Monday, October 11, 2010

Reviews: Mockingjay & Oh. My. Gods.

So I signed up for the 2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge awhile ago.  I've been reading the books, but keep forgetting to put up my reviews.  I get easily distracted by more books to read and pretty boys on the television and whatever random thing pops into my head.  I'm sorta like the dog from Up that way.  I'm just going along and all of a sudden, "SQUIRREL!"

Anyway, I signed up to do the mini-challenge, which was to read twelve young adult books by the end of the year, starting on May 22nd.   Here are the first two reviews as I don't want to post too many at once.

YA Challenge Book 1/12

Title: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Summary:  Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans -- except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay -- no matter what the personal cost.
My Review:  I loved this book.   I try to think up something constructive to offer, but it really comes back to the fact that I love this book.  I've read it twice - once because I couldn't wait and had to know what happened; second time to try to absorb more of what was going on.  I won't lie.  The book did upset me a great deal, but not in a this-is-horribly-written-way but rather the I-love-these-characters-so-much-and-don't-want-to-see-them-hurt way.   That's part of what makes it so good though.  It's true to the world and story that has been set up in the first two books.  The fighting, the loss of life, and the sheer trauma of being put in a position to hold up an entire resistance.  
The book picks up a bit after the end of Catching Fire and Katniss is beaten down, barely holding on, and once again, the only reasons she agrees to do anything is to protect those she loves.  It started with her sister in the first book and comes back around to getting involved to save Peeta and the others.   I love that throughout the journey Katniss still isn't sure of what's best or not, and that she's not always this great sainted girl, just someone who loves and hates and reacts because of it.

The ending is devastating, but makes so much sense.  It had to happen in order for Katniss to truly understand the world she was a part of and the role she really played.  Because again, the motivations of Katniss have always been guided by those she loves.

If there is still someone out there who hasn't read this series, I just beckon them to head out and get a hold of it. It's amazing.

Overall:  5 stars. 

YA Challenge Book 2/12

Title:  Oh. My. Gods by Tera Lynn Childs

Summary:  A modern girl's comedic odyssey in a school filled with the descendants of Greek gods.

When Phoebe's mom returns from Greece with a new husband and moves them to an island in the Aegean, Phoebe's plans for her senior year and track season are ancient history. Now she must attend the uber exclusive academy, where admission depends on pedigree, namely, ancestry from Zeus, Hera, and other Greek gods. That's right, they're real, not myth, and their teen descendants are like the classical heroes -supersmart and superbeautiful with a few superpowers. And now they're on her track team! Armed only with her Nikes and the will to win, Phoebe races to find her place among the gods.

My Review:  This was a great, quick read. I loved the main character and the situation she found herself thrown into. I like how she was trying to deal with everything changing around her, holding on so hard to what she knew that her blinded her to certain things.  Finally, she was able to realize sometimes change isn't a bad thing - something we all go through - and that it doesn't mean you have to let go of the people you love.

It's definitely a very cool concept that was played with here.  However, there were a few issues.  There were quite a few cliches at work - the bad boy with the heart of gold who can't resist the plain girl, the evil step-sister, the mean girls tormenting the new girl - and the book felt completely rushed from the beginning until the end.  And there was hardly any time spent on the big reveal (which I'm not sure how big of a reveal it was as I figured it out early on) or any emotions that Phoebe might be feeling about it.  It was just this quick wrap-up.  My only guess is that the author knew there would be a second book (which there is).

Still enjoyable and I definitely plan to read the sequel to see where it goes from the end of this book.
Overall:  3 stars

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