Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games: an Old Idea with a Fresh Voice

The Hunger Games movie released today, and already I'm seeing backlash.

"This concept has been done before, it was called _______."
(fill in the blank with The Running Man, Battle Royale, Lord of the Flies, etc.)

Everything has been done before. Every story idea you have, someone else had it first. Before you feel too depressed, the silver lining is any story idea depends on what we do with it.

Suzanne Collins took her concept of a dystopian society (again, not a new idea) and featured teens who are forced to fight for their lives. With that generic description, I can mention half a dozen other books with the same concept in the current YA market. The difference is how the story is told.

I have respect for the author's ability show the horrors of war through her characters. Some scenes are violent, but they aren't gory. Much of the violence is implied. It's the perfect type of book for a discussion group, for a parent to read along with their kid, or an adult like me to get a fresh take on a concept that yes, I have heard before.

Some of the snippy comments I'm sure are a result of hype; no question this is the most heavily marketed film of the year so far, and will probably remain one of the top highest marketing budgets, including The Avengers and Christopher Nolan's last Batman installment, and Breaking Dawn part Deux: the Cash Cow. Yes, the media has been saturated with Hunger Games. It doesn't mean it's not a credible story, even if the story has been told before.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Blogging A to Z

I'm joining the Blogging from A to Z challenge this year. There's still time to sign up if you're interested!
The challenge involves creating a post for every letter of the alphabet in April. It can be about anything you want, starting Sunday April 1 with "A", all the way through Saturday April 28 with "Z" (all Sundays except the first Sunday are skipped).

You don't have to choose a theme - the posts can be about anything. But I think my theme will be TV shows since I write about TV for It's a fun topic that most people have an opinion on (even if it's that they never watch TV - usually those people are even more opinionated!).

So look for a TV-themed month of April and probably a break in book reviews.

If you're participating in the challenge, do you have a theme?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Book Review: Making Waves by Tawna Fenske

Making Waves
Tawna Fenske
Contemporary Romance, Humor
Published 2011

Making Waves is a fun little caper involving Juli, the conventional woman trying to find herself, who's thrown on a boat with disenfranchised corporate worker bees turned pirates. Yup, pirates! Alex and three of his coworkers decide to take control of their future after a lay-off  which drained their pensions after years of service to a company who couldn't care less. They charter a boat and plan to exploit their employer, a shipping merchant, by stealing valuable material in a heist to make up for their lost wages. Juli ends up on their boat after mistakenly boarding what she thought was a day tour while heavily doped up on seasickness medicine. Juli is thrilled to play the part of castaway, she sees it all as an adventure, while the crew thinks she must be some sort of spy.
Juli and Alex meet prior to the pirate mission at the resort that both are (supposedly) vacationing. Juli was asked to spread the ashes of her late uncle in the ocean, but the story hints that Juli is hiding something. Alex is distracted from the heist because of sexual tension with Juli. The two spend a lot of time almost getting together, but there are definitely some steamy scenes - FYI!

The characters frequently crack jokes, and the playful tone detracts from some of the implausibility of the plot. Although maybe it's not a stretch in this economy to believe scorned employees would commit seaside crime in an act of revenge.

I've followed Tawna Fenske's blog (Don't Pet Me, I'm Writing) for awhile -- she's hilarious so I recommend checking it out. From the blog, I learned the e-book version of Making Waves had lowered in price for a limited time. It's still a good price at $6.99.