December 26, 2010 § 5 Comments
Yes, it’s true: I devoured a three-part young adult series that prominently features a who-will-she-choose love triangle. I didn’t expect to enjoy it it nearly as much as I did, but I bought the first book in The Hunger Games trilogy on our first day in Hawaii. A few chapters in, I bought the second and the third because I knew I had to read the full story, fast — and I’d nearly finished all three by the time vacation was over.
When these start getting made into films, the comparisons to Twilight are inevitable. You’ve got a female character torn between two strong male characters, so yes, there’s that similarity, but the books completely diverge from there (I’m guessing; I haven’t actually read the Twilight books). The Hunger Games are one part reality TV (think Big Brother crossed with Survivor), one part On the Beach, and one part Star Wars — in a post-apocalyptic world run by the mysterious Capitol, the surviving Districts must send two Tributes into an arena where they fight to the death … broadcast live on TV. Katniss Everdeen has her moments of brooding inaction, but for the most part, she’s deep with emotion and she will kick your ass. I’m honestly not sure how they’re going to make the books into films — they are designed to be about the horrors and fallout of war, and so they are graphically violent and punishing. The ending of the final book left me sobbing, and so gutted that I had to take a weeklong break from reading.
Was it worth it? Yes.
January 13, 2008 § Leave a comment
Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster by Dana Thomas
A fashion writer for Newsweek, Thomas dives into the luxury industry — Louis Vuitton, Prada and others — and examines the consequences globalization, conglomerates and counterfeiting have wrought (i.e., homogenized storefronts from Las Vegas to Tokyo, ridiculous profits for shoddily made goods and sweatshops full of kids). All of this is bad, bad, bad … not necessarily the kind of thing you want to read while you’re laying in a cabana on the beach in Mexico, with designs on those glorious duty-free stores just a few blocks away. Thomas gleefully makes Marc Jacobs look like an asshole — she begins a chapter on counterfeiting with a quote from Jacobs about how it’s great, it’s flattery!; then moves the action into a sweatshop filled with 12- and 13-year-old children where those flattering knockoffs are created (For the record: I do adore Marc; but I feel like he’s due to be knocked around a bit). Yet her loving focus on Hermes, Chanel and Christian Louboutin — three brands who hold to their traditions of hand-made goods — just made me want to plunk down a deposit on a Birkin (never going to happen), start wearing Chanel No. 5 (too strong — though I did invest in Coco duty-free) and splurge on these Louboutin pumps (maybe) more than ever. All in all, a good read, but not good for my savings account.
The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perotta
The pressure Perotta must have been feeling when writing this book — a battle between Christianity and atheism personified in a born-again drug addict and a high school sex ed teacher — is palpable in every sentence. It’s almost like he was thinking: After Little Children, everyone expects me to be the voice of American suburbia, so be the voice of American suburbia I SHALL. And it all comes across as too much — as though he spent most of his time cataloging the cliches of suburbia (Youth Soccer Teams! Empty McMansions! Divorced Mom With Vibrator!) and Christianity (Bible Studies! Faith Keeper Rallies! Overbearing and Intrusive Pastor!), but no time developing the plot. The comeuppance I expected for the holier-than-thou (yes, I went there) Pastor never materialized, and truth be told, I didn’t realize the last page of the book was the last page until I turned the page and found Perotta’s Anderson-Cooper-esque mug staring back at me from the inside jacket flap. There’s essentially no ending, no resolution to this book — and I don’t mind when endings aren’t tidy, if at least they’re believable in their untidiness, in their characters’ motivations for inaction, but sorry, Tom, I didn’t buy any of it for a second.