baby, now we’ve got bad blood.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (2015)
 
Mare Barrow (or Bone Marrow as my brain called her) is a common Red girl biding her days until she has to enlist, just like her brothers had to. She lives in a society where the colour of your blood determines what kind of life you will have. Silver means that you have some sort of superpower and you are the ruling class. Red means that you have no power and are worthless.

Mare is helping out her family as she can, mainly by being a pickpocket. Then one day she steals from the wrong person, but instead of being punished, she is offered a job as a servant for the Silvers as they will find the new queen. Then she suddenly stumbles and falls over the banister, but instead of dying, she survives and it’s discovered that she beholds a superpower.

How will the society react to the fact that a common Red girl has superpowers? And who is she?

The kids are currently reading the Hunger Games and I decided not to read it for the third time, but instead to read some of the ya novels in my pile. I told them that I expected Red Queen to be quite similar to the Hunger Games, and in some ways I was correct and in others very wrong. I really liked the idea of the superpowers despite it being one of those things that I usually find boring. It was a good read even if some things were totally predictable. I’m eagerly waiting for the sequel! 

fuck cancer.

the Fault in Our Stars by John Green (2012)
“But it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he has Cassius note, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves.” 
Hazel Grace has terminal cancer and borrowed time. She is miserable and spends most of her days reading, so her parents force her to go to a support group for cancer kids. There she meets Augustus and they feel a mutual attraction and become instant friends. Hazel forces Augustus to read her favourite book, and he loves it and writes to the author because Hazel wants to know what happened to the characters in the book. The author then invites them to Amsterdam, where they get to taste champagne before their dreams are shattered.
I cried my eyes out. But before that, I laughed plenty. It’s easy to see why half of the girls in one of my classes chose this for their book report project. And it was because of them that I read it as I was extremely bored while they were typing away their reports and not needing any helped so I picked up the book and began to read. I was hooked. 
I love the way it’s written and the language. And there are so much information about everything from cancer to Amsterdam and Maslow’s pyramid of needs. I’m saving the film for the next time I need a good cry.
  
“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

fifteen.

the Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (1999)
“Charlie” has just started high school when he starts writing letters to an unknown person. He is bothered by his mood swings and he is one of the unpopular kids at school and is called a freak by most of his classmates. Then he befriends some older kids and the rest of the school year is a series of high school drama, sex, drugs and rock ‘n ‘roll. 
Charlie is a bright boy who loves asking questions. His English literature teaches gives him extra books to read and assignments to write and these books influence Charlie a lot. He is also discovering music and films through his new crowd. But Charlie still has his problems with connecting with people and reality and he is trying the best he can to be out there and participate.

I first read this book ten years ago, and I had vague memories about what it was like. And I didn’t remember the book 100% correctly, so it was nice to reread it. It inspired me a lot the first time I read it; I bought This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald and really tried to understand it. And this book got me into the Smiths. In retrospect it’s fun to discover how many of the other books mentioned I have read and that my friends are as into Rocky Horror Picture Show as Charlie and his friends! But it’s still as heartbreaking and tough to read as it was ten years ago.

I’m also curious about the film which will soon be released.

nine, ten, eleven: the hunger games

the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
 (the Hunger Games 2008, Catching Fire 2009 and Mockingjay 2010)

the Treaty of Treason gave us the new laws to guarantee peace and, as our yearly reminder that the Dark Days must never be repeated, it gave us the Hunger Games. The rules of the Hunger Games are simple. In punishment for the uprising, each of the twelve districts must provide one girl and one boy, called tributes, to participate. The twenty-four tributes will be imprisoned in a vast outdoor arena that could hold anything from a burning desert to a frozen wasteland. Over a period of several weeks, the competitors must fight to the death. The last tribute standing wins.”

Katniss Everdeen is a 16 year old girl who volunteers to be the female tribute from District 12 instead of her little sister, Prim. District 12 is a relatively poor district, but the Peacekeepers turn a blind eye to the mild lawbreaking done by its inhabitants. Katniss and her best friend, Gale, have kept their families and others healthy with their illegal hunting, and Katniss is superb with a bow and arrows which gives her an advance in the Games. The other participant from District 12 is a boy, Peeta who claims to be in love with Katniss. And their crazy drunk mentor, Haymitch, tells them to play the love card for the audience. But only one of them can survive the Games.

Set somewhere in the future, USA has broken into 12 districts, governed from the Capitol under the name Panem. The people in the districts are poor and working their arses off so the Capitol may prosper. And the Hunger Games is the one event that brings all the people together in front of their tvs.
 
Three days and nights with little sleep, or at least little sleep where not the Hunger Games was present, and I finished the trilogy. And what’s the verdict? It’s bloody good!

I was worried that the killings would be too much, but this is a book for young adults, so it’s never violent and it’s more about surviving than killing. Although the Hunger Games was interesting, I really liked reading about the everyday life in the districts and Capitol. I really enjoyed the second book until the second Hunger Games, and I also liked the third book because of the lack of the Games. And oh yes, my tears were running at the end.

The film is out in a month or so, and it is going to be interesting to see the books played out on the big screen.

This trilogy reminded me how much I need to reread Nineteen-Eighty-Four.

forty-two – forty-eight: harry potter

Harry Potter by J.K Rowling

 

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000), Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix (2003), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005), Hary Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007)


Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the first book I read in English. I had to borrow it in English at the library because the waiting list on the Norwegian version was too long. And since then I have preferred to read in English. I don’t know how many times I have read Harry Potter. I used to reread the books when the new one came out, and I know for sure that the last time I reread the series was in 2008.

While rereading the books now, I tried to figure out which book I like the most. It is a hard one. I know it’s not the two first ones, because they are too short. I think I have settled on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, because of the introduction of new characters, Hogsmeade and the Marauder’s Map. But both Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix could also be my favourite.

I realised how little I care for Harry Potter’s fight with Lord Voldemort, and how much I love the setting of the books. I love Hogwarts (the lessons, its history and the castle itself), Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. I have never really been fond of Harry himself, I prefer the other characters in the books, and especially Hermione and Dumbledore. And I found myself wanting more on the background history of everything in the books. Because of my thirsting for more, I will register at Pottermore, which is kind of creepy when you’re 28.

I never got the pleasure to read the books as a kid myself, I was probably fifteen or sixteen when I read the first book. I will therefore never know what it’s like to let myself be completely captured by the books. But I guess it would be equal to what it was like to read the Chronicles of Narnia; explore the old closet in my grandparents house and hope that it will lead to a secret world, to play out various characters with your friends in the forest on a moonlit winter night.

I do not care much for the films, and I still haven’t seen the final one. I don’t think they could ever do justice to the books. But I wouldn’t mind a tv series about everyday life at Hogwarts.

thirty-two.

the Emerald Atlas by John Stephens (2011)

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–>Kate, Michael and Emma were abandoned by their parents on Christmas’s Eve almost 10 years ago and have ever since been moved from orphanage to orphanage. But this is not an ordinary orphanage as they are the only kids there. While exploring the enormous old house they come upon a book hidden in a secret room beneath the house. And with the book they can travel in time using photographs.

Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. The prologue reminded me a lot of Harry Potter, but that was the only thing that reminded me distinctly of one certain book. It is indeed a mixture of all popular fantasy books for young readers, but that is not a bad thing. Stephens has created his own magic world with a lot of interesting creatures. While reading I was laughing out loud, holding my breath and wondering how it all would end.
I will definitely be pimping this book to the kids once school starts again, and I hope book two is out soon!

three

City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende (2002)

Kate and Alexander were flying across northern Brazil in a commercial airplane. For hours and hours, they had been seeing an endless expanse of forest, all the same intense green, cut through by rivers like shining serpents. The most formidable of all was the color of coffee with cream. “The Amazon River is the widest and longest on earth; five times greater than any other,” Alex read in the guidebook his grandmother had bought him in Rio de Janeiro. “Only the astronauts on their way to the moon have ever seen it in its entirety.” What the book didn’t say was that this vast area, the last paradise on the planet, was being systematically destroyed by the greed of entrepreneurs and adventures, as he had learned in school. They were building a highway, a slash cut through the jungle, on which settlers were coming in and tons of woods and minerals were going out. Kate informed her grandson that they would go up the Rio Negro to the Upper Orinoco, to an almost unexplored triangle in which most of the tribes they were interested in were concentrated. The Beast was supposed to live in that part of Amazon.”

Alex is forced out of his comfortable life in California when his mother has to undergo chemotherapy and he has to go live with his eccentric black tobacco-smoking and vodka-drinking grandmother for a while. She is a journalist and is going to the heart of Amazon to search for a legendary creature named the Beast – not very different from the Yeti apparently, and Alex has to go with her.

The book is meant for young (13+ I would say) readers, so the language is simple, but also very detailed. The characters, from Kate, the eccentric grandmother, to the suspicious-looking Indian who was hired to fan banana-leaves for the award-winning anthropologist with a slight phobia for anything that moves. It is definitely a thrilling adventure, maybe a bit predictable for adults, but I think the target group will love it. It should also raise awareness for the environment and biodiversity. I already know which students I will recommend it to.

It is also the first book in a trilogy about Alex, the other ones are set in Asia and Africa, I had to buy them at once I found out that it was a trilogy.