Tag Archives: adventure novel

The Hunger Games: What’s all the fuss about?


Pretty much anyone not living under a rock, and probably some who are, have heard the phrase “The Hunger Games”  lately.   With the movie about to release, and the merchandise going crazy (check out the display at Chapters if you doubt me), it can be a little tough to tell whether the trilogy is really worth reading, or whether it’s just Hollywood sparkle.   As someone who has actually read The Hunger Games, and, in fact, read it when it originally came out, I think I can give you a review minus the hype.

The Hunger Games was published as a teen book, but I think that it’s a good enough story that adults can enjoy it too.  This is a classic adventure novel, full of action.  There are moral quandaries, questions of ethics, but they are fuel for the drama.  The setting is a classic dystopia, a post-apocalyptic world where all wealth is centred in The Capitol, and everyone else lives in one of twelve districts, where all food and resources for The Capitol come from.  The people in the districts are little more than slaves, and their lives are short and bleak.  The one event that can change that: The Hunger Games.  Teams of two, one male and one female, chosen from each district, compete to the death in an arena full of genetically altered animals and horrific booby traps.  At the end of the games, only one person will stand.    The whole thing is televised, and winning partly depends on capturing the attention of the audience, since audience participation is encouraged, and audience members can send food and medical supplies to favored competitors.

The story follows one of the competitors from district twelve, a girl named Katniss Everdeen, and how her life is changed dramatically when she volunteers to take her younger sister’s place in the games.  The victor’s district will receive additional food supplies.  Imagine suddenly being the symbol of everyone’s hopes – especially as a teenager.

I’m not going to get into the description of the other two novels, since that will essentially act as a spoiler for the first one.

I do recommend these books.  The storyline is interesting, and offers some great visuals.  Once the story hooks you, it becomes one of those books that you drag everywhere with you, and don’t go to bed, because you  need to know what’s going to happen!  The other two books are excellent as well.   There are many debates about how the trilogy is ended, not everyone likes it, but that’s not unusual.  No one ever really wants a series they enjoyed to end, and in a story like this one, there are probably a lot of different ways people would have liked to see the story end.

Trust me, buy the trilogy, because odds are you’re not going to stop at one.   And from the number of adults snapping up mockingjay pins, I’m definitely not alone in enjoying the series.  It’s a fun read, is really what it comes down to.  Don’t read it for great literature, or thought provoking philosophy.  Read it for the book equivalent of an Indiana Jones movie, or Star Wars.  It’s a great adventure story, and well worth the purchase.  It is available on e-book, too, which is nice.

C.

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George R.R. Martin: Prima-Donna, or Overwhelmed and Overworked?

georgemartin

For those of you who read my earlier post on George R.R. Martin’s upcoming signing in Toronto,(see here )you may already be familiar with the rules outlined for the signing. For those who are not familiar, I will re-list them:

• Line-up will be first-come, first-served. Due to anticipated attendance, line-up may begin outside of Indigo Manulife Centre – Bay Street entrance ONLY. Please dress appropriately for the weather.
• George R.R. Martin will sign ONE to TWO (1-2) books maximum, depending on the number of people in line.
• No personalizations – author signature only
• No posed photography – can take photographs from the line

Some people are taking this as evidence that Martin (sorry, I got tired of writing the whole thing, plus two initials, over and over) has fallen victim to his own celebrity, and has a vastly inflated ego as a result.  That if he can’t even take time to add a name to a signature, or pose with a fan, why should the fan take time to buy his book.  And then there is that nasty rumor that he doesn’t actually care if he finishes the series, because between the books and the tv show, he’s made his money.

I admit, this was the camp I initially found myself in, thinking of all those people, including fellow employees, who will be waiting hours in line to see him, in Toronto in March (which is a potential horror in and of itself), and he can’t exert himself a little?  After the initial righteous indignation passed, though (the advantage of being out of my twenties), I thought about this a little more.

First of all, Martin is not a young guy.  See above photo.  He, too, will be there for hours, shaking innumerable hands (thanks to Bruce Campbell’s autobiography for acquainting me with what a scary process this can be), and signing innumerable autographs (think of the hand cramps!).  If he took individual photos with everyone in line, it would either mean the whole event would be waaaaaaay longer, or, more likely, that he wouldn’t be able to see as many people.  So this stuff actually is probably to increase the lowly line-waiter’s chance of a face-to-face, however brief.  Also, the day before the signing, he has a reading and Q&A at the Toronto International Film Festival (sold out).  Just so you know, these events encompass more than just the time he spends with the public.  There is much going on behind the scenes to make it all possible.    So, he is probably already exhausted.  I would be too.  I had a look at his schedule of appearances on his official site… he already has bookings for 2014.   http://georgerrmartin.com/appearances.html

Also, although it could be a be conspiratorial marketing scheme, looking at various pages of his site, including his journal, he seems to actually like (most of) his fans, and even has a soft spot for the crazy ones who name babies after his characters.  So maybe we should go easy on him, and author and fans can appreciate that the other one is setting aside time out of their schedule for them.   I, for one, think of all this as further evidence that books are definitely still relevant, or we wouldn’t be so passionate.

So thanks to you both.

C.

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Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter

I read Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, and thoroughly enjoyed it in all its ridiculousness.   So when Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter came out, I immediately snatched it up, looking forward to something in the same vein.  The plot is great – a vampire tragedy in his youth turns young Abraham Lincoln into a fanatical vampire hunter, and almost every decision he made was motivated by his desire to exterminate the race (including the civil war, who knew?).

The book is written in the format of secret diaries, but I found the writing a little plodding, a slow read despite a plot that feels like it should be racing along.  I suppose  Grahame-Smith is writing it in a form that is supposed to have the feel of a journal from that time period, but I kept waiting for it to become the book it should have been.  There were great elements, for sure, but it just did not live up to his first work, in my eyes.

There is, however, a movie on the horizon, produced by Tim Burton, so I am looking forward to a format that will hopefully make the book’s story shine.   The movie looks like a lot of fun, and features a hand to hand battle between Lincoln and a vampire on top of a moving train – this I need to see.

Here’s a link to a review/trailer:  http://entertainment.time.com/2012/02/13/tim-burton-abraham-lincoln-vampire-hunter-trailer-exclusive/

It might also be my own prejudices towards writing from that time period, which I find dense and generally annoying, so take this review with a grain of salt.   I will unequivocally recommend Pride, Prejudice and Zombies.

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Bibliophiliacs welcome!

People who love books tend to be interesting people.  Book love (or bibliophilia) can range from adoring a classic adventure novel, to devouring Harlequin, to reading only the works of Margaret Atwood, to acquiring a library of rare first editions.  It comes in many forms, and all are welcome here.

I intend to use this space to write about books I’ve read, what I loved, what I didn’t.    There may also be anecdotes from my work in the bookstore, which is never, never boring.

 

 

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