Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins

The longer I think about this, the more I dislike it.

I wasn't disappointed, per se, but I wasn't enthralled either. There was nothing about this book that grabbed me and wouldn't let go. Often, I was flat out bored, and sometime about the mid-point of the story, Collins started writing random fragment sentences. They were so jarring to me.

No idea if this is a spoiler or not, but I am proceeding with extreme caution:

The Hunger Games, without the games? Just not the same. I knew there was no possibility of games, but I didn't realize how much it would change the dynamic of the story and virtually remove all the excitement from it.

Bella, I mean, Katniss wasn't really herself. And how many near-death-experiences was that? She spent most of the book in the hospital.

Speaking of death, Collins hasn't been shy about killing off characters, but this seemed like overkill (ha!). And GRAPHIC. Holy cow! Extremely violent. Unnecessarily so.

End what probably wasn't at all a spoiler

So, I don't know. It sounds like I disliked the book, and I didn't. But it holds none of the allure of the first two, and I personally didn't find it a particularly satisfying ending to what was a great series. I know that the final outcome was, in a sense, pre-determined, but I think there could have been a better way to get there. Collins got a little wrapped up in finding creative ways for people to die. For the age group this is intended for, I found it too much, too harsh and frankly, too sad.

My rating: 3/5
3 unnecessarily violent ways to die out of 5 ... but that could drop at any moment

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dark Life - Kat Falls and Paper Towns - John Green

For the first 64 pages of this novel, I thought the main character was a girl. It's probably my fault ... Perhaps the author did mention it, but it was jarring when on page 64 "Ty" was referred to as "my brother." I thought his sister was making a joke. (Incidentally, it was mentioned in the dust jacket, but I don't read dust jackets.) The point of bringing that up is that if the author was successfully writing a character with a strong male voice, I think I would have picked up on it sooner. (There was a little bit of teen-grade sexual tension with Ty and this girl Gemma, and I did think it was odd that a middle-grade book would have girl on girl action, but I figured, hey -- who am I to question? LOL)

I've read a lot of teen and young adult novels, and I just didn't find this to be as successful as some of the others. I thought the world Falls creative was imaginative and fun. But a bit under-developed.

The story was totally predictable, and even though it was geared to 9-12 years old, I think even they would have figured everything out pretty quickly.

It was engaging, fast-paced, and ultimately fun. So for the age-group I think it is a good read, but I don't think adults will be clamoring for it.

3 sea creatures out of 5


What a fun book! At first it reminded me of I Love You, Beth Cooper or Sixteen Candles, but it quickly grew into so much more for me.

It was smart, funny, current, relevant.

The audio was excellent. The reader really was able to capture youth in his voice.

If it hadn't been for the ending of this book, it would have made my top 10 of the year. Though it fit into the theme of the book, I found it a little diappointing and frankly, a bit over-explained.

I'm looking forward to checking out more of Green's work.

5 nerdy teens out of 5

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Adam and Eve - Sena Jeter Naslund

(Publication Date: September 29)

From the sublime to the ridiculous - or vice versa

There aren't any spoilers in this review. If something seems like a spoiler, it's nothing that's not mentioned on the dust jacket. If you've not read the dust jacket, and don't want any spoilers, then you should probably skip this.

I really liked this book. I found it original, fast-paced, fun and filled with wonderful characters. It's a very different kind of book, and I would encourage readers to keep an open mind. This isn't an Ahab's Wife-like retelling of Adam and Eve. It's kind of a thriller, with a codex and all that implies (i.e. religious uproar). It's also a little bit fantasy, a little bit love story, a little bit science fiction even.

It could have been a 5-star read for me, but there was some ridiculousness that I just could not get past. Conveniences that hampered the story rather than helped it. At one point, I just wanted to scream at the editors and demand they explain why they hadn't insisted on fixing it.

At times I found the writing and story flow choppy, which was so unexpected for Naslund because she usually writes beautifully. However, lodged between the bumpy and convenient beginning and end there is the oasis of Eden. The fictional Eden of the book, and the oasis of gorgeous writing and story telling. (Adam eating a tangerine ... Sublime! so simple, yet so beautiful) I loved that part of the story!

I feel like this book had an agenda (a couple actually), and the agenda got in the way of it being brilliant. The potential was there.

I've read (and loved) two other books by Naslund and I thought she was sort of a prissy writer. But this book showed me she's willing to get her hands dirty, and that makes me want to read more of her work. So while this book is not perfect, it's still a really engaging, fun read.

4 of 5 sections of a tangerine

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ - Philip Pullman

3 Hours You'll Never Get Back

Let me disclaim: I have no religious affiliation whatsoever, so my dislike of this book has absolutely nothing to do with any personal feelings about the subject matter.

If you are looking for an alternative look at Jesus, look elsewhere. Might I suggest Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal?

This was terrible. Really, incredibly, indulgent. No point, no redeeming qualities, not a clever point of view. Short, lazy, boring. It's a bunch of bible passages, tweaked, a couple of theories (truth vs. history), halfheartedly shoved down your throat.

It wasn't worthy of Pullman, and it wasn't worth of publication. I'm not going to spend 2 more seconds thinking about it.

1/2 a Jesus twin out of 5