Novel Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I fell in love with Hunger Games (review here). It was one of the first YA novels I’d read as an adult. I followed Katniss through the first reaping and Hunger Games, then again through the Quarter Quell. I fell in love with her and the characters, as fleeting as some of their lives were. I did my best to avoid reviews of Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Yes, I looked at folks’ ratings. From what I saw, the rates were across the board. I didn’t know what to expect. 🙂 So before I begin, how about the blurb from Ms. Collins’ Website:

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

Yeah…that’s all I found, as far as a blurb. Okay. I’m going to do my best not to be snarky in this review, despite feel that way toward the book. I’ll start by saying I disliked Mockingjay as much as I loved Hunger Game. The pacing was inconsistent with long (not passages) chapters of reflection and back story with little action. Every time I thought I’d hit the beginning of the book, I’d flip to the next page and find myself trapped in more drivel. Honestly, if I hadn’t been so invested in the Hunger Games, this would have been a Did Not Finish (DNF). As it was, I just wanted to know what happened to all my favorite characters from the prior two books.

If someone were to ask me where the story began, I’d say about page 230. Then the story ended about page 350, except somehow another 40 pages got tacked to the back for some reason. Given that, I’m not really sure why Ms. Collins didn’t just add an extra 100 pages or so to Catching Fire (review here) and be done with the series. This certainly didn’t have to be a trilogy.

As far as the characters, Katniss was as drab as the storyline. She spent the entire book wallowing in self-pity as a pawn. She wasn’t the subject of Mockingjay; she was the object and did nothing to propel the story forward. I know this is an odd thing to say, but I think Mockingjay would have been better without her. Maybe if the story was told from someone’s perspective who had a little more spunk…like Buttercup, maybe.

Good thing there was a lot of hype before the release. Folks flocked to the bookstores and preordered without know any about the book other than that they liked The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. One thing for sure, I can see why the publishers didn’t release any ARCs. If reviews had gotten out prior, a lot folks would  have passed on this one. I for one feel jilted. I can honestly say, customer loyalty has waned for me. Needless to say, I spent quite a bit of time yelling at my husband about this novel.

Big breath. Now for praise. One thing Ms. Collins has going for her is she’s not afraid to kill of her characters. The good guys don’t always win, so it’s nice to see a bit of realism once in a while. On the other hand, EVERYONE important doesn’t have to die. And I have to admit, I was a bit angry at one or two of her choices. And I might have been able to get over it if the ending wasn’t so lame. Oops. I’m suppose to be in praise mode. Let’s just skip to the favorite lines.

  • Gale had two sets of bows and arrows, one hunting knife, one fishing net, and over eight hundred terrified people to feed. *By the way, I did enjoy Gale. He was willing to make some of the tough choices. No apologies. A sad kind of strength.
  • “No, I want you to rethink it and come up with the right opinion.” *Sometimes I feel like this when arguing with my husband. 🙂 Why can’t come up with the right opinions (my opinions)?
  • “This time Snow will be a player, too.”

Available at Barnes & Nobles || Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) || The Book Depository || Kobo || iTunes

Presents Make Me Happy

Even if I have to buy them myself. 🙂 I received some awesome goodies in the mail over the past couple of weeks. Yeah…I’m a bit slow on the ball. Still, let me share with you.

I’ve wanted these novels for quite some time. So, I finally decided to fulfill my wants and buy them. 🙂 Mockingjay is first on my list to conquer. I’m about 250 pages into this novel. Like I said, this post is a little late. Expect a review on it this coming Monday.

Okay. Now this isn’t my normal read. HOWEVER!!! I’m positive my mother would love it. She’s captivated by spiritual journeys. I’ll pass this on to her this weekend. I hope she loves it, cause it’ll be my turn next. So how did I get this in my greedy little hands? I was lucky enough to win this from Cuzinlogic. Thanks, LaTonya!

I’m quite fond of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. I’ve read the complete series a couple of times. Very unusual for a gal like me. Normally I’ll read a book once, and go back in the series to skim for reminders. Anyway, I won this book at Luxury Reading. It even has a built in marker. Once I finish The Great Gatsby, this definitely will replace my bathroom reading. And yes! I read in the bathroom. 🙂 Thanks, Vera!

Novel Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

As you know if you read yesterday’s review post, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins touched me. Not there, silly. No, it touched my heart. In truth, I absolutely, positively love, Love, LOVED the Hunger Games. So much in fact, that I ordered the next book in the trilogy Catching Fire almost as soon as I flipped to the last page. Then I took it one step further and forced the Hunger Games on my daughter, who also LOVED it. Now I’m pushing my mother to read it. So before I go into the second book of the Hunger Games Trilogy, the teaser from Ms. Collin’s website:

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her 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 their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

I feel the need to start by mentioning the cover. As you can see, I’ve got the cool UK cover. Thanks to the Book Depository, I got to choose which one I wanted (UK or US). Pretty cool, huh? Anyway, back to Catching Fire.

One of the things I like about the Hunger Games and now Catching Fire is the realism of children growing old before their time. Catching Fire is not a youthful book.Yes, the children are young, but they’ve faced too many trials and suffered to much to hold on to their innocence. They don’t have the typical immature thought patterns I remember as a youngster. They don’t have time to be anything but adults despite their age. It’s sad, but true, and I like the truth in it as much as it saddens me.

Catching Fire was quite different from the Hunger Games. More so than ever, the focus is on Gale and Katniss. It’s like a tragic love story which puts Romeo and Juliet to shame. Once again this book had me on the verge of tears. Not just for the situation Gale and Katniss lived but also for the people around them. No matter how much the two victors gave, no matter how perfect the gifts, I could never forget their generosity never compensated for the sacrifices and lost.

I just finished watching an episode of Nip/Tuck when Christian’s son was kidnapped, and his fiancee thought the boy was taken to be an organ donor. The presumed kidnapper realized she’d reached the low–the unthinkable. How could anyone ever go so beyond humanity to think it was okay to hurt a child? That’s the Hunger Games. That’s the Capital in the Catching Fire. I reached the end of chapter 4 and all I could think was OMG! Once I got over the shock, I realized President Snow was serious. He was taking no hostages. Any good which might have been in his little shriveled soul had caught fire and turned to ash.

I worked at a youth development center (YDC) for juvenile delinquent girls (kiddie prison really). We had 2-4 youth counselors/behavioral specialist (aka guards) per 8-16 girls. Which came to a ratio of 1:8 on the worst days and 1:2 on the best days. There was always the feeling that if the girls ever got riled enough to ban together, there would be little we (guards) could do to keep from being overwhelmed. There just wasn’t enough of us. Sometimes I think about the things which kept the girls compliant. We offered a safe environment, at least the best we could against the occasional girl who flipped for the day. They had three hot meals every day plus snacks and treats. We cared for them. Maybe not like we did our own children, but we wanted the best for them and wanted them to get on the right track. I’m not saying we were perfect, but I think the girls still knew we cared. And if they complied at least to a satisfactory level, they had the hope of leaving the YDC within a reasonable time period. A chance to experience freedom again. Until then they were prisoners with limited freedom. I wondered if we were the opposite, like the people from the Capitol, how long would the compliance last? Every last girl we had was a violent offender. It’s odd how one moment can change everything. One choice leads another to choose until it creates a snowball effect.

I didn’t see much of Gale in the first book. This book he came out to play from time to time, and I like him. He was candid and had a sense of humor. I liked it. I’d always seen Peeta as insignificant, weak even, though completely dedicated to Katniss. Gale on the other hand, I saw as a pillar…an equal to Katniss. I’m very much interested in how things will turn out in the end for them in Mockingjay.

In Hunger Games, Katniss was focused and determined to survive. In Catching Fire she was no different, but this time had an awareness of herself on a psychological level. She saw herself as selfish and self-pitying but couldn’t shake the feelings. But really, when in misery, it’s so hard to think of others, and I love that Ms. Collins brought that factor to the forefront.

For me, Catching fire was about truths. The honesty was astounding. The idea someone knew their limits and verbalized them had me in awe. And the honesty to do the brave thing for the good of others nearly broke my heart.

Take a moment to read some of my favorite lines as I dry my eyes:

  • I want to point out that twenty-two dead tributes will never recover from the games he helped create, either.
  • I looked up into those blue eyes that no amount of dramatic make-up can make truly deadly and remember how, just a year ago, I was prepared to kill him.
  • They’ve got years to eat sugar, wheras you and I…well, if we see something sweet, we bettter grab it quick.
  • My foolish, shallow, affectionate pets, with their obsessions with feathers and parties, nearly break my heart with their goodbye.
  • This is no place for a girl on fire.

Alright, I’m back.  So the UK version used the Metric System. Anyone want to tell me if the US version used the Standard version? It’s been nagging at me.

On a side note, when Catching Fire landed in my mailbox, and I dropped everything and devoured this book while my daughter watched hungrily from the side. I passed it to her and consumed it. She turned to the last page, and the scene with Stuart Townsend from “Queen of the Damned,” she sat up and said, “More.” Talk about freaky.

Available at Barnes & Nobles || Amazon || The Book Depository || Kobo || iTunes

Novel Review: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins was another book recommendation by twitter folks. This was another cover which did not perk my interest. Yet after reading Mind Games, which was another recommendation by twitter folks (review here), I was eager to jump into this novel. So, the teaser from Ms. Collin’s website:

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games.” The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When her sister is chosen by lottery, Katniss steps up to go in her place.

Now I mentioned, the Mind Games recommendation led me to reading this book. I expected urban fantasy. After the first page or so, I realized I was getting something else–young adult (YA). As I mentioned in my previous review of the Iron King (review here), YA is a new genre for me. I was a little apprehensive, but I read on, unsure of what I would get.

One thing for sure, I immediately connected with the characters. I didn’t know what the “Hunger Games” were, but by page 13, I wanted to cry for the children. They lived a hard life but made the best of it. More than that, they flourished in their own ways despite being in an environment which would break a lot of people.

When I did learn about the “Hunger Games” I was appalled. Ms. Collins brought the incomprehensible to life. This novel was high on the list at goodreads.com as one book people would like to see made into a movie. I could see why. Yet it didn’t take me long to realize I don’t want to see this made into a movie. The book was just too touching…heart-wrenching to cheapen it on the screens. I spent a lot of time blinking back tears.

I’ve heard a lot of critters say to lay off the back story. It’s a rule Ms. Collins did not follow, and I’m glad for it. Each bit of back story was a treasure, rich in a way which added depth to her characters. I savored every moment.

As for the YA aspect, I thought the novel was very age appropriate. It’s a novel I’d let my daughters read. Though there was a lot of violence, each choice had real consequences. Decisions were not made lightly, and Katness was very aware of the stakes. It broke my heart her world wasn’t one of innocence. It reminded me of the easy life I take for granted. For them, it was as if every small kindness was the greatest miracle.

Memorable lines from Hunger Games

  • Katniss: District Twelve. Where you can starve to death in safety.
  • To the everlasting credit of the people of District 12, not one person claps.
  • A Tribute: Only…I want to die as myself.
  • His rage is so extreme it might be comical — so people really do tear out their hair and beat the ground with their fists — if I didn’t know that it was aimed at me, at what I have done to him.
  • I take his hand, holding on tightly, preparing for the cameras, and dreading the moment when I finally have to let go.

This was a book I didn’t want to put down. Now I wonder if I have the heart to pick up the next.

Available at Barnes & Nobles || Amazon || The Book Depository || Kobo || iTunes