Suzanne Collins


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Novel Ideas is back! At least for this week. The plan had been to get this episode up around the time the movie was released, so expect a lot of hedging on estimates of when new episodes will be released. Adding context makes comments about having more content up by the end of the year more understandable, more amusing, and a bit more shameful. At any rate, here is Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, perhaps you’ve heard of it? If you listen, you will hear discussions about PTSD, the morality of war, weaknesses of characterization, and-dare I say it?-feminism. Not to mention messing with the shippers, different varieties of tridents, the curative power of babies in fiction, and why Gale is the worst.

If the audio quality seems off, we recorded and mixed this on a new rig. So Gabs is present via the power of the internet rather than the power of sitting at a table and may sound like she is present via the power of two tin cans linked by a string. Our apologies. Expect more of it. Eventually.

The music bump is “Back on the Streets Again” by the always timely Tower of Power.

93 – Mockingjay – The Bad Guys Would Eat Its Meat

Our ratings:

Ben: 8/10. A more mature story than the first two with less action, but more interesting discussion points.

Gabs: 7.5/10 Peetas. (And zero Gales because he is terrible.) The book has some issues, but damn it, it’s trying.


Catching Fire

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Novel Ideas returns with Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, the second book of the Hunger Games trilogy. Not to mention the second movie, which you may have heard, was released recently. We apologize for missing last week, illness and a new work schedule have been conspiring against us. In this episode, we discuss masculine and feminine character traits, PTSD, overly silent conspiracies, and inaction in the face of evil. We also talk about classic dick moves, Peeta as a potential creeper, whether President Snow is a vampire, and many, many prequel possibilities.

Ben’s holiday work schedule is fairly likely to result in more delays with editing and posting episodes, so the schedule may look a little jagged through the end of the year. Posts are most likely to occur on Mondays rather than Tuesdays for the duration. We’ll try not to miss any more weeks without putting it on the schedule in advance, but bear with us.

The music bump this week is “Fire in the Hole” by Steely Dan.

Catching Fire – Scalene Love Triangle


A very good read, as long as it isn’t the first book you ever read, with markedly more sophistication than the first book.

Gabs: 8.5/10 with the extra half point awarded for going beyond typical YA fare.

Ben: 9/10 I think I may have liked this one better than the first one, mainly due to the added political elements.

Movie Review: The Hunger Games

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We went and saw the midnight premiere of “The Hunger Games” and probably unsurprisingly, we have thoughts about it.  A general warning before we get into specific comments on the movie: there will be spoilers here.  If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want to find out about how it’s different than the book, then don’t read this yet.  (Although if you have read the book, then you should check our podcast on it below!)

Gabs: Overall, as an adaptation, the movie does a pretty good job.  Anyone who was overly offended by adaptations of “Twilight” or “Harry Potter” will largely not have the same issues here.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that this particular adaptation is better than anything you can find in the Harry Potter movie pantheon.  There are not the same completely pointless changes and the feel and tone overall works with the tone of the book, unlike the completely bizarre teen romance created from the awesome creepy mystery of “The Half Blood Prince.”

Ben: I agree that it is a solid adaptation of the book into film.  No major issues with it, just a couple of minor ones, and I’m almost afraid to mention them because I don’t want to turn this into a catalog of fanboy nitpicking.  My first thought is that it was completely unnecessary to cut to a shot of Gale’s face after Katniss leaves District 12 (as you can tell because we didn’t talk about Gale at all in our podcast coverage.  He’s not important to the first book!).  I thought that during the training period they should have focused a little bit more on the strategy that they had as a team instead of making spontaneous decisions in the heat of the moment – such as Katniss and Peeta holding hands during the tribute parade and Peeta throwing the weight in training.

Gabs: The movie added some elements that worked well for the transition to screen, such as having Caesar Flickerman explaining certain aspects of the games or strategies of the tributes.  This was a good way to deliver exposition without making it obvious and helping any viewers who hadn’t read the books.  Some of the exposition was clunky, like Haymitch telling Katniss things about sponsors or the mines under the platforms, which she would obviously already know.  The added thread of Seneca Crane’s interactions with President Snow did a great job of displaying the feelings of the Capitol and gives us some dramatic presence for his death in the next film.

Ben: I didn’t like the casting for Gale.  As soon as he walked on screen, I immediately hated him.  Thresh was far more articulate in the movie because his two five-word sentences were actually complete sentences.  I was disturbed that after Thresh brained the girl against the side of the Cornucopia, the audience around us fucking cheered.  It helped support the point from our podcast about American audiences having the potential for enjoying bloodlust entertainment.

Gabs: One of my main beefs centered around Rue.  The actress did a fine job but we didn’t see anything of her.  All the information she provides Katniss with about District 11 is cut out and it really undermines one of themes of the book, that all the other districts have it just as bad.  The other weak point about Rue was that it made her death a lot less meaningful.  We’ve seen her utter a handful of lines over the span of five minutes.  Why should we care?  The movie did seem to be driving some of the Roman Empire stuff home pretty hard.  I particularly liked the end of Seneca Crane.  He wasn’t killed outright, but shoved in a room and presented with a bowl of nightlock.  Honor suicide.  How very Roman.

This a book podcast so we don’t want to say too much more about the movie and we remind you to check out our more extended thoughts about the book the movie is based on in our previous post.  As we will probably say many, many times in the future: the book is always better.

The Hunger Games!

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Here it is, the long anticipated debut of the Novel Ideas Podcast, featuringThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. In this episode, we cover Katniss and why she is a badass, Peeta’s lack of hunting skills, reality TV, feminism, and Thresh’s weird lack of verbal skills. Try not to be terrified by our bizarre and inaccurate renditions of regional accents as we break down this dystopian YA thriller. This book is not for the faint of heart, and neither is our recording; there may be some “explicit content.”

This week’s music bump is “Fanfares for the Jubilee of Rimsky-Korsakov” by Anatol Liadov. We thought a fanfare was appropriate to open the games, as it were.

Hunger Games – Practical Matters

Launch Date

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So we’re currently online, but don’t have any content. If you accidentally stumble across this page in the meantime, our official launch will be March 20, 2012 with Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games for those of you who might want to read ahead.