Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Catching Fire--Suzanne Colllins

Dear God, Please grant me the talent that Suzanne Collins had while writing Catching Fire.  Thanks! Amen.

Warning: Spoilers:

Collins did it again with her second book in the Hunger Games series, Catching Fire. How many twists and turns can this woman come up with?

The first time I read it, I went into it thinking, there's no way she can surprise us like she did in the Hunger Games. NOT TRUE!  There were so many surprises in Catching Fire, I couldn't keep up. From whipping Gale to the announcement of the Quarter Quell to the "pregnancy" to all the tortures in the games themselves. I could barely keep up.  No, seriously, I wanted to stay awake to read the whole thing, but since I'm not a teenager anymore and since I have children to look after, I had to keep closing the book to get some rest. (Stinkin sleep!) In my opinion, this was more of a page turner than the Hunger Games.

Side note: Think about it, Collins must have planned out these two or maybe all three books when she got the idea.  She started Hunger Games at the 74th games, leading up to the quarter quell. I love when writers have ideas like this and it just blossoms into something amazing.

Okay, enough of me blabbing about that. Let's get to the actual story... We know that tension has to increase as we step into the story.  Collins does this, not by jumping into the games again, but rather by playing up the situation in the districts. We get to see most of the districts on Katniss and Peeta's victory tour. It's here that the uprisings begin to take shape. I almost cried when Rue's district gives the sign of goodbye after the announcing Rue's four note whistle. AHH!! Then, when they get back to district 12 and new peace keepers are present..  Rules are harsh and beatings begin...with Gale.  I think I was screaming aloud at that part. Add the subtle tortures of Darius being an avox and Cinna being beaten in front of Katniss for turning her into a mockingjay in defiance of the capitol and you have and edge of your seat page turner.

It's funny, whenever there's a love triangle developing, normally, I take sides.  Here, I can't decide who she should be with. Every time she's with Gale, I want her with Gale.  Every time she's with Peeta, I want her with Peeta.  Both are upstanding men who love her and want to protect her.  And they don't fight over her like in some other book series. :)

I also loved the other characters.  Haymitch totally rocked!!!  He was awesome, and I loved the insight into his own Hunger Games. Peeta even makes the observation that Katniss is like Haymitch.  That's why he chose to help her stay alive in the first games. My second favorite character was Finnick. Probably because he has that cocky attitude, but inside he's a softy who cares for people.

My one complaint in this one was how dense Katniss seemed to be. I mean, when Mags ran into the fog, and then Johanna brought Beetee and Wiress, she should have made some connections, although the explanations in her mind made total sense.  If I were her, I'd probably be the same way: wary of everyone around me.

Her goal in this games is to save Peeta because she believes that he's the better person, which, if we're all honest, is true. He has leadership capabilities and can gather a following with his words instead of his weapons.  He's what a new country would want as a leader.  Which, by the way, is my prediction for the next book. With district 13 alive and well and the uprising already underway, I can only guess as to how Collins will sum up this series.  And based on the twists in her previous two stories, I'd probably be wrong.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Hello all. This will be a quick note.  Yes, I'm still planning on blogging Catching Fire.  I finished it weeks ago, but haven't had time to get moving on a blog post.  Bear with me.

I'm in the middle of overhauling my manuscript to resubmit to an agent as per her request.  Right now, this takes precedence. Continue to pray that God would give me wisdom as I write and especially as I make changes.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Forest of Hands and Teeth--Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and TeethZombies are the new vampire. Or so they say. I'm always intrigued by the trends in YA lit--Witches, vampires, angels, and now zombies. Whatever happened to realistic fiction?  I'm hoping there's still a demand for it because I can't write paranormal stuff.  I'm much to normal for that! :) Maybe by the time my book gets published, realistic stories will be in highest demand. 

That said, I thoroughly enjoyed The Forest of Hands and Teeth. With the feeling of M. Night Shyamalan's The Village,  Ryan's book sets itself in a secluded town surrounded by fencing. Beyond the fences live the Unconsecrated, who though dead, never fully die. They just continue to deteriorate with bones poking through fingers and skin that is torn until eventually, they lose all mobility.  No one knows what truly happens then, but it's believed that they lie on the forest floor staring at the sky for eternity, a muddled mess of rotting death.

Mary grew up in this village with a daily fear of the Unconsecrated placed in her mind by the Sisters, the religious sect of the community. After her mother's  "death," Mary is turned away by her only living relative. The man she loves has asked for the hand of another and Harry, her second choice of a husband, didn't officially ask for her hand. Therefore, her option is to live in the cathedral and become one of the Sisters. Unfortunately, she doesn't fit in with the Sisters, especially when she discovers that the Sisters are keeping secrets from the rest of the community, secrets that could cause their doom. 

Now Mary must decide if she's willing to risk life and love to follow her passion for what may not exist. Spurred by her mother's stories of their ancestors, Mary is determined to leave the village and find the ocean. No one believes her stories, not even her best friend. When the Unconsecrated breach the borders patrolled by the Guardians, she has to decide if she will fight or flee her village, thus facing the Forest of Hands and Teeth. 

I think what I liked most about this story was how quickly it moved.  I'll have to say that when I began reading, I was immediately drawn in my mind to the movie The Village. I kept thinking to myself, "I know what's going to happen in this book." Delightfully, I was wrong. (I know, I know, It doesn't happen often, but on occasion, my opinion may be skewed.) It took me down paths that seemingly led no where, but then would surprise me with just the right action. (Path pun intended.-- Read the book. You'll understand.)

I still have one question that is left  unanswered, "Why did the sisters do that to Gabrielle? Was it just to keep the secret?  Why was it so important to keep the paths a secret?  It kind of makes sense, but there's a sense that some actions taken by the sisters were unnecessary.  But then again, don't we all do things that have no reason? I know I do. 

I'm also wondering if those unanswered questions will be revealed in The Dead Tossed Waves, the companion to The Forest of Hands and Teeth. 

Sacrificing life for love is a theme that runs through the novel. Mary's seen it happen before and now has to choose for herself between love and life, even when life could mean death.  So I ask you, if the person you loved more than anything in the world became Unconsecrated, would you choose to let him/her go, or to become unconsecrated yourself just to be with him?