The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins is a masterful prequel to the wildly popular Hunger Games trilogy. Set 64 years before the events of the first book, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes explores the origins of the Hunger Games and the rise of the villainous President Snow. The main character, Coriolanus Snow, is a fascinating and nuanced character, with his motives and actions constantly shifting throughout the novel. His relationship with his fellow tribute, District 12's Lucy Gray Baird, is particularly compelling, with Collins exploring themes of loyalty, trust, and love in a way that is both nuanced and emotionally resonant. The plot of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is both gripping and thought-provoking. Collins deftly weaves together political intrigue, personal drama, and action-packed set pieces to create a narrative that is both thrilling and emotionally engaging. The Hunger Games themselves are particularly well-done, with Collins using them as a vehicle to explore the darker side of human nature and the impact of power and privilege on individuals and society. Collins's descriptions of the Capitol and the districts are vivid and immersive, offering a richly detailed portrait of the world of Panem. Her use of foreshadowing and symbolism, such as the mockingjay, adds depth and meaning to the story, inviting readers to reflect on the deeper themes of the novel. This book was a stellar prequel to the Hunger Games trilogy that adds a lot of perspective and background to the original story. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the original novels and wishes to explore more of the Hunger Games world. Reviewer Grade: 11.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury delves into the dangers of a society where books are banned and critical thinking is discouraged. The novel follows protagonist Guy Montag, a fireman whose job is to burn books, as he begins to question the oppressive society he lives in and seeks to uncover the truth about the value of literature. The plot of Fahrenheit 451 is both compelling and thought-provoking- Bradbury’s dystopian world is entirely possible, and his exploration of the consequences of censorship and intellectual suppression can be easily applied to modern times. The story is driven by Montag’s journey of self-discovery, which is filled with twists and turns that keep the reader engaged until the very end. Bradbury’s writing style is poetic and evocative, bringing the world of Fahrenheit 451 to life with vivid descriptions and metaphorical language. His use of symbolism is particularly effective, as he weaves in recurring motifs such as fire, the mechanical hound, and the phoenix to add depth and complexity to the story. The novel is also structured in a way that mirrors Montag’s journey, with the pace and tone shifting as he becomes more aware of the world around him. Overall, Fahrenheit 451 is a very thought-provoking and symbolic classic that really makes you rethink the value of intellectual freedom and education. Every time I read it, I recognize more symbols, hidden meanings, and references that really enrich my experience. I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to anyone interested in dystopian, mind boggling novels.
Reviewer Grade: 11.
Gone, written by Michael Grant, is an action-packed dystopian novel that explores the struggle for survival in a world where all adults have vanished. The story takes place in a small California town, where everyone over the age of 15 has disappeared, leaving the children and teenagers to fend for themselves. The protagonist, Sam, is a relatable and sympathetic character who is thrust into a leadership role as he tries to keep the remaining kids safe and find out what has happened to their families. The world-building in Gone is impressive, with the small town and surrounding wilderness being vividly realized and full of danger. The supernatural elements of the story, such as the strange powers that some of the children possess, add an extra layer of intrigue and mystery to the plot that I very much enjoyed. Additionally, the novel explores a number of themes including moral and power struggles that the characters must face head on, and the shifting of the narration between several characters allows for some really good insight into how the characters' fight for survival has affected them each. Overall, Gone is a well-written and engaging novel that is sure to appeal to fans of dystopian and action-packed stories, and leaves off on a cliffhanger that encourages readers to read the remaining eight novels in the series. I personally enjoyed the plot and its many twists very much, and have read the rest of the series as a result. Reviewer Grade: 11.
Divergent is a book that really drew me in as I was reading. The story starts from Beatrice Prior’s (also known as Tris) point of view. Within the world that she lives in, there are five factions. These factions being dauntless, candor, erudite, abnegation, and amity. Tris ends up choosing to go into the dauntless (the fearless) faction. Among being placed into the dauntless faction, Tris Prior meets Four. Four and Tris “hit it off” after seeing each other and the fall in love quickly. The two have different personalities which seems to click. The novel follows Beatrice and Four as they laugh, love, keep secrets, butt heads, and much much more.
I really like the variety in genres of this book. The book does have romance, humor, fantasy, but it also has action and mysterious elements to it. The short chapters make this book really good at keep the reader’s attention span. The scenes described in vivid detail allow you to feel like part of the story and envision it in your mind. This book is the first of three books. The three books were turned into movies and the first one being Divergent. If you’re looking for a read that is compelling enough to keep your attention span, have a little of every genre, and describes scenes in extreme detail, this book is for you!
Reviewer Grade: 8
The Selection was a very fun book for me to read, because it was a quick read fantasy book. It incorporates all the elements a romance lover looks for in a book. It is a love triangle, enemies to lovers, and friends to lovers novel all in one. America is a very strong and independent character, but we see her become more open minded and willing to work with others instead of fighting them. It is cool to see her perspective on the life she wants change as she gets to know Maxon, but she never forgets the change she wants to make for the people of her past life. The book was not my all time favorite, because the plot can be a little more predictable at times, and some parts are slower. Although, it is definitely worth reading.
I loved this series! As a big sister, I was hooked the moment Katniss said "I volunteer!" It is a great read about hardship and rebellion. How one person can make a big difference even without intent. I have read it with my oldest and will read it with my youngest at some point. But this is the book that got me reading again and I love to read it over and over.
This book is the perfect example of a great concept with poor execution. It is about a bunch of kids trapped in a grocery store amid an apocalypse, and trust me, it isn’t as good as it sounds. First of all, the worst thing in this book was the handling of 13 year old Sahalia, at least in the beginning. Her character in itself was creepy and unnecessary. Under no circumstances should a character who is only my age be described like that. She was handled well in the very end, but that’s about it. Besides that glaring issue, the rest of the book is flat at best. I will definitely not finish this series. (8th grade)
Donna Barba Higuera takes on a futuristic dystopian space adventure in her story The Last Cuentista. A young, curious girl named Petra lives in a distant timeline on Earth, where scientists are helplessly searching for a way to avoid certain doom. While in the face of death, Preta leans on her abuelita’s stories, which are rich and full of life. Yet, as the clock starts ticking and Petra is forced to leave it all behind, the one thing she keeps with her is the power of tales. The Last Cuentista is a brilliantly written novel depicting a world in space, where the connection and true heart of human-kind is severed. Petra shows the reader what true perseverance is, and reminds us all of what it means to truly be human.
(Reviewer Grade: 12)
This is a wonderful, amazing, trilling book! I love the descriptive language and the way its laid out, you never want to stop reading it. it makes you want more. if you read this book, which you should, you need to read the other books as well. It’s a thought-provoking, engaging dystopian novel with the stereotypical love triangle at the center. Condie does a good job setting the scene and the overall vibe. However, I was very disappointed when Cassia burned her grandfather's poems. If she doesn't have the courage to keep a piece of paper, that has been in her family for generations, how will she have the strength to do anything? This is a great book, the characters are developed well and the story is intriguing. (Spoiler) The only thing I would change is Xander at the end, where he lets Cassia go. I know that he is understanding and all, but I think it would be more appropriate for him to want Cassia to stay with him forever, and ever since the pill incident with Ky, he'd like to follow the rules. I really like the storyline and the fact that Cassia is different and doesn’t fit into what people expect of her. Also, I think she used too much show not tell as I don’t see why Cassia likes Ky or how on earth Xander would be a perfect match. I feel like she left the important bits out and kept what wasn’t interesting Other than the few complaints I have, Matched is a book that I would recommend to any Romance or Dystopian fans.
Reviewer's Grade: 8
Unwind has a fresh, fascinating, and frankly genius premise: after a war is fought on abortion, the U.S. government passes legislature allowing parents to sign an order to "unwind" their teenagers. The teen is then taken apart, and each body part is used for transplants. Like any good dystopia, the concept poses a number of thought-provoking questions that the book tries to address, like "do we have souls?" or "what makes a person themself?" or "how scary is it to be unwound, really?", and it answers them with varying degrees of success. Unwind is an excellent conversation starter; it is riddled with nuanced philosophical ideas which are, at times, uniquely terrifying. However, that's where the problems with Unwind lie: the intrigue doesn't stretch much farther than the initial concepts. Shusterman is talented at worldbuilding, and every new detail of Unwind's dystopia is interesting, inspired, absurd, and simultaneously realistic. Unfortunately, the story fails to make use of this inherent intrigue. Much of the reader's time is spent spectating characters as they shuttle from one location to another. They have minimal development, or, when they do have development, it is sudden and drastic. Shusterman builds a vivid universe only to guide readers through the dullest corners. Unwind is worth a read for the conversation, not the story. If a reader expects the average teenage dystopia, they should pick another book; but if they want fresh perspectives, creative horror, and possibly a hint of existential dread, Unwind is the perfect read.