Monthly Archives: September 2010

The Hunger Games

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     How terrible! I just thought when I started reading this book The Hunger Games, a young adult science fiction novel written by Suzanne Collins in 2008. Actually, it’s the first in a three-volume series: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay.

     In spite of its appalling plot, I couldn’t close the book. In spite of lots of horrible deaths, I couldn’t give up hope in the story…

     The story is set North America after many catastrophes in the near future. Many people died because of disasters, droughts, storms, fires, and much of the land was swallowed up by the sea level rising. The result was a dictatorship ruled by President Snow and his Capitol, and other 13 districts to support Capitol. The country name is Panem.

     Actually, District 13 doesn’t exist anymore. There was a coup détat launched by the district 74 years ago. The uprising spread throughout Panem, but was crushed by Capitol’s troops, and District 13, the mastermind of the civil war, was obliterated by nuclear arms.

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     After the abortive rebellion, Capitol has started “the Hunger Games”: In punishment for the uprising, each of the twelve districts must provide one girl and one boy, called tributes, to participate. The twenty-four tributes will be imprisoned in a vast outdoor arena that could hold anything from a burning desert to a frozen wasteland. Over a period of several weeks, the competitors must fight to the death. The last tribute standing wins.” The Hunger Games is a reality TV show and the scenes that children kill each other are broadcast live and people are forced to see the program… 

 

     Tributes are chosen by lot, and a little sister of Katnis, the heroine of the story, is selected as the female tribute of District 12. Katnis, however, takes her sister place. And the male tribute is Peeta, who has saved lives of Katnis and her family before…

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     Katnis’s father died from the mine explosion about five years ago, when she was 11 years old. Her mother was depressed by the loss and gave up living and raising her children. Katnis sold old clothes and small things, or scavenge through garbage to feed her little sister, her meltdown mother and herself. But one night, she didn’t have anything to sell, and couldn’t find anything to eat. She was driven away by the baker’s wife when she was scavenging the bakery’s garbage box. She gave up everything and slumped into the dark corner of the backyard…

     “There was a clatter in the bakery and I heard the woman screaming again and the sound of a blow, and I vaguely wondered what was going on. Feet sloshed towards me through the mud and I thought, It’s her. She’s coming to drive me away with a stick. But it wasn’t her. It was the boy. In his arms, he carried two large loaves of bread that must have fallen into the fire because the crusts were scorched black.”

     Katnis knew the boy was hit by his mother because he burned the bread. He threw the bread in her direction and dashed off, and she understood that he burned the bread purposely to help her. Yes, the boy is Peeta. Of course, she wants to survive, but she doesn’t want to kill him by herself…Only one person can come through the Game…

     The Hunger Games Trilogy is filled with death, betrayal, hosing, and disbelief, and curiously to say, with love as well. Are you getting interested in the story? I assure that it’ll be hard for you to close the book once you open it. But I don’t recommend this book if you have a weak heart…

The Hunger Games  
Catching Fire
Mockingjay

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Inside Out

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   “All scrubs had the same schedule. Ten hours off, ten hour on, with a break every five hours. There no such things as vacations or holidays. Since one week equaled one hundred hours, we worked five shifts per week equaled one hundred hours, we worked five shifts per week. Everything in Inside could be divided by the number ten. It made life simple so even the scrubs could understand.”     

      That is monologue of Tella, the novel’s heroine and one of “scrubs”, in Inside Out written by Maria V. Snyder. If something hit you in your mind when you read the author’s name, you may read my previous blog article. Yes, Inside Out was written after her “Study” series (Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study ) and just published this summer. I bought this one because I really like those three books.

     Now, you must be curious about “scrubs”. Well, before explaining about it, I’ll tell you about the setting where Tella is in. In the story, people live in a building structure called Inside. It has no window or door. You never be able to see or go “outside”. The temperature, air, light, everything is controlled by the computer. All of vegetables are hydroponically cultivated in the lowest floor. And everything is recycled. Kitchen scrapes and human waste become fertilizer. When people die there, they don’t go to the graveyard. They are sent to a big pulverizer named “Chomper” and changed to fertilizer! So, in this place, they call death “Recycling”…

     So, what is scrub? They are kind of slaves to work for tiny percentage of upper people. Scrubs have no family. Children are separated from their biological mothers as soon as they are born and sent to “Care Mother (CM)”. “One CM for every ten children. Ten weeks equaled a deciweek, and a hundred weeks was called a centiweek. And so on.” 

     “ The work shifts were also staggered so only half the scrubs worked at one time. It saved room in the barracks. I shared my bunk with another scrub I never saw.” “Imagine every space in this room filled with people. Constantly being jostled and pushed. In the lower levels there is no quiet place. No peace.” That is, they are kind of farm animals…They are raised for becoming useful scrubs.

     One day, Tella gets involved in a trouble. She finds herself becoming the dissident leader. There has been a rumor since long time ago: Gateway is somewhere. People believe if they find Gateway, they can run away from there and live freely. Anyone who disobeys orders or does something different from the schedule or their task is sent to “Chomper” and “Recycled” by the police called Pop Cops. Tella’s adventure for finding Gateway getting through lots of difficulties just begins!

   Inside Out is a SF fantasy adventure book, not a romantic story at all…In spite of that, this book is published from Harlequin Teen… As Ms. Yukari Watanabe, the book reviewer, also wrote on her blog page, probably most boys don’t pick this book up because of the publisher. What a shame!  Inside Out  must captive boys if they start to read…Although I prefer the author’s previous “Study” series of books, I enjoyed this one, too. The sequel “Outside In” is coming next year! 

Inside Out 
Poison Study 
Magic Study 
Fire Study

The Host

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The_Host    Why now? Why you? You’re not of my species. How can you be my partner?

     That’s Wanda’s grievous cry. She is the heroine of The Host, that Stephenie Meyer’s next book after The Twilight Saga (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn) , her great hit. Speaking of Twilight, I remember triangle relationships, but in this novel, The Host, there’s anything but mere a love triangle. It’s square! You see just three people there, though…

      Wanda (Wanderer) is an alien from outer space. Aliens attack the earth and most of human-beings are hijacked. Each alien looks like a tiny silver-colored worm. They invade the human bodies and control their brains. They call themselves “Soul” and call human-beings “Host”. Souls can’t live without hosts’ bodies, and for them host’s bodies are like vehicles. The host gets sick or injured or old, they just switch to other hosts.

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     For Wanda, the earth is the ninth planet where her ninth life starts. Most Souls settle into a planet after one or two moving. But Wanda always looks for a place where she can fit in. That’s why she is called Wanderer, and it becomes her name on the earth.        Usually, the Host’s mind is pushed away into the deeper place after a Soul invades the body and eventually erased or disappears. But Wanda’s Host, Melanie, is a resistant from Earth invaders, and she never recedes. One day, Melanie almost controls her own body and leads herself to the resistance group. But she is tortured as an alien there.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                      
     One of tortures is Melanie’s boyfriend, Jared. For him, Wanda is a kind of murder, who killed his lover. But he suffers from the situation because Wanda’s body is Melanie’s. What if the person who is standing before you looks like your loved one but her or his personality is another person’s?
                                                                                                                                                                    
      In the hideout, Wanda meets another man, Ian. He falls in love with her. He also suffers from the situation because he knows the body is Jared’s love’s and Wanda is not a human-being.

     And the most suffering person is Wanda. At first, Wanda and Melanie fight each other inside to control the brain. But they are getting linked in strange friendship. Wanda truly gets to love Ian, Melanie and other people and the Earth! So, she decides to return her body to Melanie…

         “There’s something else I’m going to ask you for, Doc. I don’t want to…I won’t be shipped off to another planet. This is my planet, it truly is. And yet, there’s really no place for me here. So…I know it might…offend some of the others. Don’t tell them if you think they won’t allow it. Lie if you have to. But I’d like to be buried by Walt and Wes. Can you do that for me? I won’t take up much space.” I smiled weakly again.
          No! Melanie was howling.
No, no, no, no…
         
“No, Wanda.” Doc objected, too, with a shocked expression.
          “Please, Doc,” I whispered, wincing against the protest in my head, which was getting louder. “I don’t think Wes or Walt will mind.”
          “That’s not what I meant! I can’t kill you, Wanda. Ugh! I’m so sick of death, so sick of killing my friends.” Doc’s voice caught in a sob.
          I put my hand on his thin arm, rubbed it. “People die here. It happens.”
          “What about Jared and Jamie?” Doc asked in a choked voice.
          “They’ll have Melanie. They’ll be fine.”
          “Ian?”
          Through my teeth. “Better off without me.”

     So, are you getting interested in this book? Well, I’m not going to give you away the ending. Why don’t you read it in long autumn night?

The Host   
Twilight New Moon 
Eclipse 
Breaking Dawn 
The Twilight Saga Collection

Poison Study

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poisonstudyUS     “But you’ve slipped under my skin, invaded my blood and seized my heart.”
      “That sounds more like a poison than a person.”
      “Exactly, you have poisoned me.”

     Those conversations are in a fantastic novel named Poison Study written by Maria V. Snyder. It was really hard for me to close the book once I opened it. I think the book is categorized in fantasy books, especially in paranormal romantic novels, but the story setting is quite horrible. The heroine is a murderer and the person she falls in love with is an assassin…

     Yelena, the heroine, is in prison for murder and is awaiting execution. But she is offered a choice: going to the gallows or becoming a food taster for Commander. At least you’ll know when you die if you choose the capital punishment, but you may die with the next bite if you become a food taster. Besides, you have no day off, no salary, no freedom, and it’s a lifetime position if you choose the role.

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 “I’m not a fool.” She says that and chooses to become a food taster. She has to face many dangers through the story. It’s because not only of poisons but also of intrigue and betrayal. This book is full of nervous excitement, and also romantic.      

     The opening sentences are the conversations between Yelena and Valek, who is her boss and the head of espionage agent and the professional assassin, in their enemy’s prison, where they are finally alone and know their true feelings each other.

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     Actually, Poison Study is not one-shot. It’s the first part of the trilogy: Poison Study, and Magic Study, Fire Study . You can’t take your eyes off from Yelena’s journeys once you step into Ixia and Sitia, I mean once you open the first volume. Why don’t you go off adventure together with Yelena? I highly recommend Snyder’s impressive Study series.      

   Poison Study  
  Magic Study
  Fire Study (MIRA)