Coffee Time: Rereading Mockingjay a decade later

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)I realize there’s been a bit of a gap between my post about Catching Fire and this, but life is life, y’know.

Obligatory spoiler warning

As stated in my original post about The Hunger Games, I bought the prequel recently and realized I hadn’t actually read the original trilogy since they first came out back in 2011 or so. So I figured I’d reread the whole thing and compare my opinions from then, when I was 20, 21 years old, to my opinion now, being a decade older. The first two books, my opinion of them was more or less positive, just as it had been the first time I read them, but I noticed I liked different things about the books than I originally did. If you’re interested for some in-depth thoughts, you can find my post about the first book here, and the second book here.

So out of the three, Mockingjay definitely had the biggest difference of opinion between 20 year old me and 30 year old me.

When I was 20, I think I rated this book three stars. At the time I wasn’t overly impressed. Thinking back, I’m pretty sure the reasoning was I had expectations about how I wanted the book to go, and when it didn’t happen, my overall enjoyment of it suffered. I remembered really wanting a stronger romance and being annoyed that Peeta had been hijacked, I remembered shipping Katniss and Gale and was bummed it didn’t happen, and most of all, I remember feeling that the whole ‘Katniss has problems with the chain of command’ plot line to be annoying, and I couldn’t understand why they just didn’t let her do what she needed to do. I was twenty, mind you, so I strongly related to Katniss, who was just a couple years younger than me at the time.

So a combination of all of the above, had me really not loving the book, nor how it ended.

Rereading it now though, I had a very different experience. First off, I was better able to invest myself in the whole district thirteen authority struggle. I totally understand why they didn’t let a seventeen year old do whatever she wanted, and I thought they handled Katniss being defiant pretty well – well as well as they could, considering they weren’t even aware of half of what she was doing. And at the same time, I could still understand Katniss’s motives when it came to ignoring orders. The point of contention between the two sides felt fuller, more nuanced, and definitely more interesting than it did the first time around.

Secondly, this time through I wasn’t really shipping anyone, so the romance, or lack thereof, really didn’t bother me. The plot line with Peeta being hijacked was also much more interesting to me, and it was interesting to see how he was making progress to overcome it, and what ended up triggering a violent episode in him. If anything, I wanted more of that plot line. I wanted a POV inside of Peeta’s head, and was a bit disappointed that all we got was Peeta through Katniss, who for a long time was bitter about it at best.

The most striking difference in my enjoyment of this book was where my expectations were. I hadn’t read the book in a decade, and I never watched the last movie, so I only had a vague rememberance about how the book ended, but it was enough not to let my mind decide I wanted it a certain way and then get disappointed. So for what the plot was, I liked it. I remember not liking how many people died in the story the first time around, but this time around, while I still didn’t love it, it felt realistic. There are a lot of YA books that are afraid to kill off characters, especially in pointless deaths, but the reality is, it happens, especially in war. So while I’m sad all the characters that died did die, it felt realistic compared to what war is like.

The only thing I didn’t care for though, and it was the same as before, was the ending. It was very rushed. While Katniss was quickly swept away from where the main story was happening and only heard about it second hand – which again is realistic – it was kinda disappointing that we didn’t get to learn more about how the world ended up, or how the power struggle fizzled out to get there. I understand that Katniss didn’t much care about it herself, which is why we didn’t see it, but I feel like a second POV from someone who was more involved would have been beneficial.

So. Overall, I did enjoy this book much more than I had ten years ago, and I’m glad I reread it. Solid 4 stars. With this third book done, I do plan on picking up the prequel before the end of the year. If you’ve read it, do let me know your (non-spoilery, please!) thoughts.

Happy reading!

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas | Blabber

A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.1)A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas
A Court of Thorns and Roses, Book 3.1
229 pages
YA/basically new adult fantasy
Read May 17th – June 3rd

Spoilery Blabber

This book suffers from the ‘second book syndrome’ that the actual second book manages to avoid. I suppose it’s not surprising that this super common lull in a series would catch up with this one eventually. On one hand, this is a novella, so it’s unfair to judge it how I would a book. On the other hand, I’ve read other of Maas’s novellas set in already established series and they are way, way, way better than this one.

I’m not saying this was a bad book. It just wasn’t… good. Nothing happened. I felt like I was reading a fanfiction. You know, the ones where the fanfiction author pulls the characters out of the main story arc, sticks them in some unspecified point in the cannon plot and goes, ‘now how about they celebrate a holiday together’. Which is exactly what this book was, except we knew the plot took place after the ending of the third book.

Going into this, I had heard mixed things. Those still solidly on the Feyre/Rhys express seem to love this book. Me, along with those who have been a bit disenchanted at this point, were a bit more let down. For me I think it stems with the fact that this series peaked in book two. Book three was okay, and this one is probably a bit lower down than that.

I feel like if there was a bit more plot then it would have been better, but come book four, the author could just go ‘the winter solstice was last month and Feyre told Rhys that she’s ready for kids’. Because that’s literally the only important plot point in the entire thing. Otherwise, you get to read about shopping and painting and more shopping and how much Amren like jewels. Oh, and a sex scene that uses the word ‘shattered’ to mean ‘orgasm’ for some reason. Multiple times within the same scene. Like why ‘shattered’, all I can picture is the two goin’ at it and then Thanos pops in and snaps his fingers. At least Maas didn’t use the word ‘sheathing’ this time.

My issues with how the sex scenes are written in this book  could beworth a whole different post, so I won’t get into it anymore here I don’t think.

So overall, this book was okay. It wasn’t bad – there wasn’t really anything I disliked about it (except ‘shattered’… shudder) but there wasn’t anything that really drew me in, either.

And I don’t have anything else to say about it because nothing else happened in it.

So here we are.

3/5 stars

 

The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson | Series Blabber

The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson
The Kiss of Deception
The Heart of Betrayal
The Beauty of Darkness

Spoilery Blabber

I feel like this trilogy suffers from the opposite of second book syndrome. Instead of being the worst, the second book in my opinion is by far the best of the three.

The Kiss of Deception starts out with the main character, Lia, running away from an arranged marriage, and is soon pursued by the prince whom she was to marry, and an assassin sent by another land. The book is told in three perspectives – Lia’s, the Prince’s and the Assassin’s, and for the first book, you don’t know who is who. You can’t tell which of the two men is out to kill her and which is there to try to win her over.

It was a very interesting concept, even though I knew it would come with the caveat of a love triangle, and lo and behold, it did. I mean, of course both the prince and the assassin would be late-teens, both good looking and both caught off guard at how ‘different she is than they thought she would be’. I mean go figure, right.

So my gripes with the love triangle aside, the first book was a rather solid opening to the trilogy. It had a bit of world building and some minor character development to boot. Lia though, was flat for me after the first book, and she would remain that way for me through the second with minor improvements and then finally flesh out a bit more during the third.

So the first book I ended up giving a 3/5 stars because of my lack of investment in the characters. The world was cool, but the characters… eh.

The Heart of Betrayal was next and in my opinion is a good bit better. The characters flesh out a bit and the setting gets so much cooler. So Lia and whathisface are walking around right, and they come across this ruin with a guy’s head in it. And it’s obviously Abraham Lincoln’s head from the Lincoln Memorial. So utterly buried, Washington D. C. exists in this world. That means this is a regressed future Earth. HOW COOL IS THAT?! I love books like that! And as the book continued, more and more little hints of the setting are revealed an the map itself is a huge clue – imagine the USA after the polar ice caps melt. Same thing right?! Ahhhh it’s so cool. <33

And the Komizar is probably one of my favorite characters – he’s such a bastard. I think he’s what made me like the second book so much. He actually had personality. That and the revealed setting gave this book a 4/5 stars, which is the highest rating I gave the entire series.

And then came the third book, The Beauty of Darkness, which is many peoples’ favorite book and unfortunately not mine, not by a long shot. The best thing about this book, I will give it, is that the love triangle basically disappears. And I was very happy with who ended up with whom. That I did like. It’s not often a love triangle ends up the way I want it to. It’s nice to see my ship actually set sail and flourish. I was so happy (despite the fact that the characters still weren’t totally drawing me in). I mean the characters had definitely developed a bit but honestly I still didn’t really care much for them.

But what really killed this book for me, this 700 page book, was the last 50 pages. So like, they’re building up to this war, right. This huge war that they’re going on and on and on about, that they’re trying to prevent for the entire 700 pages… and like… it’s just so anti-climatic.

Ok so the Komizar gets there and just happens to have the remaining two kids from the second book that Lia couldn’t take with her and wow wow, they’re saved super quick. And then after fretting for 200 pages about how smart, tactical and manipulative the Komizar is, about how he’ll outsmart everyone… Lia totally guesses exactly where he’ll show up.

And then on top of that, for some reason, she has to climb this hill to speak to the people… the people that had been hearing her talk for months and months and had still decided to go to war against her. And she gets up there to give this life changing speech that will change their lives and we don’t even get to read the speech. Really. The book was like ‘And I told them about how things should be’. Like really. This speech, which apparently convinces One hundred twenty thousand people, we don’t even get to know the contents of aside from ‘I told them about this thing’. And then this eighth-of-a-million large group of people who all somehow heard her over the chaos of war simultaneously drop their weapons and effing give in.

War over.

BUT I HAVE NO IDEA WHY BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW WHAT SHE SAID.

To me, it was like she was just talking more about what she had already yapped about when she was in Venda! What was so different about it now that it changed one hundred thousand people’s minds all at once?!

And then boom, two chapters of aftermath and the book is over.

Goodness gracious I hated that ending.

So this book got a 3.5/5 stars from me but after typing this all out I feel like that might have been a bit high.


So yeesh. The plot devices in this book were terrible, the characters were flat, but the setting was super, super cool and I loved it.

So this series was ok I guess. I mean, read it if you like YA Fantasy, you’ll probably enjoy it. But if you want something with a bit more uh… oomph, I don’t know, man.

The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks | Blabber

The Broken Eye (Lightbringer, #3)The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks
The Lightbringer series, Book 3
846 pages
Hardcover/audio book
Read Feb 16, 2017 – Jan 12, 2018
Spoilery blabber

This series just keeps getting better and better.

I first read The Black Prism, book one in this series, a year ago – it made my top books of 2017 list, as did its sequel, The Blinding Knife. And while it took me nearly a year to read this one too, that didn’t mean I loved it any less. This series is one that I savor. I actually ended up restarting this book half way through, which is why it took me so long. I originally was reading a physical copy, but I missed the narrator’s interpretation: Simon Vance does a spectacular job narrating this audio book. He’s just fantastic. He hooked me onto following narrators, like, looking for books narrated by a person, and then listening to that book specifically for that voice. I looooove Simon Vance’s voice. So as I said, I savor this series while I read it. It’s just so delicious and wonderful and I wanna be in it forever.

My favorite thing about this series is the magic system and how it’s incorporated so very deeply into the economy, the government and the well-being of pretty much everyone. Being able to draft luxin is probably the most marketable and influential skill one could have – even if they were complete shit at everything else, being able to draft a bit of blue or a bit of red would feed them and likely their families as well. It’s just fascinating.

And my second favorite thing is the cast of characters. All of them, whether I love them or hate them, they’re good characters. Like Kip for instance – he went through a lot of character development in this book. He went from being somewhat unsure of himself but slowly getting there, to a leader of a group, smoochin’ girls and feeling sure of himself. Leading accidental revolutions! Killin’ people! Kip is a good egg.

john nobleAlso, Andross Guile is a right git, man. I love him. He’s such a bastard  I think what makes him so wonderfully awful is that in his mind, he thinks he’s doing what’s right. Like, his driving force behind his actions is the desire to see his country run in a way that would bring peace. And I mean, technically, it will, but like… that’s a lot of lives, man. He’s so intelligent, so manipulative, always one step ahead of basically everyone else. I love him, but I wanna through a brick at his head. Augh he’s just so great. I’ve totally fan-casted him too. John Noble, all the way. He’s definitely my Andross Guile. And I don’t know yet if his uh.. goals, become darker in book four, but from the events at the end of book three, I’m thinking they might. I think he’s the best kinda-noble-villain I’ve ever come across. Definitely Lawful Evil.

The other characters too, get a bit more screen time for us to get into their minds. Zymun even got a bit. I think, at the moment, he’s the only character who’s really underdeveloped. All I’m picking up from him so far is ‘chaotic evil just because’. I have yet to discern his motivations, so hopefully that’ll happen in book four, now with him as Prism Elect. He has to get more chapters from his POV right? Right? wah.

Liv as well, I kinda missed reading more from her POV. She didn’t get many chapters this time around but the ones she did get were rather satisfying. Obviously she’s been in rank with the color prince for the past what, two books? Finally, finally, she’s seen sense. Goodness. And now she has to go crawling back to the Chromeria in hopes that she can be forgiven. I know that if they don’t wanna forgive her, her dad would take her in in a heartbeat (her dad btw, is one of my favorite characters. He’s just such a hulking teddy bear cutie pie).

I’m predicting she’ll run into Kip’s group, they’ll do a bout of ‘can’t we trust her?’, she’ll do something to prove herself, and then all will be well. Watch, I predict it.

 

And then finally, we come to The Order of the Broken Eye, the group the whole book revolves around. This group is such a weird, mysterious thing. And Weeks definitely led me into a false sense of security concerning them. I thought, ‘Oh, they’re trying to infiltrate via Teia and doing assassinations via Murder Sharp (who is the weirdest guy by the way) but lol nope. Nope nope, the ending of the book absolutely blew me away man.

Best ending ever. We find out that Ironfist, one of my favorite characters, the one that everyone seems to trust implicitly, has been in on it the whole time. The whole time. And Grimwoody man. I was at work when I was listening to the end of the audiobook – I listen while I code.

And so I’m sitting there, working and listening, and this big plot twist drops. And I sit there and my fingers still on my keyboard and my eyes bug out. And in my otherwise silent room with my two coworkers, I basically yell, ‘OH NO WAY.’ And then I pause it, get up and take a lap around the building because I just couldn’t handle it, man. I needed to move! My brain was like WHAT IS GOING ON?!

I love those kinds of endings. They’re the best.

So yeah, I loved this book.

5/5 stars

Captive Prince by C. S. Pacat| Blabber

Captive Prince (Captive Prince, #1)Captive Prince by C. S. Pacat
270 pages
Fantasy, M/M Romance
Read Dec 15-17, 2017
(Mildly) Spoilery Blabber

I think I went into this book expecting something other than what it was.

This book, when lent to me by a friend, gave me the impression that it was a PWP book. (Plot? What Plot?) Basically I thought it was going to be a book written with the veil of ‘sure there’s a setting, but we know why we’re all here’. A lot of romances fall into this category, and considering that’s what I was in the mood to read, I was good with it. I didn’t go into this book expecting to be blown away by beautiful writing or fascinating plot development, let’s put it that way.

And so I started reading… and was pleasantly surprised. There is plot in this book. Like, actual plot. And a bit of world building. And some character development was well. In fact, the whole ‘gosh Emily, read it, it’s gooooood *eyebrow swaggle*’ I got from my friend when she lent it to me element took a back seat. This book is a fantasy with a romantic (would you really call that ‘romantic’?) subplot, not a thinly veiled excuse to write a bunch of sex scenes. It was interesting.

Now granted, this book can be graphic at times. The culture that is set up is very… intense. Citizens from different nations are slaves (this happens across the different countries with each other’s people), and many of those slaves and the nobility as well are uh… basically all over each other at all times. There are public shows of sex, there are depictions of same sex rape. This book is not for children, and not for the weak of heart.

It all creates a gritty read. Everything is written in a way that makes you vaguely uncomfortable, and it’s written that way on purpose. The tone of the book says ‘this is happening, this is the world, and it’s not good’. So what I’m saying is, while the culture that this book is written about celebrates these things, the tone of the book does not. It’s hard to explain. But at no point did I get the feeling that the author was trying to say ‘yeah sexual assault!’ She wrote it in a way that it wasn’t romanticized, but was written as ‘this is part of the culture’, I guess. So if that’s something you’re not okay with reading, I would avoid this book like the plague.

So if you’re still reading at this point and haven’t backed out from losing all interest (I wouldn’t blame you if you had), here is a bit of a plot overview:

This book follows a prince, Damen, whose illegitimate brother overthrows him, fakes his death to the citizens of his country, and ships him off to the country of Vere to be a pleasure slave to its prince, Laurent, under a fake identity. Damen’s motivation to reveal his true identity is minimal, as he slaughtered Laurent’s older brother in war between the two nations a handful of years beforehand.

So the book follows Damen as he tries to navigate being a slave for the first time in his life to a man who is frigid and cruel in a culture that says whatever goes.

And honestly, I rather liked this book.

I wasn’t expecting to, but I did. It’s one of those books that you buzz through really fast because the writing is addicting. You know what you’re reading isn’t five star material, but you get sucked in and you just can’t stop and you need to know what happens next.

I think that’s why my friend lent it to me, telling me it was good while swaggling her face. It is good, just not in the way that she had suggested. The ‘romance’ between the two main characters I wouldn’t even call a romance. If it is, it’s a slow burn that must developed in later books, because I didn’t get a sense of it at all in this first one. The two hate each other and the don’t do so much as hold hands, let alone jump each other’s bones the whole book.

It was an interesting dynamic between the two – hate fulled their interactions and weirdly led them to cooperating towards the end of the book. Hatefully, haha. I could definitely see the ‘hate to love’ trope appearing for these two eventually, but I would not by any means call this first book a romance, even though it is categorized as such. It was a fantasy, based in geopolitical intrigue for sure.

The prince of Vere is the prince, but his uncle, the Reagent, currently holds the thrown. The man, while initially appearing to be almost decent, later shows himself to be a disgusting, manipulative individual, and you find yourself almost rooting for Laurent, who has a few major personality flaws of his own. It was weird how the author got me to like a character I would normally strongly dislike.

So even though there were so many reasons why I should find this book appalling, listed above, I found myself buzzing through it and, for the most part, liking it. The writing is addictive, the characters, at least the main two, are weirdly fun to read about, and the setting, while hard to read sometimes, drives the plot forward. Overall, I dug it. It was good.

I want to read the other two in the trilogy – hopefully will borrow them as well. I hope, I hope I hope I hope that the culture the book is written about is turned on its head, that the tone that author creates of ‘this is gross’ is a predictor for it being overthrown. That would be super neat.

Rating: 4/5 stars