The Here and Now

TheHereAndNowThe Here and Now by Ann Brashares
Published: 4-8-14 by Delacorte Press
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

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Design – Natalie Sousa      Rating – 5/5

I absolutely love everything about this cover. It’s so different from the usual dystopian / sci-fi covers and that’s definitely in a good way. The half of a girl’s face coming from the edge is livened up by the semi-transparent triangles over it. The little touches of other pictures are great too, especially the clearest one on the bottom right that balances out the attention-drawing eye at top left. The color scheme is the perfect mix of pastel and bold. The slightest variations in colors and placement of some of the triangles are so interesting. I also like the simple sans-serif font and how the words are placed on the cover. I just love the overall feel of this cover.

 

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I wasn’t sure what to expect from Ann Brashares’ 1st non-contemporary book, because I liked the Traveling Pants books but hated The Last Summer of You and Me. Regardless of how you may feel about any of those books, The Here and Now is a unique read. It’s a peculiar mix of sci-fi and a touch of dystopian with a murder mystery. I found it to be the ideal blend of high-stress situations and more low-key romance.

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  • twists – I was pleasantly surprised by the twists the plot took. A few I never saw coming. With other, I was certain I knew what was going to take place, yet the plot diverged from the path it had set up so clearly. A few times, I thought I had figured out what was going on with Prenna and her community. Despite my various theories, none were correct – which is something I adore in suspenseful books.
  • concept – The sci-fi / dystopian concept of people from the future settling in the same area in the current day is fascinating. The near-cultish control their leaders are able to maintain through fear and twisted scientific facts is awful, but clever. The amount of thought that was put into the science behind everything in this book is clear. Because so many YA books operate in their own worlds, it’s great to read one taking place in the real world, yet through the eyes of someone who doesn’t quite belong there.
  • action – The Here and Now is fast-paced and exciting. There isn’t much lull in the action and suspense. At times it seemed that the plot was going to slow down because Prenna was stuck, but she worked everything out quickly between her own smarts and Ethan’s assistance. The smallest things that seemed so innocent turned into clues or significant events.

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  • love? – The foundation of the love story in this book is shaky at best. Ethan first encounters Prenna when they’re 12 and she is disoriented and frightened. Years later, they are seated together in a high school class and he’s in love with her. I can understand why Prenna would connect with him – he gave her clothes…but she doesn’t remember that. Why is Ethan in love with her? She barely speaks to him for fear that she’ll reveal something personal. If she’s never talked to him about anything personal, then why is Ethan so crazy about Prenna? Just because she’s something strange that happened in his past? Once everything is revealed, Ethan begins to pressure Prenna for physical intimacy. He begs her for sexual contact, only to call her cruel when she refuses – jokingly, which is almost worse. I believe this exchange occurred on the date of their first kiss. They’re in a life or death situation, yet lover boy can’t keep it in his pants, despite a complete lack of evidence of a true emotional connection. The story is interesting enough without a love story. I believe it would have been better without it, as the dynamic between Ethan and Prenna grows stranger as the book progresses. Her partner in crime could have easily been merely a friend.

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The strange thing is, I think I’m keeping all these secrets from him, but he seems to know more than I do. He’s full of certainty and I’m not sure of anything anymore. I can’t keep straight what is supposed to be true and what is true, they are diverging so quickly.    – Loc. 1021

 

“Think about it,” I say. “A paper is an object. An actual thing. It can’t be modified, overwritten, updated, refreshed, hacked or anything else. It is fragile, but it’s a snapshot of history that hasn’t been messed with. It’s one version of history we know happened.”    – Prenna   Loc. 1388

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4 Robots

Acquired: NetGalley (ebook)

Ender’s Game

EndersGameEnder’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Published: 1985 by Tor Science Fiction
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister. 

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

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Cover art – John Harris       Rating – 3/5

I like the cover for this book because it’s got just enough space and sci-fi in it to hint at what the story is about. I love how the title, particularly the S and the E curve to fit around the planet rather than covering it. I wish there was more room in between the letters of the title and the author’s name though. It’s a nice, cool cover, I just wish it was a bit more specific to the story. I appreciate that it doesn’t try to show any characters though because I think that would have been tough.

Major Crush

Ender’s Game is a little overwhelming to me. It’s unlike anything I’ve read before – space, battle training, and endless political mind games. This book is very sci-fi and it’s like what you’d get if you crossed Star Wars and a game like Battleship. I know it’s a much-loved book, but Ender’s Game made me feel a bit dumb, and my favorite part was the end where everything came together. It just took so long to build up to it. I would imagine that reading this in the 80’s was mind-blowing because the internet wasn’t something everyone had and video games were a relatively new thing.

Major Crush

  • chapter openings – The little peeks into Graff’s game plan are very interesting. I like seeing how confused the leaders are much of the time, how desperate they are for Ender to succeed. It’s nice to see that, despite how morally reprehensible their actions may be, the leaders do questions themselves sometimes.
  • training games – The games they use in Battle School to train kids like Ender are pretty cool. They’re interesting, gravity-defying strategy puzzles that are designed to challenge the smartest of the smart. The games are well-described and fun to read about. I have such a clear vision in my head of the battles taking place and it looks like a lot of fun.
  • Bean – I love Bean’s attitude, especially toward Ender. Bean doesn’t hesitate to tell Ender that he knows what he’s doing to Bean, and that it won’t hurt him. Bean is clearly the Ender of his group – the most clever, the 1st to adapt. I think Bean is kind of like the Neville Longbottom of the story – he seems like he’s the weakling, but he proves himself to be a great advantage to the team. If they hadn’t found Ender, I think Bean would’ve succeeded in his place.
  • twists – The last 4th or so of this book is really exciting because it’s full of action and twists I never saw coming. After the 1st twist happened, I thought oh, ok, that’s pretty cool. I wasn’t expecting more at all, but what I consider to be the biggest twist wasn’t the one that left me shocked. SPOILERS AHEAD! I think it’s cool that they were actually fighting the buggers the whole time, but it didn’t really make much of an impact on me. It fit with their carelessness of people’s lives that they had a little boy thinking he was playing a game while he was actually paying with lives. What did shock me is when Ender finds the Giant’s bones and the abandoned tower from the game he was obsessed with completing. I just can’t believe that place existed the entire time.

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  • allegory? – I think that’s the right word…anyway, everything about the political war on Earth was confusing. This book was 1st published in 1985, and written in the 70’s – now history class is my kryptonite so I have no idea what was going on in the world at the time or what the political climate was. Still, I have this feeling that I’m missing some kind of complex allegory that links the politics in the book to the politics in real life in the 70’s. All the references to Locke, Russia, and the Warsaw Pact made me feel dumb in a way that I don’t think would have happened if everything was all a fictional world with its own politics.
  • time span – Ender is, I think, 6 when the book begins and we follow him closely for the next 5 years. But it’s really hard to tell how much time is passing and how old Ender is. He doesn’t exactly act his age. He’s in Battle School for years and that’s where a big chunk of the book takes place. It’s just tricky to keep on top of his age. Sometimes we’re seeing day-to-day, and other times we’re skipping weeks or months at a time.
  • Valentine + Peter – The sections of the book describing the political scheming of the siblings Ender’s been isolated from just do not interest me in the slightest. They each take on a different online personality in order to sway the public’s opinion on things related to the war and to government, and I found it to be dull. I suppose it’s meant to show what’s happening on Earth while Ender’s away since it will eventually affect other planets.
  • anger –  I wish someone was angrier about Ender’s situation and the whole let’s take kids away forever to fight our battles thing. I wish Ender wasn’t so level-headed about the whole thing. Instead of being in a blind rage over his loss of control over anything in his own life, Ender just reasons through it and does what everyone expects of him. His parents aren’t mad, Peter only cares because he’s jealous – there’s just no one looking out for Ender except the people who need him and need his brain. It could have easily been some other kid.

Major Crush

  • Perhaps it’s impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be.       – pg. 231
  • What will happen if I pass the test today? Is there another school? Another year or two of isolation, another year of people pushing me this way and that way, another year without any control over my life? He tried to remember how old he was. Eleven. How many years ago did he turn eleven? How many days?        – pg. 291

Don't Stop Now

3 Robots

Acquired: gift

Unraveling

UnravelingUnraveling by Elizabeth Norris
Published: 4-24-12 by Balzer + Bray
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

Sixteen-year-old Janelle Tenner is used to having a lot of responsibility. She balances working as a lifeguard in San Diego with an intense academic schedule. Janelle’s mother is bipolar, and her dad is a workaholic FBI agent, which means Janelle also has to look out for her younger brother, Jared.

And that was before she died… and is brought back to life by Ben Michaels, a mysterious, alluring loner from her high school. When she discovers a strange clock that seems to be counting down to the earth’s destruction, Janelle learns she has twenty-four days to figure out how to stop the clock and save the planet.

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Cover design – Alison Klapthor       Rating – 3/5

I find this cover to be confusing and a little dull. I like the overall impact of the thing. The font is nice, the color scheme pops and suggest action and mystery. The tagline is lame thought. There seem to be 3 Janelles, but I honestly can’t tell if the 3 guys are all the same person. The fog effect and the Matrix-y numbers are nice, but there’s some kind of old photo effect on top of everything else that is just way too much. There are blob-shaped tears on the left side that it took me awhile to figure out.

Major Crush

Unraveling is a whirlwind. It’s a wild ride of a sci-fi thriller with just the right amounts of mystery and romance. I went in thinking it was a paranormal book – I mean….mysterious guy with the power to bring a person back to life does seem very paranormal. The more sci-fi it went, the more chaotic it got and the more I loved it. When I got done reading this book I was really glad it was so different from the usual paranormal or thriller books I’ve read.

Major Crush

  • Janelle – Janelle kicks some serious ass and I loved reading about her. Just because she starts the book out with a boyfriend and then gains a love interest, doesn’t mean that her motivation for breaking up with said boyfriend is related to her love interest. And when Ben assumes that it is, she immediately sets him straight – it’s not about him, it’s about her, and he’s better that through his head. Janelle is smart and maybe a little bit too curious about FBI cases her dad’s involved in. But she gets things figured out, even when she doesn’t know who she should trust. She can’t stand it when she doesn’t have a plan, when she’s reacting to something rather than controlling the situation. Basically, Janelle is all-around awesome.
  • mad-science –  So, I have to admit that I know nothing about physics, and I most definitely don’t know anything about alternate universes. However, the science in Unraveling  made sense to me and was also kind of fun. the way the guys got involved, and the effects the science has had on their lives, is interesting and unexpected. The deeply important ways in which the science alters the life of the trio lead to se much chaos and I really loved it.
  • Ben – Ben is mysterious, intriguing, and sweet. And seriously suspicious at the same time. Plus it’s really nice to read a book where the guy is the one with the long-standing crush. Ben’s actions are questionable, his friends are a bit shady, and he’s followed by a path of violence and disfigured corpses. But he has pure motives and feels genuinely guilty about the repercussions of his experiments.
  • intensity – I love how intense Unraveling is! It starts off fairly low-key, except for the randomly dying and being revived by a near stranger thing, then ramps up to an insane degree. The FBI is involved, there are people who may not be who they say they are, people die, and the world may come to an end. The entire book is a countdown for goodness sake, and you don’t get clued in to what’s happening at zero hour until well into the book.

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  • suspension of disbelief – As things get progressively crazier in Unraveling, I found that it was a bit of an adjustment. It was kind of a big leap to go from wondering with Janelle just what the hell happened by the beach and just what Ben Michaels is hiding, to alternate universes and colliding worlds and wormhole type things. The whole sci-fi thing really caught me off guard.

Major Crush

  • “I was dead. I was, wasn’t I?”       He hesitates. And my heart somehow hammers louder and harder in my chest, and this time I’m sure he has to be able to hear it.       “Tell me.”       “Not for long,” he whispers.       – Janelle + Ben   (location 1772/5878)
  • “Then whose blood is it?”       He doesn’t answer right away, and that crazy, heart-pounding fear I had just moments ago morphs into the kind of fury that makes people do things so regretful and so rash that their mind makes them forget. If he doesn’t tell me in the next ten seconds, I might strangle him.       I back up to avoid throttling him. I can’t possibly keep my voice from shaking. “Whose. Blood. Is. It?”       – Janelle + Ben   (loc. 4618)

Major Crush

4 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)

The Darkest Minds

DarkestMindsThe Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Published: 12-18-12 by Disney Hyperion
Get the book: Amazon
When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

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Design – Marci Senders       Execution – Sammy Yuen       Rating – 4/5

I like this cover – it’s bold but still dark and mysterious. It makes me want to find out what the symbol represents. I wasn’t sure what was up with the barbed wire details, but after reading the book I think it’s a nice touch that hints toward how trapped the characters are – literally and figuratively.

Major Crush

I love Alexandra Bracken’s writing. This book got my emotions so riled up, that I was saying things like “no, no no no no” and “oh god no” under my breath while I was reading. Plus there are 17 pages of notes and marks on my kindle for this book. Usually there are 3 or 4 pages, tops. And the ending, thought I thought it might happen, tore my heart out. Sign me up for every book Alexandra Bracken ever writes please!

Major Crush

  • Liam + Chubs – When Ruby met Liam and Chubs, my interest in this book doubled. The guys, with their slowly unwinding backstory, are such a breath of fresh air in Ruby’s life. They are so different from each other and their ways of doing things are risky and exciting. From the start, Chubs is guarded and against letting anyone else in. He’s quiet, a bit reluctant, and doesn’t know what to do with his anger over their situation. But Chubs is also really smart – he spends his free time reading and his medical knowledge comes in handy more than once. And Liam. Liam is a leader, but the decisions he makes weigh heavily on his conscience. He’s a little reserved but he does what he has to do and he does it with very little hesitation.
  • abilities – The range of everyone’s abilities is vast, which makes things really interesting. From the very beginning there’s a built in kind of hierarchy among them and it definitely comes into play throughout the book. The abilities are also so different from one person to the next. Some are just off the wall strange, a few are similar, but it seems like no two people’s are the same. They’re kinda like the X-Men. It’s intense because with some people, their abilities are known from the start, some people have abilities that are revealed later on, and some have one ability while everyone thinks they have something else.
  • high stakes – The stakes are crazy high. All that these people have is each other, but Ruby especially is cautious about getting close to other people. Everyone is literally being hunted down by multiple groups of people because of their abilities, but that doesn’t mean that they can automatically trust everyone else in that situation. My emotions were all over the place just trying to keep up with everything happening! and Miss Bracken certainly doesn’t hold back with the tear-your-heart-out moments.
  • Liam – I just want to talk more about Liam because I loved every second he was around and it was noticeable when he wasn’t. From the 1st scene Liam’s in, he pops off the page and is an engaging character. There’s a buildup and a kinda will-they-won’t-they between Ruby and Liam that I adored. When Liam called Ruby darlin’ for the 1st time, my heart melted. Liam’s past is mysterious and I’m looking forward to finding out his backstory.

Jellicoe Road

  • confusing car chase – I am all for high-speed car chases, but when the action moves so fast things can get confusing. I have read over this scene at least 5 times and I’m still not sure who’s in which car. Our heroes are in Black Betty, their trusty minivan, and there’s a tan SUV and a red pickup truck both in pursuit. First, there’s an SUV coming at them, then the car behind them is the ruck. A guy named Rob is specifically said to be driving the SUV, but then he’s turning the truck around and I’m just so lost, because a page later he is definitely in the SUV. In the whole scheme of things it doesn’t make much difference, but it made me stop reading to try to puzzle out what was happening.
  • trust – I don’t want to spoil things, so this is hard, but there’s a character that had me practically screaming at Ruby to run the other way. He’s manipulative, and despite her initial feelings toward him, Ruby quickly decides to trust him. She is aware that he used his abilities to push a thought into her head from across a room on their very first meeting, yet this is a person that Ruby decides it’s safe to trust and confide in. I really wanted one of her friends to shake some sense into her.

Major Crush

  • The black bulb stayed perched exactly where it was, only now, the camera’s eye rotated to face me.       It’s on, I thought through the haze of panic, searching for something to smash it with. It’s recording.      – Ruby   pg. 146
  • When a girl cries, few things are more worthless than a boy. Having two of them just meant that they stared at each other helplessly instead of at me. Chubs and Liam stood, up to their ears in awkward, until Chubs finally reached out and patted my head like he would patted a dog.       – pg. 303

Get Well Soon

5 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)

Catching Fire

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CatchingFirePosterCatching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Sequel to The Hunger Games
Released: 11-21-2013 by Lionsgate
Get the book: Amazon

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz

Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem.

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 Poster Design – Ignition Creative        Rating – 2/5

The official poster is kinda lame. Sure it has what people want – Jennifer Lawrence’s face, fire, and that bow and arrow, but it’s not exciting. The IMAX poster is a work of art though – a 6/5. No one seems to know who actually designed it though, which is a shame.

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I loved the 1st Hunger Games movie and I loved this one too. There’s a long time before Katniss and Peeta head back to the arena in this movie, and some people are criticizing that as a slow start, but I liked it. This is a pivotal shift in the series – away from the Hunger Games and toward a revolution that takes place in an area with no boundaries and no rules.

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  • tributes coming together – The other victors who are forced to go back into an arena are a group full of firecracker personalities. Johanna (Jena Malone) and Finnick (Sam Claflin) in particular are interesting characters. Both of them come off at 1st as manipulative and excited by violence, but bit by bit they are revealed to be more human than Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) could ever imagine them to be. Catching Fire highlights the fact that the tributes, in contrast to the way we saw them in The Hunger Games, are just like Katniss – they are young people who are trying to survive in a society that sets them up to fail. Even the Careers – those who train to kill and volunteer as tributes – spend their lives doing those things in order to provide for their families, to keep the ones they love alive when the entire system is working against them. The tributes are previous victors – they have killed and betrayed in order to secure a future where the Capitol supplies them with money, food, and safety. President Snow’s (Donald Sutherland) reaping from the pool of victors in an effort to kill Katniss is seen by the tributes as the ultimate betrayal, and they band together to do everything they can to keep the Games from happening. They turn the stories that their Capitol image teams have manufactured against them, playing off the Capitol citizens’ emotions in a bid to stir up enough sympathy to stop the Games. When the tributes all join hands in solidarity in front of the Capitol and all of Panem following their interviews, it was a moment that symbolized the idea of the movie. Remember who the real enemy is. The tributes have been killing each other for years for the sick entertainment of the Capitol, but this time they’re entering the arena united. The fight is against President Snow, not each other.
  • Effie – When me met Effie (Elizabeth Banks), she was just the embodiment of Capitol excess and lack of concern for the districts. Effie’s only concern in life was that she had enough zany outfits to wear for each event she guided Katniss and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) to, and she didn’t much care that the reality was teens killing each other as long as they put on a good show doing it. In Catching Fire, we see Effie realize the cruelty of the whole situation. We see the more human side of Effie emerge as she looks at the Capitol through the eyes of Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and kind of decides maybe the revolution is a good idea.
  • Peeta – Haymitch tells Katniss that she will never deserve a guy like Peeta and she readily agrees. When it’s announced that the tributes will be former victors, Katniss tells Haymitch that she wants to do everything they can to keep Peeta alive. But Peeta, much more than Katniss, sees the bigger picture. Peeta recognizes that Katniss has become a symbol of hope for the people in the districts, and that the revolution needs her to be that symbol. He goes to Haymitch before Katniss even thinks to do that for Peeta, he convinces Katniss that she’s important, that people need her more than she thinks they do. While Gale (Liam Hemsworth) actively despises Katniss’ relationship with Peeta – even though it has saved her life, Peeta respects Katniss’ friendship with Gale and he never pushes her for more than she’s willing to give him.

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  • PTSD – So much of this movie takes place outside the arena and focuses on the aftermath of the 1st trip to the arena (for Katniss and Peeta). While the film opens with a bang that is all about Katniss and the effect the arena experience had on her, that gets largely abandoned later on – thought nightmares are mentioned. I wish Peeta and Katniss actually had a conversation about their Games-related nightmares, rather than just saying “it was just a nightmare” and “oh right I have them too.” I don’t remember when exactly in the books we find out details of other victors’ backstories, but I think it would’ve been nice to get more about Johanna, Finnick, and Haymitch. What’s made Johanna so venomous? How did Finnick meet Annie? How long had Haymitch been tutoring District 12 tributes just to watch them die horrific deaths?
  • Cinna – Lenny Kravitz does not act well at all. Cinna is one of the only people in the Capitol that Katniss actually forms a genuine connection with, and he becomes important to her. But Cinna in the movie has no emotion in his face or voice. I’m just no buying that I should care about this character who is saying all these heartfelt things to Katniss in the most wooden way imaginable. In a movie where everyone else is acting their butts off, it really sticks out.

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  • District 13 – In the book, Katniss learns that District 13 was not annihilated by the Capitol – that there are people living there – pretty early on. In the movie, Katniss doesn’t learn about District 13 until the very end when she’s already been to the arena. The characters that told Katniss about District 13 in the book are completely absent.
  • Avoxes – The most glaringly absent thing from the movie series is the Avoxes. They are seen but ignored – they aren’t mentioned or explained, and for all we know they’re just regular servants. In the books the Avoxes are yet another example of Capitol cruelty, a lifelong punishment for rebellion. There are certain Avoxes who are specifically sent to serve Katniss in the books as another sort of intimidation tactic – a look what we did to these people who helped you.

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  • Johanna stripping off every inch of her clothing in a tiny elevator while casually chatting with Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch is a memorable moment for sure. Johanna is a loose cannon with a vendetta. She wants Capitol blood spilled and her every move is calculated. This scene is Johanna showing just how wild and unpredictable she can be while remaining perfectly calm. The reactions are priceless, particularly Katniss’ facial expressions. This scene just screams Johanna to me.
  • Katniss realizing that Finnick is an ally in the arena is excellent. There is so much being communicated without words, so much that Katniss is realizing she isn’t aware of. It gives us a peek at just how important Haymitch really is to Katniss, Peeta, the other tributes, and the entire revolution – even though he is playing his part from outside the arena.

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4 Robots

Acquired: bought tickets

Life As We Knew It

LifeAsWeKnewItLife As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Published: 10-1-06 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books
Get the book: Amazon
Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.
   Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all—hope—in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.

 

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Rating – 3/5

The cover fits the story, but it’s not amazing. It’s not a thrilling cover that would stick in my mind if I had only seen it once. I want a cover that makes me want to know more about the story inside. I really like the color scheme and the single light that’s on in the remote house shown.

Major Crush

 

This book had a lot of problems, but it really made me think. It had a haunting kind of pace and tone to it. I’m not sure that I want to read all 3 sequels because that seems kind of excessive, but I might pick up the second one eventually.

Major Crush

 

  • Matt – Miranda’s older brother was a great character. He worked hard to ensure his family had everything they needed, and he looked out for Miranda and Jonny all the time. Matt did whatever he had to and made sacrifices so that his family would survive.
  • people in general – I found it realistic that people were portrayed as withdrawing into their own families and groups so they wouldn’t have to share food and supplies. I thought it felt exactly right how the state of the hospital changed over time as things got worse, how they felt the need to guard it at times, and then how it fell apart like everything else. And how Miranda’s dad and Lisa found out that some states were preventing entry.
  • Mrs. Nesbitt – Her outlook on everything that was going on was very matter-of-fact because she was kind of elderly. She didn’t want to be a burden on Miranda’s family, and she did what she could to help out. I liked hearing her opinions on the new state of things.
  • ending – Although it wasn’t a cliffhanger, the ending left me wanting to know what was going to happen next – with Miranda’s family, with her dad and Lisa, and with the way the world is coping or not coping with the disaster. The book had its issues, but it left me thinking and stayed in my head for a few days after I finished it.

Jellicoe Road

 

  • Brandon – Miranda’s obsession with an ice skater named Brandon makes her seem really young and a little immature. She’s supposed to be 15-16 but going on message boards to talk about her celebrity crush makes it seem like she’s around 13 instead. And if the world was ending, would you really think about your celebrity crush regularly? Once in a while sure, but not regularly when your family is struggling so much.
  • Dan – I didn’t really understand what purpose Miranda’s relationship with Dan served. I think it was just put in there so she would have to say goodbye to someone else she cared about, but I wasn’t convinced enough to care when any of her friends said goodbye.
  • foreshadowing – First, everyone’s portrayed as excited about the asteroid – so, sure, I guess I can buy that. I’m not sure about the science, but maybe the scientists get jazzed about things hitting the moon – especially things that aren’t supposed to have any effect. But then, Miranda’s brother gets worried about it, so now she she is too. Then, of course, everything goes down the drain. It was just strange how Miranda suddenly changed her attitude, then the worst possible thing happened.
  • religion – One of Miranda’s friends chooses to starve herself, and spouts religious lines constantly. I’m not sure what the author’s point is in putting this in the story. She seems to despise religion – everything that Meghan says sounds like it should be right, like something that your average Christian would tell you – but the way she talks about it and applies it makes it seem crazy. The reverend is portrayed as a slimy, self-serving villain. I would expect religion to come into play in a story about the end of the world, but I didn’t like how it was shown here.
  • slow – The story stagnates at some points. I know it’s Miranda’s diary and that some days nothing really happens, but it’s the end of the world! I thought the end of the world would be more eventful. It seems as if all the huge, horribly bad things happen to everyone but Miranda and her family.
  • food – Every time the family is on the brink of disaster, food seems to magically come out of nowhere. Someone brings it to them, or some random person who just happens to still have food dies at exactly the right time. It was just always very convenient that events always lined up at the perfect time to get them what they needed.

Major Crush

 

  • “Jonny’s fine!” I yelled right back at her. “Jonny’s eating three meals a day. You waited until he left before you put us on our starvation diets. You think I didn’t notice that? You think I don’t know which one of us you’re betting on?”     – Miranda + her mom   pg. 129
  • “Dad bought black market gas,” Matt said. “He had connections. And at that, his gas ran out.”     “Black market?” I said.     Matt looked at me like I was an infant. “How do you think he got all that food?” he said. “You didn’t really think it was just waiting to be taken, did you?”     – Miranda + Matt   pg. 216

Don't Stop Now

 

3 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)

The Death Cure

DeathCureThe Death Cure by James Dashner

(The Maze Runner #3)
Published: 10-11-2011 by Delacorte
Get the book: Amazon

Thomas knows that Wicked can’t be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they’ve collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It’s up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test.

What Wicked doesn’t know is that something’s happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can’t believe a word of what Wicked says.

The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine.
Will anyone survive the Death Cure?


Major Crush

My opinion of this series is a little strange. I thought the 1st book, The Maze Runner, was just ok. The 2nd book, The Scorch Trials, was action packed and awesome. This book was a big letdown for me, which sucks, but that’s just my opinion.

Major Crush


  • Cranks – The scenes with Cranks in the deteriorating city were intense. These scenes were probably my favorite parts of the book. The subplot of one of the group being infected and slowly going insane was, to me, more interesting than what was going on with WICKED. It was also an emotional punch in the gut.
  • Brenda – I love how Brenda, and really most of the girls in these books, are not afraid to embrace the butt-kicking that comes with being somehow connected to WICKED. Brenda is not the most fleshed-out character, but I like her. She’s smart and not dead weight in the face of danger. I can’t remember much of what went on in the Scorch Trials with Brenda, so maybe she is more of a developed character and I just don’t remember the details.
 
 Jellicoe Road
 
  • short chapters – The chapters in this book are way too short. They average about 5 pages each, although I am completely guessing – this isn’t mathematical at all. It was horribly distracting for there to be a new chapter so often. There are 73 chapters in this book! I just…why? In most books I read, I barely notice the chapters because they are normal length, and I like not noticing the chapters.
  • epic conclusion? – I thought this book was a big step down action-wise from The Scorch Trials. There’s a lot of description of people being shot with weapons, and other action-y things, but it doesn’t feel like action. There’s not a lot of dialogue either. Thomas does a lot of thinking and warring with himself.
  • indecision – Is WICKED bad? Is WICKED good? What do we do in either of these situations? It’s still unclear if the villain is really the villain. This doesn’t bother me, but Thomas thinking about it constantly was annoying after awhile. Stop thinking and do something! Also, there was very minimal recap from the 2nd book, which I read a long time ago, so I would have liked a refresher on what happened.
  • the group – In The Maze Runner there was clearly a tight-knit group. They had to work together to survive and to escape. In The Scorch Trials, the group expanded a bit, but was also called into question. In this book, Thomas and a few others were separated from everyone else. Basically, the core group was really small and I forgot where some of those characters came from, and I missed some of the other characters I was familiar with.
2robots
2 robots
Not the action-packed satisfyingly epic conclusion that I was looking forward to
 
Acquired: bought