The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, by Suzanne Collins: A Conversation

While I was reading The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Angie of Reading Our Shelves contacted me to say that she was also reading it, and asked me if I’d like to do a joint post with her about the book. So we got together on Tuesday, had a (great) chat about the book, and we’re posting that conversation on our respective blogs.

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Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins: Reactions

‘My name is Katniss Everdeen. Why am I not dead? I should be dead.’

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Though she’s long been a part of the revolution, Katniss hasn’t known it. Now it seems that everyone has had a hand in the carefully laid plans but her.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay – no matter what the cost.

Goodreads

Like The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, I’m not sure what I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said, so I’m going to provide my reactions, as they happened. I’m reading the series with a crew who has already read the original series and we’re discussing the books on Discord. Here were my reactions as I read Mockingjay:

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Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins: Reactions

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest that she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying. Katniss is about to be tested as never before.

Goodreads

Like The Hunger Games, I’m not sure what I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said, so I’m going to provide my reactions, as they happened. I’m reading the series with a crew who has already read the original series and we’re discussing the books on Discord. Here were my reactions as I read Catching Fire:

Continue reading “Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins: Reactions”

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins: Reactions

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and once girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weight survival against humanity and life against love.

Goodreads

I’m finally reading The Hunger Games series, and I’m quite impressed. Not that I thought I wouldn’t be, but the first one, at least, is deserving of the Hype Monster. I really got into it.

I’m not sure what I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said, so I think I’m just going to provide my reactions, as they happened. I’m reading the series with a crew who has already read the original series and we’re discussing the books on Discord. Here were my reactions as I read THG:

Continue reading “The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins: Reactions”

Book Review: Upright Women Wanted, by Sarah Gailey

Speculative fiction! Queer Librarians being subversive and fighting the State! Patriarchy be damned!

Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her — a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.

The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.

Goodreads

Right off the bat, I want to say that before I got my hands on this book, I thought it was a full-length novel. I don’t know why I assumed that, but I did. And so I was already a little disappointed when I found out it’s a novella. Not that I don’t like novellas, but it’s kind of like when you take a drink of something, fully expecting to taste what you think the drink is, and it ends up being something totally different when it hits your tongue…gag-worthy (even if you like whatever it actually is) and pretty disappointing. I do NOT think this book is gag-worthy (heh), but the disappointment was strong. It’s my fault for making an assumption in the first place, but still.

So that *might* have affected how I felt about the book from the very beginning, and it *might* have created a weird filter over my reading of it. (Being a psych major, I am constantly aware of things like this.)

Anyway, here’s the review…

In the future of Upright Women Wanted, the U.S. has fallen back into the circumstances of the Old West. It has become a totalitarian Old West where the State runs everything and disseminates tons of propaganda. Everything is really uptight again, and punishments are archaic.

Librarians go from town to town, delivering the State’s propaganda and other State-approved materials.

But of course, this isn’t the only thing Librarians deliver, because just like in our times, libraries and Librarians are the last bastions of true democracy.

Esther hides in one of the Librarian wagons for the reasons already stated in the summary above, and this leads to an adventure that she never thought she’d find herself on.

Esther learns to be comfortable with who she is and learns that she is much tougher than she thought.

Upright Women Wanted is about doing the right thing even when it’s dangerous, and being proud of who you are in the face of adversity. It’s about rising up (even if it’s in secret) against the powers that be when those powers are doing more harm than good. It’s about finding your people and feeling at home — both in your own body and in your environment.

It’s a great story.

Oh, but I wanted more. So much more. I wanted this to be a longer story. I want background and character history and worldbuilding. Don’t get me wrong, as a novella, Upright Women Wanted works very well and I was duly invested, but the story almost has to move too quickly and I’ll say it again: I. Just. Want. More.

But that can be a sign of a good story (wanting more), and that’s totally what it is in this case. I was teased by this novella and I really want a full-length novel about this world and these characters. Sigh.

So I definitely recommend Upright Women Wanted if it sounds like your kind of thing, but know that you get only 173 pages of awesomeness when it could have easily been 300(+) pages of awesomeness.