Hunger Games Trilogy Review

HUNGER-GAMES-jacket

I have just completed the Hunger Games Trilogy and have given it 5*.

Collins tells us of a young girl, Katniss, and her involvement in what can only be compared to the scenes from The Running Man but with children and a stronger back story.

The crazed, dystopian future sees a yearly event in which children are drawn from each district to fight to the death among a plethora of traps and obstacles. The intention is for the Capital to reinforce its stronghold over the population, remind them of the previous rebellion and what little good it did them and suppress them to prevent any kind of future uprising.

Katniss soon becomes a figurehead for all the suppressed people of Panem and the story takes some interesting turns during the second and third books.

I believe Suzanne Collins has created a great piece of young adult fantasy fiction that, as my own book Tirfo Thuin tries to do, covers some important themes on humanity and our want for self destruction and violence towards each other.

The only thing that frustrated me slightly was the ‘whiny, everyone is against me’ personality that Katniss sometimes fell into and the never ending Peeta vs Gale battle that left me thinking ‘just pick one and move on’. However, I have to remember that she is just a young girl and this is probably aimed at a slightly younger market than me.

That said, it was not enough of a distraction to cause me to drop to 4* and I will certainly be looking for more of Collins’ work and the film adaptations.

I find it interesting that this is effectively a story about children killing each other – and quite violently at times – and that this is being read by quite young readers themselves. It is an interesting, and obviously very effective, theme Collins has tackled and she has done it well.

I’d recommend it to anyone who likes young adult, coming of age, fantasy fiction with an element of sci-fi and violence.

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Dealing with Negative Reviews

I thought I would write a short post on dealing with negative reviews. I realise that my view-point may be a little different to a lot of authors reading this as I have not yet published Tirfo Thuin. However, I do contribute regularly to review sites and obtain reviews of my work from the general writing community. Personally I have received very positive feedback and the constructive feedback I have received has actually helped me shape my book to be better than I could have hoped. However, some reviewers don’t exactly have a skill in constructive advice and it can sometimes feel like a personal attack. Ultimately, receiving a bad review hurts.

Isaac Asimov once said writers fall into two groups:

‘Those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.’

The main point to note is that reviews are completely subjective and should not be taken as a personal attack. By putting your book out for review you are open to unkind feedback. You will always find people who love your book but, obviously, there will be those that don’t. The important thing to remember is it is their opinion.

A similar comparison is  Trip Advisor. I recently got married in Cuba and stayed at a great resort called Cayo Guillermo. The accommodation, food, service, surroundings and staff were top class. I would rate it 5* any day. However, before we went we read mixed reviews which worried us. Some people giving it 5*, some people giving it 1*. In our opinion we could not see how anyone could complain about this resort but they did. Obviously, they were looking for something different and it did not meet their expectations. It is the same with writing reviews.

Thinking along these lines I began looking at very successful published authors on Amazon and decided to read some of their reviews. Take Dan Brown, for example, and his book ‘The Da Vinci Code.’ I found this book entertaining and an easy read and would probably have given it 3*-4*. If you look at the reviews you will see a mixture with the majority of votes divided between 1* and 5* – a very large division in opinion. One reviewer went as far as stating ‘Wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, at all, ever. Absolute twaddle.’

amazon reviews

I very much doubt Dan Brown sits there reading his 1* reviews thinking he should pack it all in because people don’t like his work. He realises that this book wasn’t for them and he carries on in the knowledge the right readers do exist for his work. I don’t like Marmite but they wouldn’t take offence and stop making it if I rated it 1*.

The other thing to think about is that, given an opportunity, some people will always find something to complain about. Also, some people are just idiots and provide what can feel like quite personal attacks in their feedback. Take this with a pinch of salt.

It is worth noting that one amazing review can overshadow a handful of bad reviews. All you need is for the right reader to love your book, give you 5*’s and some great feedback and the tables can turn. I know some authors who will actually not even read their 3* or less reviews and only focus on the good feedback.

The flip side of this is that honest feedback is the best feedback when you are at the stage I am – final edit before publish. There is no point in getting your family to review your book and shower you with praise. It is much better to let an editor, another author or an honest friend provide constructive feedback. Also, there is a difference between negative feedback and constructive feedback. If 5 people point out that your POV is slightly off in a certain section or that your sentences are too long then take this on board. They are not saying your book is rubbish. They are saying you might want to revise it slightly.

You do not need to bow to every bit of advice offered. Just because somebody thinks you should actually start your book at chapter 3 doesn’t mean you have to completely rework your opening scenes. If you are happy with your book and believe your readers will be happy then stick with your gut instinct. If 10 people pick up on it then maybe look into it further.

It is important to remember that critics are reviewing your work not you. Try not to get into a slanging match with a reviewer as this will only hurt your cause. They are reviewing your work for free and you do not want to appear unprofessional (take the comments on this page as an example – http://bit.ly/tBaBTG ). Keep your chin up and carry on. If you have a good end product it will obtain good reviews.

Please feel free to comment with your experiences of reviews and any advice you can offer the writing community on dealing with negative feedback.

Please also Tweet this article if you feel people might find it useful.

 

Recieved some good reviews

I have had a few reviews come in on my book over the last few days and thought I would share a few of the nice snippets here from several different reviewers. Thanks to all that reviewed my book, I am certainly going to make some edits based on this feedback.

  1. Your writing style is very clear and concise and very easy to read.  The story had an easy and pleasant flow to it. I liked your use of dialogue which gave more depth to the characters. You used some clever little ideas to make the characters dialogue believable and also to give more insight into them. Well done with this writing and good luck with your work.
  2. I think a surgeons knife wouldn’t go amiss, in other words a bit of ruthless editing to lift the narrative away from the background to give your story a little more depth. That having been said, I think with a little more focus and a little more clarity you could be onto something…good luck!
  3. Shorter, pithier sentences create a sense of immediacy. This is what you want in scenes of high tension.
  4. I did enjoy the story. I thought the plot was strong

Obviously, there was much more than these examples but these seem to sum up to overall consensus. I think I need to work on making my sentences a little shorter and snappier in places and not let my imagination run away with itself in a few sentences. That said, my first novel is being received well so far – even with readers who do not necessarily read this genre in general.

I will continue to post feedback and updates I receive over the next couple of months and may even do a post after publication with a list of reviewers and links to their blogs/Twitter as a thank you.

Get your book chapter reviewed with #samplesunday

As a keen follower of the Kindle Author blog I wanted to promote a weekly event they push to try and get feedback on sample chapters. This is called Sample Sunday or #samplesunday.

The blog explains the process of getting feedback, reviews, critiques on some of your sample chapters as:

1. Every Sunday, post a writing sample on your blog or website. The writing sample can be from a novel-in-progress or it may be a sample from a book that is already published. Other forms of writing—short stories, poetry, nonfiction, plays—are also acceptable, but for maximum effect make sure you promote just one sample each week.

2. Tweet with a link to your sample post. For example:

“Cold Reading,” by David Wisehart http://bit.ly/idTwNQ #SampleSunday — please RT!
3. Search for other #SampleSunday tweets.

4. Read other people’s writing samples.

5. If you like a writing sample, please retweet it. If the sample is posted to a blog that allows comments, leave the writer a comment about the sample, saying what you liked about it, or giving constructive feedback. If you’d like to stay connected with the writer, then follow their blog, link to them, etc.

6. Check to see who has retweeted your #SampleSunday, and publicly thank them on twitter. You can also thank retweeters by following them on twitter.

Sounds like a simple but effective method so I intend on putting the first chapter of my soon to be self published fantasy fiction novel on my blog here and see if I get any feedback I look forward to peoples opinions and will be reviewing any #samplesunday posts I see as well.

Find great posts and information on the Kindle Authors blog here: http://kindle-author.blogspot.com/2010/12/what-is-samplesunday.html

Looking for reviews

I am looking to get some constructive criticism on the opening chapters of Tirfo Thuin. You can access this here: http://bit.ly/q4r2cv

You are able to offer free will reviews on the site but I think you will need to sign up to YouWriteOn so if anyone would like to offer any comments feel free to add them to this post.

Thanks and I look forward to hearing people’s thoughts on this, good or bad. I would also be interested to know if this is the kind of book you would usually read as it is good to get varied reviews.