Thursday, September 22, 2011

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins:
The Hunger games trilogy is another set of "dystopian future" books which, at times, reminded me of Ender's Game with more believable characterizations. In this future, the populations of the once rebellious Districts must send two children to compete in a yearly Survivor-like game, a game which the authoritarian Capitol broadcasts for the entertainment of its pamepered elite.

The hardest part of writing good science fiction or fantasy is to introduce the world of the story without obviously introducing it. The setting is conveyed here very naturally with a minimum of exposition, although the flashbacks occasionally last a little too long. The main characters are believable and sympathetic and kept me reading quickly to the end. There's a fair amount of violence for a teen series, but it doesn't feel gratuitous at all.

Final Grade: B

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins:
I'm a fan of any series where the plot deepens rather than broadens as the series progresses (for example, the Empire series by Janny Wurts versus the Matrix movies which really had nothing to add after the first movie). Collins enriches the backdrop she introduced in the previous book, and this book really gives a good context to the struggles of the main characters. The setting of the last third of the book is a little too convenient, but I still couldn't put it down.

Final Grade: B

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins:
The final book definitely stumbles, but provides a logical and consistent ending to the series (although it might not be the ending people want or expect). I feel like this book could have been trimmed a bit, since it's the only one that dragged, and it suffers from a few too many supporting characters that are never fleshed out enough to remember. I also felt like something was off during the pacing of the last sections of the book -- it felt jumpy and disjunct, not unlike trying to drive on the I-495 in Virginia between Great Falls and Springfield.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed the series overall, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys this kind of story.

Final Grade: C+

Gunmen dump 35 bodies on busy avenue in Mexico
Kindergartner brings mother's crack pipe to show and tell
French boy finds 30-year-old human fingers in jar

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