Literary vs Genre

I’m pretty sure that I’ve talked about this idea before on my blog.  And people who read genre fiction a lot have undoubtedly heard from one circle or other that they’re reading “lesser” books, in large part because Fantasy and Science Fiction novels don’t tend to win – or even be nominated for – major book awards such as the Nobel Prize or the Booker Prize*.  Going through the list of blogs I follow I came across a post by Larry Correia, a NYT bestselling author of several different books and series, where he is talking about an article within the NYT.

Larry’s Article

There are a couple of things that he says in his article that I’m going to bring up, but the entire article is entertaining, informative, and well worth reading.  The first thing that nobody who supports literary fiction above genre fiction wants to acknowledge is that all of the “classic” novels that are lauded as the high points of literature were the popular fiction of their day.  The reason that we still read them today is that they have stood the test of time and have shown that they are still worth reading.  It’s easy to look at the fiction of the past and say that it was all being written at a higher level than today, but that’s obviously not true, we’ve just had 50 or 100 or 200 years to wade through all the crap and let the cream rise to the top.  It’s the same with genre fiction today.  There is a lot of very good genre fiction being written today, but there is also a lot that is popular today that simply won’t stand the test of time.  Anyone who has read The Wheel of Time will probably agree with my saying that it will stand the test of time, because it’s an incredibly well written story.  I’ve said the same thing about the Harry Potter series, it’s a well written children’s/teen’s series that I think we’ll still be reading 100 years from now.  Will we still be reading Twilight 100 years from now?  Probably not.  (I have nothing against the Twilight series, and have never read them – nor do I intend to.  But I’ve heard a lot of people say that the writing is not at a very high level.  That said, Stephanie Meyer has made a ton of money from the series and I don’t begrudge her that at all.)

Also, as Larry mentions, many of the classics that the writer of the NYT article mentions had Fantasy elements, including Milton’s Paradise Lost, several of Shakespeare’s works, even older works such as the Iliad and the Odyssey.  But the difference is that they’ve been around for years and no one questions their legitimacy as works of art, and not just as pulp/genre fiction.

My last comments on this discussion refers to the ideas that Correia mentions when it comes to collegiate writing and English classes.  I’ve said before that I think the reason fewer and fewer people read today is because of the way that English is taught in schools.  If you take books that were written hundreds of years ago and try to cram them down a kid’s throat you’re going to scare them away from reading.  There were people in my college classes – and not just in freshmen level courses, but also in junior and senior level courses – who couldn’t read a sentence aloud without stopping and stuttering after every third or fourth word.

To immediately dismiss an entire section of a bookstore as crap just because it contains magic or hypothetical science is elitist and pompous garbage.  If you’re in any kind of a position of authority to determine what people are going to be reading, it’s not only elitist and pompous garbage, but also dangerous.

*A quick look through the Wikipedia lists for the Pulitzer Prize, Booker Prize, and Nobel Prize for Literature showed no authors that I know of who are definitively Science Fiction or Fantasy authors.  However, The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (which won the Booker Prize in 2000) has a Science Fiction slant to it, as does The Handmaid’s Tale by Atwood (which was nominated in 1986).  In addition, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro was nominated for the Booker Prize in 2005 and I would definitely call that book Science Fiction, it’s subtle, but the premise of the world behind the story is a deep and interesting Science Fiction idea.

**Also, I have reviews on my Total Score page for several books by Correia, Atwood, and Ishiguro.  They are all skilled writers and I would suggest any of their books that I have reviewed for anyone to read.

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Steelheart

Another day, another Sanderson book completed, and another series that he’s started that I already want to read the rest of.  I’m a huge fan of his writing, so it’s no surprise that I’ve already finished reading this book despite starting it only yesterday.  Being on vacation from work for the week also gives me a lot more time to read, which I love.

Book StatsSteelheart

384 pages

Science Fiction

First book in the series

Characters

The main character is David, a teenage boy who is living in the ruins of a future Chicago which has been transformed by Epics (more on that later).  David is in many ways a typical 18 year old kid, but he’s quite different in that he’s driven to kill the self-imposed emperor of Newcago.  He’s also somewhat unique among many of the characters that I’ve read in books because he has a tendency to craft extremely bad metaphors, which is a very subtle part of the book, but it’s always good for a laugh when they show up.

Setting

At some point in the future there is an event that the characters simply refer to as the Calamity, which led to many people acquiring superpowers.  In most stories where there are people with superpowers, some of them become heroes and some become villains.  Unfortunately in this world there are no heroes, and the regular people are left to the whims of whatever the Epics feel like doing.  As always with Sanderson all of the worldbuilding is well thought out, and never knocked me out of the story.

Plot

10 years before the start of the novel, David was at a bank when it was attacked by first one Epic, named Deathpoint, and then another, Steelheart.  During the chaos that follows David sees something that shouldn’t be possible, he sees Steelheart, an invincible High Epic, bleed.  Shortly after this Steelheart kills David’s father, which sets David on a lifelong quest to do the impossible and kill Steelheart.

Enjoyment

It’s really interesting having listened to several years of the episodes of Writing Excuses and then reading his books, because I’ve heard him explain so much of his process I can read his books and see a lot of what he’s doing.  It’s also interesting to go through his books and see all of the subtle foreshadowing that he has in place for the ending.  The consistently high level of Sanderson’s writing shows that he really is a master of his craft, and I look forward to being able to read so much more of his writing over the coming years.

Overall Grade

Another solid book by Sanderson with a really interesting take on the idea of superheroes.

9/10

The Island of Dr. Moreau

Whenever I wander throughout Barnes & Noble I always take a few minutes to look through the tables where they have books that have been assigned for students to read for their classes.  I’m always interested in seeing what teachers have assigned for their students to read, and I’m always pleasantly surprised when I see a book that I really enjoyed on those tables.  I’ve seen The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, and Variant by Rob Wells which were all books that I enjoyed.  But then I also cringe every time I see Shakespeare (I’m not a big fan) or Dickens (Great Expectations is on the shortlist for the worst book that I’ve ever read).  Anyway, recently while looking through those books, I found The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells and just finished reading it this morning, so here we go.  There will be a couple of spoilers in here, but the book is almost 120 years old at this point.

Book StatsDr. Moreau

140 pages

Science Fiction

Characters

The characters in this book are possibly the weakest part, but I think this mostly comes from the book having been written nearly 120 years ago, and the simple fact that writing styles have changed over time.  The book is written as though it’s a memoir of the main character, Edward Prendick.  There’s really nothing about any of the characters that stands out, this book is really more about the ideas presented in it.

Setting

An island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

Plot

After being shipwrecked, Prendick is rescued by a passing ship and ultimately deserted on the Island of Dr. Moreau, where he learns about the experiments that Moreau has been conducting in transforming animals into humans.  His experiments are in some ways largely successful, as the animals are able to speak and conduct themselves as people for most of the book.

Enjoyment

The first thing that I noticed about this book is how badly dated the writing style feels compared to, well, pretty much every other book that I’ve read recently.  In a nutshell, this is the biggest problem with a lot of books when you look at them long enough after they were written.  Styles of writing change, hell, the English language changes over time, and that’s what makes it so hard to back and read some books that were written a long time ago.  Once you get past the writing style, there is a very interesting story within the book, by the standards of books today, it’s more of a story seed or an outline than a book in itself.

The main idea of the story is that through surgical techniques you could make animals almost human, if the book were to be written today, instead of surgery it would be genetic therapy or some other type of gene modification, but the idea still works.  I thought that the most interesting aspect of the book was how they manage to control the beast-men.  They created a litany of laws that they all follow, and in some ways they worship Moreau as a god.  It also shows some of Prendick’s intelligence in that he realizes this and tries to use it to control the beast-men once Moreau dies.

Overall Grade

Some really interesting ideas, but an extremely dated writing style.  Worth looking into if you’re a fan of Wells’ other books or if you’re interested in some early Science Fiction.

6/10

Shadows in Flight

We once again come to a review for a book in the world of Ender’s Game, this puts me up to 10 books that I have reviews for from the series, none of them being the original book.  I’ll eventually get around to re-reading the book so that I can have a review of it on my blog, but there are so many other things that I’m still going through.  Anyway, on with the review.

Book StatsShadows in Flight

294 pages

Science Fiction

By publication date, this is the 12th book and it came out after Ender In Exile.  Chronologically in the series it takes place after Ender in Exile and the Shadow quartet, but before Speaker for the Dead.

Characters

The characters in the book are Bean and the three of his children who have the same genetic defect that he had, to be incredibly intelligent but to never quit growing and therefore die by the time they reach about 20 years old because they never stop growing.  Even though the children (Ender, Carlotta, and Sergeant) are only 6 years old in the book, they act far more mature because of their enhanced intelligence.  As always, Card’s characters are wonderfully written, and they’re all people that I would enjoy meeting.

Setting

The book takes place primarily on the spaceship that Bean and his children are traveling on, but they also explore an alien ship that they find on their journey.

Plot

While traveling at near light speed to prolong their lives, Bean and company stop to investigate a strange ship and find that it was formerly a formic vessel.  They explore the ship and find a lot of interesting things about the formics as well as themselves.

Enjoyment

I know, that plot synopsis was lame, but when you try and break any 300 page book down into two sentences it’s going to sound lame.  So here’s the deal, I read this book because it was in the Ender series, and it’s Science Fiction because that’s what Card writes.  The truth is that this book is a great example of a parent and their children coming to understand each other.  It comes back to Card’s excellent characters.  You could take the same characters, strip away the setting, and tell the same story.  It’s also wonderful to see what happens to Bean, and how he is able to reconcile his short life.

Overall Grade

Another very strong book in the Ender’s Game world.  Eventually I’m going to have to read a book by Card that isn’t in this world, but these are all great fun to read.

8/10

Flowers for Algernon

Once again a book where I don’t remember where I first heard of it.  Either way, it’s a wonderful book and a fantastic look at so much of our society.  I really want to talk about the book, so it’s on with the review.

Book StatsFlowers for Algernon

311 pages

Drama with an element of Science Fiction

Plot

The back of the book sums up the overall plot of this book perfectly.  Charlie Gordon is a man with a very low IQ, but he wants to become smarter.  Scientists have been experimenting with a surgical method to increase overall intelligence, and it has worked wonders on a lab mouse named Algernon.  After Charlie gets the surgery his intelligence rapidly increases beyond that even of the scientists who set up his treatment.  But then Algernon starts to regress, and Charlie worries about what will happen to him.

Setting

Present day New York and other areas around the country.

Characters

The book is told through a series of progress reports by Charlie, and he is a wonderful character both as he starts the book and as he gains intelligence throughout the course of the book.  All of the other characters are described through Charlie’s point of view, and the way that they’re described you really get a feeling for their individual personalities.

Enjoyment

I think I can easily say that this is the second best book I’ve read all year, and quite frankly, after finally getting to read A Memory of Light in March, every book that I read for the rest of the year was going to be fighting for second place.

On it’s surface the story is about Charlie gaining intelligence, but there’s so much more going on in the book than that.  There were several different parts of the book that dealt with every aspect of growing as a person.  Learning that you’re different from other people, that other people may dislike you for nothing that you’ve done.  Learning about the gamut of human emotions, learning to try and look at things from another person’s perspective.

There is a scene about 1/3 of the way through the book, where Charlie has been fired from the bakery he worked at because his increased intelligence has made his co-workers uncomfortable working with him.  There is a single paragraph that perfectly sums up every emotion you can have when you feel out of place in a group of people:

There was nothing more to say, to her or to the rest of them.  None of them would look into my eyes.  I can still feel the hostility.  Before, they had laughed at me, despising me for my ignorance and dullness; now, they hated me for my knowledge and understanding.  Why?  What in God’s name did they want of me?

Charlie didn’t feel like he fit in when he was dumb, and he didn’t feel like he fit in when he was intelligent.  In the next paragraph he wonders what would happen if Algernon were to be put back with the rest of the regular lab mice?

There is another great scene that takes place about 2/3 of the way through the book.  Charlie is sitting at a restaurant when a mentally challenged busboy drops a tray of plates and many of the diners in the restaurant – including Charlie – start to laugh at him.

I felt sick inside as I looked at his dull, vacuous smile–the wide, bright eyes of a child, uncertain but eager to please, and I realized what I had recognized in him.  They were laughing at him because he was retarded.

And at first I had been amused along with the rest.

The last part of the book that I’m going to quote comes from an argument that Charlie is having with Nemur, one of the people behind his experimental surgery.  They’re arguing, and Nemur asks Charlie if he thought he was better off before and Charlie says: “In some ways, yes.”  Later, when arguing with himself in a mirror he says:

Who’s to say that my light is better than your darkness?  Who’s to say death is better than your darkness?  Who am I to say?…

I would argue that the central theme of this book is the battle between academic intelligence and emotional intelligence, and specifically how the two are completely independent of each other.  The book also deals with what parts of our society favor what aspect.  Outside of the academic world, most people simply don’t care about how smart you actually are.  Most people are more concerned with the more emotional side, preferring to discus interpersonal relationships as opposed to ideas.  I’m also going to say that as someone who leans more towards the academic side of the spectrum, it can be difficult to function in a world where most people simply don’t care about many of the things that interest you.

Overall Grade

A wonderful book that is a fantastic dissection of so many different aspects of our society, as well as a very interesting examination of the full emotional spectrum that we go through as we grow up.

10/10

Feedback

This book is the sequel to Robison Wells’ Variant.  I was a little torn before I started this book, it had been a while since I’d read the Variant, and other than a very rough outline, I didn’t remember much from the first book.  After giving it some thought, I decided to bite the bullet and just start reading Feedback.  It really wasn’t too hard to get back into the story, and it worked out well without having read Variant recently.  On with the review.

Book StatsFeedback

310 pages

Science Fiction

Sequel to Variant

Characters

The main character from this book is still Benson, the main character from Variant.  Overall this book was a little more fast paced than Variant, and Benson was similar to what I remember him being in the first book.  He’s a fairly typical teenager who is dealing with a very strange situation in a way that most of us could only hope to.

Setting

The same world as the first book, although this one takes place outside of the school as opposed to inside it.

Plot

This books picks up right where the first one left off, with Benson and Becky running away from the school and trying to get to the village that he saw to try and get to safety.  After they get to the village they find a big surprise, a lot of the kids that they knew from the school are in the village, but many of them seem to be a couple of years older.  This of course leads into the longer discussion of exactly what is going on in the story.

Enjoyment

So here’s the problem that I had with this book, I thought it was a bit too long.  There were a couple of times in the middle of the book where I stopped reading for a while, and there was nothing really pulling me back into the story.  Overall I think it would have been better if the first half of this book was cut down and everything was combined into just one book.  It would have been very long for a YA book, which I suppose is the largest part of why it was two books in the first place.  But while the beginning of the book seemed a bit slow and repetitive to me, the ending was quite interesting and had a lot going for it.  One of the biggest things about the ending is that it’s not really explained exactly what was going on, I have my ideas as to what he was getting at, but who knows if I’m right or not.

Overall Grade

The first half of the book dragged a little, but it made up for it with the ending.  I enjoyed the story and thought it had a really interesting twist behind the overall story.  It’s also a welcome surprise to see a complete story told in two books, as opposed to the usual trilogy or even larger that I typically run into.

7/10

Fragments

I’m tending to do a lot of my reading on weekends nowadays, when I have time to really sit down with a book for a 3-4 hour stretch.  There’s nothing better than finding a quality book and sitting for a few hours with a hot cup of tea (yes, even in the summer) and plowing through 200+ pages of a good book.

Anyway, I recently picked up Fragments, the second book in Dan Wells’ Partials trilogy.  I really enjoyed the first book, and I had high hopes for this one, so on with the review.

Book StatsFragments

564 pages

Science Fiction

Sequel to Partials

Characters

The primary characters from the first book are all back, although they’re separated for larger parts of this book when compared to the first book.  It’s been a while since I read the first book, but I thought that the characters behaved similarly to how they did in the first book.  There’s a little growth from the characters, but this book focuses more on the overall story than on character growth.

Setting

Still in the post-apocalyptic world of the same book, but while the first book is primarily in New York, this book involves some travel out towards Chicago and Denver.

Plot

Fragments picks up where Partials left off, with Kira trying to find a cure for RM while also trying to find a way to figure out the problem of the Partial’s expiration date.  This leads her to explore some older buildings outside of the settlement of survivors in New York.  While there, she comes across Afa Demoux, a former IT manager who worked for Paragen – the company that created the Partials.  This leads her on a quest to Chicago to try and find the computers which originally held the data files for Paragen.

Enjoyment

The biggest part of what I enjoyed about the first book is how the plot played out.  Basically it came across as a futuristic SciFi episode of House.  There is a little bit of that in this book, but it doesn’t show up until the last 120 or so pages of the book.  The first 3/4 of the book is largely a travelogue, and it doesn’t work as well as the medical mystery.  Even though the travelogue takes up most of the book, it’s still a quick read.  This book kind of suffers from second-book-syndrome.  It’s not as good as the first book, but it’s necessary to set up the third book and promises a big conclusion to the story.

Overall Grade

The last quarter of the book was by far the strongest part, and I’m looking forward to picking up the third book when it comes out.

7/10

Redshirts

I’ve been a fan of John Scalzi’s work for a while now, but to this point I’ve only read his Old Man’s War series and random posts on his blog.  Yesterday I was walking around Barnes & Noble and came across his book Redshirts, I’d heard a lot of good things about it and decided to pick it up.

Book StatsRedshirts

314 pages

Science Fiction, Satire

Characters

The main character of the book is Andy Dahl, an ensign in the Universal Union who has just been assigned to the flagship Intrepid.  There was nothing about his character that will really blow you away, and the same is true of the side characters.  In fact, they’re meant to be largely side characters within the “story” of the Intrepid.  But while the characters aren’t especially memorable, they are well written and behave consistently within the world.

Setting

Primarily takes place in the Intrepid, but there are quite a few scenes where the characters are on various planets or space stations and a few scenes on Earth as well.

Plot

Shortly after Dahl is sent to the Intrepid, he realizes that there are a lot of people acting very strangely on the ship.  Before too much longer he is told about a very disconcerting pattern that people on the ship have noticed, which is of course is that on every away mission a low ranking member of the team dies.  Over the course of the rest of the book, they try to figure out exactly what is going on with the ship.

Enjoyment

I’m kind of torn about this book.  On one hand it is a brilliant satire and a perfect way to mock the horrible science that was seen in many science fiction TV shows.  On the other hand, I thought the second half the book was weaker than the first half.  If you’re a bigger fan of Star Trek and other science fiction shows, you’d probably find another 50 jokes that I missed throughout the book.

This book also had one of my biggest pet peeves in writing as a major plot point, time travel.  It’s maybe a little better because it presents it as a kind of alternate universe, but in the end it annoys me more than anything else.

At the end of the book, Scalzi has 3 Codas where he describes the events of some of the people Dahl met on Earth after the story ends.  The third Coda was probably my favorite part of the book.  It’s a very nice touch and works well within the story that was told about all of the characters.

The last thing I have to mention is that Scalzi gets big time bonus points for using the word “defenestration” in the book.  Likewise, you get bonus points if you know what defenestration means without looking it up in google.

Overall Grade

I had some issues with the book, and I’m sure that I missed some of the jokes, but I still had a good time reading it.

6/10

Bearing an Hourglass

So for the better part of the past two weeks I’ve been in the middle of Bearing and Hourglass, the second book in Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality series.  And for every excuse I could give about being busy and not finishing it for that reason, there’s a better reason I was sitting on it for that long.  I just don’t care about it.

This is an odd thing for me to say, because I enjoy many of Piers Anthony’s books, and especially because I enjoyed the first book in the series.  Overall, this book just wasn’t working for me, but being stubborn I kept slogging through it.

So instead of a review, I”ll do a quick post about why I didn’t care for the book, and then I’ll move on to something else.

The final straw that eventually caused me to put the book down was a section where Chronos uses his magic to reverse the flow of time for everyone on Earth, but then is able to have a conversation with someone where his introduction was the last thing he said and – yeah, it just didn’t work for me.  Time travel is something that annoys me in stories.  There is no logical way for time travel to work that doesn’t create an alternate world or a paradox.  When you try to explain it by simply saying that the character is immune to paradox because of his position as an incarnation, well, that doesn’t work either.  The only example I can think of where a book had time travel and still worked for me was the third Harry Potter book, and that had more to do with the other interesting parts of the book (the dementors, Lupin, etc.) than the time travel itself.  That book also had much stronger characters than this book, so that helps as well.  (And looking back on my review of the book, I did knock it for having time travel and said that it was the weakest book of the series to that point, and overall I’d probably consider it the second weakest, book 7 was the weakest.)

The characters in this book weren’t terribly interesting to me either.  As I started to write this out, I had to look at the back of the book to even remember the main character’s name.  I also had a problem with some of the female characters, through no fault of their own, they fall into some of the worst stereotypes from the 60’s or 70’s.  This book came out in 1984, so it was probably written a couple of years beforehand, and Anthony is an older writer anyway, but parts of this book felt extremely dated to me.

The world that Anthony created for these books is very unique, it’s an original combination of Science Fiction and Fantasy, with high levels of magic and technology existing in the world.  Unfortunately, this book just didn’t work for me.  I also own the third book in the series, and maybe I’ll give that one a try eventually.

There is one thing that I would love to be able to take from this book.  I need to realize that if I’m not really into a book, I need to put it down and read something else.  I am a lot busier now between bowling and work, and I don’t have the time to read bad books.

I’m not rating the book, it had some potential, but just didn’t work for me.  If you’re more accepting of time travel as a plot point, you might enjoy the book, if you’re like me and you don’t enjoy time travel, you can avoid this one.

The Hunger Games

I was looking for something to watch on Netflix today, and to my surprise The Hunger Games movie was listed as I was scrolling through all of the available movies, and I enjoyed the books quite a bit, so I figured I’d check out the movie.

Fair warning, I’m going to spoil parts of the movie and quite possibly the second and third books in the series.  But at this point the books have been out for years and the movie has been out long enough for it to be on Netflix, and there is a statute of limitations for spoiling things.  If you don’t want to know anything about the story, then stop here, go read the books, and then come back and read this.  Anyway, on we go.

My first thought as I watched the credits roll was how accurate the movie was to the book.  There were a couple of subtle differences, but overall I think it was quite good.  My second thought is that it was too long for my taste.  The books were incredibly quick reads, I think I finished each of the individual books within a day or so, but the movie just seemed a bit long for me.  As I say that, I don’t really know what you could cut from the movie.  There was a little bit of unnecessary exposition in the beginning, but what was there worked to set up the movie for people who aren’t familiar with the story.  There was also a fair bit of foreshadowing for the remainder of the series, and that’s always good to see.

The next thing to get to of course is the cast.  I thought all of the actors/actresses were quite good.  Jennifer Lawrence was solid as Katniss, and Josh Hutcherson was decent as Peeta.  But overall I think the best acting in the movie was done by the side characters.  Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz were fantastic as Haymitch and Cinna respectively.  But overall I think the most effective of the side characters was President Snow, he had very little screen time, but was able to effectively show just how evil the people from the capital are described as.  I don’t really remember him at all from the first book (granted it’s been 3 years or so since I’ve read the books) but he made the movie for me.

Very quickly I have to talk about the soundtrack, it’s very subtle, but quite good.  One of the best things about the soundtrack is that it stays out of the way.  The entirety of the soundtrack was instrumental, the only time there were words being sung was when the characters within the movie were singing.  There were also some neat things done with the audio in the movie as well.  There is a short point where Katniss is hallucinating, and during this scene they do some fun things with the sound.  There is also a section in the book where Katniss’s hearing is damaged, and for a short time there’s almost no sound as her ears are still ringing.  I don’t know if they did this because I was watching it on my laptop, but it would have been interesting in the theaters if they lowered the volume from the left side speakers for the rest of the movie after that.  (Or whichever side was the ear she lost hearing in, I’m pretty sure it was the left, but again it’s been 3 years.)

So initial thoughts, cast, audio, time for visual.  There were a lot of interesting visual aspects to the movie, most notable was the contrast between District 12 and the Capital, especially with the ways the characters were dressed.  I know that the book described the people in the Capital as being very strangely dressed in all sorts of odd hues, and the movie exceeded my expectations in that sense.  All of the set designs were well done, and it worked out well.

And now for my one major complaint about the movie, the cinematography.  While I haven’t gone to see many movies in theaters in the past several years, I do read about movies fairly often, and one thing that I’ve heard is a trend in a lot of movies these days is the use of shaky cam, or the lack of using a tripod to steady the camera.  In the action scenes in the second half of the movie, it wasn’t too bad, but when they use it early on in the movie it does nothing but take away from the foundation of the movie.  Basically, when you notice the camera, it’s a bad thing, and the shaky cam during the first half of the movie was far too noticeable and annoying.

One part of the story that didn’t quite work for me was Katniss’s side of her relationship with Peeta.  Peeta does a good job of showing that he really cares for Katniss, but without hearing Katniss’s thoughts it was kind of hard to tell that she was playing the part instead of actually falling for Peeta.  It’s a minor quibble in what was overall a solid movie.

Overall Grade

Nothing that blew me away, and there were a few small things that annoyed me, but overall it’s a solid movie that was very faithful to the book.

8/10