I just dropped one of my favorite books in toilet water. It was clean toilet water but still. I have standards. It was Jennifer Government by Max Barry. I’ve read the book previously (my review) but felt the need to re-read it after I finished Company. This gives me an excuse to buy the book it in hardcover instead of my UK paperback. Max Barry is one of my favorite authors which is why I allow myself to re-read his books. Since there are so many books out there waiting to be read, I typically never re-read a book. There’s something new out there waiting to be discovered why go back to something where you already know how it ends.
Luckily, I tend to read more than one book at a time so I still have Susan Henderson’s Up from the Blue to finish which apparently has a book trailer.
The Hunger Games (Hardcover)
by Suzanne Collins
Scholastic, September 2008
I admit, I’m late to jump on The Hunger Games bandwagon. I wasn’t really aware of the series until Catching Fire was released last year and all the book bloggers I follow were acting as if this was the next best thing since sliced bread, or whatever the literary equivalent would be. It still took me a year to get around to becoming interested enough to take the plunge and read the first book.
Before I get started I have a question I need clarified. This book is about twenty-four kids of various ages (from 12 to 18) brutally murdering each other while everybody watches and cheers them on. Did I get that right? Is this really what the book is about? I can see how one might consider The Hunger Games to be a social commentary on how we as a society have become obsessed with “reality” TV shows like Survivor and Who Wants to be The Biggest Loser?. It could have been a Modest Proposal lampooning reality TV. Instead it fails because one of the reasons this book is so damn compelling is because it’s set up like a reality TV show.
Back to the book at hand, The Hunger Games follows Katniss, a sixteen year old girl from the poorest of the 12 districts, who volunteers to take her sister’s place in the annual Hunger Games. Once inside the arena, she must stay alive in the wilderness while making both allies and enemies. Peeta was also selected from District 12 and his intentions are in question throughout the entire novel. Is he a good guy? Bad guy? Is he in love with Katniss or is it just a ploy for ratings? Again, all good trademarks of “reality” TV shows. The novel is really well paced and full of action. There are explosions and danger around every corner. The reader never knows when Katniss is going to be attacked and by who.
There is an abrupt ending that left me annoyed. Had I read the book when it first came out I would have been downright livid. Luckily, the entire trilogy has been released so the only thing holding me back from finishing the series is the two books I am currently reading.
I do have one MAJOR complaint about the book. If you are one of the few who have not read it just stop reading because the following contains spoilers.
My biggest complaint was that it was too convenient for Katniss not to kill anybody. I know she is the main protagonist and the reader must be able to relate to her, but she hardly makes an attempt to win the games. The other contestants die at the hands of each other while Katniss just sits up in a tree and waits. Since there can only be one winner, the reader goes through the book thinking Katniss and Peeta will have to fight to the death at some point only to have the rules changed and suddenly there could be two winners conveniently saving the two main characters. I just wish that Suzanne Collins would have pushed the character a little bit further and made her actively try to win the games instead of just winning almost by pure luck.
They’re also making a movie based off of the book.
I’m a little late to jump the Hunger Games bandwagon. I only just finished The Hunger Games this past weekend. I’m two books away from starting Catching Fire. No clue when I will get around to reading Mockingjay. I’ll probably have to ignore most book blogs for a week or two, until the excitement dies down.
by Max Barry
Doubleday, February 2006
It’s Monday. It’s the start of another work week. For most people there are five days to go until the weekend when we can forget about punching the time clock and working for “the man”. Don’t fret though, I have a book that changed the way I viewed work place monotony that I recently re-read, and I must share it with you.
First, some backstory. A few years ago I was working at a big corporate bank. For the sake of avoiding slanderous lawsuits I will refer to this big corporate bank as BIG BANK. I was working in the credit card phone customer service taking incoming calls and hearing people complain about their APR or how they maxed out their card or how they need an increase in their credit line so they could buy a Playstation 3. I did this for eight hours a day, five days a week. I felt as if I was shackled to my desk by the cord of the telephone headset I had to wear. Then along came Max Barry’s Company.
In Company, the fictional company of Zephyr Holdings has just hired Jones as a Sales Representative. The company has had a hiring freeze in effect. To get around the freeze Jones is hired and categorized as paper for the copying machine. Once he settles in he goes around asking questions like “What do we do here?” and “Who are our customers?” and quickly discovers that nobody knows the answers. Possibly worse, nobody cares. His co-workers accuse him of rocking the boat and that the only reason he’s asking such questions is because he’s new. Things don’t add up and as Jones investigates Zephyr Holdings, he discovers the true purpose behind the company’s insane business decisions. Insane business decisions like having the receptionist on the first floor tell a majority of the company that they’ve been laid off or why the buttons on the elevator are upside with the ground floor being level 30 and the top floor level 1.
What I love most about Company is the way Max Barry is able to explain the logic behind the company’s thought process. The reader is suppose to relate to Jones and agree with him that the company is making some real bad decisions and their problems could easily be solved if they used some common sense.
Anyway, back to my job at BIG BANK. I was reading this book and I started to notice some parallels between BIG BANK and Zephyr Holdings. It was then I realized that my time at BIG BANK was over and I put in my two weeks notice.
I highly recommend this book in general and especially to anybody who is disgruntled at their job.
Note: He did a reading at Google which is worth checking out.
Are you excited? I’m excited. I rather like the Tales of the City series. I tried to read the entire series last summer but failed to get around to reading the last two books. I guess I need to do that before Mary Ann in Autumn comes out in November.
William Gibson, of Neuromancer fame, has a new book coming out September 7th, 2010. Apparently Zero History is connected to two of his previous books Pattern Recognition and Spook Country. I really enjoyed Pattern Recognition when I read it a couple of years ago. I thought it was a smart thriller about advertisements and culture. Spook Country is a book I bought but never got around to reading.
I don’t really like the book trailer. The voice over (i.e. William Gibson) sounds under produced and could have just had its levels adjusted to make it sound like he wasn’t speaking so close to the microphone.
Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together
The volume is pretty good. We learn, much to Scott’s surprise, that Ramona dated a girl who is one of her seven evil exes. In addition to fighting her, Scott must also fend off attacks from a mysterious ninja-like figure. Ohhh, Mystery. Not much happens in this book I feel. It feels as if this book is just filler for the series as we get closed to the end. Scott get’s a job, busts out the L word and moves in with Ramona. I guess that’s considered “getting it together”, hence the titled.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Universe
Mayhaps the darkest volume in the Scott Pilgrim saga. Something’s up with Ramona, and I’m beginning to think she’s not all that great. She’s started to open up but is still too damn mysterious at this point in the story. Anyway, in this volume Scott fight’s some robots and a pair of twins. The twins are the evil exes, the robots are just there to be robotic-like. I did find it funny that in this book we would often find Scott fighting robots in the background while other people carry on normal conversations as if nothing odd is happening. It was funny at first, but it drew the relationships to the forefront of the story which may or may not be a good thing depending on your point of view. I do like that Kim Pine get’s more story time here. There are even hints that perhaps Kim and Scott will end up together.
Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour
First off: It’s not. His finest hour, that is. If you have been follow Scott Pilgrim’s adventures from the beginning you would know this book probably contains the Scott vs. Gideon fight. Until now very little had been known about the mysterious 7th evil ex and how they all banded together to form the league of evil exes. The story picks up after the cliffhanger in Vs. The Universe and Scott is trying to live his life without Ramona. He’s not doing a very good job at it. One thing leads to another and the epic battle commences. What I did not like about this book is the sense of finality that it gave. You know how the finale of a TV show tries to wrap up all the lose ends in the final episode? It’s kinda like that where we are constantly encountering characters who tell Scott what their plans are for the future and how they don’t involve him. If this were a TV series you could easily follow any of these characters and start a spin-off feature them. It’s annoying because everybody ends up conveniently happy, unlike real life. Another issue I had was Gideon wasn’t nearly as cool of an evil ex as the first six. As it turns out, he’s just crazy. Almost James Bond villain crazy. I just wanted something more logical than Gideon having a hard time getting over the girls that dump him. Lastly, while the previous books had their fair share of video game references, this volume felt sorely lacking in that department. There were some, it’s a trademark of the series after all, but they did not stand out as much as Ramona quoting Monkey Island or Scott noticing a Save Point.
To sum up, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour isn’t. It’s a conclusion to the series and is overall too convenient of an ending and lacks the charm of the previous books. It’s sad that Scott Pilgrim ends on such a flat note.
Have you heard of this little known comic series called Scott Pilgrim? Not many people have, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t. I hear they might make a movie about it at some point. Again, these are just rumors.
Well, anyway, with the comic series having finally wrapped up. I thought I would re-read them all. Being forced to wait a year in between books makes it difficult for me to remember certain characters and plot events and whatnot.
Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life
The Scott Pilgrim series is apparently about this 23 year old guy who starts dating a 17 year old high school student. Wait, check that. Scott Pilgrim is apparently about this 23 year old who starts dating a 17 year old high school student but then starts cheating on her by totally sleeping with this girl he meets at a party. I know that the above statement is not what Scott Pilgrim is about, but if someone just randomly picked up this book and started reading without having a friend tell them what it was about or without reading the back cover, then this is what I would think the plot is about. It’s not until near the end up the book that seven evil ex-boyfriends is mention. I find it odd that the book opens with Scott’s relationship with Knives (the high school student). To me that suggests that she plays an important role in the story. That, or the entire first half of this book is just filler. Couldn’t we have just started with Scott met Ramona (the party girl)? That would have made more sense.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Wold
Now that we’ve got the introduction to the series under our belt, Vol 2 can just jump right in to the meat and potato of the series, so to speak. In my mind this book is still trying to find the proper balance between drama/action/comedy. While the drama and comedy are there, the action is a bit of a let down. Vol 2 does contain my favorite fight scene in the whole series when Knives attacks Ramona in the library. I think the outfit Knives is wearing and Ramona’s ability to kick-ass come as a nice surprise to the reader. The Scott vs. Evil Ex battle in this book is an incredible let down. Halfway through the ex gets killed in a pretty pathetic skateboarding accident making him the most forgettable of the ex’s. The rest of the book is about Scott’s band and his need for a haircut.
Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness
Vol 3 is my favorite book in the series. I think it is the most well balanced. Todd, evil ex number #3, who was shown in the final pages of Vol 2, is a vegan and just happens to be dating Scott’s ex, Envy. I liked that, unlike the previous books, Scott and Todd have multiple confrontations instead of just one fight that was over way too quickly. I actually felt that defeating the evil ex’s was the main plot instead of just a convenient hook used to draw the reader in to Scott and his friend’s relationship drama. The relationship drama is extra heavy in this volume due to the inclusion of Envy, the girl who broke Scott’s heart prior to the start of the series. Her and Ramona have a pretty cool fight involving a rather large hammer. There’s now a duality in the series with Scott fighting Ramona’s exes and Ramona fighting two of Scott’s exes thus far. We could look deep into this a suggest that what Bryan Lee O’Malley is trying to say that in every relationship a person can not help but at some point have to confront the exes of the other person in either a symbolic, physical, or hypothetical fashion. Or, we could just see it as an excuse for Ramona to kick-ass and establish her as a strong female character.
Anyway, I’ll post tomorrow about the remaining three volumes.
Since January 2008 I have been using this blog to write about the books i've read and other book related news that I find interesting. I also find pirates interesting so from time to time I may blog about pirates. I see this as killing two birds with one stone.
I am always willing to discuss reviewing you book on my blog. Discovering new authors is one of the things I love about book blogging. However, I do not accept all books for review. If it's not in my usual genre chances are I am going to decline the offer.
A couple of genres I dislike are: Self-Help, YA Paranormal, Hardcore Science-Fiction, and Depressing Memoirs.
Some genres I really enjoy: Pirates, Satire, Pulp Fiction, Queer Fiction, YA Fiction (Non-Paranormal and Non-Gossip Girl-esq) and Comical Memoirs.
Here's the thing. If you e-mail me asking me to review a book, I will always respond and let you know if I am interested or not. If you don't hear back from me, feel free to send a follow-up e-mail. No longer will I just ignore your e-mail.