Here's what I've been reading lately during my lapse from blogging (very very bad, I know, but life happens!). I've been super busy and took the small amounts of free time I've had to catch up on books that I should have started way earlier! :)
Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Published: 2008, Scholastic
Overall Grade: A
In the not-so-distant-future, North America has collapsed into a single country (divided into thirteen districts) called Panem. Each year, two children from each district are selected to battle it out to the death in the televised, gladiator-sport-like Hunger Games, in the hopes of obtaining ultimate glory for their district. A talented hunter and survivalist, 16 year old Katniss Everdeen is used to fending for herself and her family in impoverished, filthy District 12. However, when her little sister is selected to be in the brutal Hunger Games, she volunteers to take her spot, and alongside fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark, she must fight for her life when she is plunged into the violent world of the Games. As time goes by, she must face the difficult decision of love vs. survival.
My thoughts: The Hunger Games was unlike anything I've ever read before. Impossibly brutal, candid, and fast-paced, I was sucked into this dystopian world and into the mind of the book's bold, brave heroine Katniss Everdeen, who was relatable, strong, and admirable. This is one of those books that, after reading, I ask myself: why didn't I read this sooner? I picked up the Hunger Games on a rainy day and was plunged into the violent, harsh environment of the Games. I could picture every event in my mind, and the characters were realistic and interesting.
Ms. Collins' story packs a punch: she has an imagination that, combined with a knack for word-weaving, resulted in a heart-pounding, adrenaline-rushing read that moves quickly and effortlessly. Both devastating and beautiful at the same time, The Hunger Games has the capacity to affect more than just young adults.
Title: Wicked (Pretty Little Liars #5)
Author: Sara Shepard
Published: HarperTeen, 2009
Genre: Mystery/Contemporary fiction
Overall Grade: B
Aria, Emily, Hanna, and Spencer have had a stressful start to their junior year of high school. After their best friend Alison was murdered, they were taunted by threats from an anonymous stalker who dangled their darkest secrets over their heads--secrets only Alison knew. Now, the stalker has finally been caught, and Ali's killer has been put in jail. These four pretty little liars are ready for their lives to go back to normal. But in the privileged town of Rosewood, Pennsylvania, nothing is as it seems...And these little liars had better watch their backs, especially with the new secrets they've each been harboring: Aria's crushing on her mom's new boyfriend, Hanna's stepsister has questionable intentions, Emily's got a new boyfriend, and Spencer is diving into dark family history. What they don't know is that someone is always watching...
My thoughts: I'm completely addicted to this series. Once again, I don't know why I didn't start reading the Pretty Little Liars books sooner. The books are the perfect combination of fluffy chick lit (boys, clothes, drama) and heart-pounding thriller (mystery, murder, suspense). However, Wicked wasn't as good as the previous four books in this addictive, fast-paced series. Coming off of a huge, scandalous reveal in Unbelievable (book #4), Wicked didn't seem to have the same heart-stopping thrills and constantly-moving action that kept me riveted to my seat, madly flipping pages. In fact, Wicked was mildly ho-hum, except for the big surprise ending. While Wicked is a must-read for series fans, I felt like it was nothing more than a transition from the fourth book to the sixth book--but it sets up what I expect will be big action in Killer, the sixth book.