Jan 12, 2012
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, the shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the games. But Katniss has been close to dead before - and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
I have to be honest and say I thought it was going to take me awhile to get into this story of The Hunger Games but I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly Suzanne Collins reeled me in. Right away I was able to form a visual image in my mind of the world Katniss and her family lives in - and it is bleak. I think that is why I generally stay away from these types of books: I don't like all of the bleak and barren conditions associated with this genre. But I was able to look behond it, partly because I really liked Katniss. Her love for her sister was pure and genuine and that really spoke to me.
Although I did have a hard time accepting the concept of these Hunger Games, I was eventually able to get into the story and even enjoy it. I thought Susanne Collins did a great job portraying the Capitol, the Arena and the locals there. The Games themselves were disturbing, but again, I had to remind myself this is the genre and let it go and not dwell on it.
I ended up really getting into it and rooting for Katniss and Peeta, who I really like a lot. I was very impressed with how well Collins wrote the parts about the battles and how Peeta and Katniss survived in the arena. How in the world did she come up with this concept? The romance angle was original and I thought played well into the story. I also like Gale's character, even though we don't really get to know much about him. Maybe in the next book? Hmmm....
So I am happy to say I really enjoyed THE HUNGER GAMES. I am surprised by that but that's what getting out of your comfort zone is all about! You never know what you may end up liking. That being said, I don't know how necessary a second or third book is, but I'm willing to give them a chance. I've just started reading CATCHING FIRE and I am not totally sold on it, but I'm only in Chapter 3.
For those of you who think this book just isn't for you - I say take a chance with it! You may find you really like it!
THE HUNGER GAMES
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
Published: September 2009
Pages: 388 pp
Rating: 5 Stars out of 5
Jan 8, 2012
DOMESTIC VIOLETS by Matthew Norman
Tom Violet always wanted to be a writer. He's spent the last five years writing his first manuscript and only one person has read it. Katie, a 23-year old co-worker who he has a mad crush on read it - and loved it. Tom, being 35 and married, feels guilty and out of his league when he thinks about his inappropriate feelings for this hot junior copywriter that is his direct subordinate.
His growing feelings for Katie isn't the only problem Tom has: He and his wife, Anna, have grown distant in the last several months, which is having a direct negative effect on his sexual performance, or lack thereof. He also hates his job as a copywriter for a very large managerial support corporation, whatever that is. He dreams of selling his first book and becoming a full-time writer. This brings us to the other issue in Tom's life. He's living in the shadow of his father who is a very famous and successful writer, who has just won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
With all these things working against him, Tom Violet goes through his days like a man on the way to the death chamber. Soon, things begin to spiral out of control and he is faced with the reality of his life. An unfortunate event at work causes Tom to take the bull by the horns and do something drastic, even though there will be definite consequences. But he believes he is at the point, both in his business and person life, where he must sink or swim. And as he rides this wave, he discovers that, as far as his family is concerned, things aren't always as they seem.
I love Tom Violet. I love his personality, his love of family and his ability to use sarcasm to his advantage, mainly towards people he doesn't care for. Not since Jess Riley's DRIVING SIDEWAYS have I enjoyed such snarkiness. Granted, he uses the snarkiness to make up for his lack of confidence, but he does it in a way that makes you root for him. Well, it was that way for me, anyway. But most of all, this book is funny. Matthew Norman had me laughing out loud - a lot. It was the perfect mix of humor and really good family story.
I enjoyed all of the characters in this book, even the less than significant ones because they were easy to believe and they added to the complexity of Tom's character. Katie was a great character and was easy to identify with. Tom's father, Curtis, although he seemed so carefree and full of himself, had redeeming qualities and by the end, I really liked him.
This story, for me, was so well developed and as I read each page, I was drawn in more and more. I especially loved the epilogue. The story itself kept my attention and entertained me, but the epilogue was very moving and insightful and brought the whole book together. I love books about books, and books about people who love books, so this one was right at the top of the list for me.
I don't want to say too much more about it, only that if you haven't read this one yet, you really should change that - right now! Matthew Norman's debut effort was a huge success in my opinion and I will always be curious to see what he comes up with next.
DOMESTIC VIOLETS by Matthew Norman
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Published: August 9, 2011
Rating: 5 Stars out of 5