Tag Archives: dystopian

Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld

8 May

When I found Scott Westerfeld’s novel Uglies at a used book sale, I jumped at the chance to finally start this series.  I don’t intentionally seek out Young Adult novels, but I love how engrossing they can be, and they’re often such fast reads.

Uglies book cover

“But it’s a trick, Tally.  You’ve only seen pretty faces your whole life.  Your parents, your teachers, everyone over sixteen.  But you weren’t born expecting that kind of beauty in everyone, all the time.  You just got programmed into thinking anything else is ugly.”

“It’s not programming, it’s just a natural reaction.  And more important than that, it’s fair.  In the old days it was all random—some people kind of pretty, most people ugly all their lives.  Now everyone’s ugly…until they’re pretty.  No losers.”

The idea behind this novel is very interesting, and hits close to home.  On every person’s sixteenth birthday, they are given a surgery to transform from an ugly, into a pretty.  The pretties get to have big parties and don’t have a care in the world.  Children are taught from a very early age that making everyone pretty fixes the problems and inequality that the old “Rusties” faced in the past.

It took several chapters to get hooked on this story, though I’m glad I got past it.  My initial turn off came from the “preachy” feeling that I got from the narration.  There was an obvious message to readers about how we view beauty.  Also, I was more aware that the book was written for a younger audience than I was, for example, when I read The Hunger Games.

While the narration started with a very young feel, it improved exponentially as the novel moved forward.  Actually, Tally, the main character, matured throughout the novel, and her voice evolved with her.   Kudos to the author for accomplishing this so subtly.   I also loved the other characters that we met along the way.

Of course, Uglies ended with a huge cliffhanger, and I’m already desperate to read the next in the series, Pretties.  I can’t wait to learn more about this world.  It’s been a while since I’ve read a five star book, but even with its slow start, this is a highly recommended read!

Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

8 Aug

This book cannot possibly be reviewed without some spoilers for The Hunger Games.  If you haven’t read that yet, DON’T READ CATCHING FIRE!  Also, read it.  Then you can read my review 😮

Catching Fire cover“He embraces me, enfolding me in the smell of blood and roses, and plants a puffy kiss on my cheek.  When he pulls back, his fingers digging into my arms, his face smiling into mine, I dare to raise my eyebrows.  They ask what my lips can’t. ‘Did I do it?  Was it enough?’  In answer, he gives an almost imperceptible shake of his head.”

It’s a miracle that Katniss and Peeta both survived the Hunger Games together.  It’s the talk of the Capitol; they’ve become instant celebrities.  Kat can’t seem to really figure out why she did what she did to save Peeta.  She doesn’t really have time to figure it out.  Her adoring fans believe that she did it purely out of love, and the President is convinced she did it as an act of rebellion against the Capitol.  Reality doesn’t seem to matter too much though because Kat has the distinct feeling that she is in even more danger than she was in the arena.

There’s more to this book…So much more, including a love triangle, violence, and many, many mind games.  I personally loved Catching Fire even more than The Hunger Games.  Reading it for a second time what even better.  Kat is both artful and childlike.  She  is bold and brave at one moment and cowering the next.  I am very fascinated at the contradictions in this character.  It is made even more interesting because she must always be one person for the public while protecting her real thoughts and feelings.

Duality plays a very important part in both of these books.  There is always reality according to the public, and reality according to Kat.  Since we see everything through Kat’s eyes, it is our job as the reader to interpret where the real truth lies.  Five stars, no doubt.  Mockingjay comes out in just over two weeks.  I suggest timing it perfectly so you won’t have to wait the full year for the conclusion like I do!

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

25 Jul

The release of Mockingjay, the third in The Hunger Games Trilogy, is one month from today!  In anticipation of this release (I can barely wait), I’m rereading the first book this weekend.  It’s a really fast read!

The Hunger Games Cover“Peeta looks me right in the eye and gives my hand what I think is meant to be a reassuring squeeze.  ‘Oh well,’ I think.  ‘There will be twenty-four of us.  Odds are someone else will kill him before I do.’ “

Katniss lives in a future America, now called Panem, which is divided into 12 districts surrounding the Capitol that rules them all.  Because of a past failed attempt at revolution, the Capitol rules with a vicious iron fist.  Every year, as a reminder of the Capitol’s strength, each district gives up two children, a boy and a girl, to participate in The Hunger Games.  Winning The Games means much-needed food and riches, but the winner survive by killing off the competition.  Katniss knows what is at stake when she volunteers to represent her district.  She knows how to hunt and how to watch her tongue, but she also needs strategy if she is going to get out alive.

This novel fits my somewhat obscure love of post-apocolyptic, dystopian literature.  I just love reading about different versions of our future world at its worst.  Sounds creepy, and yes, this book is just that.  I had crazy dreams about survival for a month after staying up one night reading.  I love how so much of the story happens in Kat’s head.  She’s sixteen years old; because of her life, she has maturity beyond her years.  Still, the reader can’t forget that she’s young and naive in many ways.

Of course there is action and violence in the arena.  There’s also a political battle simmering under the surface, and a coming-of-age story told under the most undesirable of circumstances.

My absolute favorite book is The Long Walk by Stephen King.  This book has all that good stuff that King’s book provides.  Since it’s a Young Adult fiction, it’s much easier and faster to read.  Also, it starts the trilogy so the fun isn’t over when the book ends.

Second in the trilogy is Catching Fire.  You have to immediately seek this out when you finish the first!  Five Stars for sure 🙂