“Mockingjay” Suzanne Collins

Rated 5 stars ***** ebook. 2010. Scholastic Press. The Hunger Games #3.

MockingjayAfter being rescued from the arena by rebels from District 13 Katniss feels unmoored because they were unable to rescue Peeta. She is sure President Snow is torturing him for information. With fighting going on in every district, the rebels need to unite if they want to attack the Capitol, so they need Katniss to be the voice of the rebellion – their Mockingjay. Reluctantly Katniss accepts the role, but her mind and heart are constantly on Peeta. Though she’s not sure about her feelings for him, she does know that she wants him back. She also wants revenge against Snow, and is determined to do whatever it takes to make him pay.

This third book of the Hunger Games series was filled with action and adventure before it reached its satisfying conclusion.

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Catching fire” Suzanne Collins

Rated 5 stars ***** ebook. Scholastic Press. 2009. The Hunger Games #2. 

Catching fireIn this second book of the Hunger Games series, Katniss endures the wrath of President Snow because she dared defy him and the Capitol when she prepared to eat poisonous berries at the end of their Games. Though she later claimed she did it out of love for Peeta because she didn’t want to kill him, he knows Rebels in other districts took her actions as encouragement.

President Snow threatens Katniss that she needs to make the Rebels truly believe she’s in love with Peeta and that she didn’t mean to start a rebellion. However, when he feels she hasn’t been convincing enough, he enacts his own revenge. She, Peeta and all winning Tributes from every Hunger Games in the past are forced to return to the ring for the Quarter Quell – a celebration of the Games that occurs every 25 years. As she endures another nightmare Games Katniss plans to keep Peeta alive, knowing only one of them can make it out alive this time.

The second book in this series was as amazing as I remembered it to be! It was so exciting that I couldn’t wait to pick up book 3 “Mockingjay” to find out what happens next to Peeta and Katniss – the star crossed lovers of Panem. BTW

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.

“The Hunger Games” Suzanne Collins

The hunger gamesRated 5 stars ***** ebook. Scholastic. 2018. The Hunger Games #1 (Special Edition). (Includes two interviews: “Interview with Suzanne Collins” and “Suzanne Collins and Walter Dean Myers on writing about war.”)

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen lives in District 12 with her mother and little sister Prim. She and her best friend Gale have been hunting in the woods ever since their fathers died in a coal-mining explosion when she was eleven. The woods provide food for their poor families – even though poaching is an offense the rich Capitol punishes with death.

The Capitol rules its 12 Districts with an iron fist, keeping everyone poor and forcing two children from each district to fight to the death in the annual Hunger Games. Each year residents are forced to attend the Reaping where names are drawn. When Prim’s name is called Katniss is shocked, and quickly volunteers herself as a Tribute to protect her.

She and Peeta Mellark, the other Tribute from her district, are assigned a Sponsor. They are encouraged to pretend to be star-crossed lovers, to play on the public’s feelings and get costly supplies delivered during the Games. What Katniss doesn’t know is that Peeta has been in love with her since he was five years old. As she sorts through her confused feelings about him and Gale, she will have to cross an invisible line in her mind if she wants them to survive.

I first read the Hunger Games series sometime in 2011 so, after reading “The ballad of songbirds and snakes,” I needed to refresh my memory on Professor Snow and the others in the series. This second reading was as exciting as the first, and I look forward to reading “Catching fire,” the next book in the series.

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.

“The ballad of songbirds and snakes” Suzanne Collins

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. Scholastic. (The Hunger Games #0). Published May 19, 2020.

The ballad of songbirds and snakesCoriolanus Snow endured hunger, deprivation, and the loss of both parents during the Rebel siege on the Capitol. His cousin’s bargaining abilities at the Black Market enabled them to survive, but the Snow family fortune was destroyed. Coriolanus is determined to keep it secret that the Snows, one of the Capitol’s Old Guard families, is poor.

His favorite professor at the Academy was able to get him assigned to one of the tributes for the upcoming Hunger Games as a student mentor, so he has a chance to vie for a University scholarship. Coriolanus knows winning the Games is his only hope to having a future, and is desperate to win. When he’s assigned Lucy Gray Baird from District 12 he’s disappointed because he’d hoped for a strong boy, however, her musical abilities and joie de vivre help to change his mind.

As he spends time with Lucy Gray, he begins to think of her as a person instead of as a tribute. His determination to protect her from the other tributes, and to win, begins to override rational thoughts until the lines between right and wrong get blurred. As time goes on Coriolanus’ determination to always win, and to always come out on top, will forever change their lives.

When I was given the opportunity to read this ARC, I wondered if it would be as interesting as the other books in The Hunger Games series because, after all, it IS about the very evil President Snow. However, not only is it exciting, but I found myself feeling sorry for Coriolanus. SORRY for HIM?! I can hear gasps echoing around the world, but let me preface that comment. I felt sorry for him in the BEGINNING and MIDDLE of the book, but definitely not by the end. Make sure to read the book to find out why.

I’m now off to reread The Hunger Games series and decipher clues revealed in “The ballad of songbirds and snakes.” I won’t be surprised if Collins writes another follow up to the Coriolanus Snow saga.

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.

I received a digital advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

“The boy on the bridge” M.R. Carey

Rated 4 stars **** ebook. Orbit (Hachette Book Group). 2017.

The boy on the bridgeA group of 12 scientists and soldiers set out from the last city left in Great Britain in an armored research vehicle, nicknamed Rosie, tasked with searching for specimens that had been left behind a year earlier by another group of scientists. They’re hopeful that also sampling “hungries” on the journey will help them find a cure for Cordyceps, a disease that has turned almost everyone on earth into “hungries,” zombies who seek anything alive. Time is of the essence or mankind, as they know it, will disappear.

Stephen Greaves is a fifteen-year-old genius autistic brought onto the trip by his mentor. On one of Rosie’s stops he notices a child who eats like a hungry but acts and thinks like a human. He slips out to look for her in the nearest town, and finds a band of them. The next day his plan to study them is interrupted when a child is killed by one of Rosie’s soldiers, who is also killed. Stephen takes the body and hides it aboard Rosie. Soon Stephen makes an incredible discovery, but the band of hungry children start tracking Rosie through the wilderness. He knows they want the body and will do anything for its return.

This book was written after “The girl with all the gifts,” and is supposed to be its predecessor. There are a few things explained from “The girl” that were a little questionable, but “The boy” left its own set of unanswered questions. I’m wondering if the author is planning on doing a part 3. I liked “The boy” more than “The girl” because Stephen was a strong character and made me feel more involved in the storyline. However I still have questions about the time span between the two books, and what happened in those years to make Dr. Caldwell decide to study the children.

Despite this, I will go ahead and recommend it for Adults.

“The girl with all the gifts” M.R. Carey

Rated 3 stars *** 2015. Orbit (Hatchette). 431 p. (Includes “Interview [with the author],” “Reading group guide,” and a chapter from an upcoming book.)

The girl with all the giftsA strange type of spore has invaded the world, changing most of the population into zombies. Mindless “hungries” are left to wander the ruined land seeking blood. There are just a few pockets of normal civilizations, who shut themselves behind barricaded walls guarded by soldiers. Ten-year-old Melanie has grown up in such a place with other children, strapped into wheelchairs by soldiers for school, and kept in cells at all other times. Her mind is eager for knowledge, and she longs for the times when Miss Justineau, her favorite teacher, visits the classroom.

After hungries attack her secure area, Melanie, Miss Justineau, an evil doctor and two soldiers are left to make their way South towards one of the only remaining civilizations left in Great Britain knowing that hungries lie in wait on every crumbled street in every forsaken city. It is the ingenuity of little Melanie, and the love she has for her teacher, which powers the book towards its inevitable ending. I wasn’t a fan of that ending, but it seemed to make the most sense given everything else that happened in the book.

At first I was bored, and couldn’t get into the book. It wasn’t until the hungries invaded that I became more invested. Though it had a slow start it raised a lot of thinking about what happens when an Apocalypse occurs, but it also left quite a few unanswered questions. The Q & A with the author at the end was very enlightening.

I recommend this book for Adults.

“The Handmaid’s tale” by Margaret Atwood

Rated 2 stars ** ebook. 1986. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The handmaid's taleIn a futuristic dystopian world, women have become chattel. Since diseases, sicknesses and other events had caused women to become infertile, it was believed women of childbearing age should become handmaidens to bear children for the wives of rich officials. Rachel’s maid Bilhah had done so with Jacob in Biblical times, setting the stage for these modern day handmaids to do the same.

In addition to securing a future with more children in it, the rulers sought to remove societal blights of all types. This included anyone who didn’t worship the same, who didn’t believe in their way of doing things, or who otherwise caused the status quo to be questioned. Though secret groups of resistance existed, it was clear resistance was futile.

Readers are introduced to this dark world by a handmaiden who tells her story of how she became a handmaiden and, bit by bit, reveals how she lost her best friend, mother, daughter and lover.

I failed to figure out why such a big deal is being made over this book because of the tv series by the same name. In fact, I found the book to be very boring, and it took every ounce of willpower to read it in its entirety. I was sure it would pick up, but that never happened. Perhaps I’m missing the author’s reasoning for why she wrote it, but I could barely keep from nodding off every time I picked it up.

Though I was not a fan, I’ll leave it up to you Adult readers to decide if you want to read it or not.

 

“Wide awake” David Levithan

Rated 5 stars ***** 2006. Knopf Books. 221 p.

WideAwakeDuncan and his boyfriend Jimmy, along with their friends, have been working hard on the campaign of Abraham Stein hoping he will become the first gay, Jewish President of the United States. Stein wins by 1000 votes, and everyone is ecstatic – except for the governor of Kansas who insists there was election tampering and hopes to have him defeated. With his opponent refusing to concede the election, hoping to have Stein lose votes in the recount, Stein invites Americans to join him in Kansas to protest the behind-the-scenes politics working to take away the people’s vote.

Jimmy fiercely believes in action when he spots wrongdoing, while Duncan hopes silence will make bad things disappear. Their differences of opinion begin to rise to the surface with Stein’s election issues, and the trip to Kansas seems to be the match that could set them off in different directions. With a strong belief in America’s founding principles of “liberty and justice for all,” the two embark on a trip that will forever change the views they hold of their country, its citizens and themselves.

Levithan mixes politics, romance, relationships and history to give readers a dystopian story that, though written in 2006, is eerily prescient of the 2016 elections. His descriptions of the Kansas rally reminded me of the Atlanta Women’s March, where I joined millions of other women across the nation to march in solidarity for civil rights and liberties. It’s impossible to not compare the hateful vitriol spewed forth from the opposition party in “Wide awake” to that emitted by supporters of our current administration.

Eleven years have passed since Levithan took pen to paper, and many things have happened politically – including the election of our nation’s first Black president. One can only hope America will have its own Abraham Stein to elect in the years to come. Thank you David for opening our eyes to its possibility.

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Tabula Rasa” Kristen Lippert-Martin

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. To be published September 23, 2014. Egmont USA.

TabulaRasaSarah was patiently waiting for her last brain surgery. Finally she would be relieved of all the memories that had been clogging her mind and would be free to reinvent herself as a new person. The hospital she was in had the latest technology and the best nursing care available, so Sarah wasn’t worried. Everything was going to be just fine.

On the last day of her surgery, everything was going as planned until a power failure caused it to be postponed. Within a matter of hours, she’d regained part of her memory, began fleeing for her life from an army of trained soldiers sent to kill her, found herself falling in love with a strange hacker dude, and uncovered heartbreaking memories which revealed a deep, dark secret about her past.

Lippert-Martin’s dystopian, action-packed, thriller adventure will have its readers on the edges of their seats as they eagerly read to find out what will happen next to Sarah. Each cliffhanger chapter ending reveals a new key to the mystery, making it impossible to put down the book until it’s all finished.

Highly recommended for ages 12 and older.

“Dark Days” Kate Ormand

Rated 3 stars *** To be published June 3, 2014. ebook. ARC. Sky Pony Press.

DarkDaysWhat do you do when you have only 15 days left to live? This is the fate that awaits sixteen-year-old Sia as she and everyone in her sector prepare to die. Hundreds of citizens have not been selected by the leaders and airlifted away to safety in the New World so, with the sector surrounded by metal walls, which block their escape; they must all face their fate at the hands of a cyborg army. These will be sent to kill them in 15 days and, since no other sector has survived a cyborg attack, death is inevitable. Sia has prepared herself to die, and is upset her mom won’t accept their fate while her dad seems to be avoiding conversation about it.

When Sia meets eighteen-year-old Mace, her opinion changes as she realizes she could try to fight for her life. Along with a small band of rebels, Sia and Mace plot to overthrow the New World and gain freedom for their sector. Along the way, they will encounter fierce resistance, while learning of the power of love, sacrifice and friendship.

Ormand’s foray into YA dystopian lit is a novel which will inspire conversation about the reasons of selection to the New World versus those who were left behind, slated for death. The semi-open ending left room for a follow-up book, leading me to believe “Dark Days” will become another one of those series books I detest reading.

I will leave it up to those of you who are 14 years old and older to decide if you want to Read it or Not.