Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Before I Die by Jenny Downham (CBR-V #52)

Cannonball Read V: Book #52/52
Published: 2007
Pages: 336
Genre: Young Adult
 Tessa is dying from leukemia and decides to make a list of things she wants to do before she dies. She enlists of one of her friends to help her and eventually brings her neighbor into the fold as she grows closer to him. Some of the things on her list are what you'd expect from a teenager - sex, fall in love, etc. But most of the things on the list were kind of weird, such as shoplifting. Who wants to shoplift before they die? 

I had a hard time with this book. Some parts of it were very good - such as her family dealing with her illness and now her rebellion just before she dies (she stays out all night, jumps into a freezing river, joyrides without a license in her dad's car - just to name a few). The ending was also beautifully written. Even though you know what's going to happen, it doesn't make it any less emotional. 

However, I didn't care for Tessa that much. I completely understand her being angry and all of the different emotions she was going through while she was processing what was going on with her, but something about the character just made her hard to grasp. In fact, all of the characters could have stood to be fleshed out a little more - they were good, but not great. I think it's just more noticeable when it's the main character.

I also was getting a little tired of the romance crap by the end. A good chunk of the book ends up being mushy love sentiments between Tessa and her new "love of her life". Plus, all I'm thinking about is how the heck does she have the energy to have that much sex if she can barely get out of bed towards the end?? I figured he was going to kill her mid-coitus. I mean, that's great that she got to fall in love before her eventual death, but once he came into the picture the rest of the story pretty much took the back-burner.

Overall, this is a pretty solid 2.5 star book. Not terrible, but not that great either.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (CBR-V #51)

Cannonball Read V: Book #51/52
Published: 2009
Pages: 391
Genre: Young Adult/Dystopian

This is going to be a short review because this series has been reviewed to death already and this is a re-read for me. I wanted to read it again before I saw the movie since I already forgot half of what happened since I last read it several years ago. I'm not going to re-hash the plot, because if you don't already know it you've probably been living under a rock for the past two years. 

I was actually a little surprised at how much I forgot about this book. The middle books in trilogies tend to get forgotten the quickest, I think. Everyone remembers the beginning and end, but forgets the details on how they got from Point A to Point B. Although for a middle book, this one is actually quite strong. I know it got some flack for being a re-hash of the first book with a second Hunger Games, but I think it works for two reasons. One, they don't actually get to the arena and start the games until halfway through the book, and two, they make enough differences in the games to keep it fresh. For instance, the new Head Gamemaster (is that what he's called?) brings a new spin on things and I actually think the other Hunger Games tributes are stronger and more memorable characters in this book than the first.

This book lived up to a second read, although it does lose some of the thrill of reading it for the first time and not knowing what's going to happen.