Friday, August 27, 2010

Review of Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

First of all, I want to talk about the cover. To the left, you see the British/Australian cover, and I'm unsure whether I like it better than the blue US edition or not. Your thoughts?

So, I want to let out all my non-sensical fangirl-type squees about this book before I write a serious review. Ahem.

Mockingjay is, in case you did not know, the final installment in the Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins. I daresay it's the most anticipated YA release of the year.
I made my sister, who goes to school in the Melbourne CBD, buy the book for me on her way home. I wanted to read this book because I like finishing series'. I wanted to read The Hunger Games, the first book in the series, because the synopsis just drags you in and FORCES you to read it.

So, The Hunger Games trilogy is set in a dystopian time period, where Northern America has after revolution become Panem, which consists of a governing Capitol, and 13 districts. Well, 12, since the 13th was obliterated when the districts tried to rebel against the tyrannic Capitol. Each year, the Capitol, on the anniversary of the rebellion, reinforces its dominance over the districts by taking one boy and one girl from each district, and pinning the 24 children against eachother in an arena, in a televised fight to the death. This event, to the citizens of the Capitol, is like us to the Olympics.
The protagonist is Katniss Everdeen, from district 12. Her sister is drawn for the Games, and Katniss volunteers herself to save her younger sister. The first book is based around her time in the arena.
Catching Fire, the next installment in the series, is about Katniss' life post-Games, and her trying to find her place again in her district. And then, on the Quarter Quell, the 75th anniversary of the rebellion, a Games is held where the participants are drawn from previous victors, and Katniss is thrust back into the arena.

Mockingjay is...heartbreaking, is the only word I can think for it. But in the best possible sense of the word. It isn't concluded cleanly and easily, but difficultly, as only to be expected.
In Mockingjay, Katniss faces less physical battles, and more emotional and psychological ones. Nothing in the rebellion is as black-and-white as it is in the arena, where the objective is simple: Survive. Be the last one standing.

From all the fan discussions I've read on Mockingjay, I've found it's pretty commonplace to hate Katniss after Mockingjay. Admittedly, she did irk me at times, but the reader needs to stop and think: who would I become in this situation? I contend that Katniss' bad decisions make her a great protagonist, a realistic one, that you could relate to, despite the entirely different circumstances she and the reader face.

I give Mockingjay a 5/5, because it makes you laugh, cry, and question frantically "where are all the other pages?!" when you reach the ending.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Review of White Cat by Holly Black

I think I'm going to make a habit of starting my reviews with why I picked up the book to start with.
So, I decided to read White Cat originally because (a) the cover art was magnificent, (b) I've read the Modern Faeries Tales by Holly already and some of her stories from The Poison Eaters and loved the whole dark vibe, and (c) because in a Mortal Instruments FAQ Cassandra Clare said that Jace would make an appearance. And I love me some Jace.
After reading White Cat, I found that I love me some Cassel, too.

White Cat is the first in the Curse Workers series. Curse Workers are people who can 'Work' you with just a touch. There are luck workers, emotion workers, and so on. Working became illegal decades ago, and nowadays Workers are underground. Cassel, the protagonist, comes from a family of Workers, but isn't one himself, and throughout the novel is somewhat left out of the loop by his family.

Things I loved about White Cat:
  • The family dynamics. Even in a fantasy world, the relationship between Cassel and the rest of his family is totally believable. I especially liked his relationships with his older brothers, and how they're stretched as he discovers his family's secrets.
  • The mysterious-ness. Since Cassel isn't privy to what's going on within his family, and we only see his perspective, for a lot of the book we don't know what's going on. This could be seen as a negative point, for some readers, but I personally loved this.
  • The open ending. Some books in other series' end happily, so the sequel has to reintroduce a new problem. White Cat is left unresolved enough for the sequel not to see forced.
Speaking of sequels, the next book in the Curse Workers series, Red Glove, comes out on the 5th of April, 2011. Conveniently, a year and a day after White Cat came out.
So, I give White Cat a 5 out of 5.

So, in the comments, have you read White Cat? What do you think about it? Are you as excited as I am to read Red Glove?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Review of Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

It's been two months since by introductory blog, and no reviews. Apologies. But I'm about to get right on it, starting with Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

Read the blurb here at goodreads. In fact, while you're there, add me as a friend!

So I'm not going to lie, I was originally hesitant to pick up Beautiful Creatures, because of a cheesy title and cheesy blurb that just made it sound like every other YA book out there.
But, I did end up picking it up, once a friend suggested it. And then I couldn't put it down.

Things I loved about Beautiful Creatures:

1. The title that I originally thought cheesy became exponetially less cheesy when the phrase came up in the prose: "Humans are such beautiful creatures." (I'm paraphrasing: I read it a while ago, and I haven't the book handy). Especially when it was juxtaposed later when another character said humans were "horrible creatures" (paraphrasing, once again).

2. When you read it, you could just tell that all the words were chosen specifically and carefully. The result of reading co-authored books. While I'm talking about authors, I want to point out that this is the first book Kami and Margaret have written, and that this is a really great debut.

3. I loved the male protagonist's point of view. Most of the books I've read in YA are from the point of view of females, and this was a refreshing change. It's also different to have the boy be the human and the girl supernatural.

4. THE SIXTEEN MOONS SONG! I can't even describe how much I love it when lyrics or poetry by the characters makes its way into the book, not just third party poetry used as a preface. The great thing about the Sixteen Moons song was how the words changed each time it was mentioned, albeit subtly.

5. I liked having their ancestors' and town's history woven in. It just furthered the believable small town setting.

I give this debut an 4 out of 5, and anxiously await the sequel, Beautiful Darkness, which is due for release on the 12th of October.