Wednesday, August 25, 2010

SPOILER FREE Mockingjay Review

I promise.

Well, unlike the lucky people who went to midnight parties and then read all day yesterday, I couldn't start reading it until last night, since I had to work all day yesterday (selling lots of copies of Mockingjay, the third and final volume in Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games Trilogy). I finished it this morning.

Was it worth it? Oh yes, by all means. Buy the book. Or borrow it from a friend. Or beg for it if you must. Will Katniss accept her new role as the Mockingjay, the face of the rebellion against the Capitol? What does this involve? Does it have anything to do with flaming arrows? And how will the rebels treat her and her family and friends? This is like a bizarre form of "Survivor" gone crazy, when even war is televised for entertainment. There's a terrific quote about bread and circuses, which you'll understand when you read the book.

You MUST read it for yourself.

Mockingjay is expertly crafted and plotted. It all comes together in the end. The writing is seamless. And Suzanne Collins is a master of the cliffhanger chapter ending, so you have to keep reading and reading and reading. She fires off one exciting event after another. Lots of familiar characters from the first two books return. And there are numerous surprises. I'm sure my mouth was hanging open at certain parts.

But I'm also drained.


So much violence. Which reminded me an awful lot of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Too many deaths. No spoiler there -- this is war, people.

I won't tell you who dies, though.

And I definitely won't tell you who Katniss ends up with. I wouldn't want to spoil it for you if you're solidly on one "team" or another.

In fact, I'm taking a stand here. I may be the only one who feels this way, but -- dare I say it? -- the romance was NEVER an important part of Collins's trilogy. Never.

It's all about the folly of war.

And, perhaps not surprisingly, I'm reminded of the first sequence of children's books Suzanne Collins wrote, The Underland Chronicles, starting with Gregor the Overlander. Though written for a slightly younger audience, the Gregor books showed the senselessness of fighting and did it beautifully.

I'll leave you with a quote from Mockingjay:

"Because something is significantly wrong with a creature that sacrifices its children's lives to settle its differences... The truth is, it benefits no one to live in a world where these things happen."

Have you read it yet? What did YOU think? Was the romance the most important part? Or the war?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Jordan Sonnenblick Hits the Big Time!

It's that time of year.

High schools and middle schools will be back in session soon. So of course this means the procrastinators (you know who you are) are scrambling to purchase their required summer reading books.

And then read them in a week or less...

What's different about this year's summer reading rack at the bookstore where I work?

Two words: Jordan Sonnenblick.

You know an author has really succeeded when one of his books is now required reading, cozying up to the likes of Jerry Spinelli, J.D. Salinger, John Steinbeck, Erich Maria Remarque, and Upton Sinclair. Let's take a closer look at that, eh?

So congrats to Jordan for making it big. It's well-deserved.
Notes From the Midnight Driver is funny and touching, with a depth rarely found in contemporary YA fiction. Nobody else (with the exception of Jerry Spinelli) writes teen boy voices as authentically as Jordan Sonnenblick. I've read all of his books (and reviewed Zen and the Art of Faking it for Booksense in 2007). I laughed and cried through them all.

What's YOUR favorite Jordan Sonnenblick novel? (What?!? What do you mean you haven't read any? Get busy!)

And what contemporary author do YOU think deserves to be required summer reading?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mockingjay Fever?

Are you like me?

Dying of anticipation?

Looking at your calendar every day, willing it to be August 24th already?

While you're waiting for MOCKINGJAY, the most-highly anticipated YA novel since, well, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, run on over to Sara's brilliant post at the First Novels Club blog and add your two cents.

Which Disney Princess would win the Hunger Games?

(My money's on Pocahontas. She's got that whole living in the woods thing going on.)

What do YOU do when you're eagerly waiting for a new book to arrive?

Read a different book?
Work on a manuscript?
Chew your nails?
Eat tons of chocolate?

*Wipes mouth* Um, don't look at me...

Thursday, August 12, 2010


This book is adorable. Kiersten White had me on page 2 of the ARC with this line:

"And trust me: Vampires? Not. Sexy."

Oh, you've gotta LOVE anything that makes fun of Twilight and its ilk. This is hilarious. And sweet and sexy without being raunchy (which I think is a difficult thing to pull off).

Evie is 16 and can see through glamours. This makes her extremely useful to the IPCA (the International Paranormal Containment Agency). She's an orphan with no memory of her parents and she's lived at the Center almost as long as she can remember. The Center, run by Raquel, took her in and gave her a place to live and a job. Evie finds vampires, werewolves, goblins and more, and brings them in for rehabilitation. Faeries provide instant transportation if she needs to go to, say, Budapest, in a hurry.

But now something unknown and deadly is killing paranormals. Does Lend, the strange but totally hot waterboy, have anything to do with it? Or is there someone else out there? Someone who has something in common with Evie?

Evie is a refreshing character, wise-cracking and yet vulnerable and sweet (she wants more than anything to go to a real high school and have a locker). She loves fashion. And did I mention she's funny? Read Kiersten's terrific blog for more details.

Coming on August 31 from Harperteen, and fine for ages 12 and up.