, school and such sucking the life out of me. But now I’m ready to make a review on this novel, now that I had a lot of time to think about it. Basically the book starts off with Katniss in the supposedly destroyed District 13. She gets involved with the rebels and things start off from their (whether bad or worse).

I found people I talked to about the novel were disappointed with it, most likely because of the ending I think. I wasn’t too thrilled about the ending myself, but I accepted what happened. But besides the ending, this book had the same intensity, maybe even more, than the first books combined.

If you were looking for a book about love triangles and Katniss having to finally choose, then you came to the wrong book. The love triangle debacle is to me, a sub-plot of a sub-plot. That’s what I love about this book. It’s no love story, it’s a pure war novel. I’ve kind of had enough of love stories (I read Romeo & Juliet for school recently), most of all love-triangle based stories (Twilight, The Vampire Diaries etc).

There was no shrinking away from the devastation of the gore and destruction. Around the corner could be imminent death. I couldn’t help but be purely shocked at certain moments.

I also thought Katniss was the way she was supposed to be. She’s still a strong character, yet she’s human and has flaws. Overall, I throughly enjoyed this novel.

My Rating

{Now, if you have not read the book, please do not continue reading}

Continue reading “Book Review #19: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins”

Book Review #18: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

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“Sparks are igniting. Flames are spreading. And the Capitol wants revenge.”

Against all odds, Katniss won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol-a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta my have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she can’t stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

(Warning, there may be small spoilers to the plot of this book. I will try to not spoil it)

Just to also note, this was my second time reading this book, yet beforehand I couldn’t remember what happened in the entirety of the book except for a few details. So, this could technically count as a first time reading of this book.

Anyways, on to the review. I thought this book was amazing, it kept me interested overall and despite the kind of shady love triangle in the description of it, it was more of a subplot. Which was awesome, and gives the male demographic more reason to read this book without all the lovey-dovey romancey stuff that gets shoved down their throats on a daily basis. This series is basically a saga of war novels.

Katniss shows time and time again that she’s a strong character, even in the face of the fact she may die once again or loved ones may die if she doesn’t truly show that she loves Peeta. She is also willing to face death for him, which is a very strong thing for her to do.

I myself found this book to be a lot more interesting, because of the whole rebellion thing starting up, the Capitol being more strict about uprisings and such and so forth. The whole Quarter Quell arena was also much more exciting than in the last both, it had more twists and turns.

The introduction of new characters also helped to give even more life into the series, which you would think things would die down after Katniss and Peeta won in the last novel. While the last novel was predictable in the games’ ending, this could be anyone’s game at this point with the introduction of new characters that we now care about.

The ending leaves us hungry for more, which as a book should. We gained more information on Gale, yet not enough to give him more depth in his childhood relationship with Katniss.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and it gave way for excitement for the next and last novel in the Hunger Games series.

I am also excited for the translation of this novel onto the movie screen in 2013, which cannot come fast enough >.<

 

Click Here for my review of Mockingjay!

My Rating

Book Review #17: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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“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 favor.”

(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 by 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…

Continue reading “Book Review #17: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins”