Friday, April 6, 2012

Review: "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(3.5 stars)
I haven't read many novels aimed at "young adult" or teen audiences since I was a teen so it's hard to evaluate "The Hunger Games" and Suzanne Collins against other authors of similar work. This first book of a trilogy moves at a brisk pace with its plot and character development. Collins drops really effective cliffhangers at the end of each chapter, which reminded me of serialized fiction, superhero comics, and manga. Having said that, I found myself wanting a little more stylistic flair, given that this is a dystopian science fiction tale set sometime in the future. Collins sets forth many great ideas and establishes a mood of realistic cynicism that is surprisingly refreshing. To me, the ending was rather predictable once the outcome of the Hunger Game was determined. Does "The Hunger Games" live up to the crushing weight of the hype? Yes and no. Was this book compelling enough to encourage me to continue on with the trilogy? Yes, but with some reservations.

Random notes:
1. This is a rare instance where I actually read the book before I watch the movie.
2. Poor, poor Peeta.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012

Review: "Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past" by Simon Reynolds

Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own PastRetromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past by Simon Reynolds
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Music journalist Simon Reynolds examines mainstream pop music's seemingly relentless revivals and revisitations of past eras. Like many other critics, he wonders, and worries about, whether or not America and Britain are stuck on repeat. Is it possible to innovate when the past and the near-past are ever present, especially with the easy accessibility to the obscure and the well-known that the Internet affords us? How can we be nostalgic for a decade that just ended? Reynolds also looks at different forms of art — architecture, fashion, movies, TV, and more — to find out how they are afflicted with retromania. Toward the end of the book, Reynolds seems to argue that the music circles of the 2000s and of today are not saying much about the present day nor will they contribute much to the efforts of future revivalists because there was nothing original about them. At best, what musicians, singers, DJs, and producers did during this decade was reveal how seemingly disparate sources of music can fit together into a song. But can you create something new with this mosaic? At a time when critics and commentators argue that we live in an age of "atemporality," maybe it's time to forget the past so that we can move on with the future. Well worth reading.

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Month of Letters Challenge 2012 - Completed

I sent 296 enveloped messages to 12 friends and coworkers 6 days a week without missing a day. Thanks to everyone who received my letters and to those who wrote back! And special thanks to Mary Robinette Kowal for coming up with the challenge!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Write letters for a month? Sure!

I'm doing this challenge. I have 11 friends and acquaintances who would like to receive a letter from me. I promised to write one letter a day to each of them during this month. We'll have to see if I can make it through the month. Sign-up and more info can be found at

Monday, January 16, 2012

Review: "A God Somewhere" by John Arcudi and Peter Snejbjerg

A God Somewhere (New Edition)A God Somewhere by John Arcudi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Arcudi does not present any easy answers in this skewed look at Eric, a human being — complete with flaws and possible delusions of grandeur — who is suddenly and mysteriously granted superpowers. The story is told from the perspective of his best friend, Sam, another person who is all too human. Snejbjerg matches Arcudi's story with panels and pages filled with just enough darkness as they reach the tragic climax. What happens when a regular person is given powers beyond that of human beings? Arcudi and Snejbjerg present one possible, sobering answer along with questions seldom asked of other superhero comics or of ourselves.

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