Why Splitting Mockingjay was for the Best

(Caution: spoilers galore for the events of Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins)

So I just recently watched Mockingjay: Part One, and I’ve come to two conclusions:

1) I don’t usually condone murder, but someone needs to kill that guy behind me who kept clapping every ten minutes. Yes, Katniss shooting down a plane with a bow and arrow is cool and all, but it is not cool enough to warrant an obnoxious clap while people are sitting right in front of you. What is the point of “clapping” anyway? Who exactly thought that smacking your hands together loudly should be a good way of expressing your approval? Oh, and also:

2) While splitting Mockingjay was almost definitely a decision motivated by greed, that doesn’t matter much because it all worked out perfectly.

I liked the book and all, but the last third of it was a tiny bit rushed and confusing. If Mockingjay was made into one single installment, it would’ve made an even more rushed and even more confusing movie. Katniss’s PTSD would not have been explored to nearly as much an extent, every single one of Effie’s scenes would’ve been cut, and that whole Hanging Tree segment probably never would’ve happened, which would suck because that song was quite possibly the best scene in the whole series, if measured in the amount of chills it gave me. I mean seriously, I’m listening to it right now, and I just shed a mockingjay-shaped tear.

If Mockingjay was made into one two and a half hour movie, at least half of Part 1 would’ve had to be cut. I can only think of two, maybe three scenes from that Part 1 I’d be willing to get rid of, let alone an entire hour’s worth. Not to mention the sheer amount of character development we’d lose in a single adaptation. Prim, Finnick, and Johanna barely get enough screentime as it is. Their deaths would be utterly meaningless* to those who haven’t read the books, and disappointing to those who have, if their screentime was limited to a single movie.

But really, the one thing everyone on the internet seem to be forgetting is that the book itself is split into two very distinctive parts. Katniss’s entire motivation in the first half is to do what she can to save Peeta, while she spends the second half getting to grips with his condition as Peeta slowly heals. And the first half focuses on the use of war propaganda as both sides try to manipulate the districts into joining their cause, while the second half focuses on the war that results. In the words of producer Nina Jacobsen, “Mockingjay 1 is about the propaganda war, Mockingjay 2 is about war.”

Not to mention, if Mockingjay was only made into one movie, Natalie Dormer never would’ve been casted. And that would be a tragedy.

*Prim and Finnick’s deaths, I mean. Not Johanna’s.

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Four Changes I’d Make to My Favorite Books

I read a lot.

Well, not that much, compared to some of the people I follow on Goodreads, who apparently read suspiciously close to the speed of light.

Yet in all the books I’ve read, there is not a single one in which there’s nothing I wouldn’t change if I were given the chance. I’m not trying to say that I consider myself better than any of these authors, just that there are small (and admittedly, sometimes big) moments where I know I would’ve written things differently.

Keep in mind, before any of you less level-headed people post angry comments like “How dare you insult A Song of Ice and Fire!” or “I’ll have you know that John Green’s writing saved my life!” you should know that all the books I mention happen to be favorites of mine. Which makes me want to change certain things about them even more, because then, in my mind, these books would be perfect.

(Caution: Slight spoilers for #2, and huge spoilers for #3 and #4. You have been warned.)

1) Take out a single word from Paper Towns, by John Green.

Paper Towns was my favorite John Green novel, probably. All I know is that while I liked his other books, this was the only one that I’ve felt the need to reread so far. And both times, there was always one line that’s bugged me more than any other. See, in the first chapter there’s a conversation between Quentin and his mother over the Senior Prom. Quentin hates prom and all things related to prom, because well, he’s a bit of a wet blanket. So his mom says, “Well, there’s no harm in just going with a friend. I’m sure you could ask Cassie Hiney.” Which prompts the following line:

And I could have asked Cassie Hiney, who was actually perfectly nice and pleasant and cute, despite having a fantastically unfortunate last name.

Did you spot what was wrong with this sentence? It should be fantastically obvious.

See, in my mind, the word “fantastically,” is a lot like the word “very,” in that it adds absolutely* nothing to whatever you’re trying to say. Except it’s so much worse, because “very” is a barely noticeable word, only two syllables long and so commonly used that most readers won’t even care. “Fantastically,” meanwhile, has five whole syllables and thirteen letters, which, considering it’s complete uselessness as a word, is thirteen letters and five syllables too long.

Had I written this, I simply would’ve put:

…despite having an unfortunate last name.

Tada! All is right with the world again.

You’re welcome, John Green. But next time, make sure to get permission from me and my infinite wisdom, before using an adverb over three syllables long.
4) Restructure at least two hundred pages of A Dance with Dragons, by George R. R.  Martin.

Of the five currently published ASoIaF books, ADwD is the one that had the most wasted potential. The problem was, there was simply too many chapters that could’ve been cut completely, or at the very least, severely edited. At least three Tyrion and Daenerys chapters could’ve been cut, along with the first Davos, Jon and Quentyn chapters. Plus, Arya’s two chapters should’ve been moved to A Feast for Crows, where it would’ve nicely completed her arc. If you were to also edit out the hundreds of sentences dedicated to food and bodily functions, you’d have at least two hundred pages left, which could’ve been used to resolve: 1) The Battle of Meereen, 2) The Battle for Winterfell, and 3) Jon Snow’s “death.”

If those three story lines had actually been somewhat resolved, I feel like the reaction to ADwD would’ve been much more positive. And I for one would’ve placed it in the same league as the first three books, which is saying a lot considering that they’re all up there as one of my favorite novels of all time.

3) Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins, should’ve been at least thirty pages longer.

I didn’t like Mockingjay at first, for different reasons. I thought it was too depressing, and Katniss wasn’t as cool and kick-ass-y as she used to be. But I’ve since changed my mind.

The key to liking this book is not to think of it as a story about a bunch of people rebelling against an unjust government (which the first two books would’ve led you to believe) but as a story about the horrors of war and the effect it can have on someone. Sure it was depressing, but that was the point. And maybe Katniss wasn’t as competent as she used to be, but considering the sheer amount of horrible things she’s had to witness and take part in, people should probably cut her some slack.

When I looked at it this way, Mockingjay almost became my favorite book in the trilogy. Almost.

The one problem: it was too short.

With so many series these days, as the books grow more and more popular, the editor has less and less control over the author, who’s books will get bigger and bogged down with unnecessary subplots and details. And so the series falls victim to its own success.

Yet here it was just the opposite. This book could’ve used a whole lot more detail, especially during the last third of the novel. I believe there was a sentence halfway through part three that went like, “my tears freeze on my cheek.” It took me straight out of the story because, wait, it’s cold outside? This whole time I was envisioning the setting as a beautiful summer night, cloudy with a chance of horrific violence and child-bombing, and as it turns out, only the second part of that was correct. It was actually the middle of winter, yet I didn’t even realize that until they were in the Capitol for at least four chapters.

Not to mention, I think Prim’s death scene was rushed, and it was written in a confusing way. I don’t think I even realized that she had died until a few pages after it happened, then I had to read the scene over again just to make sure.

Admittedly, my lack of attention and forgetfulness might be to blame here. But I’m going to criticize Collins for this anyway.

1) A Storm of Swords: The Viper should have won.

I’m sure many will disagree with me here, because I myself am still on the fence with this. From one storytelling perspective, Oberyn’s death makes perfect sense: Tyrion had already found himself on trial back in the first book, and had managed to get out alive by calling for a trial by combat, which is exactly what he does here. Having a main character get out of the exact same situation in the same exact way is a little too lucky, especially for an author like George R.R. Martin.

BUT… Oberyn is like, really cool. When his names pops up, the word “badass” usually follows, and I’d argue that even if he didn’t die, Tyrion’s storyline would still have been about the same. Sure, Tyrion wouldn’t have been sentenced to death, but he definitely would’ve been at risk of being assassinated by one of Cersei’s men, and no one would’ve cared because at this point, he was completely friendless, despised by almost everyone and had little to no political power whatsoever. Now, it is possible that Oberyn would’ve brought Tyrion back with him to Dorne, but being that Tyrion’s still a Lannister, I don’t think that would’ve happened. Oberyn didn’t give a shit about Tyrion. He just wanted revenge on his poor sister, who had had one hell of a bad day about sixteen years ago.

So basically, everything that happened afterward in Tyrion’s storyline still would’ve happened. He would still be pissed off at his family, Jaime and Varys still would’ve helped him escape, and he’d still learn the truth about Tysha and murder his father. His storyline would’ve been exactly the same, except less depressing.

Not to mention, in A Feast for Crows, we could’ve visited Dorne through Oberyn’s point of view, a character we already know and like, instead of from the point of view of a bunch of strangers we’ve never met before and have little reason to care about.

And besides, major criticism of A Song of Ice and Fire is that it’s too depressing for it’s own good. I had always disagreed with this criticism, up until this scene. I mean, really Martin? You’re going to introduce this ridiculously cool character with a motivation everyone can get behind, just to give him a horrible, gory, humiliating death, while screwing Tyrion over at the same time? Right in front of his wife? Bad Martin! Bad!

___

So, do you agree with my points? Do you disagree? Do you kind of agree but not really? Comment below. Also, make sure to vote on this poll (which I forgot to put in the last post).

Special thanks to those who submitted a name. You’re da best.

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*Sort of like how “absolutely” doesn’t add much either. But I’m a blogger without an editor. John Green is a famous writer with an editor, and so he should be held to higher standard.

My Five Favorite Young Adult Writers

The Young Adult Blog Party started today, and I couldn’t be more excited. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, click this link here, and remember that there’s still time for you to participate! (Because I’m desperate, I’ll even accept late posts, which would be after the 17th.) To celebrate the first day of the party, here’s a list of my five favorite Young Adult writers.

But first here’s a list of some of the first few participants. The early birds, if you will:

5) Markus Zusak: 

The only two books I’ve read by him were I am the Messenger and The Book Thief. The latter was my favorite book ever and the other book was great until the last thirty pages. I know it’s unfair to include him since he only wrote one great YA book, but since this is my favorite book of all time, I’ll give him a pass.

4) J.K. Rowling

Why is she here? Well for one thing, she manages to follow a group of kids as they grow up and do it in a mostly realistic way. Each character matures, learns a few life lessons, and all of it feels real and unforced. She also manages to completely avoid swearing and still keep fifteen year old Harry’s angsty outbursts realistic (something Rick Riordan needs help with). Plus, her books are magical!

This guy should write a Doctor Who episode.

3) Eoin Colfer

Has there ever been a main character in a YA novel as unique as Artemis Fowl? A super genius twelve year old who manages to outsmart every single person who gets in his way. While I didn’t like the seventh book, The Atlantis Complex, that much, I do think the first six books, particularly The Eternity Code and The Lost Colony, were amazing.

And let’s not forget Airman, which is one of the few standalone YA novels nowadays. I recommend this book to everyone.

2) Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay was depressing and a bit of a mess, but it was still a mostly realistic novel that showed the horrible effects of war. And Katniss suffered from some serious PTSD, if I might add.

Meanwhile, The Hunger Games managed to keep me up to one in the morning on a school night just to finish it, so it gets five out of five star just for that. I’ve come to the conclusion that Catching Fire was in fact, great. It was just a build-up to the third novel, but what a build-up that was.

But the thing that got Collins the #2 spot is The Underland Chronicles, which is up there with Harry Potter in my favorite children’s series. These books deserve so much more recognition than they get.

1) John Green

Not many writers can mess with your emotions as much as this man. Sure, Markus Zusak made me cry so much I had to build a bridge to get over the lake I just formed, but John Green managed to do that and make me laugh at the same time. I’d be all “Haha—aww….”

[Disclaimer: I didn’t actually cry during any of John Green’s books. Okay, maybe I teared up a bit in Looking for Alaska and during the entire last hundred pages of The Fault in our Stars, but besides that? Never!]

I don’t get the criticism for “emotional manipulation,” in any books, not just John Green’s. I get it when it comes to movies and TV shows, as in whenever they want you to feel sad they start blasting super depressing music in the background, but I don’t see how that’s a criticism when it comes to books. Books don’t have a soundtrack. The only way it could make you feel emotions is from the writing and that alone. If you could bring millions of people to tears just from your writing, then that is talent right there.

You also have to like how he defends teens. He doesn’t condescend to them at all, and gets mad at those who do. When asked if he ever plans to write a novel with an adult main character, he responded, “I mean, to be totally honest with you, I don’t really give a shit about adults.” While I don’t hate adults or anything, I still loved this line.

He also has the greatest personality ever. Just look at his YouTube channel.

An A to Z Bookish Survey

This is a cool survey I saw on Haley’s blog, and because I’m too busy and too lazy to come up with an original post, I decided to answer the questions. And these questions are cool.

The original survey was created by The Perpetual Page Turner.

Author you’ve read the most books from:

Stephen King, as any loyal follower of mine should know.

Best Sequel Ever:

Hopefully Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King, which I will be buying next weekend. But I haven’t actually read that yet, so I guess I’ll go with The Code of Claw, by Suzanne Collins. Greatest children’s book ever.

Currently Reading:

Three books. A Game of Thrones (for fun), The Scarlet Letter (for school), and Night Shift, a collection of short stories by Stephen King (for fun).

Drink of Choice While Reading

Water. Sorry for the boring answer.

E-reader or Physical Book?

Physical book, although I have no real problem with e-readers. I just like the feel of a physical book, along with the smell, texture, taste (not really) and the font.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

Margo Roth Spiegelman. Although chances are we wouldn’t actually talk for most of High School until the very end of senior year, right before she disappears without warning.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

Airman, by Eoin Colfer. I picked this out of the library one day in fifth (sixth?) grade not knowing who Colfer was or what the book was about. I just liked the cover. It turned out to be one of my favorite books ever.

Hidden Gem Book:

The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins. Why has no one heard of this series?

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

That time I started reading. Also, the time I read The Stand.

Just Finished:

A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. Rating: 4.5/5.

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

The bad ones.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

Probably The Stand, which is about 1,100 pages or so in my edition. I am planning to read Les Misérables and War and Peace soon (I’ve been planning to read them for almost a year now), so hopefully that’ll change.

Major book hangover because of:

The Book Thief. After reading it I felt as if someone had murdered my entire family.

Number of Bookcases You Own:

Only one. In my defense, I mostly get books from the library. I only pay for books when the library doesn’t have it or I’m absolutely sure I’ll love.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

The Harry Potter series. I’m counting it all as one book.

Preferred Place To Read:

The comfy (but not too comfy) chair in my dad’s room.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

“Thomas Edison’s last words were ‘It’s very beautiful over there’. I don’t know where there is, but I believe it’s somewhere, and I hope it’s beautiful.”—John Green.

Then there’s also a quote by Neil Gaiman in The Graveyard Book, which would be helpful to anyone with thoughts of suicide. “You’re alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you can change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you’re dead, it’s gone. Over. You’ve made what you’ve made, dreamed your dream, written your name. You may be buried here, you may even walk. But that potential is finished.”

Reading Regret:

Not having yet read anything by George Orwell. The guy seems cool.

Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series):
  1. The Dark Tower series, by Stephen King.
  2. A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin.
Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:
  1. The Book Thief
  2. Paper Towns
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird? (This one’s debatable)
Unapologetic Fangirl For:

Would I technically be a fanboy? Do fanboys even exist? If so, I’d be an unapologetic fanboy for Stephen King. I might not agree with some of the things he’s said in recent articles concerning him, but I love (almost) everything he’s written.

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

Now that Doctor Sleep is out, I can’t think of any not-yet-released books I’m excited for. Sorry.

Worst Bookish Habit:

Not finishing a book.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

The Cat in the Hat. That’s right, I still have those books.

Your latest book purchase:

As in, actual money being spent? That would be both American Gods, and The Fifth Wave, both of which were purchased at the same time.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

The Long Walk, by Stephen King. This book was physically painful, but for some reason I couldn’t stop reading.

Tada! Feel free to do this survey on your own blog if you like.  Sorry if you were expecting an original post today, but I’m too sleep-deprived to write anything with quality.

Why Long Books Are Better than Short Books

A few weeks ago I wrote a post titled “Why Short Books are (Usually) Better than Long Books,” where I basically claimed that short books are awesome and long books are the spawn of the Satan. Well, I changed my mind. Why? Well for one thing, I’m a quarter of the way through A Game of Thrones, and apart from Catelyn’s chapters, I’m loving it more than Spongebob loves jelly-fishing. Also, I began to look back at all the long books I’ve read, like The Stand, American Gods, and It (all these books are shown below, by the way), and began thinking about why I love them. And that inspired this post.

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Don’t worry, it only looks like The Stand is a million times bigger than all the other books.

Reason #1: Bigger book, bigger plot: Sure, there are plenty of short books with complex plots, but you could only fit so much plot in such a tiny space before the book starts to seem rushed and the characters start to feel neglected. With a large book, you can have a huge, ambitious, complicated plot, along with dozens of subplots, with enough pages to weave them all together perfectly. American Gods was great at this.

Reason #2: That feeling of not wanting the book to end is magical. I like to think we all get that feeling with certain books. I certainly have. In fact I made a list of books I didn’t want to end.

              • The last four Harry Potter books.
              • The Stand, by Stephen King.
              • The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien
              • The Book Thief, though mostly because I was dreading the end.
              • Paper Towns, for the same reason above.
              • A couple other novels I’m forgetting about.

What do all these books have in common? Apart from Paper Towns, all these books are long, with the next shortest book being over 550 pages. I really only get the feeling of not wanting the story to end wit a long book, probably because the characters are usually much more developed, the world is more clearly defined, and a bunch of other reasons I can’t think of.

Maybe it’s because the midsection, in a well-written long book, is the best part IMHO. I only started to get into The Lord of the Rings once the Council of Elrond ended and the pace stopped being almost unbearably slow. I finished The Two Towers in three days, whereas the The Fellowship of the Ring took me two weeks and The Return of the King took me a week and a half.

 With short books you’re too busy trying to get to the end that you don’t take the time to simply enjoy what you’re reading. Unless you’re reading Paper Towns.

[It just occurred to me that if anyone following my blog hasn’t read Paper Towns yet, then I’ve probably set their expectations unrealistically high, if such a thing is possible with John Green’s masterpiece (suck it, TFioS!).]

Reason #3: If you don’t like the book, it still makes an amazing door-stopper. Or you could use it to kill spiders, or to block bullets, or as a weapon. A large, hardcover book being thrown at you does more damage than twelve Jackie Chans and a Tywin Lannister combined.

Reason #4: Long Books Take Their Time.

I’m a firm believer that in a story, every scene should serve to advance the plot, which is why I got annoyed at Stephen King when he spends ten pages developing a character’s wife in It, only for her to never be seen or mentioned again. But you don’t have to rush the story so the novel stays under a certain amount of pages.

I thought this was a major problem in Mockingjay. The entire novel, except for the first part, seemed rushed. Huge plot points were underwritten, and barely any time was spent mourning a certain well-loved character who deserved a better death scene. The book would have been a lot better if this book was given an extra hundred pages to further develop the plot and characters, and maybe try to make it slightly less depressing.

With longer books, you rarely have to worry about the story being rushed.

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Looks like I’m completely out of reasons. What do you think? Am I right, or am I just completely wrong as usual?

Slightly off-topic: I’m doing NaBloPoMo this year, and I must know, is it considered cheating if I re-blog someone and count it as my post for the day? I need answers, people!

The Underland Chronicles: A Review

(This is a long post. Sorry.)

These books gave me a new-found respect of the awesomeness of Suzanne Collins. Sure, she likes to repeat certain characters (Solovet=Coin, Ripred=Haymitch, etc) and many find her books overly depressing, but you have to admire how she isn’t afraid to sugarcoat anything. She’s not afraid to show the true horrors of war or kill off a major character in a terrible, disturbing way. She has balls. Okay, she technically has ovaries, but you get the point.

Since I’m writing this review more for people who have already read The Underland Chronicles so we could discuss it than for people who haven’t read it, I’m not going to write a summary of the series. Also, it should go without saying that there will be a ton of spoilers. So if you haven’t read the books yet, STAY AWAY.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (the same for all the other pictures)

The first book, Gregor the Overlander, is an enjoyable light read. It’s darker than the first Harry Potter book, but not by much. That being said, this book was the worst of the series for me. My main problem was that Collins’ kept showing you the thoughts of Gregor, which seemed way too calm for the situation happening. This particularly bugged me in the second chapter where Gregor is falling down the metal grate which led into the Underland. Any half-way normal person in the world would be thinking something along the lines of “%!@$ ^%$&^ !@%” but Gregor was thinking perfectly calm, rational thoughts. It bugged me. (Pardon the pun.)

I also thought the twist with Henry being in league with the rats made no sense. How on earth did he form an alliance with the rats without anyone noticing? He’s the future queen’s cousin/best friend, for christ’s sake! Someone would notice if he was having any type of unauthorized contact with the rats. It’s completely unrealistic, especially when you consider the fact that Henry had no legitimate reason to want to join the rats in the first place other than the fact that he’s actually a one-dimensional crazy person. The only thing I liked about this twist was how it effected Luxa’s personality and ultimately shaped her to become a better and stronger person.

Speaking of Luxa, her character development in this series was one of the best I’ve ever seen in any young adult fiction. Compare Luxa in book 1, who made fun of the crawlers with Henry and didn’t even know how to make her own food, to Luxa in the final book. She changed. A lot.

Oh, and Tick died. And she died the most heroic death a cockroach could ask for. Most of my respect for Collins comes with her ability to make cockroach, a disgusting creature that I would kill without a second thought, become one of the most lovable characters in the book. Next to Ripred, which I’ll get back to.

The second book of the series was just as good as the first. For me, the series didn’t become great until the third book, where the plot started darker and deadlier than the average children’s book. In this book, the writing improved (they usually do as plot and characters themselves mature), There weren’t any stupid twists, but it was a wee bit anti-climactic with Bane, who, even if you disregard the fact that he has the same name as the villain from the The Dark Knight Rises, was made out to be huge monster. For all that suspense leading up to a final battle, it was disappointing to have him end up being a harmless little pup. Just like the twist with Henry though, this had a whole bunch of repercussions in the later books.

The third book would have been favorite if not for the fact that the whole mission to the jungle was completely pointless. Had the Underlanders United (That’s what I’m calling Gregor’s gang) not gone to the jungle, the cure still would have been found. Gregor’s mother was never in any real danger at all, as it turns out. I was disappointed. I wanted Gregor’s mother to die, not because I hated her character, but because I wanted to see the toll it would take on Gregor. I wanted him to go all Katniss style and kill Solovet with a bow and arrow. But of course that wouldn’t be good storytelling, and besides, Gregor would end up getting enough emotional baggage later on.

This book is the book we get to meet Hamnet and his son Hazard, who are the coolest of the cool. Hamnet reminded me of Finnick for some reason, but I’m not sure why. and Hazard’s the coolest little fictional kid since Danny Torrence.

And was I the only one who felt bad for the doctor lady who accidentally infected Ares and caused the whole outbreak? She was really just doing her job; the job that Solovet ordered her to do! Solovet should be the one being thrown off a cliff (I think that’s how they executed people), not the jumpy Doctor lady! It’s okay though, because Solovet ends up getting ambushed by rats and probably dies a horrible, painful death.

The fourth book I loved because it ended on a huge cliffhanger, and it took a whole bunch of events from real history and incorporated it into her books. It was really dark for a book with the age range of 9 and up, but I’m okay with that.

And Bane’s back, and better than ever. This time, instead of being a tiny little innocent pup, he’s a twisted psychopath whose hobbies include losing his tail, hogging all the food, and causing mass genocide.

Luxa and her Scooby Doo gang  go on a deadly mission to find out what happened to the mice, and as it turns out, Hitler Bane is having them all rounded up and suffocated to death by a volcano that leaks poisonous gas. Jinkies!

A few key events happen in this book.

  1. Luxa sort of just declares war on the rats, because she can.

  2. Gregor and Luxa finally start to develop feelings for each other. It’s painfully awkward, but it’s one of the most realistic love interest subplot I’ve read. And the fact that you know they probably can’t be together in the end just makes it better.

  3. Once again, they take Boots, a toddler, and Hazard, a seven year old and his even younger bat Thalia, on a deadly mission that could easily have them all killed. Very irresponsible! But I’m okay with it because without Boots this book would be way too depressing.

The final book is the best because unlike the others, it starts off in the Underland, so we don’t have to deal with three or four chapters of exposition before the real story begins.

What I love about this book is how intense everything gets. There’s parts in this book that would fit in a horror movie. Because I can, I made a list of the most haunting moments.

  • When Gregor, Boots, and a couple other members of Underlanders United are hiding in a cupboard while rats invade the whole city. They even invade the hospital wing and kill a bunch of the doctors and patients, which is just cruel.

  • The moment where they realize that Solovet is going to get ambushed and there’s nothing anyone can do about it because it would reveal that they’ve broken the code. This type of plot line was also used in Sherlock, and there’s so many conspiracies that this happened in real life, such as the Coventry Myth and the attack on Pearl Harbor. This was by far the cleverest move Collins pulled off in this book.

  • Gregor calls Luxa out and gets her locked in the cellar for a while against her will, and her being super pissed off at him. Oh, Luxa, why are you so intent on getting yourself killed?

  • Where Bane, in a strange hysterical rage, bites off Twirltoungues head. I clapped at this part. Is that bad?

  • After Bane is killed, Ares’ claw is still sticking to Gregor’s hand due to the dried blood. That’s a disturbing image right there.

That being said, I was surprised by the lack of good characters killed. There was Solovet, who wasn’t much of a good person to begin with, and Ares.

As if the whole anti-war message wasn’t present enough, Collins kills off Ares, who is literally named after the Greek god of war. Some of the anti-war messages, particularly the mental conflict Gregor was having after the diggers attacked the city, seemed forced, and the book could have done well without it.

This time, instead of Boots, the relationship between Ripred and Lizzie was the heart of the novel. Although I love Ripred as a sarcastic mentor who yells a lot, it’s even better to see him be extremely nice to Lizzie. Apparently he used to have pups, one of which reminded him of Lizzie, and they died in a flood caused by Hamnet, which is why he went half-insane and fled Regalia. Everything’s connected. Sorta.

I’m not sure how I feel about Gregor’s change from someone who only fights if absolutely necessary, to someone who actually enjoys battle. I know, he didn’t want to enjoy battle, but he did. It helps that he’s a complete badass who is better than just about every other fictional kid his age. While Harry Potter had only learned like two useful spells by the time he turned twelve, Gregor had killed hundreds of gigantic animals and almost died a bunch of times, and still lived to tell the tale.

The ending was sad and wasn’t that satisfying, but it was the most realistic route Suzanne Collins could have taken. And personally I hate when readers make the endings way too long trying to tie up every little plot detail. Plus, compared to the warnings I got saying the last book would be a total bloodbath (which it totally was), the book was a lot happier than I thought it would be. Unlike in Mockingjay, each death had a purpose and helped serve the plot. And I like how his family gets to live happily ever after, either in the Overland (I think they’ll end up moving to Virginia, since no mother in the world would be okay with leaving her entire life behind to live with giant animals in an underground city), or the Underland, which will hopefully be war-free for at least a couple years.

In the end, I think these books were great, just as good as the Hunger Games trilogy. It had some flaws, but mostly it was a perfectly paced light read that should be a lot more popular than it is right now.

Overall rating: 9/10

“Pass the Parcel” Blog Tag

I’m joining this Book Blog Party because it looks awesome. And I enjoy talking about book related things. Plus there’s a free giveaway thing which looks pretty fun. Also, you should check out the Notebook Sister’s blog because their blog is cool and cool things are cool.

1. Name your top 5 favourite YA authors!

Markus Zusak (is anyone surprised by this?), John Green, Suzanne Collins, J.K. Rowling, and Cornelia Funke.

2. What’s the last YA book you read and what did you think of it?

I’m not sure what the last YA book I read was (I’ve been busy with Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, which is like, 4,000 pages long), but I think the last one I read was Gregor the Overlander and the Prophecy of Time, by Suzanne Collins.

It was my favorite book of the Underland Chronicles, along with the last and most deadly. For a book featuring talking animals, this series is surprisingly realistic. I like how the book took instances from real war events that happened in the past and connected them with the plot of the books, (Hitler’s anti-jew propaganda, the Coventry Myth), and how strong the character’s personalities were. There will me a much more detailed review of this book in another post.

3. What’s your favorite YA genre? (Dystopian, romance, sci-fi, contemporary, etc.)

I don’t really have a favorite YA genre, since my favorite books include The Book Thief (historical fiction), Paper Towns, by John Green (Contemporary), Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, by Eoin Colfer (Sci-fi/fantasy), and The Hunger Games (Dystopia). I’m all over the place. But if I had to pick one, I’d probably go with science fiction, particularly time travel, although i haven’t really read much of the genre (YA). One of my favorite adult books is 11/22/63, a time travel book by Stephen King about a guy who goes back in time to stop the JFK assassination.

4. Let’s talk characters! Pick a character you love and tell us why?

Does it have to be a YA character? I’m assuming it does.

My favorite YA character would probably be Margo Roth Spiegelmen from John Green’s Paper Towns. She is the definition of awesome. You should definitely read the book.

5. Top YA villain?

Dolores Umbridge. No explanation necessary.

6. Top YA couple?

I’m going to have to go with Quentin and Margo in Paper Towns, by John Green Although they were never technically a couple, they did have great chemistry, and the first third of the book where the two of them were out at night together causing mischief was one of the best parts of the book.

If Quargo doesn’t count, I’d have to go with Gregor and Luxa from the Underland Chronicles. Unlike so many other YA books, this is one of the only series to pull off a love interest perfectly. Again, you will hear more about this in a review later.

7. With dystopian on the decline, what do you think will be the next hot-trend in YA?

I think that due to the inspiring success of Fifty Shades of Grey, YA Erotica will be the next trend.

I’m kidding, of course. In all honesty I don’t know what the next big trend will be. My guess is time travel, but my guess is just as good as anyone else’s (unless your guess is YA erotica. In that case, my guess is a lot better than yours).

8. What’s the next YA book on your to-be-read pile?

My YA reading list includes:

  • The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (this was recently added).
  • The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer. I can’t believe I haven’t read the last book of this series  yet, since I love the series like  dementors love souls.
  • Divergent, by Veronica Roth. I’m supposed to blog this book series soon, which should be fun.

9. What’s the fastest time you’ve ever finished reading a book in? (And what was the book?!)

Save the Harry Potter books, there are only two Young Adult books that I recall finishing after having read all the way up to 2 in the morning on a school night. The first book was The Hunger Games, which was great, and  Paper Towns, which was even better.

10. (And now for the burning question) Do you think books should be sorted according to colour or title? (This matters.)

Neither, they should be sorted by the font. I have a thing for fonts. For one thing, I can only bring myself to read The Lord of the Rings if I read the good edition of the book in my school library; the book with the fancy font and is in perfect condition. If I’m forced to read the bad edition, I will likely get bored by Tolkien’s overuse of detail and fall asleep. Font makes a difference, people!

They should also be sorted by smell.

Also, I know why they call it pass the parcel. You see, in Polish, “Pass” means “Matthew,” “the” means “is,” and “parcel” translates to “awesome,” therefore, “Pass the Parsel” means “Matthew is awesome.”  Don’t bother looking it up though; just take my word for it.