Tag Archives: Dystopia

Little Brother (Cory Doctorow) – Review

Little brotherLittle Brother by Cory Doctorow
Age: Teen
Genre: Dystopia/Technology
Source: Public Library
Publisher: Tor, 2008
ISBN 9780765319852
382 pages
While cutting school one day, Marcus Yallow and his friends witness the terrorist bombing of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge. In the hustle to find a safe place to hide, one of Marcus’ friends, Darryl is stabbed and badly injured. When Marcus reaches out to a federal law enforcement unit for help, he and his friends are swiftly arrested and held as potential terrorists in the eyes of homeland security, interrogated for a number of days. After his release, Marcus decides to take the law into his own hands to try to win back San Francisco as a free city with his teenage hacker skills and intricate knowledge of technology.


I think this is a book that many teens will definitely enjoy.  It speaks to the disaffected youth that are frustrated with authority figures, frustrated with the way the government is headed and frustrated with being forced into following rules that they have no way of contesting. I found the story to be captivating, although I am a bit biased because the book does take place in San Francisco. I have to say, it was quite eerie walking under the Bay Bridge in San Francisco only two days after having finished this book. I could really picture Doctorow’s narrative come to life walking along the Embarcadero.

Marcus is a curious character. He stumbles, he’s selfish, he’s selfless and his determination to bring down Homeland Security is something of a marvel. He is a typical teen, full of knowledge of technology and how to hack systems that most adults don’t even know about. Doctorow does a wonderful job of blurring the lines between technology in use now, and technology that hasn’t been created yet.

Doctorow knows his technology and he doesn’t mind sharing his knowledge with you. There are quite a few moments of detailed hows, why’s and what’s on various technological jargon that slowed the story considerably. Although it is interesting to a point, I did feel like some of it was just filler. I was also bothered by the severe gap between good and evil. There was no middle ground really. It was teens versus adults. The bad guys were really horrible and the good guys were just a touch smarter and much younger.

This book should definitely be read in conjunction with Brave New World, 1984, Animal Farm, etc. Doctorow weaves in references to these books as well as to current events in the US since 9/11.

Book 28 of 2011

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Mockingjay – Review

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Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Age: Teen



The third installment of the Hunger Games series picks up where Catching Fire ended, with Katniss being shuttled away from the arena, while Peeta remained in the hands of the Capitol. Taken to District 13, Katniss learns of the rebellion that spread through the rest of the districts and of her role as the representative for the cause. The success of the rebellion rests on Katniss, to willingly participate with the cause and be a part of something much bigger than she had ever imagined.

I read this book in a span of 3-4 days, and initially when I finished it, I was happy. Then I started mulling over the book, reading other reviews, and in general, picking it apart. I came up with a number of issues with the book, that unfortunately swayed me from a strong “like” to a mediocre “meh its ok” type of opinion.

1. Katniss

Throughout most of the book, she was drugged up, selfish and unaware of anything going on around her. She was almost in a catatonic state of being for a good chunk of the book, which is acceptable given the trauma she has faced in and out of the arena in the first two books. It still bothered me that she could switch from traumatized to shooting down airplanes in 0-60 seconds.

2. The rebellion

I found it really bothersome at the repetition of the rebellion using Katniss in the same way she was used by the Capitol, as a pawn. I was half intrigued and half disillusioned to see the softer side of war. Not the battles themselves, but the strategies and planning of the people in charge. That is something you don’t see much and it something I appreciated. But it still left a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t feel compelled to support the rebellion leaders, because it seemed like they were just mimicking the Capitol. Although the rebellion is fighting for freedom for all the districts, whose to say District 13 wouldn’t turn power-hungry and become the next generation Capitol.

3. Team Peeta v. Team Gale

This actually bugged me the most. What started as a series about oppression and injustice, turned more into “who is Katniss going to end up with” over “will good triumph over evil and will millions of lives be saved.” I honestly couldn’t care less who Katniss ended up with. I don’t think either guy is the right one for her, and I saw her living on her own or dying for the cause actually.

For a good chunk of the book, I went along with Collin’ storyline, character developments out of respect for my adoration with the first Hunger Games book. The last 15% of the book was just outrageous on so many levels, I can’t even count them on my two hands.

I do give Collin’s credit for not being afraid to take chances, kill off main characters, the way other teen authors *coughstephaniemeyercough* did. I loved that she was able to present an awesome mentality of what its like during a rebellion. I just found some of the character storylines to be weak and it really took away from the message from the series. What started as Katniss’ impulsive actions for survival, turned into scripted sessions for promo ads. Maybe that was Collins’ message from the start? War changes people? No one is as strong as you think they are or want them to be? Life sucks, deal with it? Life and death don’t matter as long as you can’t decide which guy you want?

Whatever her overall message was, it wasn’t very clear, it was muddled and muffled by the romance triangle, for me at least.

Suzanne Collins will be making an appearance at Kepler’s Bookstore in Menlo Park in early November. I plan on going, and hopefully she can shed some light on why she made some of the decisions that she did for the series.

by Suzanne Collins
Scholastic Press, 2010
ISBN 0439023511
390 pages


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Catching Fire – Review

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Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Age: YA


In the stunning sequel to The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins picks up exactly where the first book ended. Against all odds, as well as against the Capitol’s wishes, Katniss is the victor of the Hunger Games, along with her fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. Although, she should be feeling relieved at having survived the deadly arena, she will soon return to her family and friends and never have to worry about stepping foot in the arena ever again. That was the idea, until President Snow paid Katniss a visit shortly after her return home. Only then did Katniss realize the full extent of her actions in the arena and the rumble she and Peeta unknowingly started throughout the 12 districts in the Capital. Now its up to Katniss to try to quell the anxieties of the districts by proving her love to Peeta beyond a shadow of a doubt, otherwise the consequences will be terrifying.

I couldn’t wait to jump right into Catching Fire, so I grabbed the audiobook because it was the only format available at my library. I did really enjoy this book. It carried the same quick pace as Hunger Games, the same themes of tyranny, censorship and instinctual human behaviors come into play.

I did have a problem with Katniss though. Throughout most of the book, I found her to be more naive than her character was originally set up to be in the first book. I found her fake love for Peeta to be somewhat alarming at how easily she could slip into the lovey-girlfriend role. Her impulses are emotionally driven, and not very accurate most of the time. She is overly suspicious of everyone around her, quick to cast accusations if anyone says or does something she doesn’t like. She and Peeta form a strong bond with their time in the arena, and then again on tour across the districts as the star-cross lovers, the Victors of the Hunger Games. Another thing that didn’t sit well with me is that Catching Fire seemed repetitive. It was a lot like Hunger Games, pretty much the same book, but with a few minor tweaks and twists at the end.

It did end on a powerful, although expected, cliffhanger. I feel fully vested in this series, even though I had higher hopes for Catching Fire. It does serve its purpose as the middle title in any trilogy. It forms the bridge that carries the story from its troublesome beginning, to the most likely violent and dramatic ending.

Catching Fire
by Suzanne Collins
Scholastic Audiobooks
10 discs, 11 hours and 37 minutes


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The Hunger Games – Review

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Age: YA

Set in the ruins of what was formerly North America, lies a country named Panem. In control is the Capitol, surrounded by 12 outlying districts living in poverty and fear of the cruel rules set by President Snow in the Capitol.

As a form of punishment for crimes committed by generations past, every year each district must supply one male and one female tribute between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen is only 16 when she steps up to take her younger sister’s place in the death-match arena. Having already resigned herself to the dim fate of death, Katniss surprises herself and the nation when she finds herself standing strong and surviving the barbaric games. Although Katniss had her future in the arena planned, everything changed because of one Peeta Mellark,  whose bombshell announcement at the beginning of the games left Katniss with difficult choices to make about life and death.

What can I say about this book that hasn’t been said already? What praise can I bestow that won’t sound redundant to every other book blogger that has already posted a review about this book. I couldn’t put the book down, I read it into the wee hours past midnight, and finished it completely the next morning after a restless night of sleep thinking about the book.

Obviously, I loved this book. I loved Collins ability to create a dystopia world of censorship, tyranny and abuse of personal freedoms. It formed a commentary over the world of individual rights abuse taking place in Vietnam, China, Iran and many other countries that try to silence their citizens through fear and cruelty.

The Hunger Games is set up like the Olympics, full of fanfare, district uniforms and even televised interviews with each tribute. The whole thing is a disgusting display of power and corruption on behalf of the Capitol. The districts have no choice but to obey with the yearly reaping.

Katniss is a likable character. She is clever, and as quick on her feet as she is sharp of the tongue with her wit. Having taken control of the family affairs and livelihood at an early age after her father died in a mining accident, she is full of survival skills and self-reliance to forge through the games. I found Peeta to be compassionate, reliable, but also resilient and a fighter. Strong of heart, eloquent with words and highly ethical and contemplative of his and Katniss situation.

If you loved, liked, or even vaguely enjoyed the Uglies trilogy, then this is the book and series for you. Katniss reminded me a lot of Tally Youngblood. Forced into a situation out of her control, her fate in the hands of people with no compassion or care. Her struggle to find her identity in a fight or flight arena, faced with difficult choices of loyalty, acceptance and understanding.

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
Scholastic Press, 2008
ISBN 0439023483
374 pages


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Teaser Tuesday 6/8/2010

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TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

# Grab your current read.

# Let the book fall open to a random page.

# Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page somewhere between lines 7 and 12.

# You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given! # Please avoid spoilers!

Can I just say that I feel like that the last book blogger to be just reading this book? Its such an awesome book, I don’t want to put it down, I wish I could call in sick to work and stay home to read the whole thing!

My Two Teasers:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

When I finally do come to my senses, I lie still, waiting for the next onslaught of imagery. But eventually I accept that the poison must have finally worked its way out of my system, leaving my body wracked and feeble.