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King Lear

King Lear by William Shakespeare

This is now one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. This story masterfully shows the downfall of Lear through his pride. It also shows the effects his pride has on those around him (mostly his children). We all know Shakespeare’s a genius, so I’ll just give a few things about this particular play that I really liked.

The appearance vs. reality.
The Cinderella qualities to it (although in this case, she’s got some pretty messed up ‘step-sisters’)
The character of Edmund was really interesting. He’s mad that since he’s the illegitimate son, he’s not his father’s favorite or able to inherit, so he lashes out. Not excusing the horrible things he did, he then shows some repentance at the end. No sinner is too far gone for grace.
Reconciliation
The hard truth that the innocent sometimes suffer for the wrongdoings of others.

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Posted by on March 22, 2012 in 4 Stars, Reviews

 

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The Christian and the Hunger Games Trilogy

Fiction can at times highlight aspects of humanity (universals) that other writing can’t. And just because a writer isn’t a Christian, doesn’t mean we can’t, as Christians, take things away from it. God has given every person a mind and a certain amount of common grace and natural revelation. As my philosophy teacher says, don’t think on a hinge (simply reacting to ideas) but think critically and take away any truth that can be found.

Now, there are many things I could focus on, but I want to zero in on the ending, the culmination of the trilogy. As I’ve said before, Suzanne Collins seems to have a good grasp on fallen mankind. It’s easy to see how the US today could descend into Panem. For many, that’s a sobering and horrifying thought, as it should be. Collins brings us through the trilogy and finally lands us at the end where everything is happily ever after and the world is full of peace and joy and rainbows and unicorns. Well… not quite. At the end, Katniss and Peeta are still struggling, their friends are still dead, and who knows if the next leaders of Panem will actually be any better than Snow. So not a lot of hope right there…

Ephesians 2:12
…at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

Unbelievers have only this world to hope in, and Hunger Games gives a stark picture of just how hopeless that hope is.

But we are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb. 11:13), we have something greater to look forward to! We don’t have to depend on the political or physical well-being since our hope is in Someone far greater than a mere political figure and a place far greater than any here on this fallen earth.

Ephesians 2:13
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

So while Collins correctly shows the ultimate hopelessness of depending on earthly leaders, she doesn’t mention the One we can fully hope in.

Romans 15:13
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

What are some things you took away from the books?

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Etc.

 

Mockingjay

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plains – except Katniss.

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 personal cost.

4 Stars

I’m going to try really hard to keep the spoilers out, but I’m going to assume you’ve read the first two books.

The Good:

I liked getting to know Prim a little better, afterall, Katniss was ready to sacrifice herself for her. I also liked that the love triangle ended with nothing left hanging and minimal angst. By the end, Katniss couldn’t have ended up with anyone else. Collins continues to show her firm grasp on fallen humanity. The ending was good, if not completely satisfying: a reminder that you can’t just walk away from everything they all went through and live happily-ever-after.

The Not So Good:

This book definitely has a different pace than the last two, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, I felt the beginning dragged a little. I also didn’t think the death of a certain character at the end brought very much pathos and some of the other deaths happened so fast, there wasn’t time to grieve over them. Of course that may have been intentional since the characters didn’t have the time either.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2012 in 4 Stars, Reviews

 

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Catching Fire

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and longtime friend, Gale. 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 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.

In Catching Fire, the second novel of the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before… and surprising readers at every turn.

4 Stars

A superb sequel! For the review, I’m going to assume you’ve at least heard some things about this book (otherwise there may be slight spoilers, but nothing too terrible).

The Good:

Collins’s world building continues to be exceptional. I was worried the second hunger games would be boring and too similar to the first book, but the relationships between the tributes this time made it more dynamic, added more pathos. It was nice to get to know Gale a bit more, he was a little flat in the first book. I thought Collins’s portrayal of the effects of the trauma from the previous hunger games and then having to re-live all of that was written very well.

The Not So Good:

To be honest, the love triangle started to bug me in this book. I really just wanted to shake Katniss sometimes. And why do characters keep leaving others out of the loop? Talk to each other, people! *shakes head*

What did you think? Was it as good as the first book?

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2012 in 4 Stars, Reviews

 

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Feed

Feed by M. T. Anderson

Identity crises, consumerism, and star-crossed teenage love in a futuristic society where people connect to the Internet via feeds implanted in their brains.

For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon – a chance to party during spring break and play with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desires. Following in the footsteps of George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., M. T. Anderson has created a not-so-brave new world — and a smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now.

0.5 Star

Oh where to start… ok, first of all, they’re not star-crossed lovers. Get your definitions correct. Also, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING COMPARING THIS TO ORWELL!? (yes, that totally deserved an interrobang) Ok, I’ll stop fuming and give an actual review now…

Plot: The premise was interesting, the execution was horrible. It was very confusing and the world building wasn’t very good. It seemed pretty random and chaotic to me. Not to mention that every other word almost was a swear word and there were some pretty disgusting stuff thrown in.

Characters: Flat. Static. Boring.

This book was worse than Twilight, and if you know my view about Twilight, then that’s saying something…

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2012 in 1 Star, Reviews

 

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The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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 one 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, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, 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 will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

5 Stars

Ah, where to begin with this book? Let’s start with Panem. Taken from satirist Juvenal, the original was panem et circensus, or bread and circuses. Basically, a society governed by diversions and pleasures, not by the upright conduct of a leader. This describes the Capitol in Collins’s creation to a T. So how is the populace of the Capitol entertained? By the same activities people have been entertained by for centuries: think gladiators, public executions, pure spectacle. Suzanne Collins’s world is starkly drawn and sometimes horrifying, but she has a good grasp on human nature in that respect. Collins’s world building was very well done

And now the characters. Katniss is a believable, complex character. Her personality bugs me sometimes, but her reasoning and motivations are believable to the character Collins draws. Peeta is also well drawn. I think his character is probably the most admirable. I wasn’t sure about his obsession with Katniss for years, but it didn’t really bother me that much. In District 12 it seems as if most kids the same age knew each other at least superficially so it wasn’t as far-fetched as some. *coughTwilightcough* And Katniss’s reaction to it (mostly confusion) was also believable. I have to give a shout-out to Rue. Poor little Rue *sniff* that scene was so sad.

If I was in the Hunger Games… pretty sure I’d be the first to go.

What did you think of the first book? Did you have a favorite character besides Katniss and Peeta? I actually thought Foxface was kinda cool… What are you looking forward to about the movie?

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2012 in 5 Stars, Reviews

 

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North and South

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

When her father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience, Margaret Hale is uprooted from her comfortable home in Hampshire to move with her family to the north of England. Initially repulsed by the ugliness of her new surroundings in the industrial town of Milton, Margaret becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of the local mill workers and develops a passionate sense of social justice. This is intensified by her tempestuous relationship with the mill-owner and self-made man, John Thornton, as their fierce opposition over his treatment of his employees masks a deeper attraction. In North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell skillfully fuses individual feeling with social concern, and in Margaret Hale creates one of the most original heroines of Victorian literature.

4 Stars

The plot comes across as a kind of Pride and Prejudice, except the plot is more intricate, characters are more fully drawn, and matters of society are addressed. As you can see from the 4 stars I gave it, I really enjoyed this novel. Margaret is a feisty protagonist who goes through a lot with and for her family. Some of the passages addressing unions and the worker-manager relationship can be difficult to get through, though they are interesting if you are interested in that kind of history. If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know I’m not always a fan of romances, but I really enjoyed this one, perhaps even better than I liked Pride and Prejudice.

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in 4 Stars, Reviews

 

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