taketimetoshine: (Sam)
Richard Adams - Watership Down
The blurb:Set in England's Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of friends, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society.
My rating: 4/5
Tagged: classics, fantasy, animals, childrens
Date I started this book: 12/05/16
Date I finished this book: 16/05/16

What did I think? I want to read more classic books, and older titles that I feel I should've read, and one of these is Watership Down. I had been aware of the book and film and the basic premise, but didn't realised that it was such an adventure story.

The story begins as young rabbit Fiver has a vision that something terrible to going to happen to the warren, he convinces his brother Hazel to go to the Chief Rabbit and tell him that they need to leave the warren. Hazel is dismissed, but Fiver is so insistent and has had visions before, so he decides that they should leave the warren, taking certain of their trusted friends with them. the Owsla, or council, of the warren find out about this and try to arrest them, but the small band of rabbits is able to escape.

The rest of the first part of the book then describes their journey to finally find a new warren on Watership Down, evading dogs, snares and other suspicious rabbits, but this is by no means the end of the story. Once the band have begun to dig their own warren, Hazel realises that they are going to run into a problem - they are all male rabbits and there are no Does to breed with.

With the help of a seagull, Kehaar, that the rabbits take care of when he is injured, they locate Efrafra and hope to negotiate a peaceful coexistence with them, if some does would like to leave with them, but this is not to the liking of the despotic leader, General Woundwort.

As classics go, Watership Down was not hard to read at all, maybe it's because it's a relatively `modern classic'. It does have some `rabbit language' which can be a bit difficult to decipher, but it's worthwhile to stick with it. What really comes through in the text if Adams' love for the countryside and creatures he is writing about, it's almost a love letter to the English landscape and while seen through the eyes of the rabbits it can be a scary and uncertain place, there is still time in their trek to enjoy their surroundings.
taketimetoshine: (Default)
Suzanne Collins - Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3)
The blurb:Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans -- except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay -- no matter what the personal cost.

My rating: 4/5
Tagged: young adult, dystopia, science fiction, fantasy
Date I started this book: 19/02/16
Date I finished this book: 24/02/16

What did I think? The goriest and darkest of the trilogy, we find that Katniss Everdeen, still the 17-year old who survived two Hunger Games, is now the Mockingjay, or the face of the rebellion against the Capitol, and President Snow. This book picks up from where Book 2 "Catching Fire", left off, after Katniss breaks apart the facade of the Arena, effectively bringing the Games to an end, and on a larger level, the whole idea of being a spectacle for the Capitol's sick entertainment and subject to its power and oppression.

In an ironic twist, the rebels who set up base in District 13 (which had been thought to be totally destroyed), uses the very weapon that had been the crux of the Capitol's powers - the media. As an emblem of the rebellion, Katniss finds herself airbrushed and beautified to win support from the other oppressed districts, and through trial and error, finds what works best is to get to "Beauty Base Zero", which is "what a person would look like if they stepped out of bed looking flawless but natural. It means my nails are perfectly shaped but not polished. My hair is soft and shiny but not styled.... As a rebel I thought I'd get to look more like myself. But it seems a televised rebel has her own standards to live up to." With sardonic wit, Collins nonetheless convinces the reader with the sobering consistency of her dystopian world.

In the previous installments, the various prep teams and stylist teams assigned to the tributes had stood out for their frivolous antics in the heavily perfumed and sanitised environment outside the arena, but here, they become part of the blood and gore, manicures and fake lashes notwithstanding. While Katniss continues to struggle with her own feelings for Peeta and Gale, she is faced with less and less assurance that she is fighting for the right team, and that her alliances can be trusted, and even if she should trust herself, scarred as she is by her brutal experiences. She questions the offensive tactics that Gale and Beetee, another fellow survivor the Quarter Quell, devise: "That seems to be crossing some kind of line... So anything goes?... I guess there isn't a rule book for what might be acceptable to do to another human being".

Collins gets under the skin of her female protagonist, and follows through with her growing urgency to overthrow the Capitol and Snow, and we see Katniss go beyond issues of survival and revenge, because, as more and more of people around her fall on the wayside, and not just in mortal terms, she questions if humanity is even worth saving: "I think Peeta was onto something about us destroying one another and letting some decent species take over. 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."

These are difficult questions, and through Collins's artistic vision that she keeps with tight consistency in this better-than-average YA trilogy, they linger on beyond its closing pages.
taketimetoshine: (Pink Flowers)
Suzanne Collins - Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2)
The blurb:Sparks are igniting.
Flames are spreading.
And the Capitol wants revenge.

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol - a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

In Catching Fire, the second novel in the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before...and surprising readers at every turn

My rating: 4/5
Tagged: young adult, dystopia, science fiction, fantasy
Date I started this book: 15/02/16
Date I finished this book: 18/02/16

What did I think? Katniss and Peeta may have both survived the Hunger Games but that doesn't mean they are safe from danger. Katniss made some powerful enemies in the Capitol when she tricked them into letting both her and Peeta live and they aren't going to stop until they've taken her down. Especially since she has become something of a hero to the districts and has inadvertently caused some of them to start planning a rebellion. Katniss is facing her toughest challenge yet and she risks losing the people she cares about most if she doesn't do some very fast thinking.

I still really love Katniss, she is so fiercely loyal to those she cares about and will always put her life and her happiness below protecting the people she loves. Sometimes I desperately want her to make the selfish choice and run but I wouldn't like her half as much if she actually did. She is in so much trouble in this book, President Snow is a powerful enemy who is determined to make her pay for her actions during the hunger games. He wants to take her down and he wants to do it publicly to quash the rebellion that is threatening to rise in the districts. It was great to learn a bit more about how Panem is run but I do still have a lot of questions about how the districts were created in the first place that I'm hoping will be answered in the final book of the trilogy.

I don't want to say too much about the plot but I will say that we are introduced to some fabulous new characters along with getting the chance to catch up with old favourites. I still wish we'd spent more time with Gale but have high hopes he'll have a much larger role in the next book. I was firmly on his team in the first book, although I liked Peeta I just didn't feel he was the right guy for Katniss. Peeta needed her to look after him while Gale would be an equal partner. I have to admit that while I still want her to end up with Gale I did start to see more of a connection between Katniss and Peeta in this book, he shows several times how much she means to him and he definitely seems to have matured and come into his own a bit more. I'm kind of torn now but I don't think I'll be too upset whoever she ends up with. The last few chapters of Catching Fire were intense and they have left me desperate to know how the series concludes - I'm already well into Mockingjay
taketimetoshine: (Pink Flowers)
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
The blurb:Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

In a dark vision of the near future, twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live TV show called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister's place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

May the odds be ever in your favour.

My rating: 4/5
Tagged: young adult, dystopia, science fiction, fantasy
Date I started this book: 11/02/16
Date I finished this book: 14/02/16

What did I think? This book is written in first perspective, from the heroine's aspect. Her name is Katniss Everdeen. She starts off in her home, a simple, poor area of the land. She is the provider for her mother and sister with her hunting skills. To protect her younger sister, she is sent to the capitol, along with local boy Peeta, to 'participate' in the annual Hunger Games.

These 'games' are fights to the death, aired and shown to the capitol and all 12 districts under its control, in a survival arena of sorts. The book shows, throughout the story, a somewhat futuristic dystopia society. The tributes (Katniss, Peeta and others in the game) are given basic weapons (bows, spears, clubs) and the district where Katniss is from uses herbs and eats basic foods (squirrel, wild turkey, etc) but the capitol has voice command room service, automatic hair dryers, and a camera/screen set that tracks and shows the tributes (no matter where they go) to the viewers. It is an interesting combination.

There is a 'romantic' setting as well. Katniss and Peeta are to appear as a united team to the people. Peeta even admits to liking her during his interview. So a setting for 'star-crossed lovers' is created. However, Katniss has various feelings toward Peeta throughout the book and its very realistic and understandable, especially when there is possibly another guy back home.

Yet while there are time I can relate to her, at the same time several of her thoughts want to make my roll my eyes or drop my head onto a desk. While she is survival smart, she is not people smart. She can't socialize and cannot read people worth a darn. While it is annoying at times, it is also endearing and has created a unique character.

June 2016

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