Book Reviews

Ordered by date read, newest to oldest.

Amnesia LabyrinthAmnesia Labyrinth (Nagaru Tanigawa)

Date completed: 2013-09-26
Genre: Drama, romance
Year: 2009

Err. Not sure what to say about this manga. It started off promising, with a few interesting characters (Youko and Yukako). However, it quickly went downhill as, not only did the plot seem to be changing and inconsistent as I read further, but everyone started dropping their clothing around the time of the second volume starting. I'm not against nudity or sexual themes in manga, but for the theme to suddenly spring up by two different characters at pretty much exactly the same time was...unfitting. And Souji's outward personality doesn't fit into that at all. It's hard to even tell if Souji has a personality, as we don't get to know his thoughts almost ever, despite him being the protagonist.

This manga was written by the same guy who wrote The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, but Amnesia Labyrinth seems to be very inconsistently planned (which was admitted by Tanigawa himself) and takes a curvy road in its storytelling, but not in a good way. Not sure I'd be interested in reading further when the other volumes come out.

One thing, though, is that Sasai Yukako is cool. If only she had brown hair...

Avalon: The Warlock DiariesAvalon: The Warlock Diaries (Rachel Roberts)

Date completed: 2013-08-22
Genre: Comedy, fantasy, romance, young adult
Year: 2010

What can I say? About mages, fairies, warlocks, and a brief bit of middle school, this series fits the young adult genre pretty well. Bonded animals who help mages because of friendship and minions who help warlocks because of force have to find a way to work together to find the ultra-magical land of Avalon. The romance is pretty dull and straightforward, but the camaraderie of the animals made me want to stick with the story until I saw how it ended. I saw that the character designs and descriptions included in the omnibus version gave the characters a lot more detail than they had reason to show during the course of the story. Some common stereotypes abound here, but that's no surprise. For its age range and genre, Avalon is a cutesy, lighthearted English manga suitable as a weekend read.

But I mostly read it for the animal drawings.

MockingjayMockingjay (Suzanne Collins)

Date completed: 2012-09-28
Genre: Action, adventure, dystopian, sci-fi, young adult
Year: 2010

Aw man. Why? First of all, some of my favorite characters die. That is what it is, happens in other series too, of course. But the manner in which some of them go... I also don't like how the romance played out, and can't even truly consider the third book of the romance genre. A lot of parts of the plot during this book seem pretty half-assed, and as a writer myself, I wouldn't be satisfied with having left it the way it is, especially with so many loose ends untied. The last 2/3s of this book seem very humorless (all three books in the series are pretty tame with humor, but this one seems to have no life at all) and dejected, which is partly understandable for how serious the undertones of this series were from the beginning, but that knowledge doesn't help as I'm reading through a progressively worsening story and wading through one depressing chapter after another after the first 1/3 of the book. As for a numeric rating, I'd give this only a 6/10, whereas the previous two were 8/10. I just can't get behind how one of the three main characters starts in the book, and then how two of the three main characters were at the ending. Some things I will give the Hunger Games trilogy, though, is it has incredible symbolism at every turn, has fantastic, creative, and original writing, and is quite aptly suspenseful.

Catching FireCatching Fire (Suzanne Collins)

Date completed: 2012-09-20
Genre: Action, adventure, dystopian, romance, sci-fi, young adult
Year: 2009

Catching Fire is the sequel to the Hunger Games, and I enjoyed it just as much. I have to give Collins credit: three lines in this book made me stop reading and almost want to give applause, they were so unexpected, witty, or thought-provoking. Reading this reminded me of reading Brave New World; a society that is incredibly dystopian, and a sense of black humor to help you swallow it. Brilliant writing and quite an original middle-to-ending. I admit I quite like where the story is heading, and being the sap that I am, the romance bit pleases me, especially about four-fifths of the way through the book. I read all 275 pages of this in less than 30 hours, it was so good. I give this a solid 8/10. Not bad, and I'll certainly soon be reading Mockingjay, the last book in the series.

The Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)

Date completed: 2012-06-05
Genre: Action, adventure, dystopian, sci-fi, young adult
Year: 2008

Slow to start, but awesome once the action has begun (around page 50 out of about 250), this novel has become one of my new favorites. The Hunger Games is set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television. Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister's place for the latest match. It's odd because the novel combines the very low-tech society in which Katniss lives with the high-tech society of the Capitol, which led me to be confused as to what era this book took place in at first. I can't connect too deeply with Katniss since she is very dissimilar from me, but I enjoyed the story quite a bit and am excited to read the next two books and read the movie as well.