Posts tagged ‘suzannecollins’

June 29th, 2011

“You’re still reading dystopian?”

by Madeleine Rex

I can’t tell you how many times my mom’s asked me this question.

Now, my mom’s not much of a reader herself (this may be hard to believe, but she really is far too busy to read), but she does host a book club with me and forces herself to listen to my bookish jabbering. Therefore, she’s heard plenty about various dystopian societies. I can’t seem to quit leaping at dystopian novels, despite the fact that many of them are rather similar.

Why?

There’s simply something fascinating about a world that is a twisted and demented version of the one we’re living in. Even without the elements of fantasy, dystopian worlds manage to be just as fantastical, but in a more relatable way. The more connections I can make between our world and the one in the book, and the easier it is to understand the path that was taken to get from one to the other, the more mesmerizing and terrifying the dystopian world is. A few miscalculations, a few conniving people, a few natural disasters, and we’re there, living in a world even more dysfunctional than the one we’re living in now.

However, I’d have to say that the reason I haven’t had my dystopian fix is the same one that motivates me to read almost anything: characters. No matter what genre, and no matter how bland the world, a colorful cast of characters can steal my heart. All I’m really asking for is the opportunity to love a few more people – to make friends and enjoy their company. When I read, my ultimate desire is to be invested in the lives of fascinating people. Dystopian is a genre that accommodates intriguing worlds, horrific realities, and, if the book is good, characters with whom I can fall in love.

There are many irresistible dystopian novels out there, and their strengths vary. Some are written by adept and talented authors whose prose enchants me. Others are set in worlds so corrupt and abominable that I can’t help but read them and savor the horror. And the best of them are homes to people I adore.

Here are a few dystopian books that I’ve enjoyed and recommend, particularly to those that are skeptical about the value and appeal of the dystopian genre:


Divergent by Veronica Roth [5/5]


Wither by Lauren DeStefano [5/5] (Review)


Delirium by Lauren Oliver [5/5] (Review)


Matched by Ally Condie [5/5] (Review)


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins [Can I say 10/5?]


Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky [4/5] (Review)

What are you still doing here? Shouldn’t you be reading?

December 24th, 2010

Five Challenge: Series

by Madeleine Rex

First, a reminder: I’m participating in Persnickety Snark’s Five Challenge. For the remainder of the year, I’ll post 5 books daily that were the greatest in whatever category. Today’s is 5 Great Series. I love, love, love series! I’m qualifying a series if at least one of its books was published this year – not necessarily the first because that’s too complicated! The books pictured are the books in the series that came out in 2010.

Note: Pictures are linked to Goodreads pages.

1. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Book one in The Infernal Devices, a companion series to The Mortal Instruments, Clockwork Angel was much anticipated by me and my friends. We were not at all disappointed, and the wonderful historical atmosphere and steampunk themes guarantee that this is going to be a series I love.

My Review

2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

The last book in the beloved Hunger Games series! Need I say more? This was definitely, without a doubt, indubitably (+ a gazillion more synonyms) the book I most looked forward to this year. I still have mixed feelings about it, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t beautiful or that the series is one of the best I have ever, ever read.

My Review

3. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Everyone knows that I loved this book – even before I read it, really. It was pretty much love-at-first-sight-of-synopsis. Kiersten White is a fantastic lady herself, but even if she were some rascally old Grinch, Paranormalcy would shine. I cannot wait for the second book in this new series, Supernaturally.

My Review

4. The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

This is book two in the Iron Fey series, and though it wasn’t my favorite, the series overall has definitely earned my love and appreciation. The mystical world of the fey, Nevernever, stole my heart from minute one, and the characters are out-of-this-world (quite literally, actually).

My Review

5. Matched by Ally Condie

I was so thrilled to find an a finished advanced copy at PNBA (Pacific Northwest Booksellers’ Association)! It’s a dystopian, it’s unique, and it’s really great. I love the world of this book, and the ending is fantastic. I am so excited for the rest of this series!

My Review

These are all such fabulous books, but it was still hard choosing them over some others. I’ve read great series books this year!

What were your favorites?

And Happy Christmas Eve!

September 7th, 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Mockingjay

Author: Suzanne Collins

Published: August 24th, 2010

Number of Pages: 400

Rating: 5/5

Yes, I lied. You may put me in time-out, but that would entail my losing computer privileges, and you would be left waiting for the review. I’m going to pretend that sounds like a loss to you and continue writing.

I truly wasn’t going to write a review of Mockingjay. I simply couldn’t fathom how I’d be able to take my scrambled and deranged thoughts and relay them in a sane way. However, I’d forgotten that Scholastic was sending me a copy for review. So, for Scholastic’s case, a review of the third and final installment in The Hunger Games trilogy – Mockingjay.

Quote: BABY SPOILER-ALERT

“President Snow says he’s sending us a message? Well, I have one for him. You can torture us and bomb us and burn our districts to the ground, but do you see that?” One of the cameras follows as I point to the planes burning on the roof of the warehouse across from us. The Capitol seal on the wing glows clearly through the flames. “Fire is catching!” I am shouting now, determined that he will not miss a word. “And if we burn, you burn with us!”

Review:

Mind-boggling. Gripping. Horrific. Beautiful. Haunting. Magnificent. Epic. – These are all adjectives I can imagine seeing and hearing in regard to every book in The Hunger Games. Yet none seem to encompass the incredible massiveness of the appreciation many of us have for them. Each individual book blew my mind, made me shudder, and made me yearn deeply for more. They are simply astonishing.

And yet I felt, and still feel, disappointed with Mockingjay.

Not because it was bad. Not because it wasn’t wonderful. It was fantastic. However, I think we all had something we expected from this book. Not everyone of us could be satisfied entirely, and the only one who truly needed to be satisfied was Suzanne Collins. I hope and like to believe that she’s happy with and proud of this trilogy that has shaken readers around the world.

I, however, found flaws with the book (in my opinion) that dampened the experience for me.  I believe the way things played out is exactly what the ending needed to be. I am satisfied with what happened. Just not precisely with the way they happened.

For example, it seemed to me that many if not all of the most gripping and potentially-stunning parts of the novel were summarized. Why are we asleep again? Why are we blacking out? Oh, yeah, so that all the awesomeness can be relayed to us later. I was highly aggravated by the fact that so much was skimmed over (and some seemingly unimportant things were given loads of “screen time”), particularly when the parts skimmed played a huge role in the character or plot development. Many scenes were anticlimactic in this way. I was left wondering how this happened or why this happened, or what Katniss’s thoughts on the matter were. I’d missed them because, oh yeah, I’d been knocked out of the story. I was certainly frustrated at the end. Why in the world was so much of the ending summarized? How can that happen after we’ve read through three books to get there?

The summarization was my main problem with the book, but alongside that was the feeling that this book could seriously have used one hundred more pages. In fact, these issues go hand in hand. So much was happening in such quick succession and important parts were being summarized. If events had been fleshed out a bit more to clearly relate the happenings of the book and the turmoil-filled world of Panem, I would have been very pleased.

Collin’s prose has developed beautifully since The Hunger Games. In an interview I read of hers, she mentioned that descriptions – and other things aside from dialogue – were something she was still learning about. As any true HG fan knows, Collins was primarily a screen-writer. I noticed the improvement. The prose was flawless and the voice so very Katniss.

But a different kind of Katniss.

Our dear girl from the Seam with the sack of illegally shot meat? So very, very changed. Which is completely understandable. What a life she’s had the past few years. What nearly insufferable things she’s gone through. Bleakness has shadowed and hung over her since the reaping at which her sister’s name was called. It’s a grievous thing to think that someone so young should go through things that no one – at any age – could really handle. How could she remain unscathed? Impossible. And yet it’s still depressing and heart-wrenching to follow and be in the head of a Katniss that has been beaten down. With a stick, with a broom, with a  metal rod, with the force of the most powerful government in her world, she  has been whipped. And it shows. I felt so disheartened some of the time to feel the difference in her, to feel her occasional hopelessness. But I cheered for her. Every happy moment was bliss. Every good time made me ache with happiness for her. It made me glad to read of her laughing, but there was still the weight of the omnipotence of her enemies.

Aside from Katniss, the world was pretty bleak, even more so than it had been in the previous two books. Underlying all that, however, was the promise, if small, of monumental change. That promise powered through the book and kept spirits up. At multiple points (and particularly at the quote above), I jumped where I sat and felt this indescribable urge to move. To make a difference and stand beside these fictional characters fighting for a world so much better than the one they were living in. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I felt that urge to do something deeply. This book, this entire story, is inspiring.

The characters we’ve loved throughout the trilogy are put through torture – mental, physical, and emotional. Betrayal rounds every corner and heartbreak hovers overhead, but the story is beautiful. What happens to various characters, and the things some of them say, make you feel so strongly. Feel anything. And books that accomplish that are powerful.

I love The Hunger Games trilogy. I feel as though no other Young Adult series will surpass it for years. The books have shaken people. They’ve made people fall in love with characters, with story, and with messages. I firmly believe that Mockingjay is a great ending to all this wonder.

I simply wish it wasn’t ending so soon.

Thanks, Scholastic!