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Infinite Country by Patricia Engel | Thoughts

   Published : 2021   ||    Format : print   ||    Location : Colombia ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆   What was it about the country that kept everyone hostage to its fantasy? The previous month, on its own soil, an American man went to his job at a plant and gunned down fourteen coworkers, and last spring alone there were four different school shootings. A nation at war with itself, yet people still spoke of it as some kind of paradise.. Thoughts : Infinite Country follows two characters - young Talia, who at the beginning of this book, escapes a girl’s reform school in North Colombia so that she can make her previously booked flight to the US. Before she can do that, she needs to travel many miles to reach her father and get her ticket to the rest of her family. As we follow Talia’s treacherous journey south, we learn about how she ended up in the reform school in the first place and why half her family resides in the US. Infinite Country tells the story of her family through the other protagonist, El

A return to Hunger Games and two other very different books | Notes from my Reading

I've been reading quite a bit over the past couple of weeks. Making that summer reading pile of books to choose from has certainly helped, but also that the books I've been reading have been engrossing in general. This week though, my reading has been a mixed bag. While I ended last week with the amazing and much-recommended March trilogy, I've since picked books that have not been making a big mark on me. Yet.

A lackluster return to the Games...

This week, I've had my nose almost entirely in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. I first heard about this Hunger Games prequel only after it was released. Somehow, I missed the memo to the whole pre-release party. Still, I was excited. It's fun to return back to a favorite series or trilogy or even a spinoff set in the same world. 

However, on reading the synopsis and discovering it to be about Snow when he was a mentor during the 10th Hunger Games, I wasn't so sure if I wanted to read it. What could be worse? Finding that Snow was a nice person until something tragic set him on the path of malevolence OR that he was always evil. Trying to understand a villain has long been a popular subject in books and movies. Personally, I find this works only if the villain can demonstrate some humanity. With Snow showing zero good personality in the books, he was honestly one of the least intriguing characters in the HG universe to focus the book on. He was after all, the villain in the first two books. While I may be forgetting some details, I can't remember anything about him that has ever made me curious about his youth.

Compared to the other Hunger Games books, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was honestly a chore to read. If I weren't familiar with the series already, I may not have kept with it. There are pages and pages of words with nothing of significance. Forget Snow being good or bad, he wasn't even intriguing enough to spend time with. Most of all, the book left me very confused. More on this in an upcoming review.

When you don't see the point of a book...

Before The Ballad took my attention, I had been reading Frances Cha's If I Had Your Face, which I put down briefly and returned to, this week. Told from the perspectives of four Korean women, there is a lot of ground covered in this book. From plastic surgery to boyfriend/husband trust issues to friendships to personal worth to difficult childhoods, each chapter shifts the focus to a different struggle by one of the four characters. While each chapter in itself has been interesting and fast-paced, I've been having a hard time wanting to continue once the chapter was over, mainly since I can't see where this is all leading. I'm not connecting with any of the characters, but also don't believe that's the intent of the author. I'm sure this is all going to tie together somehow, but at the 45% mark, that isn't clear to me. 

Still, I'm plugging along. It's fun when I'm reading it, just not something that I feel like coming back to, if that makes sense. So I've resigned to commit to at least one chapter a day, hoping that things look up at some point. Besides, I am certainly curious to find how their stories end.

And a difficult childhood...

I do seem to have a ton of books in progress at the moment. That does help when I need a distraction from books like If I Had Your Face, but when the new book I start turns out to be very engaging, I end up choosing to finish it before returning to other reads. That's what Flight has felt like so far. It's been 9 years since I read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, but Flight still reads nothing like the author's other book that I read. It is super short but that doesn't make it an easy read. 

Our protagonist does not trust people easily and is frequently in and out of jails. But more importantly. here's another person who feels let down by the system and that makes for necessary but difficult reading. I'll tell ya - Sherman Alexie does not shy from writing difficult topics and despite very clearly understanding why Flight's protagonist is having a hard time in life, that doesn't make it easy to read his thoughts or how he intentionally brings harm to himself.

What books are keeping you engaged today?