Tag Archives: Book

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins


Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A decent story and conclusion. Not my favourite of the trilogy. Catching Fire I think was the best; it had more of a political statement to be made, and had a greater emotional punch, in my opinion.

OK, so Katniss spent the majority of this story “going through the motions” for the most part. The first part of the book centred on how the refugees of District 13 were basically in a self-enforced prison; which to me didn’t seem much better than the previous system of rule. Then, yet more training and being let loose in the various Districts, for publicity shoots, before a few of them go on a mission in the Capitol itself. Katniss leads this rag-tag team, after defying their orders (unbeknownst to the team – or so she thinks) into moving further into the city to assassinate President Snow.

Peeta, despite being traumatised by his ordeal and captivity, is also part of this team. Which didn’t seem like a particularly clever plan…

As it turned out, the leader of District 13, Coin, wasn’t really much better than the current President. Worse in some respects, as she was willing to commit some heinous acts of violence (blaming them on the other side, of course) in order to advance to power.

After all the “will they, won’t they” love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale, I for one hoped that she would have chosen the “other” one..

A solid conclusion to the trilogy, but for me the previous book held my attention more – there was much more tension and threat when the characters were still part of the original system, but having to play the game very carefully. Here, the threat was more overt, and therefore more straightforward. At least until the final act.

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The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde


The Picture of Dorian GrayThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dorian Gray is a beautiful youth. After having posed for a portrait by his artist friend, he realises that the painting will always remain his perfect image, whilst his own body ages and dies. He declares that it should be the other way around. Slowly Dorian realises that inexplicably his portrait changes over time, whilst he appears to stay the same. Years pass as Dorian goes from one obsession to another, experiencing all that life has to offer. Friends and acquaintances come and go, and ultimately shun him once they have left his company. Dorian eventually resorts to extreme measures to keep his secret from others, but it’s not enough. Ultimately his attempt to destroy the painting, also destroys himself.

This is a curious period-piece of literature. Focusing almost entirely on Dorian’s relationships with his earliest friends, Basil and Lord Henry, the extreme life that Dorian leads is mostly inferred. With the exception of one or two scenes which are described in detail, you are expected to only imagine how badly he behaved when corrupting his other acquaintances! Presumably why they can neither look him in the eye, nor speak to him when they subsequently cross paths..

It’s no wonder the character and this story has been adapted and re-played over the years. Dorian Gray continues to intrigue as much today, as he did then.

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Catching Fire (The Hunger Games Book 2) by Suzanne Collins


Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second book in The Hunger Games trilogy keeps you equally as enraptured as the first. I had previously seen the Catching Fire movie, and had to go back and watch it a second time after reading this because I thought I had missed something – which I hadn’t, as such. The whole of the first TWO THIRDS of this book are crammed into the first 5-10 minutes of the movie! Which is a shame really. Most of the political and social commentary takes place before Katniss and Peeta find their way back into the arena. I guess the movie is supposed to be more action-oriented, but the action makes so much more sense when you understand WHY they are fighting against the oppression of the government.

Parts 1 and 2 cover Katniss’ new life in District 12, and how she copes with the “fame” and the new lifestyle that being a champion of the games provides. In order to keep the powers that be happy, the wedding between K & P is being planned and treated as a “reality show special” for those following the news in the Capitol. Katniss continues to go hunting, but she no longer has to bring in the food for her own family, instead she looks after Gale’s. Her (non)relationship with Gale is, of course, very difficult for her to come to terms with; particularly once the “wedding” is announced.

There are snippets of information that Katniss learns of uprisings in other districts by accidentally viewing transmissions meant for the officials of D12. In addition she becomes aware of the resistance, the existence of district 13, and the significance of the Mockingjay symbol, when she encounters some escapees in the woods.

Supposedly the special rules for the “Quarter Quell” games (every 25 years) were written decades before; but we’re led to believe that this is a sham when Katniss and the other champions are summoned back to fight each other.

Only when we get to Part 3 of the book to we get back to the Arena.

In my opinion the book was WAY better than the movie, just in terms of packing more of an emotional significance to the story lines. The greater detail in the politics, the resistance factions, etc. all bring a huge richness to this world. In short, it’s brilliant!

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The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


The Sign of the Four
The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In terms of plot, this is not my favourite Sherlock Holmes novel. However in terms of “quotability”, some of the most memorable lines that are often repeated in various subsequent adaptations originate here.

Holmes begins this investigation after experiencing a period of boredom, and it is here where we are introduced to his recreational use of cocaine. This is explained simply as a way of providing a distraction for Holmes’ mind, which must be continually challenged at the highest level in order for him to even function on what we would consider a more “normal” level. In modern terms we may have diagnosed Sherlock Holmes as having a mild form of Autism or Asperger Syndrome; particularly with his intense focus on a single problem to the exclusion of all else, and his apparent inability to view a situation from another person’s perspective.

The case presented in this novel also introduces us to Miss Mary Morstan, and her relationship with Watson. The mystery is in fact fairly straight forwards, and Holmes has much of it figured out before long, but doesn’t reveal his insights until he has tracked down the supporting evidence.

It is the character development which is the highlight of this story; of all the main players, Holmes, Watson, and Mary Morstan.

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her sister’s place when she is randomly chosen to take part in the “Hunger Games”, and along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark have to fight to the death with the other selected tributes from the 12 Districts of a somewhat dystopian future American society.

Written as a YA novel, it is able to explore mature subjects in a fantastical setting and therefore making them accessible for anyone to understand, regardless of age. Such subjects explored include the politics associated with an autocratic regime and how it attempts to keep its’ subjects under control by restricting the flow of resources, and enforcing this annual “contest” to keep the general population from asserting their own opinions and power. Leaning towards how a fascist regime may operate if allowed to continue in the long-term. The differences between the rich and the poor are emphasised by the excesses in the Capital where beauty, fashion, and celebrity culture is taken to the extreme, and ultimately becomes a parody of itself. Where, in contrast the struggle for simple survival in the poorer Districts is the main driving force. Descriptions of the 12 Districts therefore also touch on broader themes of apartheid and segregation of community.

A fast-paced novel, which keeps you engaged to the last page. The characters are very well developed, each with their own story to tell. Some of whom we understand and come to love through the main story, but even those who make only a fleeting appearance have clear motivations – or are deliberately there to raise suspicion.

The film was great. In my opinion, the book is always better!
One down, two to go.

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