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Point of Retreat (Slammed #2) by Colleen Hoover

Point of retreat - Colleen Hoover

It’s been almost a year since I read Slammed, first book of this series. In the meantime I’ve read all of the other Colleen Hoover’s books, all of them, and I’ve come to the conclusion she’s in my top three favorite authors’ list, no doubt about it. All her love stories are unique and specials and they are the only ones that every single time make me cry. I have no idea how the butterfly she does that but after the first few chapters, for one reason or another, I methodically start crying, and I mean the sobbing and shaking kind of cry, like it’s too much to bear but at the same time I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else doing anything else.


Nonetheless, I am a human being and I always have my doubts. The ending of Slammed broke me, it was too painful and perfect and wonderful but terrible and I was afraid of starting Point of Retreat, cause honestly there was no butterflying way it could be as good as the first one. No way.


I should be used by now that I’m always, always wrong when I say that. With Colleen Hoover the sequel is always as good as the beginning, if not better. Point of Retreat was no exception.


I wasn’t expecting this book to be told by Will’s point of view. I was worried because I had loved Layken, she was such a strange and wonderful character and I was used to navigate in her thoughts and her life; also I couldn’t connect with Will in the first pages, I was panicking cause I wanted to love this book with all my heart as I did with the others but it turns out I had nothing to worry about. Comes the second chapter and I was already completely into the story, living the characters all over again.


It’s been one year since Lake and Will became officially a couple and three months since Lake’s mom passed away. Now their life is even more complicated than before: two kids to manage (Caulder and Kel), courses at universities to attend and a wonderful woman to grieve.
Plus they need to find the right balance between being the older sibling and being a parent. Kel and Caulder get suspended at school for defending a girl Kel liked from bullies. What to do? Ground them for using violence or laugh it off and congratulate them for standing up beside their friend? And how about their first crush and birthday parties?
It’s a struggle every single day but they’re lucky. They don’t have much alone time but they do have each other to lean on, two wonderful best friends to count on and the kids bring funny awkwardness and joy to their life with their “suck and sweet time” and their “backwards day”, running around and laughing with all they’ve lost and been through.
But then Will’s ex-girlfriend comes along and their attempt at living a normal life as a big family starts trembling and crumbles to the ground. One kiss on the forehead and Lake begins to doubt and question relationship and whether Will really loves her. Is he with her because of her, of who she truly is or because of the circumstances, both having no parents left and a kid to take care of?


For some time I couldn’t understand how Will could have slipped like that if she loved Lake and I was angry with him as well; he should have known what he was doing and I could relate to Lake, to how she was feeling. Nonetheless, it’s a mistake that can be overcome. As Layken’s mom says, two people must fall apart to realize how they truly feel, how important they are to each other and to fall back together. Thanks to little pieces of advice from the stars – and from neighbors – Will will understand that sometimes saying “I love you” is not enough. Sometimes you have to prove it, to show to the one you love how much they matter, not giving up until you have succeeded or until you’re completely sure you have done everything it was in your power.


It’s impossible to describe all the feels this book gave me. There was tension and heart-breaking events and twists when you could least expect them; even in the tragic moments, when you’re holding your breath and you feel like you need a pause because you can’t take anymore, here it comes that sentence, that joke that makes you laugh out loud and release the tension you had accumulated and you can inhale and exhale again before going back to the seriousness of the situation.


That something, for me, was Kiersten. Butterfly me, that little girl is only eleven years old but she has an attitude! She’s witty and sarcastic, unpredictable and confident and she talks like a grown-up trapped in the body of a kid; she’s always ready to fire a comeback and she knows what to believe in. Her monologue about swear words was irresistibly funny and interesting and well, I almost wish she was my best friend cause she’s truly awesome. A piece of work, I’d say. A whole book on her wouldn’t be enough to understand that little thing.


The ending confirmed me this series is a YA and I honestly can’t wait now to read the last one. I need more slam poetry, because once again in this book I’ve fallen in love with it. I don’t whose PoV is gonna be or what could possibly happen more to the characters but I learn from my mistakes. It’s Colleen Hoover. I’m gonna butterflying love it!

"Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) - Suzanne  Collins

All Katniss ever wanted to do was to save both herself and Peeta and return to District 12, back to her mother and sister. And she did save them. They all moved to a new and huge house and they have all the money they could ever wish for. However when she pulled out those berries, she also ended up openly defying the Capitol: for the first time in 74 years, against the rules, two winners of the Hunger Games were allowed and now some of the districts are slowly coming back to life and unrests are beginning to take place. Now more than ever she has to convince the audience that all her actions were dictated only by the deepest feelings for her star-crossed lover and the greatest fear of losing him and living the rest of her life without him, otherwise President Snow have to military intervene and her family and friends will be in danger.

After six months from the Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta go on the Victory Tour to visit and thank all the districts and they do their best to pull off the most convincible performance as lovers but people are actually rebelling and it’s not enough.

Then it comes the time for the 75th Hunger Games: The Quarter Quell. It happens every 25 years and it’s the only occasion in which rules are purposely legitimately changed. President Snow stands up before the podium and announces what Katniss and all the districts could have never imagined: this year the tributes will be chosen among the previous winners of the Games. This means only one thing: Katniss and Peeta will have to go back into the arena once more.

I remember exactly what I thought of the first book: incredible world building and fast-paced and exciting and dreadful and mind-blowing. Well, this second book was all that and more. I wasn’t expecting anything of what happened and every page I turned was an unbelievable and crazy and every time, even though I was holding my breath and bracing myself for what was about to come, it was never enough and I always kept craving for more.

The totalitarian system developed accordingly to the turns of events and it was all awfully realistic. The more people pulled the strings and tried to rise up, the more the government brought them back down by all means, increasing the presence of Peacekeepers, reinforcing the security and threatening. The use of violence to show the Capitol’s strength was daily bread.

Nonetheless, where there’s repression there’s always longing for freedom and independency and President Snow is starting to see it. At some point, desperation will outnumber fear and entertainments at the expense of the commons and appearances of peace and manipulation won’t be enough to hold back uprisings anymore.

Dear bloody President Snow, I hope you’ll end up rotting in a cell. I wish you the worst.

Katniss was confirmed to be a brave and smart kickass protagonist. She thought she could have gone back to her old life, to being a simple girl from District 12 and to hunting with Gale. Unfortunately, the Hunger Games were only the beginning of her nightmare. She keeps reliving what she went through in the arena and Rue’s lifeless body; Gale has started to work in the mine and won’t let her help; people around her are still suffering and starving and she still has to pretend to be madly in love with Peeta in order to please President Snow and protect her family, even if this means the rest of her life would be like feeling trapped in a cage. But her act isn’t good enough and if you can’t prevent a revolution, you better join it.

She becomes the mockingjay, the great hope the government hadn’t foreseen.

Her feelings are still uncertain and she can’t clear her thoughts about her love life but this time it didn’t bother me at all. Gale is family to her, she know him better than everyone else and life with him would be as simple as breathing but she can’t ignore the pull towards Peeta, a guy she is ready to sacrifice her life for in the 75th Hunger Games.

Finally I got to know Gale better. He’s headstrong and impulsive, a guy who wants to be free and master of his own future. The only reason that still keeps him in District 12 is the responsibility of providing for his family. And Katniss.

I was sorry to see him ache for Katniss, to be forced to publically watch her with another guy, especially because I truly believe they would be perfect for each other. They share the same past and dreams and they’re both as stubborn as mules.

Peeta… Well, Peeta was a revelation. I liked him in the first book because he was naïve and simple and he knew what were his abilities and possibilities. In Catching Fire he shows strength and determination. In more than one circumstance he takes the matter in hand and shows how it’s done. He knows how to talk, how to charm people and he’s the one who manages to keep Katniss together when she needs it the most. He’s almost an unstoppable force but he always puts Katniss first. Moreover, he totally won my heart. He was sweetness itself, caring and gentle and kind. He’s hopelessly and unconditionally in love with her and, even though he knows she doesn’t love him back, he says to her the most romantic declarations lost in other sentences, like it’s no big deal because he’s just stating a fact and he’s okay, she doesn’t have to respond anything. He almost had me in tears, just saying.

 

Seeing both of them back in the arena made me stay hyper-alert the whole time. I feared what could have happened to them, so I devoured the pages because I had to know what was going to be. They both wanted to save the other’s life and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing one of them and they couldn’t be both saved again, could they? My poor heart.

 

I loved all the new characters and I can’t wait to know more in the next book: what are the real intentions of  the new Head Gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensbee? What about Annie and Finnick? And is Haymitch just the reckless but smart drunkard I thought he was?

 

And that ending. One word: cliff-hanger. I need to get my hands on the third one, NOW.

REVIEW: "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games - Suzanne  Collins

Why in the world did I wait so much to read this book?
I seriously should be punished for this.

The Hunger Games is one of the best dystopian novels I’ve read until now, maybe the best. It was so well done and interesting and fast paced that I didn’t want to put the book down but keep reading and keep reading.

I had watched the movie and I had thought that it was okay but nothing special after all and I couldn’t understand why people were raving and raving about it. Now that I read the book I am the one who’s raving about it and wouldn’t stop talking for days.

The world building was impressive and magnificent. Twelve districts and the Capitol, Panem. Every year they draw out a boy and a girl from each district to join the Hunger Games: all the tributes have to train, do interviews and then they are left in an arena to survive and kill each other. There can be only one winner.
They are constantly watched by all the population which can follow every day the Hunger Games on special screens put in every district. There’s no privacy and no mercy. You can’t afford to say what you think or show your true feelings but you have to keep up to pretenses to survive in this deadly jungle and try not to lose yourself along the way.

The Hunger Games are the tool to show people that they are nothing but pawns in the ends of the system, to remember of the past wars and what the Capitol is able to do just for entertainment. They are the spectacularization of cruelness, violence and strength.
The Gamemakers, the sponsors and their gifts, the parade and the mentors, the rules and the history… Everything was so clear and detailed that it seemed more true than ever and while reading you can’t help but having a dreadful feeling that this could all be real one day.

Now, on to the characters.

Haymitch was just amazing. He’s the mentor of the tributes from District 12, he has gone through unimaginable horrors and won the Hunger Games and now he has to relive this every year. He is always drunk, trying to send the pain away but this time he could actually have winners and he knows what to do to let them shine and capture the attentions of the sponsors. He can also be lots of fun.

Katniss was… complicated. She grew up taking care not only of herself but of her entire family after her father died in the coal mine. With her friend Gale, she spends her days hunting in the woods outside the fence, risking her life because it is forbidden but it’s also the only way not to starve.
When her twelve-year-old sister Prim is called as tribute, Katniss volunteers to protect her and this was such a strong and full of love gesture. She was courageous, specially knowing she probably wouldn’t have made it back. But she did it anyway and it moved me.
She’s smart and unbeatable with bow and arrows and that’s how she plans to survive in the arena. Plus, she’s the girl on fire.
Anyway, I didn’t like her as much as I expected to. I was confused by her uncertainty about her feelings. She keeps comparing Peeta and Gale and that sent me astray because there is not much about Gale in this first book and I wasn’t able to pick a side as it usually happens in these love triangle situations.

Peeta, on the other hand, was so sweet. He is conscious of his limits and his abilities and in the arena he did whatever he had to do to keep Katniss safe because he truly loved her and that made me roll my eyes every time Katniss wondered about Peeta’s feelings. How couldn’t she see it? He was just being himself while she was pretending to love him back to maintain the star crossed lovers’ illusion. I know she had to do it keep living and make it home to her family but I just couldn’t bring myself to like her.

I was really impressed by the author’s ability to keep the story interesting throughout all the book. For more than one hundred pages, the reader is left only with Katniss and her thoughts and it could have easily become boring and flat without any dialogues but it never did.

I was also taken aback by the contrast between the poverty of the districts and the uncontrolled luxury of the Capitol, where the Hunger Games truly are just an entertainment while teenagers are losing their lives for others’ fun.

Surely, I can’t wait to read the second book, hoping to better understand Katniss and her doubts but also I want more of this dreadful world. Does it sound strange?

Happy Hunger Games and may the odds be ever in your favor!

"Dear Killer" by Katherine Ewell

Dear Killer - Katherine Ewell

A crucial premise: I’m confused. I’m confused in a way that makes it impossible to understand whether it is a positive or a negative confusion. It isn’t a “did I like it or not” kind of confusion, it’s more of a blank “where am I and what has happened” kind of confusion.

 

When I first heard of Dear Killer, I was ecstatic. Finally something new, something completely different, a debut written by an impressively young author. Yes, it had my attention and my curiosity knew no bounds.

 

Kit is an English seventeen year old teenager. She lives in a quite big house with her mother and her never-present father. She is able to make herself perfectly invisible, blend among the crowd like a raindrop that falls in a river but she’s not a normal girl. She’s also Diana, everyone’s assassin. She doesn’t have a specific modus operandi, she never leaves a trace aside from the letter with which she was hired that always arise suspicion but doesn’t have consequences; just a small price to pay, doubt. She’s the Perfect Killer.

She has been killing for years. Her mother was a killer before her; then she almost got caught and decided to settle down with an unobservant but rich man and passed all her knowledge to her daughter, so she could continue with the tradition. Kit is what she is because of how she was raised. Murder isn’t something personal; it’s something that needs to be done, a service she provides to those who can’t put themselves on the line and ask her to take care of it. Nobody has ever seen her or knows anything about her. She could be anyone.

One day she receives a letter from a guy, Michael, who goes to the same high school she goes to. He wants her to kill a girl named Maggie. To do it, Kit decides first to become friends with her but she hadn’t considered that Michael was a psychopath and he wouldn’t have left Maggie alone. Therefore Kit turns into the guardian: no one but her can toy with her prey without paying.

 

This book made me think. I’m strongly against murder, of course, and I truly believe that violence is never the answer but moral nihilism is nonetheless a fascinating topic: is there a greater truth to morality? Or are rightness and wrongness artificial constructs, determined by the society we live in? Human sacrifice is cruel and horrible but it has been done and celebrated in the past, same for cannibalism or genocide. And what if a little kid is starving to death and steals an apple? Technically it is a crime but is what he’s doing wrong? It’s really scary if you stop to seriously consider the conundrum.

 

However what pulled me off and annoyed me was the main character, Kit. She is what confused me in a negative way, I’m starting to realize. I would like to say that I didn’t like her but that would be too easy. I didn’t understand her. But it isn’t the comforting misunderstanding, like “she is a serial killer and you should be happy you don’t get why she’s doing what she’s doing, otherwise you should be worried”; I just didn’t get it. Most of the times, she acted incoherently and it all seemed surreal: one minute she’s this cold hearted monster and the next she was shocked by what she had done and wanted to change but then she figured everything out and found a deeper purpose to her actions. I kind of wondered if she was suffering from a bipolar disorder. I wasn’t convinced by her. It’s like the author started writing and then decided along the way what was going to happen and  molded Kit’s thoughts accordingly.

 

Though I appreciated its originality, at times it was a bit hard to actually believe that a teenager (and even when she was a twelve year old kid) was able to kill all these people with her bare hands and get away with it but, if you just accept it and go with it, the story manages to catch you, with all its mystery and the London’s cloudy atmosphere.

 

The conclusion was cut a bit abruptly but those who enjoy open endings surely won’t be disappointed.