Reading Roundup: August 2012

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I decided to re-read all three of these books in quick succession simply because I had read them quickly before and with a lot of space in between. I also recently saw the movie and it made me want to go back and revisit the book. This time I was actually even more impressed by the first book than I was the last time I read it. It holds up well to re-reading and I think it is really well-done as far as plot, writing, and characters go. I also think it could have held up on its own as a stand-alone novel, but at the same time the way the ending goes it is nearly impossible to resist the urge to continue the story to its end. That last sentence sums up how I feel about the other two books. The second book is decent, but it feels like a middle-trilogy book. I really dislike the third book, even more on a second reading than I did the first time. At the same time, it is so clearly the natural end of a trajectory started in the first book that I have a hard time complaining about it. Besides the rather horrific things that happen in Mockingjay, my biggest complaint about it is that Katniss spends the entire time being a victim. In the first book she stands up to the system and beats their game. Yet in the third book she is constantly beaten, broken, and is nothing more than a pawn in the hands of others. It is such a hard book to read; there is no hope and no redemption. I'm not sure Collins needed to have some kind of hope based on events in the earlier books and on the type of world she created, but I still really dislike the book.

The Journal of Best Practices by David Finch

This is another book I could write a very lengthy and more personal review for. Perhaps I will some time. I thought this book was hilarious and surprisingly moving. I found a lot of insight from Finch's example of learning how to be self-aware and in the process saving his marriage. I highly recommend this book, with the caveat that he uses a fair amount of profanity.

Legend by Marie Lu

Another entry in the "YA dystopia" category; this book was better than I expected it to be, but I didn't find myself drawn into it as much as I had hoped to be. The world-building and the plot were excellent, but I felt like the characterization was a bit flat.

Belles by Jen Calonita

I have no idea why I wanted to put this book on hold at the library, but it was a nice fluffy read in the middle of a bunch of other more grim things this month. Although it had a lot of cliches and I figured out the 'big secret' plot twist after just a few pages, it was still well-written and a lot of fun to read.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Right now this book seems to be at the top of everyone's list of best YA books. It is a really well-written book, but I think in a few years it will be replaced by something else. I probably just heard too much hype about it because it didn't blow my mind. I think I'm too old to find pretentious hipster teenagers who think they have everything figured out anything but annoying. It's hard to like a book when you think the main love interest is totally lame.

The Murder Room by Mike Capuzzo

I also wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. The subject matter was really interesting and I love well-written true crime stories, but I thought the way this book was written was really confusing. The author couldn't seem to decide whether he wanted to profile the main people in his story or whether he wanted to focus on the crimes they solved. It also kept jumping back and forth between different narrative threads in a way that was difficult to read.

Across a Harvested Field  by Robert Goble

I finally got around to reading this book after buying it earlier this year. I generally agree with Theric's assessment of it. First of all, it really needed better editing. Not just for some of the obvious typos and confusing bits, but to clean up the plot and shape it a bit better. The characters are great, I liked the setting, and even the general idea of the plot. But, there are too many loose ends and the plot progresses rather unevenly. I have also seen it described as a romance, and while in some ways it fits the romance genre, I hesitate to classify it that way. As it is written, it feels more like a novel about grief and about human relationships that happens to have some romantic elements.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I think the best way to enjoy this book is to sit down and devour it in a few hours, then enjoy the way you feel afterwards and not analyze it too much. That makes it sound like a happy book; it's not. In fact, it's rather horrific and I still feel a little disturbed by it. But, as an exercise in writing it is amazing. I'm still not sure what it says about me that I enjoyed this book so much.

Movies

The Dark Knight Rises

This movie was actually much more enjoyable than I thought it would be. Yes, Bane is not as complex a villain as the Joker, but I could at least watch the movie without keeping my eyes shut some times. I think The Dark Knight was better in a critical sense of the word, but this movie was much more watchable in my book.

The Campaign

Hopefully this will be the last time I convince myself that the R-rated comedy genre is one that I like. There were some funny parts, but the movie went places that I was not comfortable with and I somewhat regret watching it. It also got about halfway through and the plot fell apart; the concept might have been better as a skit on SNL.

Comments

Th. said…
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I don't anticipate reading Collins's books again, but maybe I should with the first. I was middling on it when I read it, and liked each of the other books less. But perhaps my view of the first has been polluted by the rest of the trilogy.

Good movie though.

I think I've written of R-rated comedy (of that sort) as well. We went to see DKR and it sold out just as it was our turn to buy tickets. So we looked around at the posters and said The Watch! It has that guy from IT Crowd in it! What a terrible terrible terrible terrible movie.

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