The Hunger Games? YES, PLEASE!

REVIEW OF BOOK 1!!

I don’t have many friends who love to read, but Isis is my favorite partner in crime when we’re talking about books and movies. She told me I had to read The Hunger Games, but I really didn’t think it was anything good. WRONG! I’m in love. In love with the girl on fire!

First I’d like to say that the brilliant idea of The Hunger Games is probably based on the Korean movie: Battle Royale. Even though Collins gets all the credits for the story (and yes she did a great job), Batoru Rowaiaru (Battle Royale) came out in 2000. Eight years later Collins came up with a similar story. I’m already downloading Battle Royale (I’ve heard it’s freaking bloody) so I’ll write a review about it when I’ve seen it. Well, stolen or not… The Hunger Games books are a huge success, so the odds are definitely in Collins’ favor!

I was very skeptical about the trilogy. I don’t know why, but when books are very popular I often think they won’t be any good, but I still force myself to read them. Like Fifty Shades of Grey, everyone reads it but it’s just a bunch of crap. And yes I’ve read the books. All three of them. Boring as hell. I’ve been wrong about books often. I didn’t want to read Harry Potter, Twilight or The Hobbit (which I still haven’t finished). But to be honest; I loved them all so I should be less cocky and just read what the crowd tells me to read.

*Book 1: The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games is a badass story about the protagonist Katniss Everdeen, who hunts in the woods together with her friend Gale to provide their families with food every day. She lives in the future in Panem, a country with 12 districts which all have their own specialties. Panem is ruled by the Capitol, where life’s so much better than in the other districts. Every year the Capitol hosts an event to remind the citizens not to rebel: The Hunger Games. Each district brings two teenage tributes – a boy and a girl – to an arena where they must fight each other to death. When Katniss little sister Prim is selected to participate in the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers to take her place and leaves District 12 together with the other tribute: Peeta Mellark. Katniss and Peeta have known each other for a long time, even though they never talked. They are competitors, but during the opening ceremonies they present themselves as a team: holding hands while dressed in flames. During an interview Peeta reveals his crush on Katniss: His strategy for her to make her look more ‘human’.

When the games begin both Peeta and Katniss go their own ways. They form teams with other players to win, but when a new rule to the game has been announced they know they must work together:  Two people from a single district can both win. After a lot of setbacks they finally make it to the finale when the Gamemakers withdraw the rule. Katniss and Peeta decide to commit suicide. Right before they swallow some poisoned berries, a voice announces both Katniss and Peeta are the winners of the 74th Hunger Games.

Happily ever after? NO WAY!  Peeta is heartbroken when he finds out that Katniss is not truely in love with him. For her, it was all part of the game. Katniss idea of committing a double suicide has provoked a lot of chaos in the districts and Haymitch – the mentor of Katniss and Peeta – warns her that she must prepare for the worst.

BOOK 1: AMAZING!! 10 out of 10!!! The idea of The Hunger Games is brilliant and not unlikely to happen. We should beware of the future and our leaders. It reminds me of the games of the ancient Greeks, Orwell’s 1984 and Romeo and Juliet. I loved reading every chapter, every letter… I fell in love with Gale and Katniss. This is fiction but so credible that it’s almost scary and yet very intriguing. GO READ IT! NOW!!!
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The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

 

“I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.”
– Anne Frank

Anne Frank. Almost everyone knows about this Jewish teenager who lived in an annex for a couple of years during world war two, until she and the others were betrayed, discovered and sent to the concentration camps. From June 12th 1942 until August 1st 1944 Anne kept a diary. She tells about the limits for Jews before she and her family had to hide and about her feelings. When the family moves to their hiding place she keeps writing her diary, which has become her best friend named Kitty, and tells about her life in the annex.

Dagboek recht hoge resolutie

I read the diary once before. I was 10 years old and very curious. I remember I was both impressed and shocked by this book and went to the Anne Frank House with my mom to get to know more about Anne. History repeats: 11 years later I decided that I should read it again. This book is one of the most important books in the world and I think everyone should read it. If more people who are living in inhuman conditions would publish their diaries (without trying to make it a best-seller) I think we would all appreciate our own lives more. At least I do now I’ve read it again.

In the diary Anne talks in all honesty about her feelings. She dislikes her mom Edith, loves her dad Otto and doesn’t really know if she really likes her sister Margot. The other hiders who live with them; Auguste, Hermann and Peter van Pels (Petronella, Hermann and Peter van Daan in the diary) and Fritz Pfeffer (Albert Dussel in the diary), drive her up the wall often and she puts all her resentment in the diary. The first year she is an angry young girl. She talks badly about her mom and loves talking about how many admirers she used to have. But while life in the annex goes on she starts to change: she grows up very fast and starts to fall for Peter. She keeps reading and studying and waiting for the day she can finally go back to school. Unfortunately, that day never came…
She always talks very positive about the helpers: Miep Gies, Bep Voskuijl, Victor Kugler and Johannes Kleiman, who risked their own lives for her and the others.
I’m not gonna discuss the whole diary, because I think you should read it yourself.

What I think about Anne.
Anne Frank was deep, funny, honest, cocky and a dreamer. I think I would get crazy if I were in her shoes, but instead of getting grumpier by the day she tried to learn from her mistakes. She’s an example for everyone! This girl loved movie stars, history, royal families and writing. While keeping her diary she discovered she enjoyed writing and started a couple of short stories. She wrote more than once that she wanted to go on living after her death:

“I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death!”

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August 4th 1944 Anne, her family, the van Pelses and mr. Pfeffer got arrested and sent to the concentration camps, where 7 of the 8 hiders died. Otto Frank was the only survivor. He received Anne’s diary and some of her notes from Miep Gies, who had saved them to give them back to Anne. Otto decided to fulfil his daughter’s dream to become a famous writer and published her diary.

If you’d like to read the book (again) – and I recommend you do – you could order it online

If you go to Amsterdam don’t forget visiting the Anne Frank House! You can see where and how Anne lived and learn more about her and the other hiders.

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The 100-year-old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared


Unique
, intense and addictive are the first words that I think of when I’m discussing the Swedish Jonas Jonasson’s book: The 100-year-old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared. When I first heard the title of this book I knew I was gonna like this story. I read the 400 page book last week in like 4 days. Sometimes you can’t stop reading. This time I didn’t wanna stop reading because I was too excited about the next events.

What’s the book about? Well basically it’s about a 100-year-old badass who climbed out of his window and disappeared. The title covers it all! Allan Karlsson is tired of his dull life in a nursing home. On his birthday, right before his anniversary party starts, he decides to climb out of his window and disappear on his slippers. His body is old but mentally he feels young and he’s excited to go on any kind of trip with anyone he meets. On this trip he ‘finds’ a suitcase full of money, makes a bunch of new (criminal) friends and hides for the police because he’s accused of being a triple-murderer. I know this doesn’t sound super original, but it certainly is! Jonasson brings it all so cool and funny and I busted myself over and over again laughing while reading the book.

The book contains two story lines: young Allan and old Allan. Young Allan is adventurous. He has dinner with people like Staling and Churchill, gets drunk with Truman and saves one of Mao’s wives. Meanwhile he crosses the Himalaya, learns fluent Spanish, English and Chinese and finds out how to make a nuclear bomb. It’s ridiculous to think one could’ve done this all, but Allan is such an amazing character that you’ll believe it right away.

This book came out in 2009. A year later it was the best-sold book in Sweden. The story is translated into 30 languages and the film rights are sold!

I’d give this book a 9 out of 10. For me there’s no perfect book (except maybe Harry Potter…) but this novel comes freaking close! You must be crazy in order to have a fantasy like Jonasson.
And the best part? Well, besides that I almost got jealous of Allan’s amazing life, I started to think that I was reading a non-fiction book while actually reading the biggest nonsense ever!

PS: When you take the paper cover off the Dutch version you’ll have a very pink book 😀 !!

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Fifty Shades Too Much

I usually don’t like to do things just because everyone does it. But that rule doesn’t apply on books. When a book is exposed in every bookshop window it must be good and I must read it. When I first read about the Fifty Shades trilogy I didn’t think it was the kind of literature that you could find in the top 5 of best-selling books. I discovered I was wrong, so I bought the books.

From the moment this posh porn book came out, women all over the world had an excuse to read about sex all day long. Handsome and rich prick Christian falls in love with next-door girl Anastasia. He’s into SM. She’s a virgin. She becomes his sub and climaxes when he’s barely touched her. He falls in love with her and keeps having all kinds of dirty, rough and even ‘vanilla sex’ with her. There’s no real story. The only exciting part, besides the sex scenes, is the stalker issue. A book about a stalker could be very interesting, but E.L. James takes 3 books to tell you whom put the love birds in danger and why. All the other pages are filled with nonsense. Anastasia is obsessed and she does everything because she is in love with this control freak. I keep thinking that the only reason she’s in love is just because this more than handsome creature likes her. I mean, who wouldn’t. But real love? Nahhh! When the characters first meet, you already know they will get married and end up with a baby. Why? Well first of all because there is nothing unexpected to find in these novels. And second because the whole story is based on the way more exciting Twilight Saga.

The first book, Fifty Shades of Grey was kinda interesting. I’ve read books that crossed some invisible lines, but I never read about SM. It was exciting for maybe 7 chapters. The first book of the trilogy is simply boring, although I must say the beginning of the novel is all right, just like any other love story. It was entertaining, until the SM parts kicked in. Pages are filled with details about a contract. It is interesting to get to know more about SM and how the whole commitment works, but when you copy and paste whole paragraphs over and over again I’m suddenly not that interested in the whole Dom VS Sub thingy anymore. I didn’t skip any paragraphs in the first book, except for the endless crap about the contract. The first Fifty Shades was boring, but because it goes on and on about taboo topic SM (ok, let’s say taboo topic sex, since that’s already a big step for the Americans 😉 Just kidding!) I understand why people started reading it. I read it in a week. I was so curious what was gonna happen that I almost finished it in a day, until I found out there wasn’t gonna happen anything at all.

I bought the trilogy all in once so I told myself I had to read the other Fifty Shades too, to be able to criticize the books. So when I went for my international exchange to Barcelona I brought Fifty Shades Darker with me. Reading the second part of the trilogy took me like two months. The story seems to be more exciting in some way, since every now and then there are little peeks of real confrontations, but still the endless sex scenes screw it up even though I keep reminding myself that I shouldn’t forget that the book is about sex with a story line, not the other way around. Anyway, in the second book Ana and Christian are married, too soon of course. It is ridiculous. I didn’t like the whole marriage issue in Twilight and I like it even less now some Cullen-fan tried to copy Meyer her ideas. My mom started to skip the sex scenes in the first book already but I told her I saw it as a lack of respect to the author to skim chapters. I changed my opinion in Fifty Shades Darker. I didn’t skip entire paragraphs but I sure didn’t pay much attention going over the scenes that so many women apparently like. What I like about the second book is that you get to know more about Christian’s past and start to understand why he’s the way he is.

Fifty Shades Freed. Hurray, it was almost over. Although I could’ve put the books away, I really wanted to know what happens in the last book. It took me four months in order to find out. I just couldn’t finish it. Sex scenes I skipped and the only thing I could do was waiting for the ‘big surprise’ when Ana finds out she’s pregnant. After that the books actually becomes kinda fun to read. The events follow each other up quickly, which is new for a Fifty Shades book.
This last part of the trilogy is my favourite because of several reasons. First of all: It’s the last part :). Also because James doesn’t go over every detail anymore, she just describes the honeymoon and other events that have happened the last months. The other pro’s are that the couple get out of their house, which means a new environment, new people, some fights and less sex scenes. I think James realized she couldn’t go on and on about two people who only have an exciting life because of money and sex, so she decided to put all her talent in this last novel. When the epilogue starts I thought I was almost done reading this precious SM story. Couldn’t be more wrong. After the epilogue there’s the ‘Fifty Shades of Christian’, which is kinda interesting because it’s about his childhood. And after that there’s more Christian when you read the first chapter of book one again, only this time from his perspective. Fun fun fun. Well ended. Ana and Christian live happily ever after and James ends with “This is it for now”. For me this sounds more like a threat than a promise. I really hope she won’t continue writing stories like this. It could’ve been so cool, a record breaking book about SM. But James became greedy and decided to use a story that already existed, and spread it over 3 books. I understand the whole money making point of view, but I don’t think it’s fair to let us readers read three books of nonsense while you could’ve written one exciting book.

Long story but its about three books so I allowed myself to write a lot 😉

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Picture: Me by Matthijs Munter Photography