Tag Archives: YA

My Feels for The Hunger Games Are REAL: My THG Reread & Mockingjay Part 2 Review

*Warning: Spoilers!*

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I’m really glad I decided to pick up this series again in preparation for the last movie (so sad!). When I read the trilogy for the first time in 2012, none of the movies had come out yet (though they had been cast). My only spoiler was that I had heard one of the male characters died, and I was so worried the whole time it was going to be Peeta (I realized later the reference was to Finnick). I adored him and wanted what was best for him, so I spent all of Mockingjay SO STRESSED. But this time, I was able to appreciate Katniss’ journey even more (though I liked her a lot in my first read too).

The first read of the series, for me, was all about the characters. This second time around, it was about the overall story, particularly its themes of war and PTSD.

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In my initial read, The Hunger Games was my favorite read of the trilogy. After rereading, I think Catching Fire might actually be my new favorite, but I will not deny that this is most likely influenced by the movie, as it is also my favorite of the movies (which I can say for certain now that I have seen Mockingjay Part Two). The nice thing about Catching Fire is that we already know the main characters and the world, but we get some new secondary characters and we delve deeper into what leads to the rebellion. Also, Katniss’s interactions with Peeta are more genuine.

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The first time I read Mockingjay, I pretty much hated it until the last page before the epilogue. The pacing seemed off and I was so concerned about poor Peeta’s state. This time, I was more relaxed and able to appreciate the book more, but at the end I was amazed that despite the fact that Katniss and Peeta end up together and even have a family, the whole thing still feels downright tragic. Not in a hopeless way, otherwise I wouldn’t care for these books the same way, but she loses her sister, her mother, her best friend, basically loses her mentor, and several others in her life – some through death and some due to purposeful distance (or in the case of Haymitch, he continues to lose himself to the bottle). No one comes out of this in good shape, and that’s scary. But sometimes, that’s real life. But we see that good can still come out of it.

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I know not everyone loved the first Mockingjay movie, but I have a deep appreciation for it, and my feelings are the same for the second one. They’re hard movies because we see Katniss struggling so much, see the dirty underbelly of war, see the horrors of manipulation and PTSD. And I appreciated some of the changes they made in the films, few as they were.

In the final Mockingjay installment, we get a little more closure with Effie. Haymitch seems to be in at least a slighter better state than he did in the book. And in the scene where Katniss asks Gale about the bombs, you know with certainty when she says, “Goodbye Gale,” she means goodbye forever. That hit me much harder than his sudden disappearance in the book.

And after everything has gone down and she returns to Twelve, we get the scene with Buttercup and then we see little flashes of her starting her life over again. I actually would have liked more of this, but the movie was already bordering on too long of an ending (due to staying faithful to the book in so many ways, I might add) so I forgive it. Katniss hunts, Peeta returns, and they start to spend time together. And at the very end they have apparently ended up in the same house, because she leaves her bed to come into his room to crawl into bed with him. I was a little sad we didn’t get one more kiss when she finally admits she loves him, but it was sweet nonetheless.

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Neither the books nor the movies pulled any punches, but I think that is a large reason why this is a story that will continue to endure. It carries themes and warnings that we can all take to heart.

What are your thoughts on the last Hunger Games movie, or the books and movies in general?

“I Did Love You Once”: Thoughts on Don’t Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

Don’t Touch is a quiet book in the world of YA. I didn’t hear a lot about it before asking for it for my birthday, but I’m pretty sure my interest in it was piqued largely thanks to Kayla. It focuses on Caddie, whose parents have recently separated and is subsequently dealing with extreme anxiety, which is fed by a rule or mantra she has created for herself: don’t touch. Caddie feels that if she touches someone, or them her, skin to skin, she will be responsible for her parents’ divorce. As someone has never experienced anything like this, it was interesting to get inside her mind see her thought process.

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The book felt very genuine, from Caddie’s anxiety to her friendships and her experience as a new student at a performing arts high school (in Birmingham, Alabama! Bonus points for the Southern setting!). She reconnects with her old friend Mandy, but for me, the highlight was definitely her friendship with Peter, who she adores, but a potential relationship between them is very much complicated by don’t touch. (Bonus points for Peter being such a nice guy! I loved it!)

Part of the plot involves Caddie playing Ophelia in her school’s production in Hamlet, and I promise you I read this book in high school, but all I remember is, “To be or not to be,” and not liking it at all. Talk of the play in the book almost made me want to revisit it and see if I could appreciate it more this time around. But the key word is almost, because in the end I decided I was fine without ever reading it again.

This book felt like a 4.5 star book most of the time; I was really enjoying it but it wasn’t quite 5-star read for me, but the ending almost lowered my rating to a 4. I don’t want to say too much to spoil it, but one aspect doesn’t really wrap up at all, but that felt realistic and appropriate for the story. The other aspect I think wrapped up a little too nicely. I understood that she had struggled a ton already, but it seemed some things happened a little too quickly, but I have no expertise on the matter, so maybe it could be that way. Also, the ending didn’t really drag after the climax, but I feel like there was maybe a little more to it than necessary. I would have preferred something a little more open-ended.

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Overall, I would definitely recommend it for a realistic look at mental illness, interesting friendship dynamics, and a sweet romance.

Content advisory: Some mild to moderate language. Some talk of sex, nothing real descriptive.

Have you read Don’t Touch? What are your thoughts? What was a book that, for you, did a good job of portraying mental illness?

“So I Write it to the Sky”: The Wrath and The Dawn

It’s always a little intimidating going into a book with so much hype. And honestly, The Wrath and the Dawn started off slow for me. You are dumped into a whole new world with no background information or explanation as to what is happening or who any of the characters are. I spent probably the first 25% of the book trying to keep everyone straight and trying to figure out why I should care about any of them. I felt disconnected from all of them, but since I was reading this for book club, there was so much hype, and I wasn’t completely bored or uninterested, I kept reading. Thankfully, it really picked up for me.

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Possibly because of this disconnection at the beginning, I didn’t believe in Shahrzad’s growing attraction towards Khalid at first. She hated him and she never really said anything positive about his looks (not negative either, but she didn’t seem to be drooling over him), so I didn’t understand why her heart would flutter around him early on in the story. Does she feel connected to him because of their marriage? Is there something else about him that evokes this in her, maybe even nervousness or fear? I would have liked to have gotten some more insight into Shahrzad’s thoughts, but we’re provided with very little. This disconnect in the beginning and how it affected my view of the characters is my definitely biggest complaint of the book.

However, as the story developed and I grew to understand the characters more through their words and actions, I did find myself caring more and more. And on the night when Shahrzad learns the truth about why Khalid does what he does, I was definitely a lot more on board with them as a couple and with the story as a whole.

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The ending left me with a lot of questions, but I know most of them are definitely going to be brought up in the next book (since they’re mentioned in the synopsis), but one thing I really want to know is why Khalid sought Shahrzad out that first night, but never did with any of the other women. Because without him having done that, the rest of the story would never have happened. I really hope this comes up again, and wonder if this is somehow connected with her abilities she seems to have. Speaking of which, the element of magic and abilities was brought up later in the book than I personally felt it should have been. I wish we could have learned that about her earlier, as it seems to be an important part of her character.

The writing overall in this book was beautiful. It was written very cinematically; I could picture each scene in my mind with all the rich description given of setting, clothing, food, etc. There were multiple senses being evoked in each scene, yet I never felt it bogged down the pacing of the story, and that is masterful writing in my opinion.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and definitely plan to continue the series!

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What are your thoughts on The Wrath and the Dawn? Was it slow for you at first too or did you fall in love right away? 

The Top 5 Author Duos I Want to See

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Author Duos You’d LOVE To See Write A Book Together. I just came up with ten because I’m lazy like that. My list this week is in no particular order.

1. Cristin Terrill and Lauren Miller: High-Stakes, Twisty Contemporary Sci-Fi

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They both have written books with fabulous, intriguing plots, so imagine what they could do together! Cristin would be totally in charge of the characters though because Lauren’s characters drive me nuts!

2. Jennifer Lynn Barnes and Ally Carter: Thriller Contemporary

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I mean, they both write in the genre, it only makes sense! I think I would really love to see what they can come up with together!

3. Emery Lord and Jane Austen: Romance Filled with Witty Banter and Wonderful Slow Burns

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I know this is literally impossible due to Jane Austen being no longer living BUT CAN YOU IMAGINE. ALL THE WIT AND SWOONS.

4. Diana Peterfreund and Marissa Meyer: Imaginative Sci-Fi with the Most Wonderful Characters Ever

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Between my love of the For Darkness Shows the Stars duology (though please write more in this world Diana kthanxbai) and The Lunar Chronicles I cannot even imagine if these two came together with their sci-fi world-building ideas and amazing characters!

5. Brandon Sanderson and Scott Westerfeld: Alternate World Fantasy of Awesomeness

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In my mind, this would be like Mistborn meets Leviathan. I mean, what’s not to love about this idea?

Which authors would you like to see team up for a book, and what would the book be about?

Genre Talk: Urban Fantasy & Magical Realism

Among the many genres out there, I have never read urban fantasy. Yet I have found myself, more than once, thinking, Oh, wouldn’t it be cool for a story to have a contemporary setting but there are fantasy elements? and then remembering, Duh, that’s urban fantasy. 

But any time I have ever read a synopsis for an urban fantasy title, it’s an instant pass, not interested. It doesn’t matter that I like the contemporary books I’ve read by Cynthia Hand and Jennifer Lynn Barnes, I have no interest in their urban fantasy. Why? Well, it comes down to that paranormal/supernatural elements are generally not my cup of tea. I don’t want to read about fallen angels (unless it’s a la The Screwtape Letters) or vampires, because I just don’t have an interest there.

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So is there urban fantasy where the fantasy elements aren’t supernatural as much as they’re just… fantasy-like? Maybe a secret underworld kingdom where they lead very different lives? I think A Corner of White has this sort of story line, but I haven’t read it. Harry Potter was sort of like that… Harry lives in Muggle world but finds out his heritage of wizardry. From what I understand Percy Jackson is somewhat similar. So are these stories urban fantasy? Or are they more magical realism (another genre I’m not real knowledgeable of either)?

I get a little weirded out when I’m reading a story and expect things to be normal, and then suddenly it’s not, but with Harry Potter I knew it going into it, and I enjoyed it. Perhaps the same could be said for other stories with magical or fantasy elements in an otherwise normal world.

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Part of me blabbing about all this is not just a possible interest in reading these genres, but also in writing them. Sometimes I get story ideas I feel sort of fall into these lines, but I think, Oh, that won’t work out. It’ll seem dumb. But I’m thinking surely it can be done. I mean, I had no problem getting into the TV show Fringe and how it explored alternate universes. I know that it’s sci-fi, but why should it be different if it’s something more magical? As long as the story’s good and I can connect with the characters, that’s what matters.

So what do you think about urban fantasy and magical realism? How do you define the genres? Any books you’d recommend for me?