Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This is a tricky review to write because Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games is a solid book; it’s engaging and a quick read. The trouble with reading it, though, is that you’ll want to read the second (Catching Fire) and you’ll be so intrigued by its cliffhanger that you’ll pick up the final book in the trilogy The Mockingjay, which is a tremendous let-down.

This book is more than an Americanized Battle Royale (a Japanese manga/movie about kids forced to fight to the death.) Collins’ fictional and futuristic Panem is divided into 12 districts and an oppressive Capitol. The districts are walled and separated from one another. Each year, all districts are required to send two tributes (a boy and girl) to the Capitol to compete in the Hunger Games and the victor’s district receives a year’s supply of food. As the Games are required viewing for all the people of Panem, the Capitol uses them as propaganda to showcase its domination. read more

Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Every now and then I pick up a book just because of how it feels in my hands. Stephen Chbosky’s book is oddly shaped and a slender 213 pages. The cover is a bright, limey green and it fit so nicely in my hand I couldn’t think of returning it to the shelf. I know this makes me superficial, but the back promised it was “unique, hilarious and devastating” in the tradition of The Catcher in the Rye or A Separate Peace. How could I not read it?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is written as a series of letters by a fifteen year-old boy named Charlie. They’re conversational, intimate letters, though the person receiving them does not know Charlie. He begins each letter “Dear friend” and closes with “Love always.” It would be easy to dismiss his style as simplistic, but he’s so earnest and honest I found his voice endearing. His writing is not forced, but it may take a few pages before you get into the flow of it. The plot meanders as Charlie narrates his freshman year of high school, but it gets huge points for not building up to an overhyped prom and prom-related activities for its conclusion. read more

Review: Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

Swamplandia! is an enviable attempt at a first novel. The New York Times Book Review proclaims: “Vividly worded, exuberant in characterization, the novel is a wild ride…This family, wrestling with their desires and demons…will lodge in the memories of anyone lucky enough to read Swamplandia!” True.  The writing is vivid, the characterizations are exuberant, and it is memorable; but the last quarter is so terrible, that I can’t recommend the book as a whole. read more