Genre: YA Literature/Dystopia
Summary (off Goodreads): In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
So, I'm not going to go into a lot of detail with this, mainly because this is the second time I've read this book. If you want to see a full review (with spoilers) you can go view it here. I just want to say a few things about the reread of this book. I read this book just over a year ago, so not that long ago. I still remember all the characters, all the major plot points and even more than a few of the details of the book. Going into this book, there were a lot of surprises. The only reason I was rereading was because I wanted to finish the series and so I was giving myself a refresher of the first book so I could read the next two.
That being said, I think I read this book faster than I did the first time. I couldn't put it down for a second. And it certainly wasn't because I wanted to know what happened; I already knew all that. This time, my interest in the book completely had to do with Collins and how she wrote, the way she wrote and how she told the story. The fact that on a reread, one that was doing nothing but reminding me of a few minor details, I could still be completely engrossed and eat through this story in a day (that's all it took) I think speaks volumes to this author.
Title: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Genre: YA Literature/Dystopia
Summary (off Goodreads): Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark won the annual competition described in Hunger Games, but the aftermath leaves these victors with no sense of triumph. Instead, they have become the poster children for a rebellion that they never planned to lead. That new, unwanted status puts them in the bull's-eye for merciless revenge by The Capitol...
Suzanne Collins does it again. She gives me a book that I literally can't put down and on top of that manages to wring every emotion out of me along the way. The woman is pure genius.
Katniss is back home, free from the games, or so she thinks. She's required to go on a victory tour, basically something thought up by the capitol to rub it in all the districts' faces that their children have to die. Katniss hates it, Peeta hates it and so do just about all the districts (except for maybe the careers.) The only difference is that there have been uprisings in many of the districts. And Katniss has been threatened by President Snow to help keep them down.
Collins gives us a more heartbreaking story because so much is put on Katiniss's shoulders. She has to keep down a rebellion but at the same time, so many people are expecting her to start one. Peeta hasn't talked to her since they came home and neither has Gale. She's lost her friends in a time when she so desperately needs them the most. And honestly, they're looking to her for a relationship, for love when all she wants is their friendships, their companionship. In some ways I really hate Gale and Peeta because Katniss has no desire to marry, to be in love, to start a family and it's almost like their forcing her one way or the other. But at the same time, you just want Katniss to wake up and realize that maybe, just maybe, life with these two isn't just friendship.
When you find out Katniss is going back into the games, I felt my chest constrict. My worst fear in the world is spiders. If someone told me that they were going to lock me in a room full of spiders for weeks on end, I still don't think that I could have felt as horrible has Katniss did when she found out that she had to go back into the arena. Not only that, she had to go back in with people she knew. Inevitably, she ended up caring about people.
These games were a hundred times worse than the last to watch. You loved almost every single person in there. They were all people you grew to care about and want to win and you knew that, inevitably, they were all going to have to die because that's how the game is played.
The one thing I DIDN'T like about this book was that it was a lot more predictable than the last one. As in, I knew that everyone was fighting to protect Peeta and Katniss. I knew there was a whole plot going on that they weren't telling her about. I knew that, somehow, they were going to get a lot of them out of there. I knew that Peeta wasn't going to be ok (and, ok he didn't die like I thought, but he might be, we don't really know.) There was a lot that didn't surprise me in this book.
However, there was a lot that did. I wasn't expecting Katniss back in that arena. I didn't expect that Haymitch was behind a rebellion or that District 13 still existed (though I DID catch that the head of the games was behind the rebellion. THAT was made too obvious.) I wasn't expecting so many of Katniss's choices to be taken away, from her marriage to Peeta (which she realizes she can't escape), to her being the symbol of the rebellion, to the fact that there were just SO MANY who were fighting for that rebellion.
This was a wonderful second installment to the series. Sometimes I worry about things being repetative and, even though it could have gone there, even with Katniss back at the games, it had such a different tone to it, such a different feel, that I didn't get those repetative feelings that I usually do. I think Collins has done a wonderful job bringing us this second book and I, personally, can't wait to sink my teeth into the third.
Title: Excuse me, My Brains have Stepped Out by Pandora Poikilos
Summary: Anya Michaels is having the time of her life. She has the man of her dreams by her side. She has graduated at the top of her class. She has the job others were lining up for. Between late night drinks at her favourite bar and fancy dinners at the most expensive restaurants, she has a string of adoring friends.
Everything changes when she hears the dreaded words, "You are sick." Being diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder, her world starts to fall apart, one piece at a time. Now dumped, her four year relationship is nothing but a memory filled with pictures, thoughts and a very broken heart. Her job becomes an even further challenge as she tries to hide her condition. Her friends suddenly have more important things to do, what is a party without a party girl? Perfect could not crumble any faster. Soon, caught between situations, people and pieces of life that she never dreamed of planning for herself, Anya begins to wonder if her brain condition is all that bad. As she absorbs the changes in her life and realization sets in, she begins to wonder if she is the only one saying: Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out.
I really should have known this book wasn't going to be good when I had figured out the big "surprise" by page three. When I originally downloaded this book I thought I was going to get this really heart-wrenching story about a woman dealing with her brain disease. Instead, I got a woman giving her condescending thoughts to the world.
Really,I didn't have THAT much of a problem with it at first. Anya is diagnosed with a brain disease. So, she starts writing letters to her dad about all the things she can't stand about the world.
Now, some of them are perfectly valid. The boyfriend who cheats on you or the significant other who abuses you or how because you have a incurable disease, you're treated different including losing your job over and over, being betrayed by "friends" and having people spread misconceptions about you. There's even one point where she mentions that she has a hard time showing sympathy for people who complain about headaches because of the excrutiating pain she suffers from her brain condition (something I really related to because I constantly suffer from severe, crippling migraines. I can't stand when people complain of their pansy headaches and THEN refuse to even take any medicine.)
But then she complains about things that really just seem like her, well, complaining and not imparting any sort of words of wisdom on anyone. Like one story is about how people should be controlling their kids in public. Honestly? You don't know the situation or what's happen and she basically takes on this idea that there should be no kids at all in public places. She also talks about the person who sits there and tells you about all this advice they have for you and how you could be doing things better, which I think is just an ironic thing to talk about because, for all intents and purposes, that's exactly what's going on in this book.
The other HUGE thing that annoyed me was that the big surprise for this book was that the father that Anya was writing to the whole book was not alive. He had died when she was three. Well, guess what? I wasn't surprised. I had figured it out in about the second letter that she had written to her dad and the more she wrote, the more painfully obvious it became that he was no longer living.
The only thing that kind of surprised me was that, in the end, Anya died but I came to dislike her so much that I didn't really care. And the other thing is that I don't really know what caused her death. Did she die of old age, her disease, what? When I find out she's dead I kind of don't care and I have no emotional response to it.
The other thing I have a huge problem with is that Anya tells us that she lost her father when she was three. Three! I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I remember very little from when I was three years old. I have a hard time believing that she had this crazy strong relationship with her father that she only knew for three years!
Overall, I was not impressed. I thought I was going to see a woman dealing with her disease, dealing with how her life was changing around her. Instead I got a woman bitching about all the things in life that she didn't like.
Currently Reading: Mokingjay by Suzanne Collins and Flirtin' With the Monster: Your Favorite Authors on Ellen Hopkin's Crank and Glass by Ellen Hopkins
You can read this and all my other reviews at im_writing and my Goodreads account.