Tag Archives: Collins (author)

Mockingjay Review

MockingjayMockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins

Scholastic Press, 2010. 978-0439023511

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Katniss Everdeen is only sure of a few things these days: her name her age, her participation in the Hunger Games, that District 12 is gone, and that President Snow has Peeta. But there is a way to save him: become the Mockingjay, the symbol that the rebels will follow in their continued fight against the Capitol, and continue to participate in a game that she doesn’t know how to win. Can she survive the inner battle with herself in order to survive the rebellion and rescue Peeta?

Why I picked it up: That cliffhanger at the end of Catching Fire was just mean, and I felt like I needed to see that Katniss was going to recover after everything that has been happening to her.

Why I finished it: Very few books have made me openly weep like this one did. I think I spent most of the book in tears because it is a very emotional story, and these characters that we have been gunning for since day one have suddenly had their lives thrown into a chaos that few of us will ever know. Katniss is literally losing her mind because of the trauma and the drugs she is on while in the hospital, where she spends about 30% of the book. Gale is trying to support her the best that he can and her sister is making an attempt to understand the new reality of their lives, but the effects of losing Peeta and watching him deteriorate on live television proves to be just enough to keep her motivated to cooperate as the Mockingjay. But the reader also knows that Katniss is going to be faced with another decision: does she go with Gale or stay with Peeta? She knows that both men have their merits and both have been good friends to her, despite her stubbornness, but something like love has never been at the forefront of her mind. Not to mention that she needs to reconcile her feelings about the lives that have been lost over the last two books and (for lack of a better term) her survivor’s guilt. Collins has told Katniss’s story with a sort of innocence amidst the brutality of the new world order. We like Katniss because she’s at her very core she is a fighter, not necessarily with her fists or her words, but in the actions she takes to protect those she cares about. She fought to survive after her father died, she fought to survive her first Hunger Games, she fought to make it out of the arena in the Quarter Quell, and now she faces a battle with Snow and with herself. We do not often see children go to war, but Collins’ work shows us a brutal reality in which all men and women are soldiers, gives us a glimpse of the true horrors or war, and makes us understand that the fighting does not stop when a soldier returns home. While I am sad to see the characters end their story, I am satisfied with how the series is concluded. And if you are prone to crying through books as I am, read it with a box of tissues.

On a side note, Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier is a very well crafted memoir about child soldiers in Africa that sheds some light on some of the same subject matter I found to be quite powerful and that I highly recommend.

Other related materials: The Hunger Games (Book 1) by Suzanne Collins; The Hunger Games (movie); Catching Fire (The Second Book of The Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins; The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (movie)The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (movie); The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau; Independent Study (Book 2 of The Testing Series) by Joelle Charbonneau; Graduation Day (Book 3  of The Testing Series) by Joelle Charbonneau; The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins; The Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth; The Books of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau; Shadow Children books by Margaret Peterson Haddix; The Giver by Lois Lowry; Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry; Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card; Tunnels series by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams; Maze Runner books by James Dashner

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Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane Review

gregor_and_the_prophecy_of_baneGregor and the Prophecy of Bane (The Underland Chronicles, Book 2) by Suzanne Collins

Scholastic Paperbacks, 2005. 978-0439650762

Synopsis: Months have passed since Gregor’s adventure in the Underland to rescue his father and he’s getting more and more hopeful that he will never have to return. But when his sister Boots appears to be kidnapped while they are out sledding, Gregor finds himself once again at the mercy of the Underlanders and another prophecy. This time, he is called upon to kill a rat called the Bane in order to avoid another war, but will Gregor be able to fulfill the prophecy if he knows that it means his sister is in danger?

Why I picked it up: I enjoyed the first book in the series and wanted to keep following Gregor’s adventures.

Why I finished it: Like The Hunger Games, The Underland Chronicles sets children in the midst of a war-like setting and explores how the characters and the reader react to the traumas. Gregor is clearly affected by his first trip to the Underland and though the circumstances by which he finds himself coming back are unforseen, he knows that he has a duty to protect his sister and help the Underlanders. While he does not think of himself as much of a warrior, Gregor is indeed being molded into one so that he will be able to fight in a war that no one knows if they will win since the disruption of an uneasy peace. He is rejoined by Princess Luxa, Ares the bat, and Ripred the Rat, who still share the same strange camaraderie as in the first book, and each have some sort of role to play in Gregor’s renewed quest to stave off conflict. The story is growing much more emotionally intense now that Boots is in danger of being taken by the rats. Gregor is growing much more anxious about how his life and those of the Underlanders are becoming more and more intertwined. Collins has created a world filled with high adventure with danger lurking around an unsuspecting corner that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat and turning the pages until they reach the final dramatic conclusion.

Other related materials: Gregor the Overlander (The Underland Chronicles, Book 1) by Suzanne Collins; Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods (The Underland Chronicles, Book 3) by Suzanne Collins; Gregor and the Marks of Secret (The Underland Chronicles, Book 4) by Suzanne Collins; Gregor and the Code of Claw (The Underland Chronicles, Book 5) by Suzanne Collins; The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins; The Books of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau; Fablehaven books by Brandon Mull, illustrated by Brandon Dorman; Beyonders books by Brandon Mull; Five Kingdoms series by Brandon Mull; Wings of Fire books by Tui T. Sutherland; The Maze Runner books by James Dashner; Adventurers Wanted books by M.L. Forman; Kenny & the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi; The Search for WondLa series by Tony DiTerlizzi

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Catching Fire Review

catching_fireCatching Fire (The Second Book of The Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins

Scholastic Press, 2013. 978-0545586177

Synopsis: Now that Katniss and Peeta have been crowned the Victors of the Hunger Games, their lives have become even more complicated than they have imagined. While they and their families are now safe and are well-provided for, there is unrest in the Capitol over their victory. Whispers of rebellion have reached the ears of President Snow and Katniss and Peeta are the catalysts. Can they maintain their lovebirds facade and quash a rebellion or will the Capitol have their revenge?

Why I picked it up: I wanted to make sure I read it before I saw the movie. Plus, I finally got around to reading The Hunger Games and was eager to know what happens next.

Why I finished it: Other than NEEDING TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS, wondering if we were going to see more of President Snow, and trying to pick between Team Peeta and Team Gale, Collins has significantly upped the stakes for our Girl on Fire. Not only does she have to worry about a Victory Tour, but she becomes the contestant in yet another Hunger Games in which the contestants are past winners. And much to my distraught, we are given more characters to potentially come to care about before they fall victim to any of the tricks and traps in the arena. We are also seeing Katniss begin to fray a little bit more after coming home from the games – much like a soldier coming home from a war, the images of horror aren’t going to leave her, and the one person that she could reach out to is also the one person she doesn’t want to ask for help. She’s also painfully aware of the fact that both Peeta and Gale care deeply about her, but she can’t with good conscience seem to return their affections in a way that is real. The plot is fast-paced and well conceived, creating a sense of urgency and hope as the reader watches Katniss struggle both privately and publicly to stay alive. Collins has improved on the original, and I am eager to see how the story will end.

Other related materials: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (movie); The Hunger Games (Book 1) by Suzanne Collins; The Hunger Games (movie); Mockingjay (The Third Book of The Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins; The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau; Independent Study (Book 2 of The Testing Series) by Joelle Charbonneau; The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins; The Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth; The Books of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau; Shadow Children books by Margaret Peterson Haddix; The Giver by Lois Lowry; Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card; Tunnels series by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams; Maze Runner books by James Dashner

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Guest Review: The Hunger Games

the-hunger-gamesThe Hunger Games (Book 1) by Suzanne Collins

Scholastic Press, 2010. 978-0439023528

Reviewed by: Emily S.

Synopsis: The nation of Panem, a supposed post-apocalyptic North America, has a wealthy region known as “The Capitol” surrounded by 12 other poorer regions known as districts. Earlier in Panem history there was a rebellion against the Capitol lead by the now extinct 13th district. The rebellion brought on the televised event known as “The Hunger Games”. As punishment, each district must offer up one boy and one girl, between the ages of 12-18 through a lottery type system to participate in the games, called the ‘Reaping’. During the Reaping, Katniss’s younger sister Primrose is chosen as a tribute. Katniss refuses to let her sister participate in the games so she volunteers herself to take her sister’s place.

Why I wanted to read it: I wanted to read the book for two reasons: the movie was coming out soon; seeing the trailer made me interested.

Why I finished it: I finished the book because I became attached to the characters. The book is in first-person, so you don’t get to know much about the other characters other than Katniss, but I really liked her. She is strong and she really cares about her family and her sister. She wants to protect her family so much and she is so family-oriented that she volunteers herself to take her sister’s place in the games. Plus, I could never put the book down. I really liked the story and the writing was really good and it made me want to read more to find out what happens.

Other related materials: The Hunger Games (movie); Catching Fire (The Second Book of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; Mockingjay (The Third Book of The Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins; The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau; Independent Study (Book 2 of The Testing Series) by Joelle Charbonneau; The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins; The Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth; The Books of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau; Shadow Children books by Margaret Peterson Haddix; The Giver by Lois Lowry; Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card; Tunnels series by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams; Maze Runner books by James Dashner

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Gregor the Overlander Review

The_Underland_Chronicles_-_Gregor_the_OverlanderGregor the Overlander (The Underland Chronicles, Book 1) by Suzanne Collins

Scholastic, 2003.

Synopsis: Gregor is an ordinary kid living in New York City with his mom and his two younger sisters, whom he has been taking care of for the last couple of years ever since his dad disappeared. Then, one day when Gregor is doing the laundry, he follows his sister down a ventilation shaft and ends up in a dark but bustling metropolis beneath his home. Turns out, he and his sister are not the first Overlanders to come to the Underland – his dad fell down to the Underland as well. With the help of the Underlanders, Gregor decides to go on a mission to rescue his dad and bring him back to the surface.

Why I picked it up: Another title recommended to me by my library school classmates, I found a copy on sale at Target and couldn’t resist.

Why I finished it: Fantasy is such a broad category of literature that you can really do most anything you want, which is what I love most about the genre. Collins capitalizes on its versatility by creating a world that is both fantastical and yet, highly plausible. It could be that there is an entire other land beneath our feet populated with larger than life rodents, bugs, and of course, humans. It’s very reminiscent of DuPrau’s City of Ember, except that this story is a little more action packed. It begins with an ordinary boy trying to look out for his family after his dad has mysteriously disappeared, and he won’t even afford himself the luxury of thinking about what he will do when he sees his father again because Gregor is an idealist. He needs to be able to focus on the here and now, not about what could happen. The Underlanders on the other hand, need to be able to look a few steps ahead, especially since they’re trying to keep peace with a kingdom of rats with which they share the Underland. The characters are likeable, but Gregor is the only one that really gets a lot of fleshing out; his Underland companions and even his family are somewhat two-dimensional, and there are a few characters that don’t even occupy enough space on the page to allow the reader to get to know them. Despite this, Collins has woven together an engaging tale of unlikely heroism (is there any other kind?) that is well-paced and connects with the reader on a personal level.

Other related materials: Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane (The Underland Chronicles, Book 2) by Suzanne Collins; Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods (The Underland Chronicles, Book 3) by Suzanne Collins; Gregor and the Marks of Secret (The Underland Chronicles, Book 4) by Suzanne Collins; Gregor and the Code of Claw (The Underland Chronicles, Book 5) by Suzanne Collins; The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins; Eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff; Into the Firestorm: A Novel of San Francisco, 1906 by Deborah Hopkinson; Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan; The Kane Chronicles books by Rick Riordan; Kenny and the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi; Clementine by Sarah Pennypacker; Pie by Sarah Weeks; Waiting for the Magic by Patricia McLachlan, illustrated by Amy June Bates; The Books of Ember books by Jeanne DuPrau; Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, illustrated by Greg Call; Holes by Louis Sachar

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