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60 Second Book Hook: Among the Hidden

4 Oct

Wow.  Want to see an example of a REALLY GREAT 60 Second Book Hook?

Check out this one from Karen, who writes about Among the Hidden by Margaret Petersen Haddix—a book that should creep you out if you are a third child in your family.

 

Maze Runner: Read it or else!

26 Sep

So Danielle has finally reviewed a book that I have wanted to read ever since seeing this interview with the author – James Dashner – who said his inspiration for Maze Runner was Ender’s Game, one of my other favorite books of all time. From the sounds of it, Maze Runner is definitely worth checking out.

Anyone else read it? Leave a comment and tell us what YOU think.

Mr. F

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I love my Kindle.

Now I love it even more because Maze Runner is on it.

Maze Runner is a Sci-fi book with mystery mixed in with it.

This book starts out with Thomas, a boy who only has enough memory to remember his name. He is taken up by some kind of elevator into Glade, a place where boys are ruling. Glade is a place with houses, farms, and woods, surrounded by a giant maze that moves its walls consistently, and in the night, lets horrible monsters called Grievers loose.

Boys come to Glade every month, like Thomas, in the elevator.

But this time, after Thomas, something happens that’s never happened before: A Girl.

After she arrives, everything goes wrong, the supplies stop coming. The Grievers start to eat one boy a night. Thomas and his friends have to figure out the maze before it’s too late.

This book is one of those books where you are totally surrounded by the sights and sounds of the book. That is my favorite type of book. My Kindle recommended this book to me.

I like constant action, mystery, and this book has it all! Like all books, it’s not perfect. It can be confusing at times, but this book is still on my top 10.

My Rating for Maze Runner:  Way 90

The Roar is a Fantastic Read

20 Sep

So I’m not usually a sci-fi kind of guy, but Kush has found a title that has caught my attention here. While I’m a bit confused by his review—which starts by making animals appear to be the antagonist and then switches to talking about a bad guy named Mal Gorman—BOTH conflicts seem really interesting to me. I also like the idea of an overpopulated world that needs two stories for people to fit.

Looking forward to reading it myself!

Mr. F

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The Roar is a fantastic sci-fi book, which is about the distant future and how everybody stays behind something called the Wall to be safe and sound from danger.

The Wall is basically a huge wall, and the danger that people face is from the animals. Normally animals are described as cute and cuddly in books, but in this one they are fierce and dangerous. The animals are breaking car windows so they can kill the people inside. The reason for their behavior is that they have a sickness called the plague; this sickness can only be caught by animals and makes them become crazy.

The Wall is located at the entire north of the world and stretches all the way around the world. Let’s think about this now….. EVERYONE IS CRAMED INTO 1/3 OF THE WORLD, and what makes it worse is that in the future there will be more people due to population growth.

Also since there was a shortage of land, they decided to make a 2nd floor on earth.

The main character of the book is Mika Smith, a 12 years old boy who lives in the shadows (the first floor of the world) and goes to school like a normal kid.

When he was 9 years old, his twin sister Ellie was kidnapped and presumed dead, but he believed that she was alive. Ellie was in fact trapped on a space station by a minister of the Northern Government, Mal Gorman.

Mal Gorman is a cruel man who is 182 years old and takes “ever life” pills. He is now making schools like Mika’s to participate in violent virtual games. Part of Mal Gorman’s evil plan was to make all the kids drink “fit mix”, so they could get the nutrients they needed.

One day a game called the Pod Fighter was introduced to the children and every kid who is 12-15 was playing it. When Mika played it for the first time, he was a pro at it.

Then a contest for the game came and Mika knew that he had to play because Mika had met a woman named Helen who told him that if he played the game, he will find his sister. You’ll have to read to find out if Mika ever saves Ellie.

 

Ender’s Game: A Terrific Beginning

28 Sep

I’ve got to let you in on a little secret:  I HATE science fiction stories almost as much as I HATE Rick Riordan books.

Hard to believe, huh?

That’s why Ender’s Game—which is the first book in a series of something like 20 books starring a fascinating character named Ender Wiggin—caught me by surprise.  Knowing that it was a science fiction title, I fully expected to put it down after about three chapters.

But I didn’t.  In fact, I almost couldn’t put it down.  I was just dying to know whether or not Ender—who is just a boy in the story—is able to save the earth from complete destruction or not.

That’s right: The earth is about to be destroyed by aliens. Buggers, to be exact.  Creatures that work and live and follow orders just like ants.  Except they’re a whole heck of a lot more brutal than ants.

And they can fly spaceships.

And they’ve already invaded twice.

Ender—just like all of the other really smart kids from earth–has been taken from his home and sent to a military training station in space to prepare for the next Bugger invasion.  He’s put—just like all of the other really smart kids from earth—on to a battle team that trains together like a little army.  He learns—just like all the other really smart kids from earth—the ins-and-outs of fighting in space.

But Ender’s NOT just like all of the other really smart kids from earth.

He’s smarter.

Way smarter.

And that makes him a lot of enemies. Older boys try to embarrass him whenever they get the chance.  They even attack him in the hallways and in the showers, trying to beat him up.  The thought of a younger boy doing better than them in competitions just plain makes them angry.

But the leaders of battle school love Ender.  In fact, they see him as the only hope of saving earth—and they put a ton of pressure on him.  They promote him quickly, making him a commander of an army.  They put his army into unfair fights.  They make his team fight more often than anyone else’s team.

And Ender keeps winning….until he quits.

Now, I know what you’re thinking:  “Why’s Ferriter always writing about books that involve battles and fights and blood and guts?  Doesn’t he EVER read anything else?’

But it wasn’t the battles and fights and blood and guts that caught my attention in Ender’s Game.  It’s Ender himself.  He’s torn inside by the turmoil of being a leader even though he’s a boy.  He’s committed to his friends and loves feeling close to other people—the kind of close that teammates always feel when they’re involved in fierce competitions.

And those themes are the kind of themes that I love in a story. I think it’s because I’ve always loved being a part of a team and because my friends mean more to me than most anything in the world.

Sure, I loved seeing Ender battling his way through the entire Bugger invasion fleet.  Sure, I loved seeing him whip older boys in competitions where he shouldn’t have stood a chance of winning.

But I enjoyed watching him grow up and make friends even more.

Ender’s Game Rating:  Way75

The Hunger Games Rules. . .

27 Sep

I first heard rumblings of The Hunger Games a few years ago when one of my former students—a boy I called Johnny even though his name was not Johnny—stopped me in the hallway and said:

Have you read The Hunger Games?  It’s the BEST book ever!

Considering that I could never get Johnny to read anything other than Manga when he was in my class, I figured The Hunger Games HAD to be pretty good.  Any book that could hook Johnny had potential because Johnny wasn’t easy to hook.

So I stopped by the bookstore on the way home from school, bought me a copy, and started reading—and like Johnny, I was hooked.  It was one of those titles that I couldn’t stop thinking about and that I couldn’t put down.

What makes The Hunger Games so remarkable to me is that it is a violent, blow ’em up, rock ’em, sock ’em robot kind of book.  Almost every chapter sees the main character—Katniss Everdeen—in a predicament fit only for an imagination.  She’s chased by horrible creatures, hunted by horrible kids, and forced to do horrible things.

All while becoming the star of one of the most shocking reality shows of all time—a show brewed up by an evil government to punish their citizens by pitting 24 kids against each other in a fight to the death on live television.

Crazy, isn’t it?

Each death is broadcast on a nightly program that captures the attention of the entire nation.  Each act of brutality is celebrated by a country.

What made The Hunger Games different from all of the other gory books I’ve read in my life though—and I’ve read a bunch of gory books—is that there are characters that I really learn to love.  Katniss shows immense kindness and integrity while fighting in the arena, protecting a much younger, much sweeter girl named Rue and Peeta, her partner from her home district.

That’s cool, isn’t it?  Kind of an unexpected twist that makes her more human to me.

And The Hunger Games is full of interesting moral questions:

  1. Should we stand up to power when the powerful are making choices that are horrible?
  2. Would we act with character and class even in circumstances that are completely out of our control?
  3. Could we become horrible people if it meant protecting our own lives?

Those kinds of questions kept me wondering throughout The Hunger Games…and wondering is one of my favorite things to do.  Even better, those questions keep me wondering even today—and when a book makes me wonder long after I’ve finished reading it, it’s a-okay to say the least.

The Hunger Games Rating:  Way100

Mockingjay’s a Letdown. . .

26 Sep

I haven’t had a chance to write about it yet, but The Hunger Games is my favorite book of all time.  It’s full of action—something that any book needs if it wants to capture my interest—and it’s got interesting main characters that I actually cared about by the time that the book was over.

It’s also about standing up to power, which is a theme that you’ll see in almost every book that ends up on my Books that Rule list.  There’s something about seeing the little guy stand up to power that is just plain interesting to me.

Maybe it’s because I’m an American!

That’s why I dropped everything a few weekends ago to read Mockingjay—the third and final book in The Hunger Games trilogy.  I mean I dropped EVERYTHING.  I didn’t do any of my part time work.  I didn’t watch any television.  I didn’t grade papers.  I didn’t eat.  I didn’t sleep.  I didn’t feed the cats.  I didn’t give my daughter a bath.  I didn’t give myself a bath.

I read.  On my Kindle.  For hours on end.

My wife was ticked.

What made matters even worse—although there’s not much worse than smelling bad, an angry wife, a dirty child, and hungry cats—is that Mockingjay was a SERIOUS LETDOWN.

The story opens with the 13 districts of Panem in open revolt against the government after Katniss and Peeta stage a mini-love-bellion at the end of the Quarter Quell.  Katniss—who almost died at the end of Catching Fire—has been saved by the rebels and nursed back to health in the mysterious District 13.

The plan for the rebels is really quite simple:  get their little superstar in fighting shape and turn her loose on President Snow and his lackeys in the Capital.

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? After the action scenes in both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, I COULDN’T WAIT to see the young Miss Everdeen going bonkers on the power hungry people in the Capital that had been controlling her life for the better part of two years—-ESPECIALLY after I found out that Snow was torturing her beloved Peeta just for giggles.

But here’s the thing:  Katniss almost never fights in Mockingjay.  For the first part of the book, she’s in the hospital having horrible dreams and in District 13 making commercials.  Heck, the only thing the rebels DON’T do is put her on the side of a Wheaties box.

And while I’m SURE that her commercials were VERY important, I wanted to see her fighting.  That’s what she’s good at.

When she does finally get into a battle—defending a hospital in District 8—she shoots a few explosive arrows and then makes another commercial.  The entire scene is over in about 6 pages.  That’s a lot of reading for a few arrows, don’t you think?

Mockingjay only gets WORSE after Katniss’s first battle though. In fact, Suzanne Collins makes a mistake that I HATE to see in a book:  She skips over a TON of important events.  When Katniss is fighting in District 8, the rebels have control of ONE district.  Katniss then heads back to District 13, which gets bombed by the Capitol.

When the bombing is done, miraculously the rebels are in control of ELEVEN districts.

Just like that.

No explanation.

No fighting.

No Katniss shooting arrows through the hearts of enemies.

Nothing.

Now, the ending of the story—where Katniss finally gets to the Captial to confront President Snow is pretty cool.  It’s full of the kinds of morphlings and science fiction robotic fighting action that made the Hunger Games a great read.  But Collins blows that momentum, too, by having Katniss get knocked out by an explosion while standing outside the President’s mansion and having the rebels end the fighting while she’s unconscious and in the hospital.

Yup.  That’s right.  The whole story is about getting back at President Snow and Katniss never gets that chance.  The whole story is about rebelling against the Capital, and all but two of the districts are conquered in pages that you never get to read.  The whole story is about Katniss the hero, and she spends the entire book making commercials.

Now, maybe my reaction is partly because I was so jacked for Mockingjay.  Maybe I’m just disappointed because Mockingjay didn’t live up to the hype—or to the action—of the earlier books.

All I know, though, is that right now, I’d say that this book is BARELY better than The Lightning Thief.

Mockingjay’s Score:  Way5