Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book, and I thought it was a great followup to Hunger Games. Suzanne Collins does a fine job extending the problems and challenges that were yet to be solved from the first book. However, it didn't quite have the same OH MY GOSH THIS IS SO AWESOME feeling as the first book. The problem is, I can't really get into why it lacked that feeling without spoiling the book for readers, and I firmly believe that spoiling this book would be wrong. Thus, I can't really critique it effectively.What I will say is this: if you liked the first book, you must read this one, as well. I think you're pretty much contractually obligated to. And if you read this one, you'll need to read the next one, as well. If I had to compare this series to a film series, I'd say right now it's coming off as the Matrix. The first one was mind blowingly good. The second one was good--but overhyped. I'm not saying Catching Fire was overhyped, but . . . it's not Hunger Games.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I think the highest praise I can give this book comes in the way I read it: in a single day, staying up until 3am--on a work night!--to finish it. It really is that good. Larsson's characters are all compelling, and the conflicts they find themselves in compel you to keep reading--to find out what happens next. This is something I wish I could do a better job of as a writer--making my plots good enough that putting the book down is not an option.
If I had one complaint about the book, it would be that it lacks a tad in the realism department, although most of that is centered on the gripe I had from book two in the series, where the characters started seeming a tad superhuman to me. (Lisbeth particularly started seeming like the Terminatrix at the end of book two.) Some of that carries over to this book, but Larsson does the wise thing and starts using realistic approaches to solving the problems.
In the end, I was wholly satisfied with the book and the series. It's not for the faint of heart--definitely chock full o' bad language and violence--but it's a great book. Very tragic that Larsson died before any of us got to see how good a writer he really was.
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