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Review of The Romanov Prophecy

The Romanov ProphecyThe Romanov Prophecy by Steve Berry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A suspense with a Dan Brown feel, The Romanov Prophecy delves into the long-standing legend that one or more of the Russian royal family survived brutal execution in the early 20th century. Even if you’re not familiar with Russian history, names like Anastasia and Rasputin should tickle your memory.

Caught between corruption, the mafia, the military, and a prophetic destiny, Miles Lord’s story starts with a running shootout and doesn’t end until the last page. Sorting out who’s good and who’s bad is enough to hold the reader from the beginning, then the compelling, if modified, history of the Romanovs keeps the pages turning.

I haven’t read many books with a male African American protagonist, and I enjoyed that twist. There was a little chemistry between Lord and the female lead, but this isn’t a romance novel, so nothing came of it. Maybe it’s just me, but my belief was stretched a little thin by the amount of trust Lord put in one person, and the fact that several times the question was asked “how exactly did you find me?” but the flimsy answer was always accepted. It was a little distraction, and what pulled this review down a star.

I’ll definitely read more Steve Berry.

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Review of Mockingjay

Mockingjay (Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mockingjay proved to be the book that delivered on the promise of revolution, but the carnage and games continue.

Of the three books, this one started the slowest, I think. There’s a lot of anticipation, both of the battles to come and of who’s going to die. After reading the first two books, I was expecting the worst, so was kind of surprised at who ended up surviving. Don’t get your hopes up, though, there’s no happy ending here either.

Many have spoken of the triangle between Katniss, Gale, and Peeta, but I really didn’t feel like it was much of a LOVE triangle. Maybe a LOYALTY triangle, but I’m not sure Katniss ever will understand or feel love for anyone but her sister, Prim. The resolution between Katniss and her two beaus is believable, though, and felt right to me.

As far as the story goes, I’m reminded of a quote from a TV show (a Star Trek episode, I think, but I can’t remember): Everybody dies. No, this isn’t a spoiler…but as is true in any war, everyone dies in some way, be it physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Including Katniss. I think that’s the saddest part about the end of this series, is that the Katniss I loved in book one is gone.

There’s two decisions that Katniss makes at the end of this book that I don’t understand. Well, one I understand but would have liked to know that SHE understood it, and the other didn’t really make sense to me. If you’re curious which ones, drop me a line. And the consequences from those decisions seemed a little contrived, but that’s probably because we’re stuck in Katniss’ point of view and really don’t know what happens behind the scenes.

The one criticism I have is the epilogue. I really feel it was unnecessary. Perhaps it was an attempt to give the reader (or the editor) some kind of happy ending, but I don’t think it was in character. After everything the characters went through and the thorough destruction of their trust in EVERYTHING, what is described in the epilogue is not really believable, no matter how much time has passed. Again, if you’d like specifics, message me.

This series is not a love story, it’s the story of the ravages of war and the corruption of power. I think we’ll be seeing the first book, The Hunger Games, being added to high school curricula in the future, and rightly so. And after reading all three books, I have a much greater respect for our soldiers returning from war, and the demons they have to carry for the rest of their lives.

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Review of Catching Fire

Catching Fire (Hunger Games, #2)

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second installment of the Hunger Games series picks up pretty much where the first left off, though the heart of the action is actually a year later. Katniss finds herself in more trouble, and not just due to her own actions. There’s another force at work this time, so though she faces a similar fight-to-the-death situation as the first book, she’s dealt a very different hand this time. While she’s very attuned to some aspects of her survival, she’s quite naive in others. She only gets a glimpse of the forces throwing her life into chaos in this book, though…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I don’t want to post spoilers, so I won’t go into any more detail about the plot. Katniss continues to be strong and assertive in this book, which I like. There is a definite repetition of what happened in book 1, but the end result is very different.

Ms. Collins continues to put every character in jeopardy, so don’t get too attached to anyone. The real warning is this: Don’t start this book unless you have the third, Mockingjay, ready to go when you finish.

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The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Many have raved about The Hunger Games, and I can see why. It’s an engaging, if tragic, story about a girl making the best of a hopeless situation.

I won’t give any kind of summary here – you can find many who will do it more justice than I can. Also, I don’t want to spoil you, which would be difficult if I tried to summarize. Suffice to say, that while the love triangle is relatively obvious, I found the political overtones just as intriguing, if not moreso. That’s what I will be looking forward to in the sequel.

Katniss is an interesting character: smart, athletic, resourceful…a survivor. On the other hand, she’s also young, and it’s her emotional growth that’s the basis of her internal struggles. By the end of the book, I had to really think about how old she was…

It’s the external struggle that’s still taking shape when this book ends, and what I’m most interested to see develop in the second book. I’ll admit I haven’t read 1984…but after this book, I think I should, just so I can compare the two. The idea of “big brother” isn’t new, but in Katniss’ world, it seems he’s not quite as all-powerful as he could be.

I recommend this to teens and adults alike, but younger kids may want to tread lightly. The deaths and injuries are graphic, and unlike other authors, Ms. Collins is not afraid to sacrifice a likable character.

I’m definitely picking up the second book!

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