Review: Mockingjay

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Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I needed a little time to digest the final book in the Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy before I could write a proper review. After some speculation, I think that I’m okay with the conclusion. I didn’t love it the way I wanted to, but it was fitting in a way.

It’s a little hard to go into much detail without giving away major plot points, but I think there are some things that I can safely mention. One thing I liked, throughout the series in fact, was that nothing was ever easy. Katniss almost always needed the help of others and/or some serious luck to accomplish her goals (i.e. survive). Even then, there was almost always a price to pay.

One thing I didn’t like was how depressing the story got over time. The first novel was actually fairly uplifting, but, by the end, things were pretty bleak and depressing. Katniss is not your typical hero and she didn’t always handle difficult situations very well, which could lead to extended periods of dreariness.

However, like the first two novel, Mockingjay was short and to the point. Collins doesn’t waste her words. Her sharp, crisp writing style really sucks you in and compels you to keep reading until you are forced to tear yourself away. That was mostly still true in Mockingjay, but not quite so much as in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire.

Though I was happy with the final novel for the most part, I couldn’t give it 5 stars. The Hunger Games was a 5 star novel for me and Mockingjay simply wasn’t as good. Even though the series loses a little bit of its magic as it progresses, I would still recommend it to anyone. It is definitely a well-written, engaging story that truly captures one’s imagination.

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Review: Catching Fire

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Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Suzanne Collins is an excellent writer. Perhaps her prose is not a thing of beauty, but her still at crafting an engaging and suspenseful story is impressive.

The first novel in the series was fantastic, a harsh but exciting thrill ride. The second novel, Catching Fire, was really almost as good, but not quite.

The story picks up shortly after The Hunger Games ended and launches us right back into the fractured setting that is Katniss’ world. If anything, the stakes seem even higher in Catching Fire. The pace of the novel was breakneck, much like the first, but this time around we got to a better feel for the bigger picture, what’s going on in the other Districts.

I am really impressed with the world that Collins had built. The inhabitants are so desperate; the politicians are so corrupt; and the overall situation is so completely dire.

What I didn’t love was the ending. I’m not going to given anything away, but I will say that there wasn’t a tidy conclusion. A lot of questions were introduced in the final pages and very few were answered. It left me frustrated and I found myself poring over the pages again and again trying to find answers that weren’t there. Yes, it does leave me eager to read the next novel for sure, but I thought the ending was needlessly confusing.

You may think by this last paragraph that I didn’t like the book. Nothing is farther from the truth. I rant because I liked the novel so much, because I care about the characters and what happens to the them. I did reduce my rating from a 5 to a 4 because of the end, but it won’t stop me from reading the final installment or recommending the series to anyone.

Now, go read the darn book if you haven’t already.

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What I Read in 2010

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2010 was a good year for reading. I stumbled upon some great series and continued reading some others that I have enjoyed for years. I even found time to read a classic or two that I’ve had on my list for a quite awhile.

In the end, I read 17 novels and 6 graphic novels in 2010. That’s one novel (and six graphic novels) over 2009. Those 23 novels totaled 9301 words, compared to 2009’s 6939. You can see even more stats at goodreads.com.

So I think I can be happy with the amount I read, but even more so, I’m happy with the quality. I ended up ranking everything I read between 3 and 5 stars, with 5 claiming the greatest number of novels. Here’s the breakdown:

3 Stars

  1. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
  2. The Dispossed: An Ambiguous Utopia by Ursula K. Le Guin
  3. God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert

4 Stars

  1. Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer
  2. The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan
  3. Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind
  4. Cursor’s Fury by Jim Butcher
  5. Captain’s Fury by Jim Butcher
  6. Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb
  7. Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb
  8. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow
  9. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

5 Stars

  1. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
  2. Turn Coat by Jim Butcher
  3. Changes by Jim Butcher
  4. Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley
  5. Scott Pilgrim vs The World by Bryan Lee O’Malley
  6. Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness by Bryan Lee O’Malley
  7. Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together by Bryan Lee O’Malley
  8. Scott Pilgrim vs The Universe by Bryan Lee O’Malley
  9. Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour by Bryan Lee O’Malley
  10. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
  11. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Assassin’s Apprentice

Assassin’s Apprentice is the first book in the Farseer Trilogy and I thought it was fantastic. Fitz was such an amazing character–it was impossible not to related to him on some level. I really liked the magic system as well–it was nice to see something a bit more subtle. Really excellent.

The Dresden Files

Turn Coat was great, but I was also very impressed with Changes. Just as the title suggests, Jim Butcher introduced some major plot twists in this novel, the biggest coming on the first and last pages. I won’t say more so as not to spoil, but I will say that I can’t wait to read Ghost Story, which is slated for an April release.

Scott Pilgrim

I’ve talked a lot about Scott Pilgrim on this blog. In short, I saw the movie, I loved it. Then I read the comics, I loved them too. They really spoke to the hipster inside me that I didn’t even realize was there.

Mistborn

I had been dying to read something by Brandon Sanderson for some time and this novel came to me with high acclaim. Despite all the hype, Mistborn lived up. The characters were fantastic and the magic system was so creative. I bought the whole trilogy and I can’t wait to dig into the next one.

The Hunger Games

Of the 5 stars, I really loved them all, but The Hunger Games was probably the biggest surprise. I really had no idea what I was in for–it was just so engaging; I couldn’t put it down until I was finished.

As I mentioned, I really lucked out in 2010 and read a lot of novels that I really enjoyed. I’ve already locked up several novels that I can’t wait to tear into in 2011 and I’m anticipating another great year in reading. I’m planning another blog already where I discuss what’s in store!