Wednesday, September 1, 2010

*The Hunger Games* - Stuffed With Genius

THE HUNGER GAMES - Stuffed With Genius   

The first time I saw the flashy, gold & black dust jacket of The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, was on a regular old bookshelf in Borders. Not the one where they highlight the books Borders' staff thinks you'll like, simply a normal one next to “Clare” and “Cast.” It looked interesting, so I took it home. This was before any of the hype. I remember I expected something incredibly depressing and slightly fantastical. I wasn't disappointed on either account. The dark dystopic America I entered was not one I could soon forget about: Katniss Everdeen and the other tributes in the Gladiator-like “Hunger Games” haunted my thoughts for quite some time after reading.

Collins transforms the America we know into a frightening, hostile place known as “Panem.” The government keeps control by randomly selecting children ages 12-18 to participate in a survival bloodbath known as the “Hunger Games,” where the only way to get out alive is to kill every other child. The fierce and dramatic Games are televised throughout Panem, where the citizens are forced to watch. Katniss Everdeen winds up volunteering in her sister's stead only to find herself lost in the political intrigue and stirrings of rebellion that surround the Games. The suspense in The Hunger Games is expertly drawn out by Collins, and the reader is left hungrily flipping each page to find out what Katniss will do next. With romance, action, socio-political commentary, and a dark underlying message, The Hunger Games is a fine addition to anyone's bookshelf.

I have practically no complaints about this book. I've reread it multiple times, and am still awed by the beautiful dystopia Suzanne Collins portrays so masterfully. My only complaint is aimed at the fans. In any forum, or discussion, someone will blurt out “Team Peeta!” (the male tribute Katniss pretends to be in love with) or “Team Gale!” (her hunting partner back home.) That in itself doesn't bother me; shipping wars are as old as time. The only thing that gets to me is when some whiny person rants about how this is “not Twilight.” Every time I see this I have the same reaction: What? I'm sorry, since when is Twilight the only book to ever have a love triangle? Last time I heard, it's a pretty overused plot device, and of course people will pick sides. Stop bringing Twilight into a wonderful book. Here I am, connecting the two of them again. Ew.

Anyway – if you like young adult, writing of epic proportions, and a story that will leave you aching for more, I highly recommend this book. Please, go read it right now, and enjoy the headstrong Katniss, sweet and loving Peeta, and the plot that will have you thinking on it for days.

Originality - 9/10
Prose - 9/10
Fanbase - 5/10


P.S. For future reference, a review with stars around the title means I recommend it. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Update

It's been a summer full of adventure on my part – and not just in the books I've been reading, though trust me, there's been plenty there as well. I spent a week and a half in Sweden. I greatly enjoyed Uppsala and Stockholm, and seeing the crown princess' wedding procession. I then spent 4 weeks working at camps, and then finally got back to home sweet home. As such, I can now stretch my fingers, and get back to shredding up some literature! So far over my summer I have read...

    • Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

    • Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card
    • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
    • The Sword of Truth, Phantom, and Chainfire by Terry Goodkind
    • Epic by Conor Kostick
    • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

    • and others...
Currently I am reading a Nicholas Sparks novel and The Reader. I hope to enjoy/hate these enough to be able to write a review. As such, I am working on a positive shredding – Ender's Game. I am also working on The Sword of Truth, and an either/or review: The Bell Jar. Gotta love Sylvia Plath, but she can also be a bit... well, you'll see.

I'll leave you with a quick little blurb about my DeviantArt Group about the art of publishing. It's called Publish-Write. If you are a writer, reader, artist, or art enthusiast, you need to check out, which is a wonderful site for sharing and appreciating art. I have an account; on deviantArt I am Prosaic-Scriptor.

The group is namely about answering questions people have about publishing – you can join either to pose questions or answer them, it doesn't matter. We will hold weekly FAQ sessions, and other such things to help edit, revise, and review work so it could be published. We're helping people through the publishing process with tutorials and advice. :)

If you have any interest in joining, please do, and I desperately need administrator help/moderator help. It's a hard job to tackle on my own.

Well, I'll have a review up soon – I hope you can wait a little while. I've been working on a nice snarky shredding; you will definitely enjoy, I'm sure.


Monday, December 21, 2009

YA Trend Analysis

If you, like me, are an avid YA reader, you might have noticed some new titles in the shelves at your nearest Borders or Barnes & Nobles. Yes... that's right. Vampires are slowly being taken over by angels, those curiously ethereal and fascinating religious figures. Even Kristen Nelson, agent and avid blogger agrees - just look at this post. It's enough to make anyone who has an angel manuscript lying around cringe and bite their nails nervously.

Sadly, I am one of those desperate writers. I've left my NaNo '08 novel lying in a corner after I tore through it and despaired of any writing talent I possessed. I aim to get back to it eventually, of course. I'm simply procrastinating. But damn it, I will get that out. Most definitely. Yeah. Sure. Uh huh. All right, all right... I'm going to need some prodding, no doubt. But still. It's a trilogy. I want to get out a single book first, right? Right?

With books like "Fallen" and "Hush, Hush" slowly absorbing space in the YA spots, I'm going to need to hurry if I want to ride this trend out. So, you want to have the next Twilight? Get your crappy angel novel out soon - oh yes, don't forget to have horrible writing and annoying characters who only call themselves angels. They're not, really.

The only thing that comforts me is that all this angel crap is taking the "Oh, look at me, I'm a fallen angel going to fall in love with a girl" angle. I am not taking that angle, no way. I'd have to work hard to find a mortal character in my book. And it will be awesome.

Reference List of Current Works

  • The Senses - Began this one Thanksgiving of eighth grade. I actually really liked it. Should finish it, I'm only 40 pages in. Planned trilogy.
  • Tarnished Angels - NaNoWriMo novel of 2008. Finished, around 54,000 words. Stuffed it away when I actually read it. Now I want to completely rewrite it. That's depressing. Planned trilogy, then stand-alone, then...:?
  • The Invisibles - NaNoWriMo novel of 2009. Finished at 75,000 words. Letting it sit before I rip into it anew. Stand alone, with possible prequel/late sequel.
So, that's all for me... Off to write the Next Great Angel Novel. :D


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Breaking Dawn

      Don't worry, this blog won't be all about Twilight. Eugh. SPOILERS if you've never visited the web before.
      "Breaking Dawn" is the well-known conclusion to the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. Intriguingly enough, many fans who stuck through Meyer's drab prose in the first three books dropped out after this book. Thought the Twilight books are both universally adored and loathed (almost equally) Breaking Dawn by far got the worst of the scathing reviews and comments. 
      The book is her largest, at over 700 pages, and wraps up the "adventures" of Bella and her vampire boyfriend Edward, who, until this book, have remained staunchly abstinent. Now, in this book, instead of the exhausting, blaring theme of "no sex!" it changes to "once you're married and 18 have sex but never abort!". Yes. Bella gets fertilized by the dead vampire, though Meyer has made it common knowledge that her abstaining "vampires", along with drinking animal blood and having no flaws (they sparkle in the sun) that they have no liquid in their bodies. Maybe it's a magic dust that comes out of a special wand?
      The book continues its pattern of setting feminism back 50 years, and ends with no bang whatsoever. Bella's beautiful. She has both Edward and Jacob in her life. And she has a demon child who grows up extra fast with a horrible name. It's all she's ever wanted.
      There are many flaws in the series alone, and it would take a long time to outline them. But I'll go with the main things that bugged me:

1. Every character got everything with no struggle.
      Stephenie Meyer fell into one of the popular traps of any beginning novelist - love and dote on your characters, and sprinkle them with roses. This may be nice for the author - hey, who wants to see their brain child suffer?
      We do. The readers do. It's what keeps us interested. When the main character struggles to find love and meaning in their lives and succeeds against all the things you've thrown at them, we feel victorious with them. When a main character gets rainbows tossed at them and sunshine sparkles, no one cares. It's boring. It's slightly irritating. The reader begins to let their mind wander, and eventually tosses the book aside. 
      This mistake also presents itself when, at a point not near the end of the novel, the character gets everything she wants. She has a baby. Her friend. Her husband. A family. And it's not the end. Never, ever let your character get everything they want. Always leave something out until the end. 
      Take this into mind, reader, or future writer. Kill your characters. Toss obstacle after obstacle in their way. Let them find exciting ways to climb over it. Let them win. Let them die.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Commentary on Harry

What person living hasn't heard the name Harry Potter? It's hard to fathom meeting someone who has no knowledge of J.K. Rowling's epic masterpiece. The books' original fans get that look of horror in their eyes when someone dares to admit that they have only watched the movies. It's a travesty, for how could you not appreciate the wonderful, amazing tale of Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived?

People everywhere say what mastery J.K. Rowling has, what amazing prose and story telling skills. Fans everywhere laud her ability to target the entire population as her demographic. But then again... is that really true? Adults can appreciate the trip down childhood memory lane when reading Rowling's sophisticated prose, but what about the children? The first three books are beautifully appropriate - just the correct amount of suspense, danger, and intrigue for a child. They know Harry's going to make it out okay, but they wait with bated breath to see what will happen in the beautifully crafted literature.

Then, "The Goblet of Fire" hits. True to her previous style, it's still rich and full of wit, and a pleasure to read. But this is where the Happy Harry ends, and the Emo Harry begins. The book begins to have a serious undertone to it. Lord Voldemort becomes more scary - death becomes a very real part of the series. Suddenly, children are scared for harry. They're scared, period.

Book five, "The Order of the Phoenix", opens with a severely depressed Harry who has horrible recurring nightmares about Cedric. This is truly when Harry Potter is moved permanently from the children's section to some other place completely. A shelf all it's own, where it says "Let your precious preteens read this at their own risk". Rowling introduces Umbridge, a teacher who, as punishment, makes Harry cut himself. Sure, it's with magic, but the disturbing, depressing element is still there. Then, we end with Sirius dying, and are left feeling even more disturbed than before.

"The Half Blood Prince" had me stumbling through it, trying to find redeeming qualities. I had waited so long for the book, only to be faced with something nigh unreadable. Who wants to pick up a book and be immersed with an even more depressed main character who mopes through the entire 500+ pages? Then, we're left on another cheery note - Snape kills Dumbledore. I can't wait to share this with my five year old. I love cynical children under 8.

Then, we end with "Deathly Hallows". I went to the midnight release for this book, and stayed up the rest of the night reading it. I had a swim meet the next day, but I didn't care. I was going to finish the book if it killed me. This book, however, took all the depression that had been building in the previous three and made it a stark reality. I have yet to read the entire thing through without extreme coercion. It's great prose. Character development, everything is great. And I love the Harry Potter series. But it should not still be classified as children's lit.

And the epilogue kills me. Ugh. I would have preferred it if she left it up to the reader's imagination who ended up with whom. Albus Severus? Really? If there's one thing Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling have in common, it's their ability to kill younger characters names. Good lord, women! What are you thinking?

Again I will repeat my absolute love for the Harry Potter series. There's just something unappealing about reading about a depressed wizard. Very unappealing.

This wasn't a structured review. More of a public rant.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Twilight - Vampire Book With No Bite

The “Twilight” series, by Stephenie Meyer, has swept the nation like swine flu, infecting our youth with its sexist, unreal view of the world, and sickening them till, in their delusional state of mind, they believe a stalker with fangs is the epitome of the perfect man.

“Twilight” chronicles the dull life of Bella Swan, a whiny main character who falls in love with a vampire who sparkles in the sun like the petroleum infused glittery gel that women spread on their bodies. The majority of the first book is spent waiting for a plot – don’t worry, it never comes. Move on to book two, where we watch Bella curl up in a ball, trying to fill a hole in her heart. This is where the real sexism comes into play. Bella is portrayed as someone who, when separated from her man, crawls into bed and cries for three or four months. Without a guy by her side, she is even weaker than she used to be with Edward, the vampire who thirsts for her blood. The third book has us still waiting for a plot, hoping that it might come along. Surprise! It doesn’t.

There’s some pull that makes us read the fourth book. It’s not the writing, for that in and of itself is horrendous and bland. Some compare Meyer to J.K. Rowling, author of the “Harry Potter” books. Stephen King speaks the opinions of the literate folks out there –apparently there are precious few—saying “The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.”

Of course, as soon as we rush to pick up “Breaking Dawn”, it’s clear we made a mistake in purchasing the obese thing that can barely be labeled a book. It’s more like a 400+ page fanfiction, written by someone with no idea what the term ‘characterization’ means. Bella is still the same whiny girl she once was, except now, she’s pregnant and annoying. It’s almost as bad as “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”! Bella also chugs down some serious blood to satiate her demon spawn. The birth scene is reminiscent of “Alien”, when the extra-terrestrial bursts from the stomach. At least in “Alien” they had the sense not to name the alien Renesmee. Like any sane adult, Bella chooses to name her demonic baby a mix of Renee, and Esme, her mother and mother in law. I wish my mother had named me a mixture of my grandmothers’ names. Gusan is a lovely name for any child, no?

The book ends with no bang, no bustle, and no happiness or tears. There’s only a blank feeling of relief that it’s finally over, though those of us who know what good writing is can appreciate the true lack of character development and conflict, and the extensive sexism that drives this series.

So, why is the series so incredibly popular? Girls everywhere want a vampire to sneak into their rooms and watch them sleep in a rocking chair, rocking back and forth, back `and forth. It’s because of the skill Meyer has of taking stereotyped themes and making them open to a different demographic. Twilight is a vampire Young Adult series for people who don’t like vampire Young Adult series’. Meyer successfully hit the giant group of people who normally don’t read these books, and sucked in some who do, as well. Mothers seem to enjoy reading Twilight as well, perhaps because they enjoy reading what their children do.

The “Twilight” series, though sexist, juvenile, and still cliché, is still inexplicably popular. Girls –and boys- follow it in a cult-like obsession, worshipping the ground that people dressed as Edward walk on. It may continue like this for a long time – but hopefully, someone else with crappy writing will come along and start a new cult. Though some may disagree with Meyer’s writing style, and her ideas, it is still undeniable that she has thrown the entire world for a loop with her books, and that is something any author should be proud to have done.

Originality - 4/10
Prose - .5/10
Fanbase - 0/10

Book, shredded.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Well, I'm 26K into my NaNoWriMo novel. I actually like this one - I think it has a bit of a plot. Isn't that crazy? I plan on using Holly Lisle's One-Pass-Revision thing to edit/revise. I know I get bogged down in editing and revising really easily...

In other news, I'm working on two reviews - Where The Wild Things Are (the movie, guys), The Amateurs, and P.C. + Kristin Cast's House of Night series. We'll see how that goes. I wrote an intensely savage review of Twilight, I'll post that up here later.

Hope you all are working hard at NaNoWriMo, if you're doing it.

Good luck,