Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Review of The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

I spent this Memorial Day weekend reading The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. By the time I had finished the last book, I realized that I had made an appropriate choice because by the end, everybody, except a few sociopath villians, is struggling with PTSD.  One would think there would be some good treatment for PTSD so far in the future, but there does not seem to be.
My daughter-in-law, who loaned me the books, did not like the third book at all, though she loved the first and second books. I think what she missed was the spark of humor in the thinking of Katniss. In the third book, Katniss is so thoroughly broken by all the horror she has gone and continues to go through, that you do not know if she will ever recover. The breaking of Peeta was excruciating to read.
I thought the third book was the natural outgrowth of the first two, and followed a progression of events that made perfect sense. The third book breaks your heart over and over again. It shows what civil war is like, and what civil war does. It also shows that taking down an evil government does not guarantee a good government will take its place.
The thing I admire most in Katniss is her ability to retain her ability to do what must be done, no matter what. Of course, what must be done is defined by what the end goal is. Katniss never lost sight of the end. What astounded me most about Katniss was her ability to take the tiniest clues and then understand what was going on. Since I am perpetually clueless, the ability to understand from tiny clues looks like a superpower. She exemplified the saying: It's not paranoia if they really are out to get you.
I had expected the writing to be awful, but Collins is a good writer on many levels.
If your books must have a happily ever after ending to justify the time you spent reading it, these books are not for you. If you are willing to have a sorta happy ending with the hero limping for the rest of her life, this book will give you a lot to think about. If you want to know what PTSD feels like, this book will tell you even though the phrase is never used. Warning: a lot of people you really don't want to see die do die.
I liked the movie The Hunger Games when I saw it several months ago. It was interesting to see where the movie deviated from the book, simplifying the plot line and reducing some of the gore. I have no idea how the moviemakers are going to handle the third book.
I had very few quibbles with the book. I cannot understand how the woods did not get hunted out. Where was New Zealand, Australia, Europe, Russa? They ALL got wiped out? Well, never mind. Bringing them in would have interfered with the morality play.
All in all, I'm glad I read the trilogy.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review of Someone To Blame by C.S. Lakin

Wow. I enjoyed this book. Maybe enjoy is the wrong word. I appreciated this book even though the story wrung some tears out of me. To feel as much grief as this book forces you to feel was hard, as grief is hard. I think it is important to know that life and grief are hard. I think we need to understand that when people hurt, they lash out at whatever they think is hurting them. Some of us are too quick to connect the dots and jump to conclusions, as did many in the book. You find yourself sympathizing with almost every character. And I found myself getting irritated at the nice sheriff in the cold town who really didn't want to be there. Because he would not do much of a job, the townspeople took things into their own hands.
There are several shocks in the story. Despite that, I think older teens could read this and maybe gain some insight into their parents. Parents of teens might find this book hard to read as parents' worst nightmares are vividly brought to life.
This book gave me a lot to think about. We all have push-all-the-wrong-button relationships, and it is good to think about ways to change the dynamic.
A good book that I thought was well-written.

Thoughts about the movie Star Trek: Into Darkness

I think this is easily the best Star Trek movie ever made. Some may think that is not saying much, but no, I loved the movie. I enjoyed the non-stop action. Everybody said what you wanted them to say. There were some really nice mirroring and inversions of previous episodes and movies. Lots of pretty people to look at. And, oh! Wasn't that cool when Scottie got to be a hero? He doesn't have that same sly look the old Scottie had, but he does have that beautiful Scot bur. Doesn't everybody love a Scottish accent? And the running fight on floating platforms: Yeehaw!
Another thing I loved: the theater provided tech glasses with dangling battery and mechanics box that let me put the captioning anywhere I wanted it. Yay! Since I understand, on average, three words per movie, most movies are confusing until we can rent the DVD and caption it. Captions are desperately needed for IronMan 3. Why did Tony Stark blow up all his Ironman suits, why oh why would he do that? But at home I miss the big screen and subsonics. Some young men laughed at me when I walked across the lobby of the theater wearing those glasses. I did not care. I was too delighted to understand the movie while watching it in a theater.
Did I have quibbles? Oh yeah. Why were they chasing down to keep alive a blood-donor for Kirk when they had 72 other donors that only needed to thawed?
I would have deleted the three seconds of Kirk in bed with lion-tailed, lovely ladies. I guess the director needed to remind those of us who don't know the ST universe that Kirk is a womanizer, the trait of his I like the least. I never did like Kirk. People like him who bluster and swagger and assume the universe will mold itself around their wills are dangerous and not good leaders. IRL they end up killing people.
So if I don't like Kirk and think most Star Trek plots are absurd, why do I like the franchise? Because I love the Star Trek universe. I love Spock. I love Worf. I love Uhuru and everybody with an interesting accent. I love that humans in this universe are wealthy and not killing each other for the most part. (Do I think Earth could ever be such a peaceful place? Uh, no. Not gonna happen.) I like that you can be a Spock or a Barkley or anybody and still have a place in society (unless you are a homicidal maniac.
Quibble:I will never understand how people are able to run off with ships or infiltrate ships with false identities in such a universe.
Big Quibble: the renegade has a sweet southern accent. Because, of course!, Hollywood knows all southern US military are war mongers. I think of the TV show, 24, and others, where over and over again the bad guy is someone in the US military and/or corporation. Sigh.
But despite quibbles that I thought of after the movie, the experience of watching the movie was delight. OK, not when people were flushed into space. Or when buildings were being crushed. Nooooooo!  But overall, the movie was a fun ride.