Tag: World-Building

Max Brooks – World War Z | Review

Title: World War Z

Author: Max Brooks

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 344

Rating: 3.25/5

This is one of those interesting examples of when there’s been a movie adaptation of a book that really doesn’t lend itself to movie adaptations. In fact, there’s arguably not even a plot to this book, and if there is one then it’s deliberately thin and disparate. Instead of following a central story, Brooks wants us to see the war against the zombies as a whole, and he does this through this sort of found narrative, epistolary approach that reminded me of Dracula, although I definitely preferred Dracula.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with this, and indeed I think it would be a good source if you were writing about zombies or studying their impact on popular culture for whatever reason. It’s just that it reads almost more like a non-fiction book than a fictional one, and in fact for something that focusses on zombies, it gets surprisingly boring. The epistolary layout, consisting mostly of the transcripts of interviews, is kind of cool to begin with, but after a while it started to jade on me and ultimately, it felt like a bit of a gimmick.

Still, it wasn’t too bad, and the writing itself was pretty good, as was the world-building. In fact, I’d argue that it’s the world-building that makes this worth reading in the first place. It’s more interesting to learn about the response that people have to the crisis from around the world than it is to follow any one group of characters, and indeed the structure of the story makes it almost impossible to do that in the first place.

Ultimately, that makes it an unusual book but one that’s worth reading, even if I myself didn’t fall in love with it. It was pretty cool to see what Brooks has in mind when it comes to our human reaction to the walking dead, and I don’t regret picking it up, though I doubt I’ll ever re-read it.

Learn more about World War Z.

 


Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games | Review

Title: The Hunger Games

Author: Suzanne Collins

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 458

Rating: 4/5

 

 

I watched the movie before reading the book I’m afraid, and I only did that because they were all added to Netflix and so I thought, “Why not?” It turns out that the movies are pretty good, and so I figured that I might as well check out the source material too. I don’t regret it.

Sure, there are elements to the story that I don’t like, but you get that with most things and I can’t really fault it for it. For example, it’s written in first person which is always a bugbear for me, and while I understand that it was to show readers an insight into Katniss’s mind, that doesn’t change the fact that I just don’t enjoy reading first person books.

But I got over it , and I soon found myself getting absorbed into the story despite the fact that I already knew what was going to happen. I also pictured each of the characters as the actors and actresses who played them, which worked well for some characters (Katniss and Haymitch, for example), but which didn’t work so well for others (Peeta, Gayle and the guy who hosts the games on TV). I also don’t remember seeing much of the big hitters like President Snow, but hey ho.

 

LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 12: Author Suzanne Collins arrives at the Los Angeles Premiere “The Hunger Games” at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)

 

My main feeling about this book is that it’s the story line that carries it, and that any half-competent writer could have pulled off the book. The true testament of Collins’ ability isn’t the words that she wrote but the idea that she had, and her world-building is far better than the writing itself. But that really doesn’t matter because the story itself is so good and she did a great job of creating the government and the history of Panem.

Weirdly, I feel as though something like this could actually happen, and it’s arguably more realistic now than it was when it was first written. I also wonder how much films like The Purge are inspired by the success of The Hunger Games, but then I suppose that The Hunger Games is inspired by a cross between Battle Royale and 1984.

All in all then, The Hunger Games passed me by the first time and I think I was reluctant to pick it up just because it was so hyped. I shouldn’t have let it put me off though, because it was a pretty good read and indisputably one of the most influential novels in YA literature. And sure, while it might not have been perfect, it still had a lot going on and I’m glad I got to it.

 

 

Click here to buy The Hunger Games.

 


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