One of the nicest things about being published is hearing from enthusiastic readers. A couple of weeks ago, Beth Kahil from Charles Thorp Comprehensive School got in touch to tell me that the school reading group had read Black Heart Blue and that they'd loved discussing it. She also sent me her own review and those of some of her students. So, I'm posting some of their comments here - thank you so much Annie, Sam and Beth! You made my day.
I was a bit tentative when I first started this book because it is very dark and mysterious but I was hooked from the first few pages! I could not put it down! This book is emo-tional. At times I felt like crying along with Hephzi and I ached inside for Rebecca. Their Mother was too filled with hatred to care what happened to them and their Father was even worse. I got so angry at the Father because the twins didn’t deserve any of what they got. The book is written so that not every tiny detail is explained but that’s good because you sort of got it anyway. Every time the girls were beaten I felt like I had been hit, their pain was so excellently described. As disturbing as this book is, it is also one of the best books I have ever read.
Annie Dab - Year 8
So, it's a great book. I wasn't expecting to like The Hunger Games as much as I did - given the hype which always puts me off- but I reckon there comes a point when you just have to give in and let the books do the talking for themselves. And this novel lived up to its repuation. I've read a few negative things about Collins' book; for example that her dystopian world lacks real origniality and development and is a poor imitation of Battale Royale, but personally I don't think these things matter. For me, the point is that we are confronted with a world that is not so far from our own and thus doesn't need to be any more clearly mythologised than it already is. Famines, wars, natural disasters: Collins pushes the consequences of these events to the extreme, showing human beings turning against one another in the struggle for survival but also exploring the essential humanity that exists within many of her characters - even the drunken and laughable Haymitch. The blurring of the edges between District 12 and life as we know it serves to prove a good point: we're not so far off living in the sort of society Collins depicts. Amalgamate a couiple of continents, swallow a few oceans then places like District 12 would exist cheek by jowl with the great cities of our world. They probably kind of do. We do a nice job of ignoring the poor and the needy on our own doorsteps. Certainly we already live in a world where the distribution of food and wealth and opportunity is hideously unfair. Where dictators torture and murder children, where babies die for the lack of a vaccination that costs a mere five pounds, where child soldiers are forced to slaughter their parents. I don't see any sign of these horrors ceasing any time soon. And as for the concept of the Games themselves, what a brilliantly satricial device to throw our own obsession with reality tv and ritual humilation of vulnerable members of the general public into sharp focus. Collins asks a very pertinent question: just how far are we prepared to go with that format?