Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton

Publication Date: August 2019.

“Listen; life is worth a fight. Expectation must be shed like winter leaves. Even in death, there is wondrous beauty. And death is not The End.”

This is probably the most unusual story about the zombie apocalypse that I have ever read. Told exclusively by the animals and plants of the world, it is an interesting perspective of what the world would be like without the humans messing it up. The story is mostly told by S.T., a crow that had been raised by a human. He lived with Big Jim and Dennis, a hound dog. S.T. considers himself to be more human than crow. But then the world goes to shit, and S.T. must find a way to save himself, Dennis and the other domestics that were left behind. S.T.’s view of the world and of the humans is often quite poignant and touching, but often the awful truth as well. S.T. and Dennis go through many adventures running around the streets of Seattle, but they make it their mission to save as many domestics as they can. There are some chapters told from other animals in the world and one particularly captivating one told by a 200-year-old spruce tree, that will make you stop and think about how animals perceive us and their world at large. This is a quirky and yet wonderful story and is definitely a debut that you don’t want to miss. I will certainly be keeping an eye out for more from this author.

Little Brother by Cory Doctoro

Publication Date: April 2008

“I can’t go underground for a year, ten years, my whole life, waiting for freedom to be handed to me. Freedom is something you have to take for yourself.”

This book was published twelve years ago, but it just as relevant today as it was then. It is a little scary in some of the tech stuff, and how it is used today. When I first read it, it made me a bit paranoid about tech and people spying on me. But I think that was a good thing. There is no set date of when this story takes place, just some time in the not too distant future. Marcus Yallow is a smart young man, who is able to use what he knows about computers to fight back against government oppression. It is a scary tale. But it is also a very hopeful one. I have always felt that it will be the younger generation that changes the world, and I still feel that today. It is hard to believe that a group of kids can win against the government, but they can, even outside of novels. This book will make many kids who think they can’t make a difference think again and maybe do something about it. I reread this, not just because of what has been going on in the world, but also because there will be a third book set in this world and I wanted to remind myself what that world was like.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Publication Date: May 19, 2020

“That is the thing with giving your heart. You never wait for someone to ask. You hold it out and hope they want it”

This isn’t really a book about Coriolanus Snow and how he becomes as bad as he is in the Hunger Games Trilogy. It is more about the evolution of the Hunger Games. There is no origin story here, although we do get more insight into how Snow thinks and what he went through as a kid and teen living through the Rebel war. But to see things through his experiences you really do get a better understanding of the Panem world. Snow was never a very good person. He was very self centered and only looked at things as ways to make his life better and more successful. There are glimmers of him perhaps being good, or at the least wanting to be better, but they are quickly squashed by the people he encounters around him. I really liked the relationship that he developed with Lucy Gray, she was definitely the star of this book. She tries really hard to save Snow, but fails in the end. Sejanus, Snow’s friend, also is a good character and is a sharp contrast in his beliefs and emotions to Snow’s ego. There are many times when I think he will get through too. As you can imagine, this is not a happy story, nor is it a fast moving one. It borders on boring, but it is a very interesting psychological study of what it means to be human and how we treat those that we defeat in war.

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