Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice by Christopher Hitchens * * * * *

Hitchens is always brilliant. Even when I don't agree with him, he's still brilliant. It saddens me to think that he's no longer alive, because I always thought that had we meet, I would have had the pleasure of talking to someone who was my intellectual superior. It's so rare for me to meet such a person.

Now on to the book. It's kind of short, but very precise, and to the point. It really doesn't need to be longer. I never knew much about Mother Teresa, though her policy on contraceptives and abortion greatly troubled me. I have also seen some footage before of her mission in Calcutta, and I have wondered why it's not in better condition, if she gets so much money. This books revealed it all to me, and as I am usually weary of religious charities, it just proved my suspicions. I recommend the book for everyone, not just as reading something on one subject, but also as a great example of why we should go after the truth of things ourselves, and not trust everything we see on TV. Or at least apply our critical thinking to it.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3) by Suzanne Collins * * * *

I actually listened to the better half of this book. I was busy with baking and other stuff, so I ended up listening to the audiobook. Therefore, I may not have caught all the details.

This book finally breaks away from the "going to the games" format. I was actually glad for that, as it was getting a bit boring. It's hard to talk about the book without going into spoilers, but if someone read the second one, then it was obvious that there was going to be a war. The war is rather realistic, and unapologetic about it. People die. By the hundreds sometimes. Both sides do things that are cruel. I felt that was a very strong point of this book, that people get hurt, die, and sometimes those you care about.
Towards the end the endgame was done really well. It showed us a glimpse of the world that I'm sure we all wanted to see, without breaking away from the main point of the story.

I kept talking in my previous book reviews for the series about the genre, dystopia. The ending wasn't clear dystopic, but when I thought about it, I could see where it fit into the genre. It made me think about just what it means for the hero to fail. Since while the world at the end wasn't completely bad, it wasn't what Katniss thought it was going to be either. In the end, she really did fail, since she didn't achieve the goal that she set out to do.

Some of the reviews complain that Katniss wasn't the hero, the leader in the end that she could have been. I think those people saw a Katniss they wanted to see, not the Katniss that actually was.
In the beginning, she's a girl, who gets thrown into something horrible. She's not a trained soldier, not a sociopath, or a psychopath, so she's affected. The books take place in less than two years, so by the end, she's still not 18. From the second book, it is apparent that she has PTSD. She has nightmares, flashbacks, everything. She never gets the opportunity to get past it, to recover. She's constantly back in situations that just make it worse. It does get worse, then a bit better, but she never completely recovers. She is not the leader type. She's the hunter, the person who stays in the background, who avoids attention, and doesn't really know how to deal with it. There are trained soldiers who go through this as well, not to mention a girl who didn't have much of an emotional stability to begin with.
What she is, is very human. A regular human girl, barely out of childhood, motherless, fatherless orphan. She tries to do the best she can, protect those she loves, but she barely has any power. Most of us in this situation would probably just want to be with our mothers, and never leave her side. Compared to that, she's amazing.
I think her character is realistic, not a dream we want her to be.

Love at this point is really on the back-burner. Peeta is obviously the one Katniss chose, but getting him is not easy. She took time in realising who she wanted, and that is very real as well.

Overall, I really liked this book. It was a good finish to the journey, and went along the same feel as the previous ones. The ending felt complete. It tied up everything into a neat little bow. I have to admit, I cried a little.