Friday, March 23, 2012

Gravestone by Travis Thrasher

I was able to receive an advance copy of Temptation, the next book in "The Solitary Tales" by Travis Thrasher and will be posting the review for it April 1st, Temptation official release date.  If you would like to read the review for Solitary, book 1, simply click HERE

Did that just happened? The cliff-hanger ending of Solitary left me wanting more of Travis Thrasher's young adult series and eager to read the second book in the series, Gravestone. Thankfully Gravestone did not disappoint. Filled with mystery, discovery, action, love and fear Gravestone is a perfect sequel to Solitary.
Starting up right where Solitary left-off, one continues the journey through Christ Buckley’s normal day-to-day life, or lack there of. On top of what every 16 year old must face Chris has to deal with his parents divorce, mother’s alcoholism, lack of trustworthy friends, turmoil over Jocelyn, and a deep seeded fear that seems to cover the small town of Solitary. Chris needs help; that is a fact. He also needs a license and a job; that too, is a fact. So when his mom finds him a job in a small tucked away inn, that pays extremely well, he takes it. The little old innkeeper starts asking Christ uncomfortable questions when Chris’s cousin, Jared, comes to the rescue. Finally Chris has someone to rely on and answer some of his dying questions about what is going on in Solitary.
Lastly, where would Chris be without some emotional conflict on top of this adrenaline filled lifestyle he has? Enter adorable young Kelsey and another interesting girl to create a love triangle that is almost depressing.
Thrasher, once again, did a great job with his characters. Sticking to many of the people we have come to love (and hate) from Solitary I was able to pick up quite easily from where I left off. Also the introduction of new characters; Iris, Kelsey, Jared, Mike, and others kept the book fresh.
The dinky little hick town Solitary is expanding a bit as well. We visit a few of the suburbs that surround the town and learn about what goes else is around and under town. This was well done; otherwise, we would have a book filled with flashbacks from past scenes instead of learning new facts with these new places.   
Lastly the plot was amazing, fast, creepy and gripping. Even though it was over 400 pages long I don’t think any part was overly slow, especially the bits about Aunt Alice or the Inn.
Gravestone is a great sequel that keeps the past relevant while making the reader look ahead to try understanding what is going on in Solitary and why is Christ so special.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins

Katniss Everdeen is 16 years old, living in the coal mining District 12 with her mother and sister, Prim. Her father died a few years ago in a miners accident and since then Katniss has been doing everything in her power to care for her younger sister and mother. Picking up her father’s bow and using the skills he taught her in the local forbidden woods she supports her family.
The annual Hunger Games, a tournament where a boy and girl from each district ages 12-18 are selected to compete in a deadly game of kill or be killed, comes around and she soon finds herself in the Capitol being prepped for the deadliest days of her life.

I was surprised. I have heard so many great things about this book from friends that I just had to read it. Now I have had books like this before, Harry Potter is one, but I honestly thought that with the basic plot of the story being children forced into killers in order to live, that I wouldn’t like this book. Wow, was I wrong. Now I still don’t agree with the idea of children killing children but Collins wrote the death parts in fairly non-graphic, dare I say it, and tasteful ways. Yes, there are a couple of cringe worthy moments, but there are also heart breaking moments.

The plot was astounding. We get to know Katniss very personally in the first few chapters and are then transported to the Capitol where we see how incompetent she is for the challenges she’s about to face. We meet her support team and Peeta, the boy selected from District 12 to play in the games. This was my favorite part of the book, seeing the modern world from a new angle. Then the fun is over and the games start. As said earlier the deaths where as tastefully done as one can imagine for this type of book. What I really enjoyed was the added level of complexity in the game, by the sponsors and support teams. The players aren’t just sent into the game but can try getting sponsors to help them throughout the contest; this gave a wonderful twist to the book. Also the last part of the book has some wonderful twists that I toughly enjoyed.
I think Katniss was well written in first person and that we were easily able to understand her and her actions. I liked having Peeta, Cinna, Gale, Prim and others support her, without an external support team no one would last long in a game like the one Katniss was forced to play. It is a game of mental more then a game of physical, and the game is very physical.
Panem, a future version of North America and Canada, was my least favorite part. District 12 was interesting, the Capitol a little less then original, and the arena was undefined. By undefined I mean Katniss took almost two days to reach one spot, but then she is constantly going back to that location within a few hours. Also there is mention of grassland but we never get to explore it. I did enjoy the Mutations though. These creatures are very useful to the book, though slightly creepy, and add a level of understanding to how much genetic engineering has changed in the world of Panem.

I read this book in two days and have to say that I love it. True the morals of some characters is disappointing, Katniss never felt remorse for her kills, but the book is still very good.