Friday, December 24, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Only One Year by Andrea Cheng
The War to End all Wars by Russell Freedman
The Water Seeker by Kimberly Willis Holt
We ended up picking three honor books because the number of votes they got were so much higher than any of the other books. Poor Night Fairy, it only had one person vote for it (and that was me. ahem.) so when we did our second vote for honor books it was one that got removed. The other books that were removed were Farm, Keeper, and Sit In.
No one seemed too bothered by my major complaint against The War to End all Wars, which was that the author would be talking about Canadians or Australians and then mention British casualties. Which is plain *weird* if you ask me (and maybe a little offensive to people who live in those countries because they have national identities despite being part of a commonwealth). Anyhow, the discussion raised my opinion of the book, strange lumping of commonwealths aside, and in the honor vote I ended up voting for it. In my 3rd place spot, of course. heh.
The most interesting thing to me was that Water Seeker got an honor despite the fact that people seriously questioned whether it was a book for children. I am still pondering that and for the record, that is why I didn't vote for it. Loved the book, but a book about the journey to manhood as told by adult women? Also it was the only one I didn't have time to reread and that probably hurt it in my view only because it wasn't fresh in my mind.
Anyhow, it was a great discussion and I am seriously excited about our Mock Printz in two weeks.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
The APL Mock Caldecott winner:
A Sick Day for Amos McGee. By Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
Two Honor Books:
Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Tree of Kenya. By Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Kadie Nelson
Henry in Love. By Peter McCarty
Thursday, December 9, 2010
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illus. by Erin E. Stead
Oh Daddy by Bob Shea
The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers
The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
Nothing by Janne Teller
Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve
You by Charles Benoit
As Easy As Falling off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
Star Crossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce
A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
I can't help but feel this is missing something... oh well!
Monday, December 6, 2010
Well, Mr. Bacigalupi must have been listening. From A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Teacozy:
Liz B: What are you working on now? And if it’s not a sequel to SHIP BREAKER, can we hope for a sequel? What if I promise you chocolate for a sequel?
Paolo: LOL. Well, it depends what kind of chocolate we’re talking about. In all seriousness, it’s more of a companion novel rather than a sequel. It’s set in the same world, but Tool is the only character who overlaps, and the thematic focus is very different. The story is set in a place called the Drowned Cities, and focuses on a sister and brother pair who have been orphaned by war. At least, that’s what I think it’s about. We’ll see if it’s still about that when I reach the end.
Looking forward to it!
Monday, November 29, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
It was really hard to read this book and not be distracted by the art. However, I expended much effort in order to do so. I found the language to be soothing and evocative (the dirt pops, the clouds bump across the sky) and I heard the practical nature of a farmer often in sentences like, "weather can't be fixed" and how the animals on the farm are described. No anthropomorphism here.
I found the text to be distinguished. It was methodical, but beautiful nonetheless. We begin with an introduction of a farm's important parts. The sum of those parts make the farm (which is presented with small pictures and then a large spread of the farm. which I am totally ignoring at this point. ahem.). Weather is discussed, the work, the small town living, the change of the seasons and how important they are.
Could this text exist without the support of the art? Probably. Would it be as powerful? Not a chance. For me the text and the imagery are totally complementary and almost inseparable. Well, ok, you could seperate them, but why why why would you ever want to? Those pictures, the watercolor and pencil, they are the perfect balance between dreamy and unfocused and somehow still representative and realistic. They are perfection.
So as much as I love this book, I think it is better suited to a Caldecott than a Newbery.
Visit the Farm on Seven Imp.
For those who are keeping track, I'm reading this for our Mock Newbery.
Other titles in this series:
Keeper by Kathy Appelt
The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia
Book Source = Library Copy
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
None of the appeal, for me anyway, has to do with Flory being a fairy. Neither my childhood self nor my adult one ever cared for fairies. I was very much an adventure seeker in my books and this one delivers a heroine who is prickly and not all that nice, but who is resourceful and smart and willing to meet challenges more than head on.
Alison also mentioned an economy of language in this book and I think that is a really good way of summing up the writing. It is deceptively simple and is more powerful because of it. It also struck me as one that would be excellent to read aloud. It has a flow that comes from true craftsmanship. And that is really a point I want to make, this book wasn't just written it was crafted.
It will be very interesting discussing this and One Crazy Summer. Both so well written and so incredibly different from each other. Can't wait!
Book Source = Library Copy
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Will Halpin has decided to leave his deaf school and attend the local high school. It is a hard transition, but when one of his classmates is killed during a field trip to a coal mine, he and his friends may be the only possibility of finding the killer.
I loved this book! Will's voice is funny and refreshing. I do love a smart protagonist with loads of wit and sarcasm! And while Devon is definitely dorky, he is also both believable and charming. Berk even makes the school bullies more than just one-dimensional characters.
As for the mystery, it's quite entertaining. I didn't figure it out too quickly and it is realistic and well-paced. Will and Devon end up uncovering several mysteries while just trying to solve this one!
Love the references to Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Sherlock Holmes. They were tastifully used and not overbearing. The use of technology was also well-done.
I had heard about some of the deaf community issues that were brought up in the story, but it was nice to have those fleshed out a little and described by a character I really liked and understood. I brushed up on some sign language,too. Kind of made me want to learn more...
My one complaint is the cover. Seriously, no teen I know is going to want to pick this up on their own. Which is unfortunate, since they would likely enjoy it. Wish the designers would really think about these things.
As for read-alikes, definitely reminded me of Slob, King Dork and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. So, if you liked those, check this one out!
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
This will be the first year for our Caldecott discussion, our third year for Newbery and the second for Printz.
It is a great time. Hope you can join us!
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Okay, I see why people really love this book. The world-building is intriguing and well-imagined; the ethics very blurry. Nothing is truely what it seems, nor is anything black and white/good or evil. Cassia herself is both likeable and irritating at turns. And the boys, even moreso.
Monday, October 25, 2010
It features Digger, a thief who ingratiates herself with a noble family while hiding her true identity (she's a pickpocket! I have a soft spot for pickpockets, but only in stories in real life they suck) and they invite her to winter with them at their remote castle. She's thinking this is pretty fabulous as it gets her outta dodge and she'll get to rob some heavily lined pockets to boot. Only someone there knows her secret and is blackmailing her to spy on her hosts. Which is problematic, as she's starting to really like them.
There is a pretty intense political system that the author has created and it took awhile for me to understand it all, but that really might have been the wine I was drinking... In a nutshell this is a world where magic is illegal and there is an inquisition (A freakin' Inquisition!!!). There are two potential heirs and there is a rebellion brewing. Digger lands herself in the middle of all of it.
Bookshelves of doom mentioned that fans of Megan Whalen Turner would like this book. I agree wholeheartedly. I would add fans of Graceling as Digger is a phenomenally strong and interesting female protagonist.
There is action, there is a really great plot, the characters are interesting and varied, there is the potential for hot steamy romance which the author wisely chose to leave for the sequel, which for the record, I am dying to read.
Yes, you could say that I am very enthusiastic about this book.
Book Source = Publisher review copy
Saturday, October 23, 2010
The story begins with Cate as a lady in waiting to Queen Elizabeth, (who is portrayed as a rather overbearing and vain queen). Cate runs afoul of her and is sent as punishment to the colony on Roanoke Island in Virginia in 1587.
The thing to remember is that Cate isn’t an actual historical figure (the author note informs us of this), it doesn’t really matter, but I was sad that the whole set up of why Cate was sent to Virginia was completely fictional. I guess that gives the author the ability to create a character and infuse her with all the characteristics that she needs to have the story flow, but even so I was disappointed. There is a love affair that I would have relished more if it had been real (although her love interest was sort of a self-absorbed ass) and Cate is just such an interesting character that it bummed me out that she never actually existed. I mean, who wouldn’t fall in love with a female colonist that learned the language of the locals?!
Klein also invents a happy ending for the colonists (as happy as an ending can be for the survivors of starvation, attacks, sickness, general despair, etc). As their true ending is one of the great mysteries of colonial America I thought that speculating on the part of the author was fine. I even enjoyed the turn their life took and found much of it to be quite believable.
On a whole (and added to last year’s awesome Written in Bone) I’m sort of frothing at the mouth to read more about colonial America.
Book Source = Review Copy
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
This was a fun book. Gargoyles that talk, a stone dragon, a secret gateway into another world, not to mention all those dark family secrets that Lily stumbles onto.
I must admit I spent a good part of the book yelling, "your [name removed] is eeeeeeeevil! Why can't you see?!" But I'm not going to tell you if I'm right or not. Just that the suspicion was definitely there.
Spoilers=== I really liked the parallels between the magic creatures who fed off of humans and the knights who fed off the magic creature. And I was also referring to the grandfather being eeeeeeevil. I'm not sure I bought his redemption at the end. I prefer to think of him as baddun. But, you know, maybe I'll get over it someday. ====end of spoilers
Book Source: Review copy from publisher
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Anyway, here are a few of the really good books I have read recently...
The Boneshaker by Kate Milford
The town of Arcane, Missouri sits near a crossroads where strange things are known to happen and the Devil is said to walk. When a creepy medicine show comes to town, it's up to thirteen-year-old Natalie to save not just her family but the whole town. Reminiscent of Bradbury, Sterling, and King, the Boneshaker conjures a world of wonder, evil, and great strength. Natalie is a great protagonist and Milford weaves a dark mystery that is not quickly or easily resolved. It's really hard to believe that this is her first book!
I really liked the characters, especially the supporting ones. Old Tom is fascinating; at first he seems one dimensional, but as you read the story, he becomes more than you expected. Even Natalie's parents and friends (except maybe the boys) develop and change. The "villain" turns out to be much more nuanced than just a con artist or evil person who consorts with demons; you eventually discover that even he has reasonable motivations and desires.
Countdown by Deborah Wiles
In the Fall of 1962, in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Franny Chapman struggles to understand herself, her family and friends, and the whole crazy world.
The main buzz on this books seems to be about the pictures and nonfiction bits scattered throughout. Some people have found it distracting; some love the integration of information. I myself really enjoyed it. Much of the information was things I would have looked up while reading this story anyway. And I always like pictures from the time period when I am reading historical fiction. I found this device to be atmospheric, helpful, and a great tension-releaser at times.
Both The Boneshaker and Countdown have gotten Newbery buzz...
Okay, I really needed a graphic novel fix, um break. So I read this...
Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson
In Burden Hill, strange things keep happening and the only ones to notice are the dogs and cats of the neighborhood. So, of course, they are the ones who are trying to stop it. Zombies, ghosts, witches, giant killer frogs--you name it, it is coming to Burden Hill.
Beasts of Burden features a small cast of dogs and one cat, all pets, who are just doing there best to keep their neighborhood safe. Ace is the leader, a calm and resourceful husky with a small wild streak. Jack is level-headed and kind, while Rex may look large and dependable, but is actually a coward. Whitey is a bit spastic and Pugsley is the continual voice of desent and complaint, yet always seems to join in and help out. Orphan is the cat, a stray whom the dogs take in, with a rough past and an interesting set of skills and connections.
Oh, and don't miss the beautiful artwork. Full color paintings and good attention to the details of how animals move and look make the pictures a pleasure to read as well. Thompson is best known for her work in The Sandman, Scary Godmother, and Magic Trixie. Once again, her talent and sense of color shine through.
Check it out while I eagerly await the next volume!
Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien
Gaia Stone has just delivered her first baby and taken it to the city to become part of a wealthy family, when she discovers that her parents have been arrested for keeping records of births. Now she must infiltrate a structured and controlled caste society to save them or die trying. More dystopian fiction. Deals with reproductive rights and the question of the good of the one vs the good of the many.
I'll admit, it took me awhile to get into this one. It starts a bit slow, but once it picks up, it's pretty intriguing. I like that there were no easy answers, no definite good or bad, and that the characters, at least most of them, continually question themselves, their motives, and the system.
I am very eager to read the sequel.
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
I reviewed Leviathan, the predecessor to Behemoth, last year and I wasn't that sure about it. Review is here. However, on rereading (well, listening to the excellent Alan Cummings audiobook) I kind of fell in love with the whole world of it.
So when I read Behemoth, it swept me up. The crew of the Leviathan, including Deryn/Dylan and Alek and his Austrians, arrive in Constantinople (hereon referred to as Istanbul). Unfortunately, Austria-Hungary is now at war with Brittain, so the captain has effectively placed the Austrians in captivity. So they escape, or at least half do. And join in the Ottoman revolution...
The relationship between Alek and Deryn slowly develops and a couple people do discover both their secrets (well lots discover Alek's). Politics, intrigue, and lots of walker battles make this episode of the story fast-paced and full of revelations. We finally find out what is in the eggs! Not what I expected, but I love it!
Westerfeld's masterful, slow revelation of character and his fabulous fight and chase scenes make this a fun read. I got to the end and screamed with joy to find out where the crew is headed next. Can't wait a whole year for Goliath!!!!!
Friday, October 1, 2010
At the same time the narrative switches off between characters and these characters include an elderly man, a seagull, some dogs, and other important adults. That part I loved. It added sweet perspectives and some magic into a story that at its heart is about a girl coming to terms with her absent mother.
There is a lot of repetition going on in this book. Not only do we get scenes replayed, becoming fuller and longer bit by bit, but we also get phrases (“the world unto itself” is one) repeated throughout the story. Appelt is really playing with language here. Alliteration and rhythm are ever present. It gives the book a real sense of place and an identifiable style.
At the end we have a breakthrough moment where Keeper dredges up a memory of her mother that is equally heartbreaking and infuriating. We learn the truth of Keeper’s mother as well as how Keeper got her unusual name. Possible spoilers ==> what I wondered is did she really not have a name for 3 years of her life? Seriously? They just had pet names for her? I find this hard to believe. And is Keeper her real name or another pet name (and if it’s a pet name it seems like a hella weird choice). Those thoughts led me to ones on whether or not Keeper even has a birth certificate which is certainly outside the scope of this story. Anyhow, with respect to drama, Keeper’s name scores an A, it was a very dramatic scene and I choked up reading it, but it was definitely problematic for me.<== End of spoilers. In the end, I did enjoy this book. I loved the shifting perspectives, the beautiful use of language. I loved how the story was resolved for Keeper, but perhaps even more so for Dogie and Signe and for Mr. Beauchamp. Everything is tied up nicely, but it feels right. It feels like this is where they were headed from the beginning and they’ve finally caught up to where they are supposed to be.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
The thing that impressed me most about this book was Delphine’s voice (what a voice!). Delphine had me on the very first page. I loved that we got all her inner dialogue that just told it like she saw it, because when she spoke aloud her thoughts were edited so that she could protect and guide her sisters. She’s a smart girl who is super observant of her environment and even when she didn’t fully understand all the undercurrents I was always confident that she would figure it out (along with a little help from Ms. Merriam Webster of course).
I really liked how race relations were handled in this book. You’ve got black/white, shown by interactions with the white people in the airport/the hippies/the shopkeeper in San Francisco. You’ve got black/asian shown by Mean Lady Ming and Hirohito and his mom. And you’ve got black/black shown by Big Ma’s/Papa’s perspective vs. the Black Panther’s views. It made for a really rich exploration that was both subtle and respectful. And it seemed as though it was very true to the time period that it was set in. That was a very turbulent and exciting time of change and it made for an excellent backdrop.
I loved how Williams-Garcia was able to weave the political into the story. Even though this is a historical fiction, I think it is completely relevant to modern-day kids. So many of the things that Delphine took away from her summer with the Black Panthers are still completely applicable today. Communities are stronger if they organize, the system doesn’t always have everyone’s best interests in mind, you can choose to support businesses that support the community, you should be proud of your heritage, and no one is a second class citizen.
The personal was also handled wonderfully. Delphine’s family is fractured. Her mom left shortly after the youngest of the three sisters was born and even though they are fairly happy well-adjusted girls there is definitely a hole in their lives. I found the way that Celine, their mother, was written to be incredibly interesting. This is no story of a heartwarming reunion where the mother regrets leaving them, which truthfully I was sort of expecting. Instead, when the moment of resolution comes, Delphine gets an understanding of her mother’s circumstances that is different and too much to handle. I liked that it made Delphine mad, that it was obvious to her that she deserved more, while it also helped her to accept her mother and her mother’s limitations. I thought it was powerful.
In short, I loved it. Great pick for our Mock Newbery.
Book Source = Library Copy
Thursday, September 16, 2010
When I heard Francesca Lia Block wrote a middle grade/juvenile book I immediately wanted to read it. Her magic-realism LA punk fairy contemporary fantasies don't have wide appeal, but those of us who get it sure do love it.
House of Dolls is an honest to goodness sweet little book. Barbara McClintock's fabulous illustrations are a welcome and wonderful bonus. There's a whimsical French feel to her drawings which adds to the fashion fabulousity of Block's living doll house tale. The book design is enough of a reason to pick the title up and give it a whirl and the page count barely reaches 61.
Madison Blackberry is a young girl who has everything but friends and affection from her parents. She inherited a fantastic doll house that belonged to her grandmother complete with a real bonsai tree, a lake (made from an old mirror), and trunkfulls of exquisite clothes for the 3 doll inhabitants. Madison is an unhappy girl and she reflects this unhappiness on her dolls. There's happiness in the end when the adults finally take notice of our Madison (with help from the dolls and grandma) and she in turn returns that happiness back to the dolls.
Block's usual themes of unconditional love and acceptance fill the story. Young girls who would rather take fashion advice from Tavi than what the Disney Channel churns out would make likely candidates for this book.
source: checked out from my library
Monday, September 13, 2010
I thought I had written about this before, but I couldn't find my post so I must not have (edited to add: I wrote a lame haiku). I would've liked to compare my first impressions with my second read of the book. I know I really liked it the first time and I think I loved it even more when I finished it for the second time. I couldn't help but compare it to Finnikin which I just wrote about. In every way Ship Breaker put Finnikin to shame (and I say that while still liking Finnikin FYI). The writing in this is really spare and to the point and totally effective. We don't know much about the wider world where this story is set, but we don't need to. We know everything we need to know in order for this story to work, nothing extra. The violence is just as evident and in your face but somehow managed to avoid being graphic and over the top. The dialogue was totally believable and that dang slang...honestly, incredible. I think I'm going to tell people to crew up. We'll see how that goes over at the next staff meeting.
This is a future where people live on beaches making shacks out of anything they can scavenge. Category six hurricanes, or city killers, are common. People's work crews are everything. In Nailer's world you're either small enough for light crew or you better hope you're big enough to fight for a spot on heavy crew. Either way the window for work is small and you better be loyal and reliable and hard working. Trust is everything. Break a blood oath and you'll get a knife through your work tattoos marking you as an oath breaker.
There are environmental themes, this is very much a commentary on where our reliance on oil is going to lead us. Themes of class division, morals and humanity, family, loyalty, and some genetic engineering thrown in to round us out (I am dying to learn more about Tool).
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Usually I write notes as I read, for some reason though, this time I guess I was feeling lazy because I waited until the end to write anything. I'm sure we'll all suffer because of that haha.
My first thoughts were basically about how dense this story is. To take a look at the book you might not think it was too long (it clocks in at around 400 pages which is nothing to snear at) but I swear by the time you're done you'll be convinced you read at least 800 pages. If not more. This sucker reads like a multi-volume epic. I mean there is just a lot of stuff going on in this book. I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way, but I did feel a bit like I had been put through the wringer.
This is probably the grittiest YA fantasy I have ever read. Think The Road for teens if The Road had a bit less baby eatin' and a bit more rape and pestilence with a sprinkle of hope mixed in (hey, both are journeys...hahaha..er). Honestly? The book is bleak. Now is this a bad thing? I don't think so. I thought it was a great strength of the novel. This is not a book to glorify violence, nor is it a book to shy away from showing the results of violence. At times that makes it a difficult read, but perhaps more worthy for that.
The dialogue was a bit meladramatic at times, a little flowery and the characters said things that I had a hard time believing would ever come out of anyone's mouth ever. But I'll tell you what, I knew what was going to happen this time and I still couldn't put it down.
Looking over my first review I still had a major "what the what?" moment when the narration cuts unexpectedly away from Finniken to Froi for one chapter. For 239 pages we've been clearly been following Finniken. Then for one single chapter we follow Froi. Talk about jarring. That part did not get better on the second read.
All in all though, this is a real good one.
Book Source: Personal Copy
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Joanna: First impressions! I thought there would be more fighting. Although I'm usually not an epilogue person, I liked this one.
Patti: oh really? I can't say I was expecting more fighting, but I wasn't not expecting that either. And really, I thought there was a good bit of it throughout the story
Joanna: There was a bit much Peeta/Gale inner-Katniss dialogue that irked me.I guess I thought we'd see more Katniss like we did in the games. It really only came out in the 3rd part. (fighting)
Patti: What I noticed first was how damaged Katniss was. She was a different Katniss. Darker, more skeptical. I found her to be completely believable. I liked her a lot.
Joanna: PTSD for sure. I liked how she was hiding out. She is still a kid.
Patti: Yes. And how all of the victors were suffering. It was intense.
Joanna: Right. Combat wounds. Other people just don't get it. Finnick really got me.
Patti: And how there is such a large distance between them (like they really know what is up) and between the districk 12/13 ians
Patti: The difference between how Gale and Katniss see Coin. How they react to every situation. The lack of empathy Gale shows compared to the incredible empathy that Katniss shows. One is willing to kill for a point and the other knows killing doesn't lead to much other than killing (even though she's willing to do it to survive)
Joanna: Right. I really liked seeing that about Gale. I liked how he balanced out Katniss's thoughts and made her really consider what was going on. I also started to realize that he isn't the match for her. He had very valid positions (knowing your enemy's weeknesses) but he was very "ends justify the means". Like a hunter?
Patti: Good point. But i think it was also just a forest for the trees thing. What kind of new world will you have if your leader is every bit as ruthless as the old one?
Joanna: Katniss has a great line when she and gale go to see Beetee and they talk about the hummingbirds - about how we're all acting in self-defense.
Patti: And if you buy into that mentality, if the ends justify the means then you're just going to be the world's new peacekeaper
Joanna: YES. YES. That is one of my favorite points of the series. They were becoming the thing they were rebelling against. When Coin mentioned putting Capitol kids in the Hunger Games I about lost it.
Patti: There were a lot of great lines in here. I really have been disheartened at some of the reactions to the book. I thought it was strong and well written. This is exactly where Collins has been heading. War is ugly and senseless and we lose ourselves.
Joanna: District 13 is so interesting.
Patti: Oh man the "new" hunger games was ruthless.
Joanna: And being careful with power. Having the Katnisses and Peetas of the world remind us what it costs.
Patti: District 13 was fascinating. So totalitarian. Every little thing balanced and weighed out. Which for survival is good, but to continue indefinitely? What does that do to free will? When does it stop being for your own good and for someone else's climb to power.
Joanna: Someone else's form of submission. Brilliant. They did what they needed to survive and to their credit they did. But then they got freaky!
Patti: Right! They took it too far. They could have entered the world and hunted again to supplement their diet. Why not? No more creativity.
Joanna: No privacy!
Patti: Everything driven and focused on revenge. Which to a point. Yeah, they needed to get Snow out of there. But they were losing their ability to be human.
Joanna: The design team in the dungeon being tortured! Hello! So do you think Plutarch knew?
Patti: And you know, anyone who will torture (like the prep team was tortured) not people you want to lead you. Great minds!
Patti: I think Plutarch knew. I'm sure it fit into his plan somehow. I don't think there wasn't much he missed and calibrated into what would make the best T.V. He was calculating. And I think he knew Katniss well. What motivation she needed. Plus, he has probably seen way worse, maybe it didn't seem to bad to him. Or maybe he didn't know! I don't know.
Joanna: It's something to think about. It's left open. And yeah, he is a weirdo. The traps in the city - sick sick man. There's another itchy creepy little plot - staging propaganda and televising everything. What is "news."
Patti: Yes. You know what really got me? Finnick talking about how he was basically a sex slave.
Joanna: Moving on!
Patti: That kicked me in the gut.
Joanna: Finnick. I love him. But again. Back to the horrors of war. And he was a kid.
Patti: How you're a slave to the capital before, you're a slave during, and a slave after, even when you're supposed to be "safe."
Joanna: Look at what is going on in
Patti: And safe in the only way you're allowed to be. Totally.
Joanna: Exactly. Winning isn't winning. So so creepy.
Patti: All ties back into her themes. Everything.
Joanna: It made me rethink every Tribute we've met. HAYMITCH.
Patti: Yes. It explains why they were all in the rebellion for sure.
Joanna: I wish there was more of him, but I guess his story is to be guessed at. Pieced together with stories from the other champions. Almost every character is not to be trusted at one point in the book.
Patti: Yeah, I could have done with more details. I could have done with more Haymitch period. He was fun and always added interesting perspectives.
Joanna: But the trick was to figure out who was still on your side.
Patti: I found it interesting that he went back to district 12 and then just lost himself in a bottle again. No moving on for Haymitch.
Joanna: I love that he never gave up on Katniss or Peeta.
Patti: True that. He did what he had to do, but tried to make up for it when he could.
Joanna: In my imagination... he was the grumpy old man next door to Peeta and Katniss.
Joanna: Keeping some happy in there.
Patti: What did you think of Peeta's brain hijacking? There has been some discontent on that. I thought it was interesting.
Joanna: Oh, relay me the discontent. Not believable? I thought it was smart of her. I mean, Snow managed to put white roses out for Katniss. Evil knows no bounds.
Patti: I think some people thought it was convenient. Like she had to make up some sort of tension. I thought it was interesting. There is a quote on p. 232 that I loved. Basically they meet and talk and he dismisses her coldly and says, "you're a piece of work, aren't you." and she is PISSED. Angry and hatefull and she says. "It's almost too mortifying to admit. All those months of taking it for granted that Peeta thought I was wonderful are over. Finally, he can see me for who I really am. Violent. Distrustful. Manipulative. Deadly. And I hate him for it." Wowzer! Because she is all those things, she's been forced to become all those things. But in fact she has kept her humanity so that it isn't all that she is. I thought it was a real definative turning point in the story. She is going to EFF things up.
Joanna: I liked that it wasn't a hugs and kisses reunion. Peeta's been borderline cheesy when it comes to Katniss in the past. I liked that their reunion was violent and he had to relearn about her by remembering those things the capitol could not take from him. So much tension! When he went on the mission. Comedy when he went to eat dinner
Patti: Yes yes yes. He really is. And honestly, that gets old and pathetic. So I enjoyed him more in this one that I have before. Much more dynamic, more nuanced.
Joanna: And clearly effed up. He didn't seem as traumatized at Katniss after book 1 and 2. (He made Finnick and Annie's cake! Hilarious. And adorable.)
Patti: Totally. That was one of my favorite part. How damaged everyone is. So realistic. And like you said, how Collins manages to add in the humor. It was brilliant.
Joanna: There were an number of times that I had to remember that Katniss and Peeta are still teenagers.
Patti: So if we must touch on Team Peeta and Team Gale (and I think we must...lol), now seems like a good time to do it.
Joanna: Drum roll....
Patti: Ha! I think that portion also pissed off a lot of readers... you know the ones that were cracked in the head and thought this was some sort of Twilighty love story. It wasn't really a happy ending. It was an ending with moments, glimpses of happiness
Joanna: And total utter heartbreak. Epic heartbreak.
Patti: Epic. Unending.
Joanna: I was happy she was with Peeta because I realized that Gale is not her choice. Honestly, going in I really didn't have an opinion about either.
Patti: Me neither, and I really didn't think it was the point of the story. I think I agree with you that in this book we got more of it, and i wonder if it was just that Katniss had more downtime to think about it in her wanderings. I mean, she is like 16/17. Why does she need to have things figured out. How many people find their forever friend at that age?
Joanna: The saddest part about the ending for me was Katniss's mom (name?) distancing herself from her daughter. Broke. My. Heart.
Patti: You know, I didn't read it like that. I thought she just needed time. But I think you're right.
Joanna: Right, but it is a teen novel.
Patti: Oh! and that about Prim dying. Many people thought it was gratuitous.
Joanna: Everybody died.
Patti: I thought it was senseless and made sense. War = senseless.
Joanna: You can't like one character in her novels without the thought that he/she will get offed in some horrific way. Melting skin? Torn apart by zombie reptiles? Dart in the eye?
Patti: Redunculous violence.
Joanna: Again. Finnick.
Patti: Poor Finnick.
Joanna: I do admit, and we have to discuss it, the parachute disaster was a lot for her to ask of us readers.
Patti: Parachute disaster?
Joanna: The children at the capitol.
Patti: OOOOHHHHHHH right.
Joanna: Plutarch and Gale and Beetee's involvement.
Patti: What did you think? That it was the rebels? I thought it was strongly implied.
Joanna: And that creepy encounter with Snow when it comes to us that holy crap everyone is insane. Doesn't Gale apologize to her in the epilogue?
Patti: (and that he laughed/choked himself to death on his blood...sick)
Joanna: Yeah, but he didn't get the end of Katniss's arrow!
Patti: Gale did apologize, but it was a "we'll never know for sure." bullstein type of apology.
Joanna: Keeps you thinking. Mark of a great story.
Patti: Honestly, I loved it. I thought it showed once again, that just because you're fighting against an evil, doesn't automatically give you the moral high ground. It is your actions and most importantly how you treat your enemies that does that. And I totally thought Coin did it inspired by Gale's weapon. And I don't think that is really why Gale and Katniss didn't stay "friends" or whatever. I thought it was Gale's lack of empathy. I think if he felt remorse it could have been different.
Joanna: Agreed. Gale and Katniss aren't the same people they were before. It's okay.
Patti: Totally ok. Did you think the parachute was over the top? too much?
Joanna: Honestly. Yes. And that it was children. Ugh.
Patti: Ha! And that might be why i was the opposite. I thought it was a fitting conclusion to Plutarch's last hunger games.
Joanna: Oh. Interesting.'
Patti: Why kill just 24 when you can kill a whole bunch more. And film it all for posterity.
Joanna: I was kind of sad Plutarch made it alive.
Patti: Yeah, his type should die. BOGGS!
Patti: Oh I loved Boggs. That was sadness tripled.
Joanna: Interesting guy. Made me think that knowing Katniss turned his thoughts. Or more likely got him to think about 13. And Coin.
Patti: A brand new District 13 ally. I think she did, but there was probably some seeds there before. Not everyone can drink the koolaid.
Joanna: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
Patti: So what do you think? Where would you rate it between the three books? Best? Worst?
Joanna: Oh, I'm terrible at that. Er. I think it's hard to top 1.
Patti: The first is probably the best, or else none of us would have kept reading. But I thought it was probably one of the most powerful series closers that I have ever read.
Joanna: I was so grateful that it wasn't an 800 page ramble fest like Deathly Hallows. Cram it all in!
Patti: I thought it might have been even more breathless than the first. For one we get answers. Lots of tying up of plot points.
Joanna: But mysteries are what is great about the first one.
Patti: You know, I'm just going to say it I thought it was the strongest written of the three. The first was breathless and had me freaking out and I loved it, but this ending was so satisfying to me. She stayed totally true to the series, characters, everything. I loved it. Possibly even more than the Monsters of Men finale to the Chaos Walking Series.
Joanna: Oh! Strong words! It's very satisfying.
Patti: I know. My one complaint about Monsters of Men was the Mayor. He lived WAAAAYYYYY too long. It bored me a little. Just kill the MF already.
Joanna: As I read I always try to figure out what could happen and with these books it is almost impossible. She consistently pulls the rug out from under the reader.
Patti: Yes. Her plotting is impeccable. But I really do think her writing got stronger too.
Joanna: Agreed. You can't eff up this idea with lousy writing. Too important.
Patti: Maybe I could have dealt with a little less Katniss self reflection on her responsibility for so many people's deaths. Yes, Katniss I get it. But then I just remind myself that this entire series took place in like less than 2 years time. That is not a lot of time to process things. Not for an adult and especially not for a 16/17 year old kid.
Joanna: It also sets you up because there are way more deaths on the way. How is she going to handle that. When she was walking through District 12 at the beginning and saying "I killed you" to the bodies, that was brutal. But yeah, yeah she had a part in it.
The part where the conversation turns to about other books....
Patti: Now for the finale to Skin Hunger... That is the only other series I'm anxiously awaiting a final book on. You?
Joanna: Interesting to make the connection between the two. And we will have to wait about 3 more years, right?
Patti: Probably. I hope not. But probably seeing as how she didn't seem to have the book plotted out. That was wild to find out.
Joanna: But she is good so one of those that will be worth the wait. Just hope that it doesn't become one of those "whoops, it's actually FOUR books!" and then that's a sign that it will stink.
Joanna: Speaking of reading, I finally read Graceling. It was weird to read Katniss and Katsa next to each other. Both worried about being monsters.
Patti: Did you like?
Joanna: Yes. I'm curious about Fire. I'll have to get to that but my next book is Finnikin of the Rock. Went to get Ship Breaker but the librarian couldn't locate it in the library! Somebody stole it!
Patti: Alright, well it was lovely chatting with you!
Joanna: Yay! It was fun!