Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Suzanne Collins”

Idgiepug’s CBR#4 Reviews #53-57: The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins

I picked up the first book of Suzanne Collins’ Underland Chronicles series to see if it would be good for my son.  My husband and I sometimes struggle to find him good, engaging books that are at his reading level but that don’t contain material or ideas that are too mature for him.  I read The Hunger Games trilogy a couple of years ago and loved it, but it’s too violent and dark for the little guy, so I thought I’d try this series.  I’ll admit upfront here that I fell for these novels completely and became almost obsessed with them, even sending my husband out to the library to pick up the next book in the series as I finished one of them.  I don’t like to judge books this way, but I think I liked this series even better than the The Hunger Games.

The main character of these books is Gregor, a regular kid who finds a secret underground city called Regalia where he is considered the “warrior” named in several prophecies by the founder of Regalia.  In each novel of the series, Gregor returns to Regalia to fulfill yet another prophecy.  Each adventure in the Underland leaves Gregor mentally scarred and grief-stricken for those friends and comrades he loses along the way.  He cares about the Regalians, especially Luna, the young queen, but he is also concerned about his mother who suffers terribly whenever he disappears into the Underland.  Of course, Gregor continues helping the Regalians, but the final book delves more deeply into the choices both he and other characters have to make and examines the consequences of their decisions in a much more serious way than the previous novels of the series.  In the end, Collins manages to bring the fantasy series to a believable and satisfying conclusion without falling into the trap of “happily ever after.”

I’d heard good reviews of this series, but I was still surprised by how quickly these novels drew me into Gregor’s world.  I felt as though I couldn’t put them down until I’d finished them all.  There are many similarities between these novels and Collins’ more famous trilogy, especially the themes of children being sacrificed by their elders and the horrors of war, but these books are geared for younger readers and therefore are not quite as dark.  My son, hearing that there were giant rats and cockroaches featured throughout the novels, was a bit hesitant to try them, but I think he will love them in a couple of years when he gets over his fear.  I would highly recommend them to young readers who are old enough not to have rat-filled nightmares and older people who want a quick and exciting adventure series to read

 

loopyker’s #CBR4 Review #11: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games coverI had this review ready to publish last week, but after the recent tragic news about the Newtown shootings in the US I took some time to rethink it. I don’t think that event changes my feelings about about my review below. I feel that despite the violence in the book, The Hunger Games is more relevant to our current-day reality TV and our culture of competition and voyeurism than to school shootings or violence against children specifically. But the media attention around such events has haunting similarities.

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I finally got on the bandwagon and had my first experience with The Hunger Games. I listened to Book 1 as an audiobook. Prior to that I had managed to avoid most of the hype. I didn’t want to ruin it for myself if I ever did read the book or watch the movie. I hadn’t heard of the book until the movie came out, but several friends had, and loved both the books and the movie, so I was curious but the general description of children having to fight to the death just created Lord of the Flies flashbacks, so I wasn’t seriously interested. I absolutely hated Lord of the Flies reading it in class in early high school. I reread it once later to see if I had a different opinion as an adult. I didn’t.

I’m very happy to say that The Hunger Games was a completely different experience. I’m not sure if it was because the viewpoint for The Hunger Games was a girl vs the boys in The Lord of the Flies, or maybe it was because there was a much better back story for the characters leading up to the fighting so that you cared about them a lot more. I have no intention of re-reading The Lord of the Flies for a more direct comparison. Although, now that I’m thinking about it, I think that what stuck with me in The Lord of the Flies was the cruelness of the children, whereas in The Hunger Games is it is the compassionate moments that stay with you afterwards. I much prefer the latter.

The Hunger Games is told from the point of view of a 17 year old girl, Katnis. She has been the head of her family since her father died when she was 11 years old and her mother went into a depression. They live in a poor, post-apocalyptic North American, coal mining community called District 12. Districts 1 thru 12 each specialize in a different industry and are controlled by The Capitol, mainly through keeping them in extreme poverty.

Read the rest of the review at Loopy Ker’s Life

Alli’s #CBR4 Reviews 40 + 41: Catching Fire + Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

So I have been unable to complete these reviews for a few reasons, I am going through a rough time personally and I just haven’t been able to get them typed up so I decided to combine them into one and just say a few things about how I felt about these two books.

I think most people have either read these books or if they haven’t then they shouldn’t read reviews since I don’t like spoilers. But to each his own so if you want to read on then you might get spoiled. I am not going to do a plot summary or anything but as I type on who knows what will come out.

I really enjoyed both of these books. One of the best parts was being able to share my excitement with my coworker who lent me the last book. These books won’t change your life, but they were sure entertaining to me. I am looking forward to seeing the movie versions as well.

Read the rest on my blog

hairlikecutgrass’s #CBR4 Reviews #3-4: Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I am woefully behind in reviews (though only a tiny bit behind in reading, thank god) so here are a couple short reviews to catch up.

Book #3: Catching Fire

Second verse, same as the first!

Catching Fire takes you into Katniss’ life, a few months after the hunger games have ended. The consequences of her actions have had a ripple effect and Katniss can’t relax into her victor’s lifestyle. Unrest is brewing in the districts and it comes to a head on her “victory tour” that she’s forced to go on.

This book starts out a little slower than the last, but once the action begins again, it’s another fun and quick read. I felt like Catching Fire was less “about” anything than The Hunger Games was. It’s mostly action, adventure and even a bit of mystery. Katniss has to figure out who to trust and how to survive the precarious situations she finds herself in.

I liked Catching Fire just as much, or maybe even a little bit more as I did The Hunger Games. Since it is such a quick read, I feel like I can’t even talk about the quality of the writing. I was just trying to get through it, anxious to see what would happen next. It’s not so disposable that I wouldn’t want to read it again, though. In fact, I plan to read the whole series again once I’m done with this year’s book goal, just to see how well it holds up.

Book 4: Mockingjay

I enjoyed this book, but man, did it make me mad.

I threw a book once. I had never read a Jodi Picoult book before and haven’t since, but I threw My Sister’s Keeper across the room and threatened to drop it off a balcony. I didn’t, though. I wanted someone else to read it and share in my rage, because I guess I’m awful. That’s only a fraction of what I felt after finishing Mockingjay, but I did slam the book shut with a “fucking seriously?” once I was done. Thankfully, I was in the room with someone else who’d already read it and could commiserate.

MILD SPOILERS AHEAD

Katniss, by the time of this book, is a shell-shocked, more traumatized version of herself. She is violent and broken by the things she’s seen and done. It makes complete sense for her to be that way but there were times when I just wanted her to buck up, get over it and go fight something. She’s become a symbol of the revolution going on in the districts and Mockingjay centers heavily on her ability to deal with that. The book starts in the middle of what’s going on, travels back to show how things got the way they are, then moves into the present as the action finally begins. I remember feeling like it took forever to get to a place where I cared about what was going on. It wasn’t as much of a page-turner as the previous books were and because of that, I think it was easier to be annoyed by the parts I disliked. Even though I read it in a day, it felt like a slog.

Mockingjay was heavier on politics and the media than in either of the previous books, and that just wasn’t my cup of tea either. In the end, I found it to be a bit unsatisfying, but not totally unrewarding to read. I’d heard about how this book was so bad and the ending was awful, but I didn’t find that to be true. It wasn’t a book-throwing moment for me, but I wouldn’t blame anyone that disagreed.

More reviews (and other junk) at loseyourcred.

Baxlala’s #CBR4 Reviews #21 and #22: Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Can I just take a moment to echo what, oh, everyone else is saying and tell you that I AM SO BEHIND ON MY REVIEWS?

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BECAUSE I AM SO BEHIND ON MY REVIEWS. And so I’m combining two books into one review because then they’ll be done and I can cross them off of my list, and there’s nothing I love more than crossing something off of a list.

It’s actually been over a month, I think, since I finished The Hunger Games trilogy (for the second time). I reviewed The Hunger Games pretty quickly but now I’m left with reviewing Catching Fire and Mockingjay and I can’t always remember what specific things happen in what book. Like, I know the obvious stuff, but maybe not, like, character stuff. So forgive me, please, if I stick to the surface. (STANDARD.)

Spoilers ahead, BEWARE ALL WHO TRESPASS HERE.

Catching Fire picks up where The Hunger Games left off, basically. Katniss and her family are living in a fancy house now, since she was a tribute victorious (not Crucifictorious, in case you’re confused), next door to Peeta and Haymitch. Well. Peeta lives in one house and Haymitch lives in another. They don’t live together. That might make for good sitcom fodder, but it also might raise some eyebrows.

Buy the album.

ANYWAY. Katniss is supposed to be preparing for her wedding to Peeta, continuing the charade that they are in love and getting ready to live happily ever after. She is torn between Gale and Peeta, still, because feelings are hard to sort out, y’all CUT HER SOME SLACK.

Can you tell that Catching Fire is really just, like, the waiting room for Mockingjay? I don’t even care, though, it’s my favorite. Because you know why? FINNICK ODAIR.

I mean. Finnick, you guys. FINNICK.

Alright, so, back to Catching Fire. Katniss and Peeta go on tour, though all of the districts, and Katniss inadvertently starts a couple of riots, which could happen to anyone, really. President Snow had already given her a warning to stay in line (being as creepy as possible, as is his way), so really he had no choice but to mess with the upcoming Hunger Games and throw her back inside, alongside Peeta and Finnick and a bunch of other past winners.

CUE EXTREME CRAZINESS. I can’t even talk about all the shit that goes down in the arena because it would make my heart explode with feelings, but I will just say that once you finish Catching Fire, it is physically impossible to do anything other than pick up Mockingjay and read it to its finish.

Mockingjay is…well. I’m still working out my feelings.

When Mockingjay begins, we find Katniss is living in District 13. She’s mostly miserable but it’s hard to tell because it’s Katniss. She shares a compartment with her sister and mother, who both work in the hospital. The people in District 13 are really strict on account of they’ve been struggling to survive since being cut off from The Capitol.

SPEAKING of The Capitol, they are holding Peeta as their prisoner, along with Finnick’s girlfriend and Johanna Mason because President Snow is a turdbucket. Katniss finally agrees to be the Mockingjay, a political symbol to be used to propagandize the masses, which she does in exchange for Peeta, basically. Oh, and also she wants to kill President Snow because, again, giant turdbucket.

Oh, this book. I actually had to put it down toward the end (YOU know when) because I wasn’t sure I could finish. I eventually picked it back up, reread the passage in question to make sure I’d actually read correctly, and put it down again. WTF, Collins. So mean.

Anyway, blah blah blah, you should read these, duh.

GoddessofApathy’s #CBR4 Review #3, Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay is the third book in The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. If you have read the first and second books, then you are aware that Katniss Everdeen is still the main character and she has now survived two Hunger Games.  She is meant to be the mouthpiece and symbol, the real live Mockingjay, for the rebels of Panem.  Of course, she questions her involvement with the rebels. She questions her relationships–who do you trust?  But as always, she  really just wants to take care of those she loves.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the series and quickly read the second book. The third book was very disappointing to me. I know that this series  is a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world full of tragedy, heartache, and hardship, but I found myself chugging through the pages just so that I could get to the end and be done with the whole thing.  I didn’t like the weight of sadness that filled the pages, the sense of loss and absence of hope.

I know that the real world is corrupt.  I am not sure I enjoy reading about that anymore in my fiction.

On a side note, there are two positive things I got out of the whole series. One was the character of Katniss was strong-willed and independent. When she brooded, it was about something important and not something cheesy.  I love that she was the one who took care of others.  Katniss is not the most memorable female character, but she is much better than most of her contemporaries. The second positive was the literary connections  that were established to Greek mythology. I can at least focus on those merits if nothing else.

llp’s #CBR IV Review 11: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

 

Again, this series has been reviewed to death, but it is just so, so good.

narfna’s #CBR4 Review #36: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

So I pretty much almost exploded from conflicting emotions the last time I read this book. I was torn between liking/loving certain things and being SO UPSET and BETRAYED about others, and also the rational part of my brain that isn’t affected by feelings (so, the small part) realized that there was a reason for the way things turned out, but the majority of my brain was like FUCK YOU, BOOK. It was extra upsetting being so conflicted, so basically I was upset about being upset. It was just a fuckstorm of emotion*, I’m telling you. Thankfully, this time through, I was way less conflicted, and I’m glad to say I was actually able to enjoy myself.**

*I am copyrighting this phrase and am now going to use it at all times.

**You know what else is a fuckstorm of emotion? The season four finale of Doctor Who, which I spent all of Friday night watching for the millionth time, and you probably don’t care, but I don’t care that you don’t care. Watch Doctor Who, motherfuckers.

One of the reasons, probably the main reason, that I was so upset the first time through is that I was under the very wrong impression that just because this was a YA book, that meant it was going to have a YA ending. Instead, Collins goes to the dark place and she doesn’t back down. This series is a story about war and how war is always always bad and does terrible things to people, whether it’s making them into victims or unwillingly participants, or making them do awful things in the name of justice and victory. This is a story about how people in power will always, always use the people underneath them, for good or evil. Collins’ whole thing is that war makes people forget about the humanity of it all, which is what the Hunger Games was about: keeping the people of the Capitol happy like fat little sheep, providing them entertainment and dehumanizing the rebellious districts to the point where the people of those districts weren’t real. So of course, yeah: that kind of story isn’t going to have a happy ending. It’s going to have an ending that enforces all the above points, and it’s going to kick all of its characters when they’re down, maybe even after, because otherwise the spectacle of this series would end up just being as cheap and awful for us as the Hunger Games are to the characters in this book.

So yeah, all the crap that happens in this book is still awful, and it still hurt to read, but the pain was a dull one, and the betrayal I felt over what I thought Collins had done to her characters turned into this sort of awful sadness about why she had done it in the first place. Yeah, she corrupted Peeta, ruined something pure, but war ruins beautiful things. That real/not real game he and Katniss play near the end (that they inherited from Finnick and Annie)? It’s representative of that very thing, that the two of them have seen so many horrible things that they’re not even sure what’s real anymore. Just awful. And yeah, she killed Finnick for practically no reason. That journey in the sewers, that mission, it had no real purpose, and it’s only REAL consequence was the death of Prim. Yeah, she killed Prim. Prim needed to die for Katniss to realize that Coin was just as bad as Snow in her way, that Katniss’s real enemies are those who take her choices away from her, who take people’s humanity as their own possessions and use it to move them around like chess pieces, as if it were some game at stake and not real life.

And I genuinely enjoyed some stuff: Katniss assassinating Coin instead of Snow, that last scene with Buttercup (heartbreaking as it is), Katniss’s reasons for being with Peeta . . . and of course, “Well, don’t expect us to be too impressed. We just saw Finnick Odair in his underwear.” They better not cut that part out of the movie; I’ll boycott, I swear! (No, I won’t.)

[Crossposted on Goodreads.]

narfna’s #CBR4 Review #35: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

One of the things I talked about in my review of The Hunger Games was how well it held up on a second reading. Catching Fire holds up, but it doesn’t hold up nearly as well as THG, in large part because of the way Collins structured it as “the middle book.” Like a lot of middle installments, Catching Fire is designed to bridge the gap in between the beginning and the end, and it can’t really stand on its own as a story. You need to have read book one, and you will need to read book three. There isn’t a single plot thread that is introduced and resolved in this book. All of them either began in THG or will conclude in Mockingjay. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does have the effect of making Catching Fire (in retrospect for me) the least effective book in the series.

However.

That doesn’t mean I still didn’t enjoy the hell out of this book. As I noted in my shorter review upon first finishing, this series has the narrative force of a bullet train. You just cannot put it down, even if you already know what’s going to happen. So many things are clear on re-read, and it’s amazing how much plot and thematic set-up Collins pulls off in this book, setting the stage for her ending. We don’t realize it until we finish Mockingjay, but even as far back as the ending of book one, it’s clear (especially on re-read) to what extent Katniss is a just a cog in the machine, being used for other people’s ends (even the “good guys” do this to her).

In that sense, I liked Catching Fire better this time because I could see all that thematic groundwork being laid in place, and it was extremely satisfying, but I also liked it a little less for other reasons. Because I knew what was coming I was able to emotionally compartmentalize in a way that I couldn’t before, and look at the book as a whole. I really think the fact that this book can’t stand on its own is to its detriment (but just slightly). It’s all about transition and consequences, and things that can’t be resolved until the end of the series, and that’s not really something that matters the first time through, but when I stop to think about it it kind of rankles.

But those are piddly complaints, really, because some of my favorite moments in the series are in this book: Peeta and Katniss on the beach, Katniss kissing Gale on the table (so what, I like kissing eff you), Katniss and Haymitch bonding over their damaged souls, getting to look into the deeper history of the games, Peeta and Katniss cuddling (I SAID SHUT UP), the actual set up of the games, FINNICK ODAIR, etc. I also really like Katniss’s confusion, how people keep demanding things from her and she never stops questioning it.

And the cover is pretty, all red and gold. A+ for design, guys.

[Cross-posted to Goodreads]

llp’s #CBR IV Review 9: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Like everyone else, I love this book. I borrowed it from a friend so that I could read it before I saw the movie, stayed up until 2 am to finish it, and then bought the boxed set the next day so that I didn’t have to wait forever and a day for the last two to come available at the library. It’s love.

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