Archive for the ‘geeky’ Category
Haven’t heard of Hunger Games? Go to the nearest bookstore, then, to get your own Torture Channel, desensitization at its finest! When you’ve had your fill, remember the four notes of birdsong to find your way back home.
Testing, testing.… Good day, good viewers. We are now at the home of Art Seblis, a reader of no uncommon hunger for all things dark and creepy. Having heard that Art was in the middle of an unusually horrifying read, the Read (pronounced as ‘red’) Patrol decided to sneak up on the book blogger to give you a first-hand account of what may be the ‘read of the year, if not the decade.’
The Read Patrol reporter startles a very disheveled Art Seblis, who can be seen clutching a hard bound book; on the cover is an image of a fierce looking bird and an arrow.
RP: So Art, it’s The Hunger Games now, is it? Can you tell us about it? What made you read it? I hear it’s very YA, which is a little off the kinds of books you usually read.
AS: I was reluctant, initially—largely due to the story itself. But friends highly recommended it. So I gave it a try. Now, I can’t think of a universe in which I had never read it. Having read something with such powerful characters and message, one can’t help but be changed, despite my preferences for other genres.
RP: Wow, what a tribute. What is it about, anyway?
AS: It follows the story of Katniss, a 16-year old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of a dystopian world. Every year, 12 districts send a couple of their children ages 12 to 18 (chosen by lottery) to participate in the Hunger Games, a contest where they are placed in unfamiliar terrain and are expected to murder each other. Last child standing wins fame, riches, and the Capitol’s all-out- favor… The other to be chosen from Kat’s district is Peeta, a baker’s son.
RP: Oh my goodness, that’s horrible!
AS: It’s something like Battle Royale, but bloodier and more horrific, because society actively takes part in this ultimate cruelty to their children in the name of entertainment. I hesitate to use the term “innocents” to refer to the participants: in a game where the rule is “to kill or be killed,” they had to learn to suppress finer emotions, such as love and compassion, the attributes of a good human being, for a better chance of surviving the Game. Torture, mutilation, decapitation, bombing, poisoning, skinning, and a host of other kill methods are acceptable and encouraged. In that sense, they aren’t children anymore.
RP:*gasp* How can you enjoy a book like that?
AS: Ah, well, don’t you rage against the machine sometimes? This book is full of that particular angst, with just cause. But as much as it is full of brutality and other disturbing themes, it is also characterized by brilliant bouts of heroism, self sacrifice, and friendship. That Kat and Peeta (and a few other characters) managed all these was most impressive, given that they had been taught to trust no one in order to win. It was Kat’s 12-year old sister whose name was drawn in the lottery, but Kat refused to let her go, stepping up to go in her place. Between Kat and Peeta there developed a partnership, even affection. In the arena itself, amid the ugliest in humanity survived a flame of humanity, fragile but strong enough to flip the finger at the government’s grand plan to keep hope dead.
RP: *perking up* Hope, that’s a promising word.
AS: Yep, hope is such a crucial element in this story, without which the story degenerates into a royal rumble. Hunger, fear of it, motivates all of them; all of us, actually. It can either break you or remake you. I know something about this, but that’s another story altogether. Anyway, I’m glad to report that hunger did not break Kat nor diminish her; instead it made her stronger and wiser, making this book such an interesting read.
RP: Our viewers are certainly going to check this book out based on your intriguing comments. Is it safe to assume that this book is highly recommended by you?
AS: God, yes. I was in a state in a shock upon finishing it! Others I know who read it said they were also strongly affected. The writing is extremely good, brilliant but sharply disciplined. The plotting was tight, the pace kept me at the edge of my seat. All the scenes were fraught with danger, even makeup and styling (in the preparatory stage of the game, where the players are presented so the public could place bets on them) as every detail is integral to improving Kat and Peeta’s chances at surviving the Games. It’s got romance, fiendish intrigue, and insights into the human character. And the characters are so dynamic! Rarely do I become so invested in characters that, even hating what was happening to them and what they had to do, I stuck with them till the end and will definitely follow up through the sequel, Catching Fire.
… Another thing, the world of the Hunger Games may be make-believe, but I believe it mirrors our own. Who’s the next bachelorette whose heart will be broken? The tribe member who will be voted out of Survivor? The housemate whose dirty laundry will be aired next with Big Brother’s blessing? It really is not such a big step from here to the world of the Hunger Games.
RP: How ominous. But, we’re running out of time. Do you wish to add anything more?
AS: Yes. If you had to make a choice between two evils, what will you choose? Will you choose? Kat and the others faced this dilemma again and again. I wonder how we will fare given similar circumstances.
RP: That wraps it up! So, dear viewers, there you have it, the words straight from the mouth of Art Seblis about The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Honestly, it sounds like an all-you-can-watch-violence reality TV show. Who would get a thrill from seeing people get tortured?
Moving on, our next segment is very funny. Enjoy this clip.
i’m too lazy to write a coherent impression of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley so i’ll just copy-paste comments i made on a thread about the book from the Flips Flipping Pages shelfari page.
please read gege’s book review for a better picture of BNW and how the Flippers came to choose it as a Book of the Month (June, actually… I’m really lazy).
as an outsider looking inside, were the citizens of Huxley’s BNW really free? you may say that they have been conditioned biologically to be happy with their work. diseases were a thing of the past. there was no poverty. all this they had FOR A PRICE- they were conditioned and controlled by a central government. WERE THE PEOPLE OF BNW REALLY FREE?
- nope. to be free is to be able to choose options, take different paths that may or may not agree with the greater whole. and to be free is to have the knowledge of this power. no one is completely free, of course–we can’t have those with serial killer tendencies indulge their urges at will now, can we? society will always formulate and implement a check-and- balance for order. in BNW, the very capacity (through biochemical manipulation of the embryo and conditioning) to distinguish control over freedom has been virtually removed.
a participant comments that when reading SF, we tend to look for “corollaries” with present-day technologies. “but I don’t think the value of sci-fi lies in this,” he says. others point out that SF is valued because of its strong visionary quality, its versatility with speculating about science and many aspects of reality.
- another value of sf is in the creative exercise – stories take off from a “what if” supposition. inventing a new history, geography, and set of social customs is, i imagine, an awesome feat because the writer has to make this world real for readers – inserting similarities help but using too much of those defeats the purpose and leaves the visionary scale wanting in breadth and depth.
on the writing in BNW… many picked on the clumsiness of the writing style and crudeness of its literary devices.
- i rather like the quaint, awkward writing – rather like throwing mud in the face of literary conventions, an excellent foil to the controlled, rigid social structure of BNW, a tongue-in-cheek commentary to its conformist philosophy.
maybe, the sum is greater than the flawed parts, as rise (another member) says: maybe in terms of literary merit this applies.
BNW is a dystopia. happiness is achieved at the expense of personal freedom and creativity. people are drugged and conditioned into happiness. books are banned. why?
- the suppression of literary and informative books was for a good cause, according to BNW philosophy, mustapha mond (a character in the book, one of BNW’s leaders) explains. they (leaders) didn’t want people to start thinking for themselves and defying the social order. they also didn’t want people to become unhappy from reading about tragedies and other passionate emotions. they didn’t want people asking for more or asking less.
my favorite character is lenina, the book’s official airhead:
- but i was quite sympathetic to lenina. she was the only one who didn’t seem to have any ulterior motive for defying the world order. she wasn’t ambitious or complex, just wanted to be happy. yet she had a small voice that she listened to eventually. she came to see john, didn’t she? shed tears for him? she listened to love, even if she didn’t know it was love, only that it was taboo. in her airhead way, she achieved what john aims at by self-flagellation–to be noble. maybe, that’s why he hates her as much as he loves her?
… reading this was a strange experience because of my enjoyment of reading books with a torturer for a hero/antihero and because it took me from one surreal image after another: giant mermaids who swim the currents of time as well as they swim in water; an alien in love with an artificially lovely woman; the necropolis; eating the flesh of a woman one loves so one could digest her psyche; a woman revived from death; a dying world to be revived by destruction… terribly out of this world.
totally gripping… but then again, maybe i have been sorely missing SF without me realizing it. Alien fans, you’ll love this. though, i do find Cat’s tendency to insert the heroine’s lust for the hero at very inopportune times (like in the middle of being chased by gore-hungry aliens) rather comedic. anyway, i agree with the blurb… a science fiction thriller.