Review: The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

This series may start as a familiar, if well crafted, dystopia but it ends as one of the most brutal and bloody indictments of the politics of war I have read - be that for the teen demographic or otherwise.

Suzanne Collins’ writing uses fairly broad brush strokes and at times can verge on the more stylized futurism of something like Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series* but ultimately remains grounded in a bone-crunching realness that gives weight to both the story arc and the characters.

Although all three books are consumate page turners (I downed the series in less than a month) it’s not always the adrenaline rush of the standard action page turner. There is an intrinsic, unspoken caveat to these books that anything - especially anything bad - could happen to any of the characters at any time and whilst this makes the action gripping it also creates an uncertainty and anxiousness I rarely feel with hero (or heroine) led stories. There is also a grinding, ‘last-gasp crawl towards the finish line’ quality to a lot of the action that at times has more in common with horror movies, in particular those that veer into torture porn, than anything else. None of these observations are criticisms by the way, they are exactly what makes the satire present in the story arc so powerful.

Only just raising it’s head above the parapet of nihilism it’s not a series for anyone looking for a new Alex Rider but if you like to have your buttons pushed along with your action then I would absolutely recommend it.

In terms of where it sits within the frame of teen writing, and for any parents considering whether it’s appropriate for their kids, I would say it’s definitely at the upper end of the YA spectrum. That’s not to say you have to be 17 to read this - I think I could have tackled it effectively by the age of 14 or so - but it will depend on the individual and their reading habits. It’s not a book that is controversial for the sake of it but it could certainly be a conversation starter for younger readers. I also suspect that under 12 or 13 it would be the emotional language of the personal relationships in the story that might be an issue in digesting the series rather than just the violence.

In short - highly recommended.

8.5/10

*RE: Uglies: I love those books too. Here is my very old review of them.

Review: The Book Lover by Ever Dundas

This might look like a small, fragile sliver of a story from the outside but it’s a wonderfully messy, urgent and visceral little beast on the inside. It’s sexy, honest, real and slightly perverse.  

Titillating? Yes, but if The Book Lover were burlesque it would be the pulling glitter out of it’s arse kind not the  awkward fan dance in perfect lipstick and lacy knickers kind. And all the better for it.

WHY HAVEN’T I BEEN YET??????

No. 4 Privet Drive

The Boy Who Lived

Looks as if that rather average looking outfit shot at the top was taken in front of a similarly average house on an estate somewhere in England. Surrey, perhaps? If you’re as nerdy as me, you’ll already know that this was in fact the spot that a baby Harry Potter was placed all those years ago, or to ruin the magic a little, the film set used over the past decade as the Dursley’s house in the Harry Potter films.

At the weekend, I visited the Harry Potter studio tour in Leavesden, and it was everything that I’d hoped for and more. Like a lot of you, I’d grown up with Harry Potter, from having it read to me at school to sobbing my eyes out when finishing the last book, it holds a very special place in my heart. As do the films – when the first came out, I was 11 just like Harry, and crossing my fingers that my Hogwarts letter might arrive soon. Sadly that owl never showed up, but the studio tour was the next best thing, as I finally got to explore the great hall and more with a couple of my best Harry Potter-loving chums. I can safely say we were probably more excited than the children that surrounded us!

I don’t want to spoil it too much for anyone that plans on visiting in the future, so I won’t include too many pictures of the inside…but I will give you my verdict on Butterbeer: yuck! I got the famous Butterbeer moustache, but sadly fizzy drinks aren’t for me so my cup of butterscotch flavoured froth was passed to my more-than-willing friend Katie.

Welcome to Hogwarts

Like I said before, I don’t want to give too much away, but our day involved peering into the potions classroom, doing a spot of ironing at The Burrow, snooping around Dumbledore’s office, eyeing up all the major props and peering though the windows of shops in Diagon Alley. It couldn’t have been more perfect – if you haven’t been yet, I couldn’t recommend it enough. It’s almost worth going for the gift shop alone – Miguel wouldn’t let me buy a wand (apparently I have no use for one) but I came away with a chocolate frog, some Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans and a familiar pair of specs. It’s ridiculous how overwhelming the urge to spend over £100 on a full Hogwarts uniform is…again, I wasn’t sure I’d get much use out of it!

Still, I wore the most magical outfit I could find in my wardrobe – an old Topshop dress covered in stars, glittering fingernails to match my new limited edition Cambridge Satchel, and black cats on my feet. Any eager Potter fans recognise the building I’m stood in front of the picture below?

The Every Flavour Beans aren’t going down too quickly (unsurprising with flavours like snot and vomit in the mix) – anybody fancy one?! x

“Alas, Earwax