A Review On “Hangman’s Curse”

Hangman’s Curse by Frank Peretti

First off, I’d like to give a disclaimer: I am a little too old for this book, so I have found faults with it that age appropriate readers probably  wouldn’t notice. Also, being a writer, I am highly critical of style as well as content, and make notes to myself the entire time I read most anything, which makes me a little nit picky. That being said, let’s get to the review.

The whole idea behind the series is that there is a private organization, called the Veritas Project, which investigates bizarre crime scenes with the object of finding the truth using a Christ-centered perspective. The thing about this that I found rather hard to swallow is that it reports back to the President, without actually being federal. The individual cases are even discussed on the phone with him before the group takes them. I can’t really imagine any of our recent Presidents, even the “Christian” ones, supporting something outside of their federal control, let alone taking the time for private phone calls with them. I think Peretti would have been just as well off making it a completely private organization.

I also felt that it came off a little preachy in the beginning, when the goals and methods of the organization were being explained, and in the end, when things were being wrapped up. I have nothing against explaining Christianity in fiction, but I do have something against dumping all of one’s beliefs, or a character’s beliefs, into one conversation, no matter what those beliefs are. It’s too much explaining. Even in a conversation full of tension, it can still be dry and boring, and, well, preachy.

A very minor thing that bothered me was the one main character, a girl named Elisha, is straight out described as “attractive.” I have no problem with good looking characters, but I want to be shown that they’re attractive, not told. Paired with a perfect Christian personality, it just made her seem less real, like an ideal. Tell me she has blond hair, tell me she has a sweet smile, but don’t tell me she’s “attractive.” It just feels lazy to me. Anyway, that’s more of a pet peeve than anything else.

Those are the only things I have to say against the book, however. It was intense, interesting, had well thought out and diverse characters, kept up the suspense, and had you double-guessing till the very end. The danger was real and frightening, the stakes were high. I think this book is perfect for eighth through tenth graders, though be forewarned: it does deal with occult stuff. There’s nothing terribly detailed, but it is there; if your kids are in school, however, I doubt any of it will shock them. If your kids are homeschooled, you might want to make sure they know what a Ouija board is first, as, chances are, they’ve never seen one. I first heard on them when I was in sixth grade, but I’m pretty sure my brother, who is in seventh, doesn’t know about them. I guess I’ll have to ask him when I’m done with this.

So, my conclusion is, four stars for Hangman’s Curse. I still like the Cooper Kids series, by the same author, and for just a slightly younger audience, better though.

A Review On “The Three Musketeers”

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

I find the title of this book a little deceiving; it should really be called “D’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers”, because the story is actually about a young Gascon man named D’Artagnan. The Musketeers are only his friends. They are certainly very amusing friends. Anyone who has read this book will never forget Arimis, Porthos, and Athos, their unique personalities, or the scrapes they all get each other in and out of. The two downsides to this book I found was that it started out rather slow (but then again, most old books do), and that there are places where one plot ends and you wonder where the next one will begin? This made more sense when I learned that this, like many books of it’s time, started out as installments in a newspaper. The characters’ way of looking at women and their relationships with them also caught me off guard; this story takes place in a time where marriage was not regarded as much. In fact, it seems that if one fell in love with a married woman it only made the romance more exciting! Of course, because this is a comedy first and foremost, nothing serious or objectionable ever happens. All they do is visit each other in the middle of the night and exchange handkerchiefs. Despite these things, however, I ended up loving this book. Adventure after adventure, characters that become your best friends… you can’t get much better. It’s huge; it took me a long time, it sometimes made me roll my eyes, but it also made me laugh, sometimes even out loud, and it made me hold my breath in suspense; especially at the end. I would definitely recommend this book for high-school students, though it would be too much for most middle-schoolers. My favorite character would have to be Athos; I will forever remember the picnic in the fort tower. But you will have to read the book to figure out what I’m talking about! Then you can come back here and tell me who your favorite character is!

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A Review of “The Hunger Games” series

Oh, naughty me! Two weeks without a single post. Well, you can blame this review, because it’s given me lots of trouble, and I’m still not quite sure how to go about it. But, I shall try my best.

The Hunger Games (the whole series) by Suzanne Collins

First, I thought I would try to convince all the reluctant readers out there that this is a treasure. Then I thought, well, maybe I’ll just tell them how it rocked my world. And then I thought, how am I going to do either of those things without carrying on forever and never actually getting across the point? And then I told myself to just say what it is I want to say. So I will, as clearly as I possibly can.

I love these books. I love them with all my heart. I do not find them perfect, nor do they always make me feel good, but I love them. In fact, several times they made me really mad, and sometimes they would ruin my whole day. I got really tired of them being all I could think about, but they taught me something. They taught me a few things, actually, some being about life, and some that were about writing, and they gave me some challenges I haven’t quite worked out yet. On the surface these books are a romance with quite a lot of action mixed in. For those that take the time to pause and look deeper, however, they are so much more. I won’t tell you what those things are, because I want you to read the books and find them, and because Collins can say it so much better than I can.

I don’t believe there’s any great argument I can make to convince you to read these books, though I wish there were, because I love a good argument. I will say this, however: they’re not as violent as they seem like they would be. The only way I can explain this is that the author obviously hates violence, her main character, who is the voice telling the story, hates violence, and the bad guys are the only ones who like it. The books are violent to the point that I wouldn’t let anyone under the age of twelve read them, though. The romance would be another reason, though it actually surprised me how innocent it stayed throughout the whole series, and another would be some things mentioned in the third book that are of a rather mature nature.

When I think Hunger Games, I don’t see Katniss and Peeta kissing, and I don’t see them fighting. I see a boy’s face covered in scars and tears and a girl who’s haunted by nightmares. They tear at my heart and they call me to do something in this big, sad world. How can I say it best without trying to retell the story? I can only say that Suzanne Collins has done her job well. She has written a piece of fiction that takes place in a future version of our world, wrapped me up tightly in it, and shown me a bitter sight. I will warn you that the end is not a pretty picture. It gives one hope, and it finishes things well, but this is no fairy tale and it has no happily ever after. It’s a tale of humanity at it’s best and worst moments. There are no glowing heroes, simply people determined to stay human and take care of those they love. This is why I love The Hunger Games. Not because it’s a thrill ride or because it has a sweet romance or because it’s the most popular series out there right now and everyone loves it. I love it because it’s a battle cry for humanity to rise above what’s expected.

Have I said it well? I’m still doubting it, but if I wait to figure out the perfect way to say it you’ll never read this review. So I’ll let this go and hope you like it, and that it convinces just a few more of you to read the series. It really is worth your time. I promise.

A Review on “The Last Thing I Remember”

The Last Thing I Remember by Andrew Klavan

I seriously can find nothing wrong with this book. Written in a simple, down-to-earth, first person style, it is still somehow well written. Klavan is a master. He seamlessly mixes current action with the necessary background information, giving you time to breathe and laugh before being thrown back into the fray. The main character is not the typical teenage boy you find in most novels. Though there is a girl he likes, he’s not head over heels, and he actually knows what he believes and acts on it. Though there is a little blood and some fist fights(karate, actually), over all I would not call it a violent book. It is very intense, though; not for the weak of heart. The ending leaves you longing for the next book yet finishes nicely, unlike the Left Behind: The Kids books, which always leave you desperately hanging. So, I would recommend this to almost anyone! Tighten your seat belts and enjoy the ride!