I love reading like a Koala loves eating eucalyptus


The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins


So I have fallen behind a little bit with my posts.  Recently, I ran out of books from the library, so I decided to start rereading the Hunger Games Trilogy.  I also decided to do this so that when I watched the movie again, I would have a better base for comparison having read the books recently.  Anyways, I love The Hunger Games.  It is probably my favorite book currently.  Although I do not really hold the rest of the series in that regard.  I think as a whole series it really is a bit of a let down in the end.  Suzanne Collins sets a really high standard with the first book and the others seem to fall a little flat.

The Hunger Games is set in a dystopia where the people in the Capitol want for nothing while most of the people in the Districts are sick, starving, and struggling to get by.  The Capitol also acts in ways to continue to show their dominance over the Districts and to attempt to stem off rebellion like one that took place around 75 years earlier.  One main tool that they use in this regard is the Hunger Games.  This is an event that happens every year.  Each District is required to send two tributes, one male and one female, to the Capitol in order to battle against the other tributes in hopes of being the last person standing.  This person is then set for life and their District receives gifts until the next victor is crowned.

Obviously Katniss Everdeen ends up going to the Hunger Games after she volunteers in place of her sister.  Being from District 12 she is automatically a huge underdog.  However, her hunting prowess and the charisma of her fellow District 12 tribute, Peeta Mellark, results in them being the last two tributes standing.  Believing a rule change would save them both, Peeta and Katniss teamed up, but in the end it was two good to be true and the Capitol wants them to battle it out so there is only one victor.  Katniss pulls out poisonous nightlock berries that they intend to eat at the same time resulting in no victor.  Immediately they are stopped and both declared victors.  This is considered a small act of rebellion by some Capitol officials and Katniss needs to watch her step to protect both herself and Peeta from their wrath.

Catching Fire picks up when they are preparing for the victors tour where Katniss and Peeta will travel to each of the Districts for celebrations.  President Snow visits Katniss and informs her that she better convince everyone that she acted out of love with the nightlock berries and stem any uprisings that may be in the works.  He is mostly unsatisfied with her attempts and several uprisings begin in the Districts.

This year of the Hunger Games is the 75th which makes it a Quarter Quell which were determined when the games were established.  Quarter Quells happen every 25 years and have a special twist.  The first twist was that each District had to vote in their tributes rather than the typical reaping.  The second was that twice as many tributes would go.  This was the games that Haymitch Abernathy (Peeta and Katniss’ mentor in the games) competed in and won.  For the third Quarter Quell, the reaping uses only the pool of victors from each District.  This results in Katniss and Peeta going back into the arena.

In the end, there is a plot involving tributes, mentors, and game makers to begin a rebellion.  Ultimately, several of the tributes are able to break out of the arena.  Some are taken to safety by the rebels (Katniss and Finnick Odair) while others (Peeta and Johanna Mason) are captured by the Capitol.  This sets the scene for Mockingjay where the actual war takes place.


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Insurgent by Veronica Roth


Insurgent is the second book in the Divergent series.  I had heard that a lot of people didn’t like it, but I really enjoyed reading it.  I think it is a great follow up to the first book and really sets up a lot of options for the third book.

Once again we are following Tris as she tries to stay alive and help others stay alive.  At the end of Divergent, the Erudite use simulations to control the Dauntless and make them attack the Abnegation.  Tris works to figure out why the attack, that resulted in the death of both her parents, took place.  Tris and Tobias (aka Four) work together and sometimes against each other as they try to mend a world that has been torn apart.  Ultimately it comes down to part of Dauntless and the Erudites vs. the rest of Dauntless and the Factionless in a battle to gain control.

The Erudites are trying to weed out the Divergent because their brains are different from everyone else’s.  Divergent people are able to tell when they are in a simulation and break out of it.  This is a bad thing for the Erudite leaders who want to use simulations to control the population.  Tris is used by the Erudites to study and try to figure out the differences so that they can develop new simulations serums that will work on everyone.

Tris eventually teams up with Tobias’ father Marcus to try to acquire the data being stored by the Erudites.  Marcus knows what the information is and how important it is for the future of their world.  Tris goes with him even though she has to risk losing Tobias’ trust. They run into some troubles along the way and the Erudite leader is killed before they can threaten her into helping them.  Everything seems to being going wrong for Tris, especially when the Factionless acquire all of the weaponry and declare themselves the heads of the new government.  Right at the end though Tobias, Marcus, and Caleb (Tris’ brother) return to everyone else having just started a video clip with all the information the Erudites were trying to hide.  But we have to wait until the next book to know how things go.

Like I said earlier, I really enjoyed this book.  I liked how we got to see a little more depth to Tris with not just her Dauntless instincts, but also more of her Abnegation side plus how she is handling grief.  There is also more development of the Tris and Tobias relationship.  All and all it seems to provide a good bridge between the first book and what will potentially be the conclusion, although there’s really no way to tell until the third book comes out next year.


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Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Also from the list of series to try if you like the Hunger games was the one by Marissa Meyer, which begins with Cinder.  Going into it, I knew that this book was supposed to be a Cinderella inspired story set in the future, and obviously from the cover there would be some type of robot/mechanical type stuff.  But whatever expectations I developed from that knowledge were totally not what this book delivered.  Other than a lot dealing with a robotic foot, an evil stepmother, and a prince, this book was nothing like Cinderella.  It is set in dystopia China around 100 years after the fourth world war.  The world has been decimated in large part due to a pandemic of the Blue Plague.  There is also a colony of people who went to live of the moon but have largely developed into their own species known as Lunars who the Earthens hate.

The main character is Cinder who is a 16 year old mechanic that lives with her step mother and two step sisters.  Cinder was adopted after being in a terrible accident that resulted in her having her foot, hand, and many internal organs and bones replaced with mechanical equivalents.  All of these are run by a computer in her brain, so she basically has her brain for her normal human functions and also the computer.  Because of this surgery, Cinder is a cyborg which is considered to be lower than human.

Step Mom volunteers Cinder to be a test subject in attempts to find a cure for Blue Plague.  During the examination, Cinder finds out she is much more cyborg than she realizes.  It is also discovered that she is immune to the plague.  However, it is found out later on that it is because she is actually Lunar.

Meanwhile, there is a lot of political things going on with the emperor of China dying, the Lunar queen trying to marry the prince, and the prince having to take the throne and run the show.  He also has a hardcore crush on Cinder, but doesn’t know that she is a Lunar cyborg.

Basically there is a lot going on in this book and in the end nothing is resolved.  There is no actual conclusion and you are left wondering what will happen.  I looked up the rest of the series.  The next book is not out yet, but it is a little difficult to see how this story will continue with it.  Meyer plans to base the next three books on other fairy tales (Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Snow White).  If this is really what happens, it is kind of hard to see how the story started in Cinder will be continued and ultimately resolved.  As an invested reader, I am curious as to where the series (the Lunar Chronicles) will go, but overall I don’t see how the necessary information will be given and how the conclusion will be reached.

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Divergent by Veronica Roth


I just recently finished reading Divergent by Veronica Roth.  I was turned on to it by a list I found called 25 series to read if you loved the Hunger Games.  As a fan of the Hunger Games series (but mostly the first book of the second and third), I decided to check out some of the books on the list.  From the beginning it was easy to see how Divergent made it on this list.  The main character and hero is female.  It is set in a future where the United States has been reconfigured into different, very specific groups that make up society.  The heroine, Beatrice (Tris), is an Abnegation.  This group prides selfless over everything else and that it is the key to lasting peace.  There are four other groups that each have their own characteristic that they believe is the most important for maintaining peace.  The book begins when Tris is 16 years old.  At 16, each person decides which group they want to be a part of for the rest of their lives (there is a simulation test given to help people determine where they would best fit in).  Tris receives an inconclusive response from her test and therefore has more choices as to where she should go.

Ultimately, Tris chooses Dauntless.  This group believes that bravery is the key characteristic.  In order to be a true member, the initiates must pass a series of tests to make sure they have what it takes to be Dauntless.  Tris has to overcome a lot including bullies, internal conflict about whether she made the right choice, and of course a potential romance with the instructor for the initiates.

In the end there is a battle where Tris and her group of friends and family have to work together to prevent the complete elimination of the Abnegation group.

I really enjoyed this book.  It was nice that it can stand on its own even though it is part of a series.  It seemed similar to many books like it but still had its own individual take on those ideas.  I wish there had been a little more explanation about what different things meant earlier on because it might have helped understand Tris and the society a little better.  It also would have been nice if the end of the book didn’t seem so cramped.  There is a lot of action in the end and some parts seem to miss out on the importance they deserve.  Overall though it was a great book and I look forward to continuing the series with Insurgent.  Here’s hoping the third book comes out soon.