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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

The Red Pyramid

20 Sep

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan is a GREAT book…for lighting grills with!

Yup.  You heard me.  For lighting grills.

Do you really think I read it?

I mean it’s another 528 pages by Rick Riordan, who I pretty much decided was the worst author on earth after reading The Lightning Thief. Why on EARTH would I actually read that thing.

But all summer long, I kept my copy next to the charcoal grill.  When I was ready to throw a few shrimps on the barbie, I’d rip out about a dozen pages and use them to start the fire!

Kept us eating grilled shrimp all summer long.

Nice.

Red Pyramid Rating:  Way5