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The Daily Life of a Compulsive Writer

Thoughts on The Hunger Games March 26, 2012

Filed under: Books — katblogger @ 8:10 PM
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Last night I finally got to see “The Hunger Games”.

Yes, I just said finally. About the movie that’s been out for four days. But when everyone on your Facebook page is gushing about something, it feels like it’s been out forever and you’re the only one left out. This has now been rectified.

Where do I start? First of all, the scenery was gorgeous. The genuine Appalachian setting of District 12, the ritzy opulent Capitol, the famous arena… it was all beautifully done.

The camerawork? Not so much. It tended to be a bit choppy. The studio couldn’t risk an R rating that would lose half the audience, so the film relied on quick or wobbly cuts to preserve the PG-13 rating in fight scenes. As I watched, I started to wonder if the camera man, editor, somebody was ADD. During the whole movie, I saw a handful of long takes. Apart from those, the scenes constantly jumped forward and around. It’s hard to build suspense when Katniss is fumbling with ropes… no, on the ground… no, running… no – I give up.

I was iffy at first about Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. She’s much older than the character, and I’ve already mentioned the racebending controversy. However, she was excellent. Haymitch – another casting ‘eh’ I had – delivered some original and hilarious lines. “Know in your hearts that there’s nothing I can do to help you” indeed.

Naturally they had to cut some things, but overall, I thought the movie hit all of the important points. A few subplots weren’t mentioned in enough detail. The movie makers clearly assumed that viewers had read the books, because some things – Katniss’ relationship with Rue, the ruse she played with Peeta, and the whole bread scene (all we see is Peeta chucking a loaf of bread in Katniss’ direction) – aren’t fully explained. However, cuts to commentators or Seneca Crane did their best to keep viewers up to speed.

What was my favorite part? Strangely enough, it’s a scene that didn’t even happen in the book. If you recall, after Rue dies, Katniss is sent a loaf of bread from a grateful District 11. In the movie, instead, angry district members revolt against the Peacekeepers, filling the screen with the first of many riots. Although the rebellion doesn’t start until book 2, I thought this added another layer of emotion to the scene, as well as foreshadowing Katniss’ future role as starter of a rebellion.

Overall, this was one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I’ve seen, and I’d definitely recommend seeing it. Still, read the book first.

 

The First Sentence Petting Zoo January 22, 2011

Filed under: Books,Writing — katblogger @ 10:27 AM
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A while ago, I wrote a post on the power of a first sentence. That being said, I thought – Why not show people the good, the bad, and the just plain weird of first sentences? So I grabbed some popular books, and some ones I like, and cracked them open to the first page. Here you are, along with a little commentary of mine.

The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale

“She was born Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, and she did not open her eyes for three days.”

Good. We have a character’s name – a pretty long character name, which is intruiging – and the mystery. Why won’t she open her eyes?

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

“When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.”

Medium. The act of waking up adds immediacy, and the cold bed signifies that someone is missing. Still… it could be better.

Uglies, Scott Westerfeld.

“The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit.”

Good. This is one of the just plain weird ones. But it’s intruiging, isn’t it?

Midnighters: Blue Noon, Scott Westerfeld. (What can I say? He writes great first sentences.)

“Bixby High’s late bell shrieked in the distance, like something wounded and ready to be cut from the herd.”

Very good. The character is late, adding drama. Also, from their POV, they sound like a psychopath. That always draws me in.

Twilight, Stephenie Meyer

“I’d never given much thought to how I would die – thought I’d had reason enough in the last few months – but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.”

Medium. As much as I like to hate on Twilight, this is pretty good. Obviously it sets up an immediate conflict. But it is a little long, and overly dramatic.

Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, JK Rowling

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

Low medium. It’s not usually a good idea to start a book by talking about secondary characters. And saying they’re ‘perfectly normal’ isn’t really an eye catcher.

Runemarks, Joanne Harris

“Seven o’clock on a Monday morning, five hundred years after the End of the World, and goblins had been at the cellar again.”

Very good. After the end of the world? Goblins? Seriously – this is a good hook.

 

Mockingjay…??? August 28, 2010

Filed under: Books — katblogger @ 2:39 PM
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So…

I got Mockingjay. And I’ve got to say – trying not to hurt the feelings of Suzanne Collins, who worked very hard on it, I’m sure – I didn’t really like it.

Ready for it? SPOILER ALERT!!!!

It seems to me that every time I get to like a character, they die. I’m serious. In all three Hunger Games books, everyone I liked died. Plus a bunch of people I didn’t like, but so many people died that was certain to happen. I know deaths are realistic, but really? Mockingjay‘s death toll was so high I was reminded of the 7th Harry Potter book. Not for the last time, either, but I’ll get to that.

When I read a book, I get really into it. Even after I’m done, I feel like part of me is still in that character, still immersed in that world. After reading Mockingjay, I felt like I was in a state of shock. I mean, Katniss spends most of her time being knocked unconscious or going crazy. She’s not a character you want to get too close to. Watching the strong young woman we’d grown to love spiral into a black hole was painful, but I had a hard time relating. It just seemed so out of character.

Don’t get me started on the ending, either. Gale just conveniently disappears? I was all for Team Peeta, but this ended a little too easily. Ok, he’s nuts, but everyone in this book sort of ended up nuts. And the flash forward to children? Done before in Harry Potter, and I hated that ending too. It just seems like a quick fix to me.

Alright, I’ve whined long enough. Maybe no one will agree with me – you’re entitled to your own opinions. But Mockingjay, and maybe even Catching Fire, lacked the magic of the first book. Since I only own the Hunger Games, perhaps I’ll keep it that way – just reading the first book and pretending it all ended that way.

 

How Will it End? July 28, 2010

Filed under: Books — katblogger @ 12:53 PM
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Since Mockingjay isn’t coming out for, like, another month, people are forced to wonder what will happen. Which boy will she pick? Who will live, who will die? Will there be a happy ending? Therefore, even though authors have limited control over their covers, a lot of cover analysis is going down.

                                  

examiner.com

Observe the first cover, the Hunger Games. First, the color. Black can be speculated to mean death, night, or coal. Nothing cheery.  Second, the circles. They are whole, and the bird is surrounded by a circle as well – the circle of the pin. Finally, the bird. Obviously it means Katniss, as she is called the Mockingjay in the second book. It is the pin Madge gave her, and it holds an arrow just so you can be sure it’s her.

bookswim.com

Second book. Colors: blood, dawn/dusk, flames. Circles: still whole. The center one is divided in 12, showing the arena, but also placing a target on the bird. She’s being watched. The bird itself now has more detail, and is not completely confined to the circle – its wings poke out.

Last book. Colors: freedom, daytime, the hottest part of the fire. Circles: You can see the center one has been shattered, showing a break from the neverending cycle. The bird is real and flying away, escaping. All signs point to a happy ending.

To put the colors together, they could mean: death, blood, freedom; coal, flames, hottest part of the fire; or night, dawn/dusk, daytime. All showing an end to the madness. But at what cost?

 

Waiting for Mockingjay July 27, 2010

Filed under: Books — katblogger @ 1:19 PM
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mockingjay.JPG

I was quite upset when the release of Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins’ last book in her Hunger Games trilogy, was pushed back thirteen days. I know everyone has different release dates, but in my area it went from August 11th to August 24th. I was heartbroken. If you’ve read the first two books, you know my pain.

What’s so great about the Hunger Games? How is it different from any other teen fad book? True, it’s about a girl, and her struggle to understand her feelings, but it’s also about a vicious government and a reality show pitting children against each other in a fight to the death. So slightly different than usual. I can tell you that this book will make you think how close our society is getting to the unthinkable, make you take teams like the Twilight fans, and maybe make you cry. I almost teared up at one scene – not telling which – and I never cry. So you all probably will.

Unfortunately, more could have been done with the nation as a whole, called Panem. The only culture really shown is the Games. If the world had been fleshed out more, it could have been used to drive points closer to home, and maybe boost this book to classic status. As it is, it gives you thought, but isn’t that heavy. After all, in the end it’s YA.

 

I Guess I’m Losing… July 9, 2010

Filed under: In the News — katblogger @ 3:05 PM
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So if you’ve been watching the news – which is a fairly pointless pasttime these days, considering most of it is Entertainment Tonight and stuff about Brittney Spears – you may have heard about the US-Russia spy swap. Now I’m at a loss as to why exactly we need to spy on each other, but whatever. What really got on my nerves was when one anchor asked, “Which country won/ is winning?”

Yes, life is all about who wins. Board games, video games, sports – everything in our culture is about a victor and a loser, sometimes multiple losers. And it doesn’t stop there. The Olympics is all about countries beating each other. And war… that’s the biggest competition of all. And in war, it seems that you’re winning or losing based on how many people you’ve killed. During the Vietnam War, body counts were released to make it look like the US was winning. For a while, it worked. Why does the idea that our side killed more than the other side please us? The loss of life becomes just another scoreboard.

I wonder if there is a certain number of lives lost until you ‘win’. Not the war, or the game, or anything particular. Just win. And then, when there are thousands of bodies to your name and the world is soaked with blood, will you be happy? You should, because you won.

Am I taking this too far? Maybe I am, but the patterns in our culture, in our world, are there. When everything is competition, nothing good can come of it. We’ll be Panem before you know it.

By the way, the correspondent said the US won. The spies we’re getting back are more important, and we got better information. Does that make you feel better?