Friday, July 30, 2010

An excerpt and Reviews

Excerpt Check out Holly D.'s blog -- she is running a critique party for authors, and today a tiny sample of my work is up.

Because I recently procured a new pile of books from the library, and because I am way behind in my reviews, I am going to crank out a bevy of brief reviews for your enjoyment over the next few days. I read many of these books in July… here is what I thought of them!

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In this dystopian version of the US’s future, resources are low, life is harsh, and survival is key.

Briefest of summaries: Katniss Everdeen is selected to represent her region in the Hunger Games, a reality show where kids fight to be the last person surviving. But Katniss doesn’t think the Hunger Games are fair, she finds it hard to hate her competitors. So, she tries her best to subvert The Capitol while keeping herself alive.

What a fascinating story with a compelling plot and characters. I feel strongly that Katniss Everdeen is the coolest name ever imagined.

And it fits: she is a tough, amazing, strong, and wily girl.

I wrote in another post about my lack of satisfaction at the end of this book. With other books (like Uglies, reviewed soon), I felt a stronger sense of closure at the end of the book, even though not all the issues were solved by ANY means. I WILL read the second book, because I really enjoyed the story, but all I can think when I think about this book is: dissatisfaction.

But, you know what? I am willing to admit that this may be author intent. Katniss lives in a highly dissatisfying world. It’s not as if things are just going to become fairytale-like at the end—my frustration may be a condition of this harsh world/story.

Definitely made me wanted to re-watch The Running Man.

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd

Tiny summary: Fergus lives on the border between Northern Ireland and the South during The Troubles. He and his Uncle discover a bog child, the 2000 year old body of a sacrifice victim preserved by the bog’s tannins. Fergus begins to work with the archaeologist who studies the site, kindling a romance with her troubled teenage daughter Cora. He also struggles with his brother’s commitment to the Troubles, while grappling with the role he may play in the ongoing rebellion.

Really good book. I think what I loved most was the slow but thoughtful pace. This is a book about terrorism, sacrifice, and struggle— but told in a measured and deliberate way. Like one of the slow runs Fergus takes up the mountain. It wasn’t boring in the least, but it wasn’t a rock ‘em, sock ‘em kind of thing. It was beautifully written, and I enjoyed the way Siobhan Dowd wove in the story of Mel, the sacrifice victim. Bog people were hands down my favorite section in Archaeology classes.

On the last page I read the author bio to find out what Siobhan was writing now, only to find she’d died of cancer. How awful. I heard a radio show the other day with an expert proposing that cancer will be cured in the next 15 years. It makes learning something like this even more difficult. The world has lost a really talented writer in losing Siobhan Dowd.


  1. I had the same feeling about the hunger games. I didn't love it and it didn't make me want to read the next book. It's a good example of raising the stakes but some of the story telling was stupid.

  2. Well, if you didn't like the ending of the Hunger Games you won't like the ending of Catching Fire either.

    I loved the books, the stories are both great, but you're right about the endings. They leave you with a lot to be desired. I hope Mockingjay wraps everything up for a nice, solid ending. We'll see!

  3. I do want to read the next one... there is just such a strong level of tension sustained for the entire book. Maybe it's me-- I am a sucker for a sweet love story. Harsh dystopian realities are not my fave.


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