Sunday, August 29, 2010

Joanna and Patti Discuss...Mockingjay!


You've been warned! In red! That means it is a serious warning people.

Patti: Alright, so first impressions?

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

Joanna: Elaborate.

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!

Joanna: :)

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 Africa? Southeast Asia?

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.

Patti: Ha!

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, 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: LOLOL

Joanna: Right.

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!

Joanna: 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.

Patti: lol

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!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


We're reading Mockingjay. Okay, I finished at 1:30 this morning, but some are still waiting for copies to arrive. Patti and I will chat about it in a future post, but in the meantime make a comment if you have to get something out. Warning to everyone that there may be spoilers in the comments.

Scholastic video of Suzanne Collins reading the first chapter.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Waiting for Columbus by Thomas Trofimuk

A man wakes up in a Spanish insane asylum claiming he is Christopher Columbus. He has no ID, nothing to tell the staff who he really is. Consuela, the nurse assigned to him listens to his tales and writes reports all the time trying to see the truth woven into his stories. She senses that when he finishes his story that the real man hidden within will reemerge.

I really liked the premise. Columbus is obviously not Christopher Columbus. This isn't some time travel story. There are anachronistic things embedded into his tales that make it clear that Columbus is a modern man who has had something devastating happen and has had a complete dissociative break from reality. Things like cell phones or cameras or cars pop into his stories with regularity.

The author also weaves a few other narratives into this novel. We follow Consuela the nurse around as well as an Interpol agent who is trying to track Columbus down. As the novel goes on the reader begins to understand how the different narratives interact and finally the truth about Columbus is revealed. It is every bit as devastating as you might think.

My one complaint is that I think Columbus' self told story was a bit long. And there might of been a little too much about odors in it for me. I know it was supposed to be earthy and romantic, but I dunno... Also I was looking for more direct correlations between his Columbus stories and his real life and there weren't as many as I had hoped for. I guess I was expecting more of an "aha" moment where the puzzle pieces fell into place.

Book Source = ARC from staff area (book is already published)