young adult fiction

the unexpected: reading the hunger games – catching fire

Just like the first book, I made my way through the second book in the Hunger Games series in about 24 hours. Between the challenge and the exceptional writing, I feel like I’m flying through this trilogy and starting to realise I only have one book left.

Catching Fire was fantastic and confirmed that I will be singing the trilogy praise just like everyone else.

The plot is brilliant and kept me guessing up until the very end. There were so many twists, turns and details that it is not surprising that I will probably be reading this one again very soon to pick up what I missed the first time.

Just when I thought that everyone was safe, or everyone was doomed, another plot twist came in that completely changed the story and left me grappling for the next few pages, with the constant phrase, ‘Just one more chapter’.

Like the first, the pacing and timing of these plot twists and the tension is brilliant and keeps you reading until all hours of the night (I may have continued reading until 3am to finish this one).

It was also a very easy story and world to jump back into. Suzanne Collins makes it particularly easy by recapping small details covered in the first book through quick, short reminders. It meant that those of us with bad memories were able to quickly immerse ourselves back into certain customs, characters or events in the world without taking up a lot of time.

It also means the books can stand alone outside the trilogy and probably easily readable without the knowledge of the first (however, I think I can safely say, if you’ve read the second without the first, you will backtrack!).

I found I connected easily with the characters and slipped right back into my attachment for them. They continued to develop and change rather than remaining the same as the first book which only made me love the characters and the author more.

In this one, I also liked the development of the Gale and Peeta conundrum. I was a little reluctant about this aspect of the plot and had anticipated it may be underwhelming or irritating, (or at worst, come across a little Twilight-ish), however I found myself deep in confusion for Katniss.

I will be the first to admit, it really didn’t take me long to figure out who I would choose (Peeta’s too much of a sweetheart not to!), but it did develop the relationship between Katniss and Gale and develop the complexity of the problem, both emotionally and practically. I also liked the Katniss reaction to it all, which was guided by practicality as well as emotions which I think is realistic and necessary to the characters and the plot.

My final favourite part of this book was the mental and emotional effects of the Games and the different ways they came through in each of the victors. This book had more surviving victors and was able to really explore the psychological effects of the Games and the Capitol. From alcoholism and drug abuse, to post traumatic stress disorder and mental instability, the book really looked at whether it is better to have died in the arena or survived to live as a victor. I just thought this was a really realistic element that needed to be explored and created more connection with the characters and intensity in the plot.

Just like the first book, I loved every minute of reading this one, but brace yourselves for the end, because I was not prepared and it hit me like a tonne of bricks.

From the girl who is now desperately in love with a fictional boy (again),

The Cat

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the labyrinth 101: reading looking for alaska

It has been a while since our last post and I am going to remedy this fact. As the unemployed and perpetually bored partner of this duo I am going to attempt to maintain the blog while Curiosity is busy for the next month or two so bear with me on the results. For now I am definitely here and going to aim to post every weekend.

I know it was not long ago that I read another John Green book but he is just too good to save for later and with the announcement that Looking for Alaska is about to made into a film adaptation I thought now was an appropriate time to get everyone who hasn’t already read it to look into this book.

I have now read two of John Green’s four novels and am trying desperately (and with a tiny bit of success) to save the other two for my summer holidays. I now have them safely locked up in my housemate’s closet where they will stay until I have no uni left (or my lock picking skills improve dramatically).

Again, this man has jumped right into my chest and plucked my heartstrings like a professional harpist. I swear, he may as well just walk around with my heart in a jar from the skilled way in which he plays with my emotions.

Just like The Fault in our Stars, I managed to knock over Looking for Alaska in about 24 hours, mostly due to the amazing writing skills of this brilliant man (and only slightly because I am incredibly boring with not much to fill my days with).  By the midway point I was hooked and forfeited my personal appearance, hygiene and food intake for the remaining hours. If you have something to do, or somewhere to be, do not read John Green until you have done it. To date, apart from J.K Rowling, he is the hardest author to put down once you’ve started.

Like his other books, the characters are fantastically formed and completely thought out. Immediately I felt drawn into the world of boarding school, pranks and procrastinating homework. John Green expertly enters the mind of his teenage narrator and poses some thought-provoking questions.

The book is much more than a simple story. In a beautiful way that only John Green seems to capture, the book is underlined by fantastic and heart-wrenching concepts that go well beyond the normal themes of YA fiction. As I said, not since J.K. Rowling and Markus Zusak, have I seen such engaging YA fiction done so well.

Again, John Green has been successful in taking my world, shaking it around and turning my perspective completely upside down.  He has now easily made it as one of my favourite writers of all time and I can’t emphasise how highly or adamantly I think everyone should read his books. Nothing has changed my life this drastically since I discovered the magical properties of coffee.

From the reader who approves of the well-deserved attention and kudos John Green is getting,

The Cat