Friday, 15 April 2011

Beauty by Robin McKinley

Beauty by Robin Mckinley is a retelling of the fairytale:  Beauty and the Beast. In this retelling, Beauty is not beautiful. She is plain and awkward. She doesn’t process her sisters’ beauty or their interest in handsome suitors or ball gowns. Beauty much prefers to lose herself in her treasured books.
Her life changes when her father loses his way in the dark forest near their home and winds up in a castle where the beast lives.  He innocently plucks a rose from the beast gardens to take home to Beauty and angers the Beast in the process.  The Beast demands one of the daughters for the man’s life he had intended on ending.
Beauty soon finds herself in the castle at the mercy of the Beast. She discovers magic, curses and love which allow her to look past the outer shell of the Beast to reveal his own beauty.
First off, I love anything to do with fairytales retellings. I also love the story of Beauty and the Beast, as it is my favourite fairytale. So I couldn’t wait to read Beauty by Robin McKinley.
In this retelling there is no villain, instead the story focuses on bringing Beauty and the Beast together before letting them separate for just a small amount of time. It is during this time that danger finds the beast and Beauty realises just how much the Beast has grown to mean to her. Maybe one person can see it as the Beast being the villain at the beginning, but over time his harder out shell melts for just one person, Beauty.
The book is told from Beauty’s point of view and contains more descriptions of things than dialogue.  I must admit that I lose interest rather quickly if there are too much descriptive paragraphs, and there was but the book didn’t bore me. I think it was because of the fact it’s told from Beauty’s POV as well is being wrote in first person. I find first person books a lot easier to get through than any others. I think this also helped me to connect in some way with the book’s heroine because I ended up caring about her and wanted her to have her happy ending. 
I loved how equal Beauty and the Beast were in terms of beauty. Beauty herself isn’t described as beautiful, she described as “Thin, awkward, and undersized”.  She hasn’t the beauty that has been portrayed in other Beauty and the Beast works, for example the Disney Film: Beauty and the Beast, Belle was a beauty on the outside as well as on the inside. It is Beauty’s personality that is beautiful which enables her to see past the beastly form the beast has been cursed into and see the man hidden within.
I also loved how the Beast let Beauty leave him even though he knew he would die because of it. I loved how her leaving him caused him to die a slow death, which is so beautiful in a way. As readers we’re shown just how connected the Beast is to the castle and everything else around him, so much that when he dies the magic in his castle dies with him.
I did like how much Roses played a big part in the book, which reminded me of other Beauty and the Beast retellings I have read in the past. There isn’t an enchanted rose in a glass like the Disney film; there are rose gardens and enchanted roses given to Beauty by the Beast.
I loved the book very much and I would definitely reread it at a later stage to lose myself in its magic once more.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Katniss Everdeen lives in a post-apocalyptic future in Panem, a capital surrounded by twelve other districts.  Every year two children from each district are chosen to appear in the Hunger Games; a cruel reality TV program where contestants fight to the death on live TV.   When her sister's name is called, Katniss steps forward and takes her sister's place in the Hunger Games. Katniss sees it as a death sentence, but Katniss has survival skills and has learnt to survive before. Katniss and the baker's boy Peeta are transported to the Capitol where they must train before being placed into the arena where the Hunger Games take place.
 The Hunger Games are deadly and terrifying and only have one rule: Kill or be killed.

I decided to read the Hunger Games just because of all the good ratings it had been receiving and the talks of a film coming about about it. So I ordered a copy from my local library and waited eagerly until I could read the book which has been the talk of the year it seems so far.  
  At 454 pages long, the book is a chunky Mother, and upon seeing the book I did start to change my mind about reading it. I stuck with it because of the reviews dotted about on the cover of the book and inside the first page.
 The first part of the book for me dragged mainly because nothing much was happening. I was eager to read about the actual Games themselves, and didn't much care for the character's background history.  The book picked up for me when Katniss steps forward and she is thrown into preparation for the Hunger Games event along with Peeta.  I read constantly until I reached part two, my heart raced in anticipation at what was to come and I think I sat down for too long because I was beginning to go numb in some places as well.
 During the second part of the book, the Games start and it became impossible to stop reading. We followed Katniss as she fights for survival and we see as readers just how horrible these Games truly are. I read in shock just how willingly these children are to kill another just to be crowned winner of the Games.
The final part of the book is just too important for me to put down and stop reading. By this point I have gotten so in to reading the book that I don't care whether I am suffering from Hunger or thirst because I have sat in one place and read for so long, neither do I care that I am actually tired and have to go to work soon. I read and read and come to the end all too soon, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. It's a good thing because I finally get to read who has won the Games, and it is a bad thing because It means that the book will be over shortly and I haven't the second book to follow on with.
 As I read this book I couldn't believe it and yet I could at the same time. I have seen reality TV shows where it seems the only thing producers are concerned about is ratings, and if ratings are low then it means they need to think up mean ways to hike the ratings back up.  I was shocked because of all the deaths airing Live on TV that people in this capitol were watching.
 T his book amazed me, and for ages after reading it I could not stop thinking about it, and literary had to tell anyone who would listen about it even if they didn't care.  I loved the first person point of view, which for me makes it all the more real and completely fits the story line. I also in the end loved the length of the book because if this book had been shortened it wouldn't have been  as good.  I now have to wait to read the second book which I'm hoping will be as good as or if not better than the first book. Fingers crossed!