[ Small Chirp ] Year of the Dragon (Tattoo)

In Which a Reader of Young Adult and Fantasy Crashes into a Sweedish Mystery Thriller

I tend to avoid harsh (realistic), contemporary fiction. This is a fairly new development for me (at least four years new). I fondly recall the days when I could sit through an action flick and simply enjoy it. I could read whatever I wanted to without being overwhelmed with fear, sympathy or angst.

Then, I had a baby. The moment I became a mommy, action movies became too graphic. Novels that never fazed me are hyper violent or too gritty. My “sensitive” switch is flipped and all the action I used to watch without a second thought to suddenly evolved into the brutalization of innocents. It makes me glance at my children and throw the book/movie into the “maybe someday” pile.

Despite all that, I picked up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It’s set in modern Sweden and revolves around reporter Mikael Blomkvist and hacker/researcher Lisbeth Salander as they attempt to solve a 40 year old murder.

I should have known better. Continue reading

[ Small Chirp ] Katniss: Heroine or Anti-hero?

I’ve heard it bandied about that Katniss, the main character and narrator of The Hunger Games, is no heroine. In fact, some sources claim that she is an anti-heroine. This vexes me. I don’t pretend Katniss is above reproach, but I know that she’s a hero–better yet, she’s the hero for her world and people. She’s their only viable option.

“Wait, there are options?” you ask… Yep. There’s a triumvirate of viable characters just waiting to be the hero: Peeta, Gale, and Katniss.


For purists who are looking at for the “Shining White Knight” as their hero du jour, there is Peeta. He is merciful, kind, humane and always does the right thing – regardless of the consequences. Even after Peeta is captured and imprisoned, when he has an opportunity to warn the rebels (and Katniss) of an impending attack, he does so. He is beaten and tortured as a result, but despite the consequences, he took the moment to do the right thing. See that bloody pulp on the ground? There’s your classic hero. Continue reading

[ Book Review ] The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

Book Two of the Kane Chronicles

Throne of Fire is Rick Riordan’s second book in the Kane Chronicles and it picks up just a few weeks after The Red Pyramid. Carter and Sadie are back in action…along with the majority of the Egyptian pantheon, most of the Egyptian sorcerers, and all of the forces of evil. The Kane kids are convinced that the only way to stop the world from falling to chaos is to wake the sleeping sun god, Ra. Everyone who’s anyone in the Egyptian pantheon thinks that’s a terrible idea.

I’ve never known enough about Egyptian mythology to make a call about whether or not their plan makes sense. The way it’s presented throughout the story seems to jive with my view of the cosmos–a central figure who represents order (plus supporting cast) is opposed by a bad guy who represents chaos and all things evil. In the universe of the Kane Chronicles, your order guy has been asleep for a long time and needs someone to wind up his alarm clock. Fine, I can go with that.

Of course, it’s not that simple and the kids deal with lots of “what if’s”, “what then’s”, and “oh crap, this other god figure who’s really ticked about losing power is going to eat us now.”

The narration wastes no time in leaping directly into the shenanigans; the characters introduce themselves in the midst of a night-time museum break-in caper—a museum that happens to be hosting a wedding reception. But really, what wedding reception is complete without a group of flaming plague spirits running amok amongst the bridesmaids?

True to Kane tradition, in the midst of the heist (which serves as an excellent way to introduce new characters and their abilities) Sadie and Carter receive an ominous warning, and we’re off at a breakneck pace that rarely slows to less than a sprint. Even moments of introspection and character growth are delivered in true teenage fashion: Retrospective one-liners are almost apologetic and, more often than not, belligerent as the character is forced (kicking and screaming, or as they’re dragged away by an ancient demon) to acknowledge that some of the less admirable situations are entirely of their own making.

The way the narration was set up, with small breaks in the story flow as the siblings bicker with one another over who can speak into the recorder, made Sadie and Carter even more three dimensional. This was a real teenage brother and sister poking at how annoying the other can be. The inter-adventure moments of “I shoulda seen that coming” add that great touch of humor to the story.

Even with outstanding humor and every action sequence propelling you through the story,  Throne of Fire is a second book.

Second books are often a bit like the awkward adolescent years of pimples, cracking voices and trying to understand what the heck is going on down there… ahem. The point is, I could really feel the novel’s growing pains.

After an eternity of pain, fights, loss, sacrifice and “girl likes boy but boy might like someone else”, “boy likes girl but girl is hosting an Egyptian river goddess and currently in suspended animation in a hidden tomb”, and “girl likes boy but also has a thing for the ancient Egyptian god of funerals” drama, the characters kinda win.

KINDA win?

I did not go through chapters of “OMG, he’s really hot, but sometimes he has a jackal head” issues to get a KINDA victory.

I understand that this is just one adventure within the greater story–one battle in the war–but there was no resolution at the end of my candy corn adventure! I want a resolution!

I want the decisive victory–or at least one real victory in the manifold of issues facing the heroes. I can think of no less than ten problems that our heroes are dealing with and not  a single one was solved to my satisfaction. I seriously can’t come up with a PG sentence to vent my frustration, and I’m considering severing a lot of canaries in my rating.

Can I just give halves? Is that legit? If I give 5 halves–does that mean I like it a lot, but it really ticks me off? I don’t like the ending, I wasn’t satisfied. It doesn’t feel like a happy ending or even the close of an adventure. It feels like a hook for a “buy my next book.”

Excellent story, great characters, phenomenal action and humor, fun and fun and fun and lovable,–blew the dismount.